After the emotional and sometimes even distressing atmosphere of Holy Week comes Holy Saturday, a day that is a pre-feast of Easter.Holy-Saturday

There are two occasions of Jrakalouyts (lighting of lamps or candles) in the Armenian Church:  Christmas Eve and Easter Eve.

Jrakalouyts is looked upon as one of the most distinctive and awaited religious services.  In the Armenian Church, Divine Liturgy is normally performed every Sunday, and before midday.

Harrowing-of-hell-iconDivine Liturgy for Jrakalouyts, however, is an exception. These two are performed in the evening and they have unique characteristics.  Armenian faithful have always shown a special fervency toward those evening Jrakalouyts services of the Divine Liturgy.

In liturgical tradition, the Easter Eve service, taking place after sundown, is in effect taking place on Easter Sunday itself.

Also, with Easter Eve, the long duration of abstinence is over. Families gathered together, as was custom, and supped with a meal consisting of fried spinach topped with egg.

Under more opulent circumstances, there would also be fish and a variety of cakes and sweets.


BETHANY: A small village near Jerusalem, east of the Mount of Olives. It was where Lazarus lived, who was brought back to life by Je­ sus. That was an event that perturbed the Jewish priestly class, but which also emphasized for the people their faith in Him Who was being awaited and Who was surely to come.

GETHSEMANE: Garden on the slopes of the Mount of Olives.

MOUNT OF OLIVES: A hill three kilometers from Jerusalem.

GOLGOTHA: One of Jerusalem’s heights, where Jesus was crucified. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built there, and it is there that the Cross of the Crucifixion was found.

PONTIUS PILATE: Appointed governor of Judea in the year 26 by the Roman Emperor Tiberius. The governor’s capital city was Ca­ esarea. However on special holidays he would go to Jerusalem to monitor the actions of the Jewish nationalists. The Passover was one such feast day.

KEGHART: The spear of the Roman soldier used to verify that Jesus had died. It is now at Etchmiadzin. It is looked upon as one of the most sacred relics belonging to the Armenian Church. During the Mongol-Tatar invasions it was transferred to Ayrivank (Cave Monastery) for safe keeping. Because the Keghart has been kept there for a time, the monastery has become called Keghart Monastery, or simply St. Keghart.

JESUS’ ROBE: In his “Chronicles” (Jerusalem, pgs. 129, 133), the As­ syrian Patriarch Michael, a contemporary of St. Nerses the Grac­ous writes, “The sister of the Armenian King Apkar had woven that robe and sent it as a gift to Jesus during the last week. Ac­ cording to tradition, Pilate sent the robe to Rome.

Courtesy of “Feasts of the Armenian Church and National Traditions” by Garo Bedrosian, 1993