This embroidered epitaphios bears an image of the burial of Christ. In addition to the prostrate Christ and two angels, Mary, the Mother of God, Mary Magdalene, Mary Salome, and Saints John the Evangelist, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea are visible. On the afternoon of Great and Holy Friday (Good Friday), Orthodox Christians gather for a Vespers service that features the priest and deacon carrying an epitaphios (Burial Shroud) like this one from behind the iconostasis to a table in the center of the church. It is sprinkled with flower petals and rosewater and censed as a mark of respect. The priest and faithful then venerate the epitaphios while the choir chants hymns. The faithful continue venerating the epitaphios throughout the afternoon and evening. Later that same day, during an evening Orthros service, the Lamentations are sung before it. The epitaphios is then carried in a solemn procession commemorating the burial procession of Christ. At the end of the procession, the epitaphios is brought back to the church. It is often held aloft at the door so that all who enter will pass under it. In some traditions it is then taken directly into the sanctuary and placed on the altar. In other, it is returned to the middle of the church.


  • Title: Epitaphios
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: 18th century
  • Physical Dimensions: w37 x h19½ in (complete)
  • Media: satin, gold and silver thread, pearl beads, glass beads
  • Culture: Post-Byzantine
  • Credit Line: Gift of Alma de Bretteville Spreckels
  • Provenance: Collection of Maryhill Museum of Art
  • Type: Epitahioi
  • Rights: http://www.maryhillmuseum.org/discover/about-maryhill-museum-of-art/press-room/images-for-publication

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