Jesus’ Last Sabbath

Anastasis, Fresco painting, Chora Church Collection, 11th century

Holy Saturday

Earth received a new and incorruptible seed in her womb when Jesus was laid to rest, wrapped in cloths as in a manger, and perfumed with myrrh, as the Magi anticipated. Christ’s journey from birth to death was complete. The Jewish Sabbath begins in the evening until the following day. Thus Jesus spent one full day in the heart of the earth on the Sabbath. “It is finished,” Jesus breathed at last from the Cross (John 19:30), mirroring the Creator on the Sabbath:

On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken.

Genesis 2:2

Sacred silence fell upon the earth as the King slept. Unseen marvels took place as Jesus descended into Sheol “to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve” and to “proclaim the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.”

The Son took his mother and father by the hand and raised them. 

Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you. We are one and cannot be separated. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you.2

After a full Sabbath’s rest, a new day would dawn, the eighth day, for “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5).3


1 From an Ancient Homily on Holy Saturday, and Catechism of the Catholic Church 632.

2 From an Ancient Homily on Holy Saturday.

3 Catechism of the Catholic Church 349. 

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