Holy Week
April 2-9, 2023

From early times Christians have observed the week before Easter as a time of special devotion. As the pilgrim Egeria recorded in the late fourth century, Jerusalem contained many sacred places that were sites for devotion and liturgy. Numerous pilgrims to the holy city followed the path of Jesus in his last days. They formed processions, worshipped where Christ suffered and died, and venerated relics. From this beginning evolved the rites we observe today on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. These services provide a liturgical experience of the last days of Jesus' earthly life, as well as the time and events leading up to his resurrection. The Book of Common Prayer provides special liturgies for each of these days. The eucharistic lectionary also provides proper readings for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in Holy Week. Some parishes observe the service of Tenebrae on one of these days in Holy Week. In many dioceses, the diocesan clergy will make a reaffirmation of ordination vows in the context of a eucharist during Holy Week, usually before Maundy Thursday. The three holy days, or Triduum, of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday are at the heart of the Holy Week observance. In many Episcopal parishes, the liturgical color for Holy Week from Palm Sunday through Maundy Thursday is red. Holy Week ends at sundown on the Saturday before Easter, or with the celebration of the Easter Vigil.

A sacred period . . .

This is Holy Week, the most sacred period of our Christian faith. It is a time when we gather together as a community of faith to journey with Jesus to Jerusalem, to stand with him before his accusers, to walk to Golgotha, and to stand at the foot of his cross. Finally, on Easter Sunday, we will joyously celebrate the resurrection of Christ, lifting our voices in praise of the hope that is ours and the world’s.

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday on April 2. Services are scheduled for: 

10 a.m. Sunday, April 2
Sunday of the Passion (Palm Sunday)

6: 30 p.m. Thursday, April 6
Maundy Thursday (with Agape Meal)

Noon and 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 7
Good Friday
Stations of the Cross will be read after the Noon service and at 6 p.m. (30 minutes before the 6:30 p.m. service)

10 a.m. Sunday, April 9
Sunday of the Resurrection (Easter Sunday) 


This form of the monastic office (matins and lauds) is commonly adapted for congregational use during Holy Week. The office is structured around psalms, readings, and responsories. A distinguishing characteristic of this service is the series of readings from Lamentations which appear early in the office. The distinctive ceremonial of Tenebrae includes use of fifteen lighted candles, often set on a special, triangular stand. One candle is extinguished as each of the fourteen appointed psalms is completed. The fifteenth candle, symbolic of Christ, is left lighted at the end of the final psalm. But it is carried away to be hidden, which signifies the apparent victory of the forces of evil. A sudden loud noise is made at the end of the service, symbolizing the earthquake at Christ's death. The lighted candle is then restored to its place, suggesting Christ's eventual triumph. The Book of Occasional Services includes Tenebrae as an option for use on Wednesday in Holy Week.