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The Harrowing of Hell The Harrowing of Hell

Two of my grandsons were discussing the meaning of Easter. Their conversation went something like this. George (age 5): ‘Luke, do you know that Easter time is when Jesus died on the cross?’ Luke (age 3)  ‘Yeah … then he fell down a big hole!’ Now in some ways that is not a bad answer. What are we to make of Easter Saturday? The Western Church has a lot to say about the events of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday … but little is said of Easter Saturday. Easter Saturday seems a puzzle to many Christians.

Interestingly, Orthodox Easter icons do not portray the empty tomb which is the typical representation in Western Christianity. Rather, the Easter icons of the Orthodox Church depict what is known as ‘the harrowing of hell’. The harrowing of hell refers to the events between Jesus’ death…

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