Symbols and Pictures of Holy Week

by | Apr 15, 2014 | Uncategorized

Entry Holy week is so rich in symbols and images! Pope Francis has asked us to reflect on the various people in the drama  to see who we are in our lives. During these days of Holy Week FamVin posts will focus on pictures from the Free Bible Images project that provide inspiration for prayer and contemplation.

Catholic Spirit website has a fine overview the symbols of Holy Week .



• Washing of the feet
This symbolic gesture that is only used once a year emphasizes our call to service. Just as Jesus bent down to wash the feet of his disciples, we are to bend down and serve anyone and everyone in need.

• Collection of the gifts for the poor
Though we are to care for the poor every day of our Christian lives, on Holy Thursday this profoundly Christian calling is emphasized by the collection for the poor, which is part of the Mass.

• Celebration of the Eucharist
On this night, when we commemorate Jesus’ institution of the Eucharist and his command to do this in memory of him, we take great care in celebrating the Eucharist particularly well.

• Procession with the Blessed Sacrament
Because we do not celebrate the Eucharist on Good Friday we reserve the precious Body of Christ for the celebration of our Lord’s Passion the next day. At the end of Mass on Holy Thursday, we bring the Blessed Sacrament to a place of repose where vigil is kept till midnight.


• Proclamation of the Passion
The center of our faith story is the passion narrative. The life of Jesus led to his condemnation, his torture and ultimately his death on the cross. On this day, when we commemorate the death of Jesus, we meditate on the last moments in Jesus’ life as they have been recounted in the Gospel of St. John.

• Prayers for the needs of the world
On Good Friday, we take our time to pray for the needs of the entire world. Where on Sundays and during weekday Masses we offer certain petitions, today we pray for everyone, ranging from the Holy Father to those who reject Christ.

• Veneration of the cross
The cross, which is a tool of humiliation, torture and death, is the instrument of salvation for us. By his death on the cross and his resurrection, Jesus forged the path of salvation for all of us. Because of this, we venerate the wood of the cross on Good Friday. By kissing the cross, we not only honor Jesus’ self-sacrifice but we also commit ourselves to live by that cross.


• Easter fire
The lighting of fires at the time of the summer and winter solstice as well as on the spring and fall equinox was a pre-Christian ritual celebrating the light that conquers the darkness. For Christians, Jesus is the Light of the World, who once and for all conquers the darkness. During the Easter Vigil, when we celebrate the resurrection, we begin with this great symbol of light conquering darkness.

• Easter candle
The Easter candle or the Christ candle is the symbol of Christ the Light. It is lit from the Easter fire and burns throughout the Easter season. This candle is also used during baptisms and during funerals. In both instances, it symbolizes the Resurrection in which we have a part by virtue of our baptism. During the Easter Vigil, all who are present light their individual candles from the Easter candle, symbolizing that we are to share the light of Christ with the whole world.

• Baptismal waters
Water is used for the sacrament of baptism because it symbolizes the three main aspects of baptism: water cleanses, water destroys, water gives life. Indeed, in baptism we are cleansed from all sins including original sin; in baptism, we die with Christ in order to rise with him; in baptism, we are birthed into the church as we become new Christians.

• Sacred Chrism
The one characteristic of oil is that it penetrates our skin and makes our skin glow. Because of this, oil has been used to symbolize the fact that, in confirmation, the Holy Spirit penetrates our whole being and makes us luminous with his gifts.