1. Religion & Spirituality

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:


was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

Most Emailed Articles

The Bible and Suicide

Good Friday, Great Friday
<Back to Last Page >     <Glossary Index>

 Related Terms
Roman Catholicism


Good Friday is the Friday before Easter and the date during Holy Week when Christians do penance and commemorate the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The earliest evidence of Christians engaging in fasting and penance on this date can be traced back to the 2nd century - a time when many Christians celebrated every Friday as a feast day in remembrance of Jesus' death.

Today, Good Friday services in the Roman Catholic Church are much the same as they have been for centuries. The liturgy begins at 3:00 PM and is divided into three separate parts: prayers and readings (including the passion story from the Gospel of John and known as the Liturgy of the Word), the veneration of the cross (a Latin rite which involves kissing the foot of the crucifix which stands at the entrance of the sanctuary), and finally Holy Communion. There may also be what is known as the Three Hours Service, held from noon to 3:00 PM, which involves a series of hymns, prayers, and sermons focused upon Jesus' seven last words on the cross. Good Friday and the following Holy Saturday are the only dates of the year when mass is not celebrated in Roman Catholic churches.

In Eastern Orthodox churches, Good Friday is more commonly known as Great Friday and it actually begins the prior evening with readings from various passion stories in the New Testament. There is no eucharist service celebrated, but there is a reenactment of the burial of Jesus. Protestant churches also hold special services on Good Friday, often including Holy Communion and a Three Hours Service. Whereas Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians typically fast on Good Friday, many Protestants observe this date as a feast in honor of Jesus' act to redeem humanity from its sins.

Also Known As: none

Alternate Spellings: none

Common Misspellings: none

Related Resources:

What is Christianity?
What are the various Christian groups, denominations, sects and heresies? What are some key concepts in Christian theology? What are some of the most important events in Christian history? All of this and more are covered in the Christianity FAQ.

What is the Philosophy of Religion?
Sometimes confused with theology, the Philosophy of Religion is the philosophical study of religious beliefs, religious doctrines, religious arguments and religious history. The line between theology and the philosophy of religion isn't always sharp, but the primary difference is that theology tends to be apologetical in nature, committed to the defense of particular religious positions, whereas Philosophy of Religion is committed to the investigation of religion itself, rather than the truth of any particular religion.

What is Theism?
What is the difference between monotheism and monolatry? Between pantheism and panentheism? How about between animism and shamanism? Or theism and deism? What the heck is henotheism?

What is Religion?
A system of human beliefs, ideals and practices which is harder to define than it may at first appear. Read more about how dictionaries, scholars and others have tried to define and explain religion.

<Back to Last Page >     <Glossary Index>
  1. About.com
  2. Religion & Spirituality
  3. Agnosticism & Atheism

©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.