Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Good Friday Lamentation

I went to the Saint George Orthodox Church (24 N Rosalind Ave, Orlando, FL 32801) to sketch a Lamentation of Christ service. I knew nothing about what to expect so it was like going to a play without knowing the plot. This church is right on Lake Eola and each week there is a food share in the parking lot behind the church which always brings a crowd. Institutions around the church get upset that they have to clean up the Styrofoam containers that litter the area after each feeding. I'm surprised the church hasn't considered a more ecological way of distributing food.

The Good Friday Lamentation service had a canopy set up at the front of the church which was covered in roses. A cantor in black robes walked through the space waving a golden orb that gave off a smoky incense. The service examines the grief of Mary, a mother watching her son die a torturous death, executed as a criminal, while knowing he was the Son of God.  The liturgical hymns of ancient centuries probe this scene in compelling, chanted dialogue between mother and son on Holy Friday.   The tone is mournful while attention is drawn to a representation of Christ’s tomb: the kouvloukion covered in flowers and holding the epitaphiosan image of the dead Christ. Incense permeates the senses. The mood is solemn as the hymns chanted by the cantors (or psaltis) contemplate the Creator who “became earthly to renew the earthly.” At this moment in the Eastern Orthodox Holy Friday ritual, the chanting is true lamentation. My primary concern was with the beauty of the service.

The Greek Orthodox Church has been serving the needs of the Orthodox community of Orlando for over 35 years, it has become an icon in Downtown. Services are held in Arabic, Greek, Slavonic and English. The Lamentation that I  sketched I believe was in Slavic. Towards the end of the service everyone got up and they walked outside the church and circled the building. That was when I decided my sketch was complete.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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