The Epitaphios is a religious, embroidered fabric with rich decoration depicting the dead body of Jesus Christ. It shows him after he has been taken down from the cross, as they prepare to bury him. It is often accompanied with images of his mother the Virgin Mary , as well as other forms such as John , Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene and angels according to the descriptions in the Gospels. In some cases the four Evanglists are shown in the corniers and in others Jesus Christ is alone with angels. It is used during the church services of Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
The word Epitaphios is complex and comes from the Greek words “epi” meaning on and “tafos” meaning grave. It is short also for the phrase Epitaphios Thrinos which means Epitaph lamentation and is the church service that takes place on Good Friday.
On Good Friday morning, the Epitaphios and the canopy it is placed in are is decorated with red , white and purple spring flowers and is then sprinkled with rosewater. The Epitaphios is visited by the faithful until the night.
During the Good Friday service, each parish holds a procession in which bells ring in mourning in remembrance of Christ's funeral. The procession usually takes place around the church square and many believers pass under under it. The Epitaphios is returned to the church where it will remain until the Ascension.