Holy Saturday in Liturgical Tradition

Making Sacred Space in the Tragic Gap of Holy Saturday, and the Pastoral Impetus for Doing So

  • Nikita Deep Marquette University
Keywords: liturgical theology, Holy Saturday, ecumenical worship, tradition, memory, healing


While the Paschal Mystery is central to the Christian tradition, this article is concerned with the lack of robust liturgical focus on Holy Saturday, or Easter Saturday, and will articulate the immense pastoral value in strengthening the focus on this middle day of the Paschal Mystery. This pastoral value is especially salient in dealing with a shared human experience of trauma. Trauma is used here not only in reference to the traditional psychological and physiological understanding of trauma, but also encapsulates spiritual struggles of guilt, shortcomings, sin, and grief—in short, all that which pierces and lingers on our conscience and memory. This article weaves together liturgical, historical, and systematic perspectives to argue for a “theology of pause” regarding Easter Saturday, which can be a sacred space in which one acknowledges the trauma and memory of the human condition, instead of burying them in the rush to remember the joy of the Resurrection and all that it brings. Continuing with the lens of shared experience, this article also explores various Christian denominations’ narrative theologies regarding, and liturgies for, Holy Saturday, to the end of establishing an ecumenical liturgy of contemplation and healing.