The Easter Sepulchre is an arched recess generally in the north wall of the chancel, in which from Good Friday to Easter day were deposited the crucifix and sacred elements in commemoration of Christ's entombment and resurrection. It was generally only a wooden structure, which was placed in a recess or on a tomb.
The Easter Sepulchre contained the Blessed Sacrament of the altar, the Host. Following the doctrine of the Real Presence, i.e. that Jesus is physically present within in the Host, the Host was taken from the tabernacle of the Church on Good Friday evening and placed in a coffin-like box. Candles were lit around the sepulchre, burial clothes adorned it, and parishioners stood guard until early Easter morning at the first Mass. The Host was brought out, in imitation of Jesus having arisen out of the tomb, and was placed again in the tabernacle in the center of the Church.
There are throughout Great Britain many fine examples in stone, some of which belong to the Decorated period, such as:
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- Chisholm 1911, p. 655.
- Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England 1400-1580, Yale University Press, 1992.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Sepulchre, Easter". Encyclopædia Britannica 24 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 655