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, on Good Friday the Host was taken from the tabernaclewhere it had been placed following the Maundy Thursday celebration of the Last Supper and, wrapped in linen cloths, 'buried' in the Easter sepulchre which was found on the north wall of the sanctuary. Cut into the wall, it was sometimes ornately carved but within it was a wooden frame on which was hung a cloth pall often embroidered with scenes from the Passion. 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 centre of the Church. Like Roods and their lofts, Easter Sepulchres were the object of iconoclastic fury by the Reformers and few are left.
There are throughout Great Britain many fine examples in stone, some of which are Decorated Gothic, such as:
East Riding of Yorkshire
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- 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.