You probably already guessed the topic of today’s entry. Although the American Red Cross is a non-denominational organization, it makes sense to at least review the roots of Good Friday and briefly examine some modern iterations of this Catholic holiday. We would also like to pay homage to those who perished in the earthquake in L’Aquila, Italy, and share how the Red Cross collaborated with local officials to help the victims of this catastrophe.

Ironically, Good Friday commemorates the day Jesus Christ was crucified. According to the King James Bible (John 19:17-22), with identical versions in other scriptures, Jesus was brought before Roman Governor Pontius Pilate for trial. The trial – The Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus – was an event reported by all the Canonical Gospels of the Bible.

The accounts declare that after Jesus and his followers celebrated Passover as their Last Supper, Jesus was betrayed by his apostle Judas Iscariot, and arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was then put on trial by Jewish authorities to determine whether his guilt, in their eyes, justified handing him over to the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate with their request that the Roman Empire put Jesus to death on popular demand from the people.

As early as the first century, the Church set aside every Friday as a special day of prayer and fasting. It was not until the fourth century, however, that the Church began observing the Friday before Easter as the day associated with the crucifixion of Christ. First called Holy or Great Friday by the Greek Church, the name “Good Friday” was adopted by the Roman Church around the sixth or seventh century.

There are two possible origins for the name “Good Friday”. The first may have come from the Gallican Church in Gaul (modern-day France and Germany). The name “Gute Freitag” is Germanic in origin and literally means “good” or “holy” Friday. The second possibility is a variation on the name “God’s Friday,” where the word “good” was used to replace the word “God,” which was often viewed as too holy for commoners to speak.

According to Wikipedia: In many countries with a strong Christian tradition such as Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, the Philippines, Mexico, Venezuela, the countries of the Caribbean, Germany, Malta, Australia, New Zealand,[38][39][40] and the United Kingdom, the day is observed as a public or federal holiday.

In the United States, Good Friday is not a government holiday. Private businesses and certain other institutions may close or not for Good Friday, according to their preferences. The stock market is closed on Good Friday. However, the vast majority of businesses are open on Good Friday.

Unfortunately, Good Friday for Italians this year was dedicated to the burial of 205 countrymen who died from the catastrophic earthquake that rocked L’Aquila, an ancient town located 75 miles northeast of Rome.

The Times of London reports that Vatican officials prepared to hold mass funerals for victims of Monday’s earthquake. The Pope has given special permission for the funeral to be held on Good Friday, where normally the only masses held are in commemoration of the Crucifixion. He will tonight hold the traditional torchlit Via Crucis (Stations of the Cross) procession at the Colosseum in Rome.

Italian Red Cross rescue teams were on the scene of the disaster within an hour after the earthquake struck, searching for people trapped in the rubble and providing emergency care for the injured. The Italian Civil Protection Services have also responded and are taking the lead in coordinating response activities.

Working in close coordination with Italian Civil Protection Services, the Italian Red Cross has activated its national operations center, as well as four regional offices, to respond effectively to the growing needs of survivors.

With up to 10,000 buildings in the city believed to be badly damaged or destroyed, the Italian Red Cross anticipates growing needs for shelter, warm clothes and food for the survivors.

The American Red Cross will continue to monitor the situation and communicate with the Italian Red Cross and International Federation, and stands ready to provide assistance if requested.

For the latest information on Red Cross relief efforts, visit http://www.redcross.org/ and regardless of your religious beliefs, dedicate a moment of silence for those who perished in this week’s earthquake, and support the Red Cross so we can continue to serve the world in times of need.

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