Pope Francis prostrates himself Pope Francis, Good Friday--Aleteia

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Peter bears witness to Christ once more

Photo by Alberto Pizzoli for AFP
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Photo of the Day: April 18, 2017

Happy Easter, Aleteia readers! This week, in honor of Christ’s resurrection, we are bringing you photos of Holy week celebrations from around the world.

VATICAN CITY – APRIL 14, 2017: Pope Francis lies on the ground to pray during the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday at St Peter’s Basilica. Christians around the world amarked Holy Week, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, leading up to his resurrection on Easter.

Many religions employ prostration as gesture of submission to a higher power. In Catholicism, prostration is always made toward the altar or tabernacle. Catholics most commonly employ this gesture during the imposition of Holy Orders, Religious Profession and the Consecration of Virgins. It is also common to see people prostrate themselves before the Blessed Sacrament during Adoration.

Full prostration is different from genuflection, which involves kneeling and touching the floor with the hands, but with the torso off the floor. Genuflection is a lesser prostration, along with varying degrees of bows.

Aleteia’s Philip Kosloski wrote an explanation of genuflection last month:

So why do Catholics genuflect when they walk into a church?

Historically speaking, the act of genuflecting on one knee comes from court etiquette and was done while in the presence of a medieval king or noble. It was a sign of respect as well as a pledge of service.

Christians adopted this custom over time, and it became fully integrated into the liturgy of the Roman Rite by the 16th century. The left knee was always used to give reverence to a king and so to distinguish the Christian usage of the custom, Christians would genuflect in church on the right knee to God.

God has always been known to Jews and Christians as a king who is rich in mercy and boundless in love. To give honor to that “King of Love,” Christians thought it fitting to pay respect and honor to him by genuflecting every time they entered his “court.”

See more photos here.

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