Of Tombs that are Empty, and Tombs that are Filling

Queen Melisende’s Psalter: British Library, ms. Egerton 1139, fols. 9v-10: Harrowing of Hell; Three Marys at the tomb of Christ. 1131-1143 (Jerusalem).

Meditating with the images of the Harrowing of Hell and the Three Marys at the tomb of Christ (from the early twelfth-century Queen Melisende’s Psalter, created at the scriptorium of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, no less), I saw that there was more than one empty tomb, on that first Easter morn. That is, there was more than one empty tomb if one is willing to follow a tradition that says that Christ brought out of the grave Adam and Eve, in the Harrowing of Hell. In the Queen Melisende Psalter, Adam and Eve are depicted as rising out of their tombs, with Kings David and Solomon standing on theirs, all praising the Christ who calls them out of the grave.

With everything that is in me, I want to believe that many tombs were emptied in Christ’s Resurrection, and that death itself was put to death. At the same time, I cannot not see the new tombs that are filling, the mothers who are grieving the senseless and violent deaths of their sons, the graves these mothers will be visiting for as long as they are able.

Photo of Nadiya Trubchaninova: Rodrigo Abd, Associated Press, April 16, 2022

So, on this Easter 2022, I will simply have to hold together the beautiful images from Queen Melisende’s Psalter, with the photo of a Ukrainian mother, Nadiya Trubchaninova, wailing at the coffin of her son Vadym.

Kyrie eleison.

And Alleluia too.

Easter hope 2022 will have to embrace both of these liturgical exclamations. And have faith that only Alleluia will prevail, in the end.


    1. what a perfect, wonderfully liturgical response, Fritz. Thank you. You gladdened my heart with this.

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