Genuflecting/ kneeling in front of the tabernacle at Good Friday?


This question arose quite fast after I went to Holy Thursday mass at my local parish tonight.
Shall I genuflect towards the empty tabernacle when entering the church on Good Friday?
Isn’t it kind of pointless when it doesn’t contain Christ, but are empty or do we genuflect towards the altar that day??

Thanks in advance for any answers I may recieve:)

Yours in Jesus and Mary

  • MarianCatholic


You don’t genuflect to an empty tabernacle. It’s empty! You can bow to the altar instead.


I think one is supposed to genuflect to the crucifix during this period. However, I don’t remember where I picked that up or how official it is.


I’ve never genuflected before a crucifix before. If I did that I’d be genuflecting before every person who wears one, too, and that would be super awkward.

Because I have bad knees I cannot genuflect, anyway. I bow before the ‘occupied’ tabernacle on ordinary days. When the tabernacle is empty, from Holy Thursday through the Easter Vigil, I bow my head before the altar when entering the church or passing across the church but I do not bow from the waist. If I could genuflect I would bow before the altar during this solemn time.


If you pas the alter of repose when the blessed sacrament reserved then you should genuflect as reverence to the blessed sacrament. After the solemn liturgy of the lord’s passion and the Crucifix is left for people to venerate then you should if you can genuflect .

: In nomine Patris, + et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.
Introibo ad altare Dei. R: Ad deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.


No I don’t think so, Jesus isn’t present.


For us converts, can someone put this in plain English. :wink:

My question was similar - when leaving the sanctuary after the procession on Holy Thursday, should one genuflect to the empty tabernacle? I assume the answer is the same as for entering the sanctuary on Good Friday. But I’m still confused as to what the answer is.


From the GIRM

  1. A genuflection, made by bending the right knee to the ground, signifies adoration, and therefore it is reserved for the Most Blessed Sacrament, as well as for the Holy Cross from the solemn adoration during the liturgical celebration on Good Friday until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.



thank you!!!


No. You bow towards the altar. The Eucharist is elsewhere ( a chapel, or another room) and it would not be appropriate to genuflect in the general direction of where you think it may be reposed.


Thanks - Joe


OK I’ll give it a try.

My question was similar - when leaving the sanctuary after the procession on Holy Thursday, should one genuflect to the empty tabernacle?

No. Not to the empty tabernacle, exactly because it is empty.
However, if you pass the tabernacle that does have the Blessed Sacrament (what we call the place of repose, or tabernacle of repose) then yes. This would be the “temporary tabernacle” to put it into plain English.

I assume the answer is the same as for entering the sanctuary on Good Friday. But I’m still confused as to what the answer is.

It would be the same thing for Good Friday, with regard to the tabernacles, as above.

Entering on Good Friday will be the same. However, when leaving on Good Friday, the Crucifix will be solemnly displayed (when you enter it will still be covered in violet from Thursday evening), and on this particular day we do genuflect to the Crucifix.

Is that confusing enough?

If it’s still confusing, don’t worry. Lifelong Catholics get confused this week. Even priests :wink: I made a big one tonight (and no, my lips [and my keyboard] are sealed).

Since you’re asking about vocabulary, you won’t be entering the “sanctuary” on Good Friday, you’ll be entering the nave (or just “the church”). The sanctuary is only the place within the church where the altar is located.


Thank you - to all who answered!

I noticed that it’s confusing to lifelong Catholics, as many of them at my parish still genuflect to the empty tabernacle.


Some of them may be confused but I believe that most of them are just not thinking and genuflect out of habit. Some, start to genuflect then catch themselves when they see the opened tabernacle and the sanctuary light gone. I’ve done that too.


Yes, it’s most likely habit. It even happens to some of us when slipping into our seat at the movies. :smiley:


When I was a little girl in the mid 1960s, my mother taught me that on Good Friday it is appropriate to genuflect on both knees accompanied by a deep bow of the head (she is nearly 90), so I am assuming at one time this was the tradition. But based on comments upthread-it appears that this incorrect. Does anyone remember this being the custom at sometime in the past? Perhaps prior to Vatican II? Thanks for reading!


We used to genuflect on two knees at Benediction when the Blessed Sacrament was exposed in the monstrance. That might have been the tradition for the altar of repose too.


No, it has never been a custom to genuflect on two knees on Good Friday. Like the previous poster wrote, it has been the tradition to genuflect on two knees when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in the monstrance. When we walk into church on Good Friday, the Blessed Sacrament is not even in the tabernacle so a genuflection would be inappropriate at that time. However, at the Good Friday Service, we venerate the cross. In most places that I have been, we kiss the cross but a bow or genuflection is also a proper reverence during this time.


I appreciate the kind responses to my question. I do understand the rationale, which is why any genuflection on this day baffled me! Possibly this was some local parish tradition, or more likely, the perpetuation of a long standing and well meaning (but incorrect) custom.


We did too. I most distinctly remember genuflecting on two knees toward the altar on Good Friday.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit