Today the Orthodox Church observes Holy Monday, the beginning of Holy and Great Easter Week, culminating with Pascha, as Easter Sunday is called in Greek, in six days.

The “Holy Passion” as Easter Week is known in Greece begins today, presenting Joseph the all-comely as a prefiguring of Christ.

The liturgy celebrated on Holy Monday recounts Joseph of the Old Testament, the 11th son of Jacob, and his first son by Rachel.

According to the Book of Genesis, because Joseph was so beloved of his father, his own brethren came to envy him and cast him into a pit. Later they sold him to foreigners for 30 pieces of silver – who later sold him again in Egypt.

As the Old Testament relates, because of his virtue, his master gave him much authority in governing his house; because he was fair of countenance, his master’s wife sought to draw him into sin; because of his chastity, he refused, and through her slanders was cast into prison. Finally, he was led forth again with great glory and was honored as a king. He became lord over all Egypt and a provider of wheat for all the people. Through all this, he typifies, in himself, the betrayal, Passion, death and glorification of Christ.

Along with the commemoration of Patriarch Joseph is the narration, heard in Orthodox cathedrals around the world, concerning the “fig tree”, which on this day was cursed and subsequently dried up because of its unfruitfulness.