Vespers of the Unnailing of the Lord on the evening of Good Friday
The Historical roots of the UNNAILING of the Lord is drawn from the 15th Century “Vespers of the Unnailing” (still practiced in the Liturgy of the Antiochene Rite). In the Latin Rite, this liturgy of the deposition of Jesus from the Cross observed up till today by the Franciscans in the Holy Sepulcher and the Franciscans in Assisi. (see here http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2008/04/burial-of-christ-crucified-in-jerusalem.html#.XJuNZaBS85s and here http://www.annesitaly.com/blog/good-friday-in-assisi-ancient-traditions-live-on/ )
During this service, the removal of the Body of Christ from the Cross is commemorated with sobriety. Psalms are sung and scripture recounting passion are read together with hymns, followed by the removal of Christ from the Cross and the wrapping of His body with a white sheet as did Joseph of Arimathea followed by Procession to the placing of Christ in his place of rest and Kissing of the Icon for the Lord.
Basil of Caesarea, in his writing On the Holy Spirit, says: “The honor paid to the image and to kiss the icon of Christ on this day, is to show love towards Christ Jesus himself so as to enjoin ourselves to His saving death as he is laid in the tomb and so that we may also raise with Him to be sharers of His resurrection.”