Alexandrian Rite

The Alexandrian Rite is the liturgical rite used by the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church and Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, as well as by the three corresponding Eastern Catholic Churches.

The Alexandrian rite's Divine Liturgy contains elements from the liturgies of Saints Mark the Evangelist (who is traditionally regarded as the first bishop of Alexandria), Basil the Great, Cyril the Great, and Gregory Nazianzus. The Liturgy of Saint Cyril is a Coptic language translation from Greek of the Liturgy of Saint Mark.

The Alexandrian Rite is sub-grouped into two rites: the Coptic Rite and the Ge'ez Rite. The Coptic Rite is native to Egypt and traditionally uses the Coptic language with a few phrases in Greek. It is used in the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Coptic Catholic Church. Arabic and a number of other modern languages (including English) are also used.[1] The Ge'ez Rite is native to Ethiopia and Eritrea and uses the Ge'ez language. It is used in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo churches, and the Ethiopian and Eritrean Catholic churches.

Divine Liturgy

The main Eucharistic liturgy used by the Coptic Churches is known as the Liturgy of Saint Basil.[2] The term Liturgies of Saint Basil in a Coptic context means not only the sole anaphora with or without the related prayers, but also the general order of the Divine Liturgy in this rite.[3]

The term Liturgy of Saint Basil may refer also to the whole Eucharistic Liturgy which in the Coptic Churches has the following structure:[4][5]


Offertory (or Prothesis) is the part of the liturgy in which the Sacramental bread (قربان qurbān) and wine (أبركه abarkah) are chosen and placed on the altar. All these rites are medieval developments.[6]

It begins with the dressing of the priest with vestments and the preparation of the altar, along with prayers of worthiness for the celebrant. At this point is chanted the appropriate hour of the Canonical hours, followed by the washing of the hands with its prayer of worthiness, and by the proclamation of the Nicene Creed.

Then takes place the elaborate rite of the choosing of the Lamb: while the congregation sing 41 times the Kyrie eleison, the priest checks the wine and chooses among the bread one loaf which will be consecrated (the Lamb). The Lamb is cleaned with a napkin and blessed with the priest's thumb wet of wine. Afterwards the priest takes the Lamb in procession around the altar and the deacon follows with the wine and a candle.[2] At the altar, the priest, with appropriate prayers, blesses the Lamb and the wine, places the Lamb in the Paten and pours wine and a few drops of water in the chalice (the chalice is stowed into a wooden box named ark on the altar).

The last part of the offertory resembles an anaphora: after a dialogue, the priest blesses the congregation and proclaims a prayer of thanksgiving, giving thanks to God for his support to us, and asking him for a worthy participation to the liturgy. Then comes the prayer of covering, said inaudibly by the priest, which has the form of an epiclesis, asking God to show his face on the gifts, and to change them in order that the bread and wine may became the Body and Blood of Christ. This text might come from an ancient anaphora or simply be a later High Middle Ages creation.[6] The paten and the ark with inside the chalice are here covered with a veil.

Liturgy of the Catechumens

In the Liturgy of the Catechumens the readings from the New Testament are proclaimed. This portion of the Divine Liturgy was in the ancient times the beginning of the liturgy, and the only part which could be attended by the catechumens. This part is roughly equivalent to the Liturgy of the Word in the Western Rites.

It begins with a Penitential Rite in which first the priest prays inaudibly Christ for the forgiveness of sins (The Absolution to the Son) and then all the participants kneel in front of the altar and the celebrant, or the bishop if present, recites a prayer of absolution (The Absolution to the Ministers).

The reading from the Pauline epistles is preceded by the offering of incense at the four sides of the altar, at the iconostasis, at the book of the Gospel and at the faithful in the nave; in the meantime the faithful sing a hymn to Mary and a hymn of intercession. The Pauline epistle is followed by a reading from the Catholic epistles, and by one from the Acts of the Apostles. Another offering of incense is conducted (the Praxis Incense), similar to the Pauline incense except that only the first row of the faithful is incensed. A reading from the Coptic Synaxarium can follow.

After these readings, the Trisagion is sung three times, each time with a different reference to the Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, thus addressing the Trisagion to Christ only. After the Trisagion follows a litany, the recital of a Psalm and the singing of the Alleluia, and finally the proclamation of the Gospel from the doors of the sanctuary. The sermon may follow.

Liturgy of the Faithful

The Liturgy of the Faithful is the core of the Divine Liturgy, where are placed the proper Eucharistic rites.

It begins with the prayer of the Veil,[6] in which the priest offers the liturgical sacrifice to God. The Long Litanies follows, where all pray for the peace, for the ecclesiastic hierarchy and for the congregation. The Nicean Creed is proclaimed, the priest washes his hands three times and sprinkles water on the congregation reciting the Prayer of Reconciliation which is a prayer of worthiness for all who attend the liturgy. Next is the Kiss of peace during which the faithful sing the Aspasmos Adam hymn, according to the season of the liturgical calendar.


The Anaphora is conducted.

The Egyptian (or Coptic) anaphora of Saint Basil, even if related and using the same Antiochene (or "West Syrian") structure,[7] represents a different group from the Byzantine, West Syrian and Armenian grouping of anaphoras of Saint Basil. The Egyptian version does not derive directly from the latter and has its own peculiarities: its text is more brief, with less Scriptural and allusive enhancements, and it lacks well defined Trinitarian references,[8]:113 which are typical of other versions and reflect the theology of the First Council of Constantinople of 381.

The structure of the Bohairic Coptic version used today in the Coptic Churches can be summarized as follow:

The 7th-century Sahidic Coptic version found in 1960[9] shows an earlier and more sober form of the Bohairic text: the manuscript, incomplete in its first part, begins with the Post Sanctus, and is followed by a terse Institution narrative, by a pithy Anamnesis which simply lists the themes and ends with the oblation. The next Epiclesis consists only of the prayer to the Holy Spirit to come and manifest the gifts, without any explicit request to change the gifts in the Body and Blood of Christ. The intercessions are shorter and only Mary is named among the saints.[8]:112

After the Anaphora

After the anaphora takes place the consignation,[6] i.e. the moistening of the Lamb with some drops of the consecrated Wine, which is show to the worship of the faithful. The Fraction of the consecrated Lamb ensues, during which the priest says a prayer which varies according to the Coptic calendar. All of the congregation stands and prays with open hands the Lord's Prayer.

To be prepared for partaking of the Eucharist, the faithful bow while the celebrant says in low voice the prayer of submission, then the priest and the participants offer each other a wish of peace and the priest inaudibly prays the Father for the forgiveness of sins (The Absolution to the Father).

The Elevation is similar to that in the Byzantine Rite, with the celebrant who raises the portion of the Lamb engraved with a cross (the ispadikon) crying: "The holy things for the holy ones". The priest makes a second consignation and puts gently the ispakidon in the chalice (the commixture),[10] then he recites aloud a Confession of faith. The partaking of the Eucharist follows, first the Body of Christ given to the celebrants, to the deacons and to the faithful who approach the sanctuary without shoes and then the Blood of Christ in the same order. Psalm 150 is sung in the meantime. The distribution of the Eucharist ends with a blessing with the Paten.

The dismissal rites include The Prayer of Laying the Hands and the final blessing.

Canonical hours

The Alexandrian Rite is observed by the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and the Coptic Catholic Church. The cycle of canonical hours is largely monastic, primarily composed of psalm readings. The Coptic equivalent of the Byzantine Horologion is the Agpeya.

Seven canonical hours exist, corresponding largely to the Byzantine order, with an additional "Prayer of the Veil" which is said by Bishops, Priests, and Monks (something like the Byzantine Midnight Office).

The hours are chronologically laid out, each containing a theme corresponding to events in the life of Jesus Christ:

  • "Midnight Praise" (said in the early morning before dawn) commemorates the Second Coming of Christ. It consists of three watches, corresponding to the three stages of Christ's prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane ( Matthew 25:1-13 ).
  • Prime (dawn) is said upon waking in the morning or after the Midnight Praise the previous night. Associated with the Eternity of God, the Incarnation of Christ, and his Resurrection from the dead.
  • Terce (9 a.m.) commemorates Christ's trial before Pilate, the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
  • Sext (noon) commemorates the Passion of Christ.
Terce and Sext are prayed before each Divine Liturgy.
  • None (3 p.m.) commemorates the death of Christ on the Cross. This hour is also read during fasting days.
  • Vespers (sunset) commemorates the taking down of Christ from the Cross.
  • Compline (9 p.m. – before bedtime) commemorates the burial of Christ, the Final Judgment.
Vespers and Compline are both read before the Liturgy during Lent and the Fast of Nineveh.
  • The Veil is reserved for bishops, priests and monks, as an examination of conscience.

Every one of the Hours follows the same basic outline:

  • Introduction, which includes the Lord's Prayer
  • Prayer of Thanksgiving
  • Psalm 50 (LXX).
  • Various Psalms
  • An excerpt from the Holy Gospel
  • Short Litanies
  • Some prayers (Only during Prime and Compline)
  • Lord Have Mercy is then chanted 41 times (representing the 39 lashes Christ received before the crucifixion, plus one for the spear in His side, plus one for the crown of thorns)
  • Prayer of "Holy Holy Holy..." and Lord's Prayer
  • Prayer of Absolution
  • Prayer of Every Hour


  1. ^ Eastern and Oriental Catholic Directory: Alexandrian Rite
  2. ^ a b Chaillot, Christine (2006). "The Ancient Oriental Churches". In Wainwright, Geoffrey (ed.). The Oxford history of Christian worship. Oxford New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 137–9. ISBN 9780195138863.
  3. ^ Cody, Aelred (1991). "Anaphora of Saint Basil". The Coptic encyclopedia. 1. Macmillan. 121b-123b. ISBN 002897025X.
  4. ^ Sleman, Abraam (ed.). "St. Basil Liturgy Reference Book" (PDF). Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  5. ^ Malaty, Tadrous Y. (1973). Christ in the Eucharist. OrthodoxEbooks. p. 119.
  6. ^ a b c d Spinks, Bryan (2010). "Oriental Orthodox Liturgical Traditions". In Parry, Ken (ed.). The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity. Malden, Mass: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 361–2. ISBN 9781444333619.
  7. ^ Mazza, Enrico (1995). The origins of the Eucharistic prayer. Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press. p. 612. ISBN 9780814661192.
  8. ^ a b Stuckwish, D. Richard (1997). "The Basilian anaphoras". In Bradshaw, Paul F. (ed.). Essays on early Eastern eucharistic prayers. Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press. ISBN 978-0814661536.
  9. ^ J.Doresse and E. Lanne, Un témoin archaique de la liturgie copte de S.Basile, Louvain, 1960
  10. ^ "The Fraction in The Coptic Orthodox Liturgy". Archived from the original on 9 March 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2012.


External links

Anaphora (liturgy)

The Anaphora is the most solemn part of the Divine Liturgy, or the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, during which the offerings of bread and wine are consecrated as the body and blood of Christ. This is the usual name for this part of the Liturgy in Greek-speaking Eastern Christianity. In western Christian traditions which have a comparable rite, the Anaphora is more often called the Roman Canon in the Latin liturgy, or the Eucharistic Prayer for the three additional modern anaphoras. When the Roman Rite had a single Eucharistic Prayer (between the Council of Trent and Vatican II), it was called the Canon of the Mass.

"Anaphora" is a Greek word (ἀναφορά) meaning a "carrying back" (hence its meaning in rhetoric and linguistics) or a "carrying up", and so an "offering" (hence its use in reference to the offering of sacrifice to God). In the sacrificial language of the Greek version of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint, προσφέρειν (prospherein) is used of the offerer's bringing the victim to the altar, and ἀναφέρειν (anapherein) is used of the priest's offering up the selected portion upon the altar (see, for instance, Leviticus 2:14, 2:16, 3:1, 3:5).

Cathedral of Our Lady of Egypt

The Our Lady of Egypt Cathedral also called Coptic Catholic Cathedral of Cairo is a religious building in Cairo, affiliated with the Catholic Church. It follows the Coptic or Alexandrian rite and is located at 39 Mustafa Fahmi Street.The church is distinct from the other Catholic cathedrals of the city that use diverse Catholic rites. Among these are the Roman Catholic and Eastern churches, and the Oriental Orthodox Coptic cathedral.

The temple serves as the main church of the Catholic Coptic Patriarchate of Alexandria (Patriarchatus Alexandrinus Coptorum) which began in 1741 as an apostolic vicariate created by Pope Benedict XIV and which was elevated to its present status in 1895 under the pontificate of Pope Leo XIII with the bull "Christi Domini".

It is under the pastoral responsibility of the Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak.

Coptic Catholic Church

The Coptic Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic particular church in full communion with the Catholic Church. The Coptic Catholic Church uses the Alexandrian Rite. Uniquely among Eastern Catholic Churches, it uses the Coptic language (derived from Ancient Egyptian, hence the name) in its liturgy, whereas the Ethiopian Catholic Church and Eritrean Catholic Church use the Alexandrian Rite in the Ge'ez language.

The current Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria is Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, who replaced Antonios Naguib in 2013. The offices of the Patriarchate are located in Cairo. The patriarchal Cathedral of Our Lady of Egypt is in Nasr City, a suburb of Cairo.

Coptic Catholic Eparchy of Giza

The Coptic Catholic Eparchy of Giza is an Eastern Catholic diocese in Giza. It is one of the suffragan sees comprising the sole ecclesiastical province (covering all Egypt) of the Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, the head of the Coptic Catholic Church, a Particular church sui iuris (Alexandrian Rite).

Its episcopal see is Saint-George cathedral in Giza, which is part of the national capital Cairo's metropolitan area.

Coptic Catholic Eparchy of Minya

The Coptic Catholic Eparchy of Minya is a suffragan eparchy (Eastern Catholic diocese) of the Coptic Catholic Church (Alexandrian Rite in Coptic language) in its sole ecclesiastical province, that of the Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria (whose see is in Cairo).

It has its episcopal see the cathedral of Christ King located in Minya, the capital of the Minya Governorate in Upper Egypt.

Coptic Catholic Patriarchate of Alexandria

The Coptic Catholic Patriarchate of Alexandria is the Patriarchal and only Metropolitan see of the head of the Eastern sui iuris Coptic Catholic Church, a particular Church in the Catholic Church in full communion with the Holy See, which follows the Alexandrian Rite in its own Coptic language. He is thus the superior of all Coptic dioceses, mostly in and around Egypt (where all its sees are), Copt(ic) being corruptions of the Greek word for Egypt(ian).

It has two cathedral archiepiscopal sees, both in Egypt: one dedicated to Our Lady of Egypt, in the national capital Cairo, the other dedicated to the Resurrection, in Ancient Alexandria.

Coptic Rite

Coptic Rite may refer to:

Liturgical rite of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, or many satellite Coptic churches in the Oriental Orthodox communion

Liturgical rite of the Coptic Catholic Church, one of the Eastern Catholic Churches in communion with the Holy See

The Alexandrian Rite, known as the Liturgy of Saint Mark, broadly the rite used by both churches above

Eastern Christianity

Eastern Christianity comprises church families that developed outside the Occident, with major bodies including the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox churches, the Eastern Catholic Churches (that are in communion with Rome but still maintain Eastern liturgies), and the denominations descended from the Church of the East. The Ukrainian Lutheran Church is also an Eastern Christian church that uses the Byzantine Rite. The term is used in contrast with Western Christianity (namely the Latin Church and most of Protestantism), although its scope has been one of continual discussion. Eastern Christianity consists of the Christian traditions and churches that developed distinctively over several centuries in the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Malabar coast of South India, and parts of the Far East. The term does not describe a single communion or religious denomination. Some Eastern churches have more in common historically and theologically with Western Christianity than with one another. The various Eastern churches do not normally refer to themselves as "Eastern", with the exception of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Ancient Church of the East.

The terms "Eastern" and "Western" in this regard originated with geographical divisions in Christianity mirroring the cultural divide between the Hellenistic east and Latin West, and the political divide between the Western and Eastern Roman empires. Because the largest church in the East is the body currently known as the Eastern Orthodox Church, the term "Orthodox" is often used in a similar fashion to "Eastern", to refer to specific historical Christian communions. However, strictly speaking, most Christian denominations, whether Eastern or Western, consider themselves to be "orthodox" (following correct beliefs) as well as "catholic" (or "universal"), as two of the Four Marks of the Church listed in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed: "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic" (Greek: μία, ἁγία, καθολικὴ καὶ ἀποστολικὴ ἐκκλησία).There are several liturgical rites in use among the Eastern churches (excepting the non-liturgical dissenting bodies). These are the Alexandrian Rite, the Antiochene Rite, the Armenian Rite, the Byzantine Rite, the East Syriac Rite and the West Syriac Rite.

Eritrean Catholic Archeparchy of Asmara

The Eritrean Catholic Archeparchy of Asmara, officially the Archeparchy of Asmara (Latin: Archieparchia Asmarensis or Latin: Metropolitana Ecclesia Asmarensis), more informally Asmara of the Eritreans, is the metropolitan see of the Metropolitan Eritrean Catholic Church, a sui iuris Eastern Catholic Church whose territory corresponds to that of the State of Eritrea in the Horn of Africa. It depends on the Roman Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

As head of an autonomous particular church, the Metropolitan Archeparch, currently Menghesteab Tesfamariam, is mentioned by name, after the Pope, in the liturgies celebrated within the suffragan eparchies of Barentu, Keren and Segheneyti.The Eritrean Catholic Church, like the Ethiopian Catholic Church, from which it was separated in 2015, uses in its liturgy the Ethiopic variant of the Alexandrian Rite in the Ge'ez language. It is the Eastern Catholic counterpart of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, which was granted autocephaly in 1993, and is headed by an Orthodox Patriarch, who also is based in the Eritrean capital. Since the Eritrean Catholic Church is a metropolitanate, not a patriarchal or major archiepiscopal Church, the power of its metropolitan and council of hierarchs is limited to its own territory, which covers all and only Eritrea, (East Africa or, more precisely, the Horn of Africa). Faithful outside of Eritrea are immediately subject to the Pope.The cathedral of the sui iuris metropolitan see is Kidane Mehret Cathedral in Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea. Other Catholic churches in Asmara include Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, which was the former ecclesiastical seat of the Apostolic Vicariate of Eritrea.

Eritrean Catholic Eparchy of Segheneyti

The Eritrean Catholic Eparchy of Segheneyti (Latin: Eparchia Segheneitensis) is a Catholic eparchy located in the town of Segheneyti in Eritrea. It is a part of the ecclesiastical province of Asmara. The eparchy follows the Alexandrian Rite, and has a cathedral of Saint Michael the Archangel.

Ethiopian Catholic Eparchy of Bahir Dar–Dessie

The Ethiopian Catholic Eparchy of Bahir Dar–Dessie (Bahir Dar–Dessie of the Ethiopics) is one of the three suffragan eparchies (Eastern Catholic dioceses) in the ecclesiastical province (covering all Ethiopia) of the Metropolitan Ethiopian Catholic Archeparchy of Addis Abeba, which comprises the entire Ethiopian Catholic Church sui iuris, which practices the Alexandrian Rite in the liturgical Ge'ez language. Yet it depends on the missionary Roman Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

Despite the eparchy's double name, also mentioning Dessie (another Amhara city in northern Ethiopia), the diocese has its sole cathedral eparchial (episcopal) see in the Cathedral of Egziabher Ab, in Bahir Dar.

The Eparchy of Bahir Dar – Dessie comprises 8 Zones of Amhara Regional State:

North Gondar

South Gondar

East Gojam

West Gojam

Agew Awi

Wag Hemra

North Wello

South WelloThe Special Oromia Zone

1 Zone of Benishangul Gumuz Regional State:

Metekel Zone3 Zones of Afar Regional State:

Zone 1

Zone 4

Zone 5

Kidane Mehret Cathedral, Asmara

Kidane Mehret Cathedral (Italian: Cattedrale Kidane Mehret)is a Catholic church located on Adi Quala Street, Asmara, Eritrea. The cathedral is in the Eritrean Catholic Archeparchy of Asmara.

List of Catholic dioceses in Ethiopia and Eritrea

The Catholic Church in Ethiopia and Eritrea is currently joined in a single transnational episcopal conference which, also atypically, includes the Eastern Catholic (Coptic) churches, totaling of two Metropolitan archeparchies, six diocesan suffragans (eparchies) and nine pre-diocesan Latin missionary jurisdictions (apostolic vicariates, except one apostolic prefecture). Each country also has such an inter-catholic national assembly.

The Latin hierarchy is composed solely of the pre-diocesan missionary jurisdictions in Ethiopia.

The Eastern Catholics have a Coptic (Alexandrian Rite) particular church sui iuris in each country (both using the Archaic Geez language), each headed by a Metropolitan whose ecclesiastical province, covering that nation, is the whole church, with three suffragans each.Furthermore there is an Apostolic Nunciature to Ethiopia (papal embassy-level diplomatic representation) in the national capital Addis Abbeba; in it are also vested the Apostolic Nunciatures to Djibouti and to Somalia.

The Apostolic Nunciature to Eritrea is vested in the Apostolic Nunciature to Sudan (in its capital Khartum)

List of Coptic church buildings

This is a list of lists of Coptic church buildings, employing the Alexandrian Rite.

Liturgy of St Cyril

The Liturgy of Saint Cyril (or Anaphora of Saint Cyril) is one of the three Anaphoras used at present by the Coptic Orthodox Church and it retains the liturgical peculiarities which have originated in the early Christian Egypt, thus forming the core of the historical Alexandrian Rite. When reference is made to its Greek version, this text is usually known as Liturgy of Saint Mark (or Anaphora of Saint Mark).


A paten, or diskos, is a small plate, usually made of silver or gold, used to hold Eucharistic bread which is to be consecrated during the Mass. It is generally used during the liturgy itself, while the reserved sacrament are stored in the tabernacle in a ciborium.

Santo Stefano degli Abissini

St Stephen of the Abyssinians (Italian: Santo Stefano degli Abissini) is an Ethiopian Catholic church located in Vatican City. The church dedicated to Stephen the Protomartyr is the national church of Ethiopia. The liturgy is celebrated according to the Alexandrian rite of the Ethiopian Catholic Church. It is one of the only standing structures in the Vatican (besides the clementine chapel, niche of the pallia, the apostolic palace complex) to survive the destruction of old St. Peter's basilica, and thus it is the oldest surviving church (in terms of architectural history) in Vatican City.

St. Anthony Cathedral, Endibir

The St. Anthony Cathedral, (Amharic: ሳን አንቶኒዮ ካቴድራል) also known as the Ethiopian Catholic Cathedral of Emdibir, is a Roman Catholic church located in Emdibir, Ethiopia. It follows the Alexandrian Rite.

The cathedral is the main church of the Ethiopian Catholic Eparchy of Emdeber (Eparchia Emdeberensis), which was created in 2003 by the bull "Ad universae incrementum" of Pope John Paul II with territory of the Ethiopian Catholic Archaeparchy of Addis Ababa.It is under the pastoral responsibility of Bishop Musie Ghebreghiorghis.

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