Christian liturgy

Christian liturgy is a pattern for worship used (whether recommended or prescribed) by a Christian congregation or denomination on a regular basis. Although the term liturgy is used to mean public worship in general, the Byzantine Rite uses the term "Divine Liturgy" to denote the Eucharistic service.[1]

It often but not exclusively occurs on Sunday, or Saturday in the case of those churches practicing seventh-day Sabbatarianism. Liturgy is the gathering together of Christians to be taught the 'Word of God' (the Christian Bible) and encouraged in their faith. In most Christian traditions, liturgies are presided over by clergy wherever possible.

Partial list of Christian liturgical rites (past and present)

Different Christian traditions have employed different rites:

Western Christian churches

Latin Catholic Church

Protestant churches

While some Protestant churches see no need for set liturgies, many of these churches have retained them.

Protestant Reformation-era ministers of the Reformed tradition used set liturgies which emphasized preaching and the Bible. English Puritans and separatists moved away from set forms in the 17th-century, but many Reformed churches retained liturgies and continue to use them today.

At the time of English Reformation, The Sarum Rite was in use along with the Roman Rite. Reformers in England wanted the Latin mass translated into the English language. Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer authored the Exhortation and Litany in 1544. This was the earliest English-language service book of the Church of England, and the only English-language service to be finished within the lifetime of King Henry VIII.[2] In 1549, Cranmer produced a complete English-language liturgy. Cranmer was largely responsible for the first two editions of the Book of Common Prayer. The first edition was predominantly pre-Reformation in its outlook. The Communion Service, Lectionary, and collects in the liturgy were translations based on the Sarum Rite[3] as practised in Salisbury Cathedral.

The revised edition in 1552 sought to assert a more clearly Protestant liturgy after problems arose from conservative interpretation of the mass on the one hand, and a critique by Martin Bucer (Butzer) on the other. Successive revisions are based on this edition, though important alterations appeared in 1604 and 1662. The 1662 edition is still authoritative in the Church of England and has served as the basis for many of Books of Common Prayer of national Anglican churches around the world. Those deriving from Scottish Episcopal descent, like the Prayer Books of the American Episcopal Church, have a slightly different liturgical pedigree.

The United Methodist liturgical tradition is based on the Anglican heritage and was passed along to Methodists by John Wesley (an Anglican priest who led the early Methodist revival) who wrote that

there is no Liturgy in the world, either in ancient or modern language, which breathes more of a solid, scriptural, rational piety, than the Common Prayer of the Church of England.[4]

When the Methodists in America were separated from the Church of England, John Wesley himself provided a revised version of The Book of Common Prayer called the Sunday Service of the Methodists in North America. Wesley's Sunday Service has shaped the official liturgies of the Methodists ever since.

The United Methodist Church has official liturgies for services of Holy Communion, baptism, weddings, funerals, ordination, anointing of the sick for healing, and daily office 'praise and prayer' services. Along with these, there are also special services for holy days such as All Saints Day, Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil. All of these liturgies and services are contained in The United Methodist Hymnal and The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992).[5] Many of these liturgies are derived from the Anglican tradition's Book of Common Prayer. In most cases, congregations also use other elements of liturgical worship, such as candles, vestments, paraments, banners, and liturgical art.

United and Uniting churches

Church of South India

The liturgy of the Church of South India combines many traditions, including that of the Methodists and such smaller churches as the Church of the Brethren and the Disciples of Christ. After the formation of the Church of South India the first synod met at Madurai in March 1948 and appointed a liturgical committee. The first Synod in 1948 (where the Holy Communion service was that of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland) appointed a liturgy committee, composed mainly of Western theologians. The liturgy so prepared was first used at the Synod Session in 1950 and approved for use throughout the church "wherever it is desired" in 1954. The first version of the Confirmation Service for the new church was also released in 1950, translated into regional languages and was quickly adopted by the various dioceses.

By 1962 the Liturgy Committee was able to prepare a number of Orders. They were Eucharist, Morning and Evening Prayer, Marriage Service, Burial Service, Ordination Service and Covenant Service (1954), Holy Baptism (1955) and Almanac (1955–56). The Book of Common Worship of the CSI was published in 1963 with all the above orders of service. The orders of service consist of: Order for Morning and Evening Worship, Order of Service for the Baptized Persons, Order for Holy Baptism, Order for the Churching of Women, Order for Holy Matrimony, Order for the Burial Service, Order for the Covenant Service, Order for Ordination Services.

The CSI liturgy was again revised in the year 2004 and published as a hardback book in 2006.

The CSI Synod Liturgical Committee has developed several new orders for worship for different occasions. The order for the Communion Service, known as the CSI Liturgy, has been internationally acclaimed as an important model for new liturgies. The Committee has also produced three different cycles of lectionaries for daily Bible readings and "propers", and collects for Communion services. In addition, the Committee has also brought out a Supplement to the Book of Common Worship.

Eastern Christian churches

Eastern Orthodox Church

Oriental Orthodox Churches

Assyrian Church of the East

The Eastern Catholic Churches

Frequent practice

The Roman Catholic Mass is the service in which the Eucharist is celebrated. In Latin, the corresponding word is Missa, taken from the dismissal at the end of the liturgy - "Ite, Missa est", literally "Go, it is the dismissal", translated idiomatically in the current English Roman Missal as "Go forth, the Mass is ended." Eastern Orthodox churches call this service the Divine Liturgy. Oriental Orthodox call their Liturgy the Holy Qurbana - Holy Offering. Anglicans often use the Roman Catholic term mass, or simply Holy Eucharist. Mass is the common term used in the Lutheran Church in Europe but more often referred to as the Divine Service, Holy Communion, or the Holy Eucharist in North American Lutheranism.

Lutherans retained and utilized much of the Roman Catholic mass since the early modifications by Martin Luther. The general order of the mass and many of the various aspects remain similar between the two traditions. Latin titles for the sections, psalms, and days has been widely retained, but more recent reforms have omitted this. Recently, Lutherans have adapted much of their revised mass to coincide with the reforms and language changes brought about by post-Vatican II changes.

Protestant traditions vary in their liturgies or "orders of worship" (as they are commonly called). Other traditions in the west often called "Mainline" have benefited from the Liturgical Movement which flowered in the mid/late 20th Century. Over the course of the past several decades, these Protestant traditions have developed remarkably similar patterns of liturgy, drawing from ancient sources as the paradigm for developing proper liturgical expressions. Of great importance to these traditions has been a recovery of a unified pattern of Word and Sacrament in Lord's Day liturgy.

Many other Protestant Christian traditions (such as the Pentecostal/Charismatics, Assembly of God, and Non-denominational churches), while often following a fixed "order of worship", tend to have liturgical practices that vary from that of the broader Christian tradition.

Other offices

Matins is generally said in the morning, independently of the Eucharist. Vespers are prayers generally said in the evening, independently of the Eucharist. Matins and Vespers are the two main prayer times of Christian churches, and are also called Morning and Evening Prayer.

In the Catholic Church, these two offices are part of a series of prayer hours, called the Liturgy of the Hours, the Canonical Hours, the Divine Office, the Roman Breviary, and other names.[6] There were eight such hours, corresponding to certain times of the day: Matins (sometimes called Vigil), Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline. The Second Vatican Council ordered the suppression of Prime.[7]

In monasteries, Matins was generally celebrated before dawn, or sometimes over the course of a night; Lauds at the end of Matins, generally at the break of day; Prime at 6 AM; Terce at 9AM; Sext at noon; None at 3PM; Vespers at the rising of the Vespers or Evening Star (usually about 6PM); and Compline was said at the end of the day, generally right before bed time.

In Anglican churches, the offices were combined into two offices: Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer, the latter sometimes known as Evensong. In more recent years, the Anglicans have added the offices of Noonday and Compline to Morning and Evening Prayer as part of the Book of Common Prayer. The Anglican Breviary, containing 8 full offices, is not the official liturgy of the Anglican Church.

In Lutheranism, like Anglicanism, the offices were also combined into the two offices of Matins and Vespers (both of which are still maintained in modern Lutheran prayer books and hymnals). A common practice among Lutherans in America is to pray these offices mid-week during Advent and Lent. The office of Compline is also found in some older Lutheran worship books and more typically used in monasteries and seminaries.

The Byzantine Rite maintains a daily cycle of seven non-sacramental services:

  • Vespers (Gk. Hesperinos) at sunset commences the liturgical day
  • Compline (Gk. Apodeipnou, "after supper")
  • Midnight Office (Gk. mesonyktikon)
  • Matins (Gk. Orthros), ending at dawn (in theory; in practice, the time varies greatly)
  • The First Hour
  • The Third and Sixth Hours
  • The Ninth Hour

The sundry Canonical Hours are, in practice, grouped together into aggregates so that there are three major times of prayer a day: Evening, Morning and Midday; for details, see Canonical hours — Aggregates.

Great Vespers as it is termed in the Byzantine Rite, is an extended vespers service used on the eve of a major Feast day, or in conjunction with the divine liturgy, or certain other special occasions.

History of the Roman Catholic Mass

This section will describe the evolution of the liturgical celebration known as the Mass by Roman Catholics, which appears similar to Anglican mass or Holy Eucharist. It is called the Divine Liturgy by many groups of Orthodox Christians.

Generally it is theorized that the Apostles obeyed the command "do this in memory of me", said during the Last Supper, and performed the liturgy in the houses of Christians. Besides repeating the action of Jesus, using the bread and wine, and saying his words (known as the words of the institution), the rest of the ritual seems to have been rooted in the Jewish Passover Seder, and synagogue services, including singing of hymns (especially the Psalms, often responsively) and reading from the Scriptures (Bible).

Until the 4th century, when the church established a Biblical canon, a manner of things were read during the liturgy besides the Prophets, including papal encyclicals from Pope St. Clement. Many elements of these liturgies began to be fixed in several popular settings, and a book called the Apostolic Constitutions, from the fourth century, shows an outline for the liturgy which is incorporated in almost all Western and Eastern rites. This includes the use of the prayer known as the Sanctus, which is prefaced by a long introduction; it also includes a fairly fixed series of prayers leading up to the consecration.

Vestments worn by the Bishops and Priests at this point were academic robes of the educated class. Later, as fashions changed the styles for the clergy remained the same and were embellished. Following the custom of the synagogue, the liturgy was normally sung. Many places divided the congregation into male and female. At some point both Western and Eastern churches adopted the use of curtains to mask the clergy at the altar at certain points; this curtain became the rood screen and altar rails in western churches, and iconostasis in the Byzantine East, while still being used in Armenian and Syriac Churches.

Regional variation

The earliest church used Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek in the liturgy. Over time, however, the local vernacular languages became the liturgical languages of later centuries. The Greek-speaking empire retained the mainly Greek liturgy. The West used Latin, eventually dropping most Greek usage. Egypt and Armenia used Coptic and classical Armenian, respectively. As Christianity spread to different nations around the Mediterranean, several distinct traditions developed, each with a different liturgical language: the Alexandrine Tradition (Coptic), Syriac Tradition (Syriac), Byzantine Tradition (Greek), Armenian Tradition (Armenian), and the Latin Tradition (Latin).

These basic traditions gave rise to several distinct rites. The Coptic and Ethiopic rites came from the Alexandrine Tradition. The Chaldean, Malabar, Syriac, Malankar, and Maronite rites developed from the Syriac Tradition. The Greek and Slav variants of the Byzantine liturgy emerged from the Byzantine Tradition. The Armenian rite developed from the Armenian Tradition. The Roman, Ambrosian, and Mozarabic liturgical rites came from the Latin Tradition. These regional variations of the liturgy over time diverged into distinct branches of the Christian liturgical tradition, each retaining fundamental characteristics with external particulars influenced by local customs and traditions.

Standardisation at the Council of Trent (1545–1563)

In the particular Latin Church of the Catholic Church throughout earlier centuries there was much regional variation in the liturgy due to the lack of centralisation that existed in the western church at the time due to the fall of the western empire. This resulted in regional variations of the Latin liturgical rite such as the Celtic rite and Gallican rite, of which today only the Mozarabic rite and Ambrosian rite remain in addition to the normative Roman rite. The liturgical rite was standardized throughout much of the Catholic Church.

Standardization was enforced at the Council of Trent, which suppressed regional variations in favour of the Roman liturgical rite. Most of the particulars of the resulting Tridentine Mass were already in existence in the usage of Rome. Pope Pius V permitted rites in existence for at least 200 years to continue in use; however, in the following centuries almost all rites were abandoned except those of religious orders and the afore-mentioned Ambrosian and Mozarabic liturgical rites.


There are common elements found in most Western liturgical churches which predate the Protestant Reformation. These include:

Misa Gereja Santa 2
Scripture readings at Gereja Santa, Indonesia
  • Scripture readings, culminating in a reading from one of the Gospels.
  • The Creed
  • The Prayers
  • The Lord's Prayer
  • Commemoration of the Saints and prayers for the faithful departed.
  • Intercessory prayers for the church and its leadership, and often, for earthly rulers.
  • Incense
  • Offering
  • A division between the first half of the liturgy, open to both Church members and those wanting to learn about the church, and the second half, the celebration of the Eucharist proper, open only to baptized believers in good standing with the church.
  • The Consecration
  • The Offertory Prayer
  • Communion
  • Sanctus prayer as part of the anaphora
  • A three-fold dialogue between priest and people at the beginning of the anaphora or eucharistic prayer
  • An anaphora, eucharistic canon, "great thanksgiving", canon or "hallowing", said by the priest in the name of all present, in order to consecrate the bread and wine as the Body and Blood of Christ.
  • With one exception, that of Addai and Mari, all of the extant anaphoras incorporate some form of Jesus' words over the bread and wine at the Last Supper: "This is my body" over the bread and, over the wine, "This is my blood."
  • A prayer to God the Father, usually invoking the Holy Spirit, asking that the bread and wine become, or be manifested as, the body and blood of Christ.
  • Expressions within the anaphora which indicate that sacrifice is being offered in remembrance of Christ's crucifixion.
  • A section of the anaphora which asks that those who receive communion may be blessed thereby, and often, that they may be preserved in the faith until the end of their lives
  • The Peace or "Passing of the Peace"
  • Agnus Dei
  • Benediction

See also


  1. ^ Mother Mary and Ware, Kallistos Timothy, Festal Menaion (3rd printing, 1998), St. Tikhon's Seminary Press, p. 555, ISBN 1-878997-00-9
  2. ^ F Procter & W. H. Frere, A New History of the Book of Common Prayer (Macmillan, 1905) p. 31.
  3. ^ Bevan, G. M. (1908). Portraits of the Archbishops of Canterbury. London: Mowbray.
  4. ^ Works of John Wesley, vol. XVI, page 304
  5. ^ 2008 Book of Discipline paragraph 1114.3
  6. ^ Fernand Cabrol, "Divine Office" in Catholic Encyclopedia (New York 1911)
  7. ^ Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 89 d Archived February 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine

Further reading

  • Reed, Luther D. (1947) The Lutheran Liturgy: a Study [especially] of the Common Service of the Lutheran Church in America. Philadelphia, Penn.: Muhlenberg Press. N.B.: This study also includes some coverage of other Lutheran liturgical services, especially of Matins and Vespers

External links


Adam (Hebrew: אָדָם, Modern: ʼAdam, Tiberian: ʼĀḏām; Arabic: آدَم‎, romanized: ʾĀdam; Greek: Αδάμ, romanized: Adám; Latin: Adam) is the name used in the opening chapters of the biblical Book of Genesis for the first man created by God; the word adam is also used in the Bible as a pronoun, individually as "a human" and in a collective sense as "mankind". Biblical Adam (man, mankind) is created from adamah (earth), and Genesis 1–8 makes considerable play of the bond between them, for Adam is estranged from the earth through his disobedience.In the Quran Adam is also the name used for the first man.. He was expelled from the Garden and sent to live on earth after he and Eve were tricked by a serpent into eating from the tree.

Ambon (liturgy)

The Ambon or Ambo (Greek: Ἄμβων, meaning "step" or "elevate" Slavonic: amvón) is a projection coming out from the soleas (the walkway in front of the iconostasis) in an Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic church. The ambon stands directly in front of the Holy Doors. It may be either rounded or square and has one, two, or three steps leading up to it.


For the Spanish saint, see Emeterius and Celedonius.

Celidonius is the traditional name ascribed to the man born blind whom Jesus healed in the Gospel of John 9:1-38. This tradition is attested in both Eastern Christianity and in Catholicism.

One tradition ascribes to St. Celidonius the founding of the Christian church at Nîmes in Gaul (present-day France).

Saint Demetrius of Rostov, in his Great Synaxarion, also mentions that the blind man's name was Celidonius.In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the account of the healing of Celidonius is recounted on the "Sunday of the Blind Man", the Sixth Sunday of Pascha (Easter). Many hymns concerning the healing and its significance are found in the Pentecostarion, a liturgical book used during the Paschal season.


Chrismation consists of the sacrament or mystery in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, as well as in the Assyrian Church of the East initiation rites. The sacrament is more commonly known in the West as confirmation, although Italian normally uses cresima ("chrismation") rather than confermazione ("confirmation").

The term chrismation comes about because it involves anointing the recipient of the sacrament with chrism, which according to eastern Christian belief, the Apostles sanctified and introduced for all priests to use as a replacement for laying on of hands by the ApostlesChrism consists of a "mixture of forty sweet-smelling substances and pure olive oil" sanctified by a bishop with some older chrism added in, in the belief that some trace of the initial chrism sanctified by the Apostles remains therein.


The cornerstone (or foundation stone or setting stone) is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.

Over time a cornerstone became a ceremonial masonry stone, or replica, set in a prominent location on the outside of a building, with an inscription on the stone indicating the construction dates of the building and the names of architect, builder, and other significant individuals. The rite of laying a cornerstone is an important cultural component of eastern architecture and metaphorically in sacred architecture generally.

Some cornerstones include time capsules from, or engravings commemorating, the time a particular building was built.


Encaenia (; en-SEE-nee-ə) is an academic or sometimes ecclesiastical ceremony, usually performed at colleges or universities. It generally occurs some time near the annual ceremony for the general conferral of degrees to students. The word is from Latin, meaning dedication or consecration, and is ultimately derived from the Greek word "εγκαίνια", meaning a festival of renewal or dedication, and corresponds to the English term commencement.

The term was originally used to indicate the eight days of celebration for the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which celebration covered also to the discovering of the True Cross by Empress Helena in 326. Because the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was consecrated on September 13, 335, the Encaenia started on September 13, while the cross itself was brought outside the church on September 14 so that the clergy and faithful could pray before the True Cross (Feast of the Cross).


A gavit (Armenian գավիթ) or zhamatun (Armenian: ժամատուն) is often contiguous to the west of a church in a Medieval Armenian monastery. It served as narthex (entrance to the church), mausoleum and assembly room.


Kyrie, a transliteration of Greek Κύριε, vocative case of Κύριος (Kyrios), is a common name of an important prayer of Christian liturgy, also called the Kyrie eleison (; Ancient Greek: Κύριε, ἐλέησον, romanized: Kýrie eléēson, lit. 'Lord, have mercy').

List of Eastern Orthodox saint titles

The holy figures of the Eastern Orthodox Church (and of the Eastern Catholic Churches of the Byzantine Rite) have various customary saint titles with which they are commemorated on the liturgical calendar and in Divine Services.

The following list explains the references:

Confessor: one who has suffered for the faith but not martyred outright

Enlightener: the saint who first brought the faith to a people or region, or who did major work of evangelization there

Equal-to-the-Apostles: one whose work greatly built up the Church, whether through direct missionary work or through assisting the Church's place in society

Fool-for-Christ: a saint known for his apparent, yet holy insanity

God-bearing: title given to one of the Holy Fathers

Great-martyr: one who was martyred for the faith and suffered torture

Healer: a saint who used the power of God to heal maladies and injuries

Hieroconfessor: a confessor who is also a clergyman

Hieromartyr: a martyr who is also a clergyman

Martyr: one who has died for the faith

Merciful: one known for charitable work, especially toward the poor

Myrrhbearers: the first witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus

Myrrh-streaming: the relics of the saint exude holy and sweet-smelling (and often miraculous) oil

New-martyr: a martyr often bearing the same name as a more ancient martyr, but usually more recent in the Church's history

Passion-bearer: one who faced his death in a Christ-like manner

Prophet: an Old Testament saint who anticipated Christ

Protomartyr: the first martyr in a given region (in the case of Stephen the Protomartyr, the first martyr of the whole Church)

Right-believing: an epithet used for sainted secular rulers

Righteous: a holy person under the Old Covenant (Old Testament Israel) but also sometimes used for married saints of the New Covenant (the Church)

Unmercenary Healer: a saint who used the power of God to heal maladies and injuries without charge

Venerable: a monastic saint

Venerable-martyr: a martyred monastic

Virgin martyr: an unmarried, non-monastic, chaste female martyr

Wonder-worker: a saint renowned for performing miracles


The narthex is an architectural element typical of early Christian and Byzantine basilicas and churches consisting of the entrance or lobby area, located at the west end of the nave, opposite the church's main altar. Traditionally the narthex was a part of the church building, but was not considered part of the church proper.

In early Christian churches the narthex was often divided into two distinct parts: an esonarthex (inner narthex), between the west wall and the body of the church proper, separated from the nave and aisles by a wall, arcade, colonnade, screen, or rail, and an external closed space, the exonarthex (outer narthex), a court in front of the church facade delimited on all sides by a colonnade as in the first St. Peter's Basilica in Rome or in the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio in Milan. The exonarthex may have been either open or enclosed, with a door leading to the outside as in the Byzantine Chora Church.By extension, the narthex can also denote a covered porch or entrance to a building.

Noli me tangere

Noli me tangere ('touch me not') is the Latin version of a phrase spoken, according to John 20:17, by Jesus to Mary Magdalene when she recognized him after his resurrection. The biblical scene gave birth to a long series of depictions in Christian art from Late Antiquity to the present. The original Koine Greek phrase, Μή μου ἅπτου (mē mou haptou), is better represented in translation as "cease holding on to me" or "stop clinging to me", i.e. an ongoing action, not one done in a single



A Paraklesis (Greek: Παράκλησις, Slavonic: молебенъ) or Supplicatory Canon in the Byzantine Rite, is a service of supplication for the welfare of the living. It is addressed to a specific Saint or to the Most Holy Theotokos whose intercessions are sought through the chanting of the supplicatory canon together with psalms, hymns, and ekteniae (litanies).

The most popular Paraklesis is that in which the supplicatory canon and other hymns are addressed to the Most Holy Theotokos (the Mother of God). There are two forms of this service: the Small Paraklesis (composed by Theosterictus the Monk in the 9th century), and the Great Paraklesis (composed by Emperor Theodore II Laskaris in the 13th century). During the majority of the year, only the Small Paraklesis to the Theotokos is chanted. However, during the Dormition Fast (August 1—14, inclusive), the Typikon prescribes that the Small and Great Paraklesis be chanted on alternate evenings, according to the following regulations:

If August 1 falls on a Monday through Friday, the cycle begins with the Small Paraklesis. If August 1 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the cycle begins with the Great Paraklesis.

On the eves of Sundays (i.e., Saturday nights) and on the eve of the Transfiguration (the night of August 5) the Paraklesis is omitted.

On Sunday nights, the Great Paraklesis is always used unless it is the eve of Transfiguration.

Proper (liturgy)

The proper (Latin: proprium) is a part of the Christian liturgy that varies according to the date, either representing an observance within the liturgical year, or of a particular saint or significant event. The term is used in contrast to the ordinary, which is that part of the liturgy that is reasonably constant, or at least selected without regard to date, or to the common, which contains those parts of the liturgy that are common to an entire category of saints, such as apostles or martyrs.

Propers may include hymns and prayers in the canonical hours and in the Eucharist.

Prothesis (altar)

The Prothesis is the place in the sanctuary in which the Liturgy of Preparation takes place in the Eastern Orthodox and Greek-Catholic Churches.

The Prothesis is located behind the Iconostasis and consists of a small table, also known as the Table of Oblation, on which the bread and wine are prepared for the Divine Liturgy. It is most often placed on the north side of the Altar, or in a separate chamber (itself referred to as the Prothesis) on the north side of the central apse.

Originally, the Prothesis was located in the same room as the Holy Table, being simply a smaller table placed against the eastern wall to the north of the Holy Table. During the reign of the Emperor Justin II (565–574), it came to occupy its own separate chamber to the north of the sanctuary, having a separate apse, and joined to the Altar by an arched opening. Another apsed chamber was added on the south side for the Diaconicon. So that from this time forward, large Orthodox churches were triapsidal (having three apses on the eastern side). Smaller churches still have only one chamber containing the Altar, the Prothesis and the Diaconicon.

In the Syriac Churches, the ritual is different, as both Prothesis and Diaconicon are generally rectangular, and the former constitutes a chamber for the deposit of offerings by the faithful. Consequently, it is sometimes placed on the south side, if by doing so it is more accessible to the laity.

In the Coptic Church, the men will enter the Prothesis to receive holy Communion (the women receive in front of the Holy Doors), and must remove their shoes before entering.

Sacred mysteries

Sacred mysteries are the areas of supernatural phenomena associated with a divinity or a religious ideology. Sacred mysteries may be either:

Religious beliefs, rituals or practices which are kept secret from non-believers, or lower levels of believers, who have not had an initiation into the higher levels of belief (the concealed knowledge may be called esoteric).

Beliefs of the religion which are public knowledge but cannot be easily explained by normal rational or scientific means.Although the term "mystery" is not often used in anthropology, access by initiation or rite of passage to otherwise secret beliefs is an extremely common feature of indigenous religions all over the world.

A mystagogue or hierophant is a holder and teacher of secret knowledge in the former sense above. Whereas, mysticism may be defined as an area of philosophical or religious thought which focuses on mysteries in the latter sense above.


Saturday is the day of the week between Friday and Sunday. The Romans named Saturday Sāturni diēs ("Saturn's Day") no later than the 2nd century for the planet Saturn, which controlled the first hour of that day, according to Vettius Valens. The day's name was introduced into West Germanic languages and is recorded in the Low German languages such as Middle Low German sater(s)dach, Middle Dutch saterdag (Modern Dutch zaterdag) and Old English Sætern(es)dæġ and Sæterdæġ. The day was also referred to as "Sæternes dæġe" in an Old English translation of Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People. In Old English, Saturday was also known as sunnanæfen ("sun" + "eve" cf. dialectal German Sonnabend).

Secret (liturgy)

The Secret (Latin: Oratio secreta, lit. 'Secret prayer') is a prayer said in a low voice by the priest or bishop during religious services.


Synaxarion or Synexarion (plurals Synaxaria, Synexaria; Greek: Συναξάριον, from συνάγειν, synagein, "to bring together"; cf. etymology of synaxis and synagogue; Latin: Synaxarium, Synexarium; Coptic: ⲥϫⲛⲁⲝⲁⲣⲓⲟⲛ) is the name given in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches to a compilation of hagiographies corresponding roughly to the martyrology of the Roman Church.

There are two kinds of synaxaria:

Simple synaxaria: lists of the saints arranged in the order of their anniversaries, e.g. the calendar of Morcelli

Historical synaxaria: including biographical notices, e.g. the Menologion of Basil II and the synaxarium of Sirmond. The notices given in the historical synaxaria are summaries of those in the great menologies, or collections of lives of saints, for the twelve months of the year. As the lessons in the Byzantine Divine Office are mostly the lives of saints, the Synaxarion became the collection of short lives of saints and martyrs, but also of accounts of events, of famous visions seen by saints and even useful narratives whose memory is kept.

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