Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Liturgical Vestments III

This continues a series on vestments in the Church of Jesus Christ. Vestments help us remember the divine dignity which is God's, and which is given to those who serve him. They help us remember the angelic service the sacred ministers engage in, and just as important, they remind those who serve just Who they serve.

Eastern Rite: Phelonion

My first impression of the phelonion is that it is like a cape - one that goes near the floor in the back and hangs unusually low in the front. The front originally hung lower in time past, but has since been shortened to allow more freedom of movement. Like its Western version, the phelonion historically started as poncho-styled garment.

The phelonion is worn by the priest over all other liturgical garments. Its use is not restricted to the Divine Liturgy. For instance, at Great Vespers each Saturday a priest is normally clothed in his anteri and exorasson (inner and outer cassocks), and vested in his epitrachelion (stole), but for a portion of the service he dons the phelonion.

The phelonion comes in two styles. The Byzantine or Greek style is rounded about the neck and shoulders. The Russian or Athos style has a more boxed, trapezoid-style appearance.

Above is the Greek-style Phelonion; below is the Russian-styled. Both are shown with the epitrachelion beneath. The Russian version is also shown with Nabedrennik (a clergy award) and Epigonation (denoting a priest blessed to hear confessions).

Here is a photo of Fr. Daniel Hackney at his ordination. He is wearing a gold phelonion over his epitrachelion. Many years, Fr. Daniel! It was fun shouting out "Axios!" with the congregation.

The Sakkos

Normally a bishop does not wear the phelonion, but rather dons the sakkos, which fits about his frame more than the free-flowing phelonion.

Above we see a bishop being vested with the sakkos on the solea. This is from a detail of rubrics found at St. Elias Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, a non-canonical Eastern Rite church under the rule of the Roman Pope.

Sometimes the bishop may not wish to celebrate the Divine Liturgy with all the special rites and prayers that usually attend a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy (i.e. a Liturgy where the Bishop is present). In that case he may wear the phelonion instead of the sakkos. He will, though, still wear the most definitive of all episcopal vestments: the omophorion.

The Omophorion

This band of cloth - not to be confused with an orarion, epitrachelion, or stole - signifies the bishop as being pastor and icon of Christ. (Compare the omophorion to the icon of Christ the Good Shepherd, carrying the lost sheep on His shoulders.)

The omophorion comes in two sizes: the great omophorion and the small omophorion.

Here is an icon of St. Athanasius, who is wearing a dark omophorion over his cross-patterned sakkos.

Above is a Ukrainian Roman Catholic bishop being vested with the great omophorion. Below is an example of the small omophorion sold by Istok.

The small omophorion.

Western Rite: Chasuble ... and more

While the poncho-like vestment became the phelonion in the East, in the West it became the chasuble. Modern vestment makers tend to market the chasuble in three styles: Gothic, Monastic, and Roman. Suffice to say, aside from these catalog names, the chasuble tends to be roughly poncho-shaped, though not necessarily perfectly-so. What is called the "Roman" style is a late invention, in which the cut is reduced and the shape is stiffened. It is also referred to as the Roman Fiddle-back. The chasuble is worn by priest and bishop alike.

Above is a typical chasuble. Below is a Roman Fiddleback.

Dalmatic and Tunicle

In the Eastern Rite the Dalmatic and Tunicle would fall under the category of sticherion, or alb. In the Western Rite these are Eucharistic vestments in their own sense, worn over the alb (or East: sticharion). What the chasuble is to the priest, the dalmatic is to the deacon, and the tunicle is to the subdeacon (though it can also be worn by the thurifer or crucifer).

The dalmatic is worn by the deacon over his alb and stole. It is normally decorated by two horizontal bands and two vertical bands.

The tunicle is worn by the subdeacon over his alb (he has no stole to wear in the Western Rite).

Above is the dalmatic, available from Slabbinck. Below is the tunicle. Apart from their banding they seem very similar in appearance (the neck style is immaterial to the garment's purpose here).

The Pallium

I don't want to go into all the intricacies of episcopal vestments here, but I do wish to make this one link between Eastern and Western vestments. In the East the bishops wear the omophorion. In the West it is the pallium. While the omophorion is worn by all bishops in the Eastern Rite, the pallium in the Western Rite is worn only by those of Metropolitan ranking or higher. It is basically a white wool band adorned with six crosses. I will be so bold as to include a picture of the current Roman Pope Francis wearing the modern pallium.

Pope Francis wearing the pallium.
In the Roman Catholic church the reception of the pallium from the Pope is a symbol of one's submission to his authority.  Hence in the Roman church's Byzantine rite the metropolitans are often given not only the traditional eastern omophorion, but also the pallium on top of that. It looks funny to see them wearing both at the same time.


The Crescat said...

excellent and informative. Check out my blog, where I've hosted man lace week and it is currently vestment week.

I'd love your opinions.

Bb said...

Thank you for this. It's worth noting, though, that it is in the Greek tradition that the palitza is a sign of permission to hear confession. This stems from Ottoman oppression when training clergy was difficult and many priest were simpyl devout men who had been taught to perform the services and nothing else. Therefore, the palitza took on the role of distinguishing those priests who were permitted to hear confessions. This may have been adopted by the Antiochians as well, (who usually copy Greek practice), but generally not elsewhere. Certainly, in the Slavic tradition, the palitza is a distinctive vestment of bishops and may be granted to priests as an award (after the nabedrennik and, I think, to archpriests and archimandrites, but I am willing to be corrected on that last point).

Deacon Benjamin Harju said...

Everything Michael has written in true. The palitza (a.k.a. epigonation or sword) is used differently in different patriarchates.