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The sacred vestments

For the performance of divine services the sacred ministers put on sacred garments, which are adorned with crosses.

The vestments of a deacon are the sticharion, the orarion and the epimanikia (cuffs). The sticharion is a long garment with an opening for the head and wide sleeves. This type of garment may also be worn by readers, chanters and altar-servers. The orarion is a long wide band, usually made of the same material as the sticharion; it is worn by the deacon over his left shoulder, on top of the sticharion. The epimanikia, or cuffs, are worn on the arms; they are used at divine services for the sake of convenience.

The vestments of a priest are the alb, the epitrachelion, the zone (belt), the epimanikia (cuffs) and the phelonion (chasuble). The alb is a type of sticharion. It is made of a thinner material, and has narrower sleeves with cords which bind them to the arm. It is worn under the phelonion. The epitrachelion is like the deaconís orarion, but folded in two. It goes around the neck, and its two ends come down in front, where they are joined together by buttons for convenience. A priest may not celebrate any service without an epitrachelion, just a deacon may not serve without an orarion. The zone, or belt, is put on over the alb and the epitrachelion to give the priest greater freedom of movement during the services. The phelonion, or chasuble, is worn by the priest on top of all the other vestments. It is a long, wide, sleeveless garment, with an opening for the head on top; it is cut away in front to allow for free use of the arms. Its form recalls the purple robe in which our Saviour was dressed during His Passion. A priest also wears a pectoral cross around his neck over the phelonion. After years of service, some priests receive awards. Among these are the skoufia, a soft, conical, violet-coloured hat; the epigonation (nabedrennik), an elongated rectangular cloth which is worn at the right hip; the kamilavka, a stiff violet hat which is slightly wider at the top; the gold cross; the palitsa and the jewelled cross.

The vestments of a bishop are the alb, epitrachelion, cuffs and belt, just as a priest wears; in place of the phelonion, however, bishops wear the sakkos, which resembles a sticharion but is shorter and has shorter sleeves. Over the sakkos bishops wear the omophorion. This is a long, wide cloth, adorned with crosses; it is placed on the bishopís shoulders in such a way that one end of it hangs down in front and the other end in back. Without the omophorion a bishop may not perform any service. This vestment reminds him that he must be concerned about the salvation of those who have gone astray, like the good shepherd of the Gospel parable, who sought out the lost sheep and carried it home on his shoulders. At his right hip a bishop wears the palitsa, a diamond-shaped cloth which is geometrically a rhomb. On his breast, over the sakkos, a bishop wears an enkolpion, or panagia, in addition to a cross. This is a small round image of the Saviour or the Mother of God, usually adorned with jewels. During services a bishop uses a staff, as a sign of the highest pastoral authority. On his head a bishop wears a mitre during services; it is adorned with small icons and jewels.

During services an orlets (eagle-rug) is placed wherever a bishop is going to stand. This is a small circular rug with an image of an eagle flying high over a city.

The color of the sacred vestments may vary according to the feasts and seasons of the church year. For much of the year gold-colored vestments are used. During the Christmas and Easter seasons white vestments are worn; on feasts of the Mother of God, blue; on weekdays of Lent, black; on Saturdays and Sundays in Lent, purple; on Palm Sunday and Pentecost, green.

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