Liturgical Handbook of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
How does the vesting of the Bishop take place?
Category: Hierarchical Services

Assuming that the Bishop will be vested in the centre of the temple, the following order is observed once the Greeting of the Bishop and entry prayers have been concluded and all the Priests have taken his blessing upon the cathedra and returned to the Holy Altar:

The Deacon (or two senior-most Deacons), now bearing the trikiri (and dikiri, if a second Deacon participates), return to the amvon. Meanwhile, a server departs the Altar with a large, empty tray and stands immediately before the Bishop on the cathedra. The two Subdeacons at his sides take his blessing, then remove his garments, which are lain upon the tray: first the mantia, then klobuk, panagia, prayer rope, and finally his ryassa. The server then departs with the tray into the Altar, to hang these garments and store them properly. Meanwhile, the Deacons upon the amvon raise the censers and ask the Bishop’s blessing for the incense, which he bestows from the cathedra. At the same time, another server departs the Altar with a large tray on which have already been prepared the Bishop’s vestments, beginning with his podsakkonik (alb) — on top — and through to his great omofor — on bottom. He bears this to the cathedra and stands directly in front of the Bishop, facing him. The Deacons then begin to pronounce the prayers for the vesting, the junior Deacon saying ‘Let us pray to the Lord’ before each, and the senior Deacon then pronouncing the prayer, while both slowly cense throughout. The choir sings the associated hymns throughout the vesting. Care should be taken by the Deacons to observe the vesting in progress, proceeding from one prayer to the next only once the previous item of vesture has been completely laid upon the Bishop and the Subdeacons are ready to advance to the next.

The Subdeacons take each vestment in turn and — always working together and with each item being held in the hands of both Subdeacons — present it first to the Bishop for his blessing and veneration: he blesses each item with the sign of the Cross, then the Subdeacons raise it before his face so he can kiss the Cross sewn upon it. They then place the vestment upon the Bishop, securing any buttons / ties in an orderly way. The buttons along the sides of the alb and sakkos are buttoned starting from the top or ends of the sleeves, and working down to the hem of the garment. When the sakkos is being buttoned, the Subdeacon on the Bishop’s right (the senior Subdeacon) must ensure the palitsa remains on the exterior of the sakkos.

It should be noted that the Bishop himself should participate in this process as little as possible, ideally only moving to bless each garment and venerate it, otherwise standing still with his arms outstretched at his sides. This is liturgically significant: the Bishop is vested, he does not vest himself. The signs of his office are bestowed upon him, in this rite, by the Church; they are not his personal possessions nor is his office his by ‘right’. Instead, the Church calls him to sacred service and bestows upon him the dignity of the High Priesthood — and in this rite, piously and carefully performed, this is manifest to the faithful as the Liturgy begins.

Once the omofor has been taken from the tray and the Subdeacons are affixing it to the Bishop’s shoulders (the Subdeacon on the right tending to the buttons on its front, the Subdeacon on the left tending to those on its back), the server with the now-empty tray returns to the Altar, while another leaves the Altar with a tray on which have previously been prepared the Bishop’s mitre, panagia and Cross. He moves to the centre of the temple and the Subdeacons place these upon the Bishop, panagia first, then Cross, then mitre. As the mitre is being placed upon the Bishop’s head, two servers bring out the dikiri and trikiri from the Altar and bear them to the cathedra, where they are handed to the Subdeacons. These are presented to the Bishop, who holds them aloft as the senior Deacon loudly proclaims the final prayer of the vesting, at the conclusion of which the Bishop blesses in four directions as the choir sings ‘Ton despotin…’. The Subdeacons then take the dikiri and trikiri to the amvon and stand aside the Deacons, facing the Bishop, as the Deacons cense him nine times. The Subdeacons then enter the Altar while the Deacons approach the Bishop and take his blessing.

The vesting thus concluded, the Priest departs from the Altar with a Reader, to begin the Hours from the centre of the temple.

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