Liturgical Handbook of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
If a vestment or other liturgical item falls to the floor, what is to be done?
Category: Clergy Vesting and Entrance Prayers

Each item of a cleric’s vestments, like each vessel and sacred object used in the Altar, is blessed with a special rite found in the Trebnik (Book of Needs), and with holy water, prior to its first use. Let us be reminded by this: they are not mere items of clothing, but sacred garments bearing a special blessing. They must be treated with the same reverence that we treat icons and other sacred objects — kept in pristine condition, handled delicately, and kept pure.

This means, paramountly, that they must never be dropped or allowed to touch the floor. If they do (i.e. if a vestment is dropped on the floor, or some other sacred item), we do not simply pick it up and carry on as if nothing has happened. The vestment or object that touched the floor must be taken to the Priest immediately, and he will bless it once more with holy water and a short prayer (though not the full rite of blessing as at its first use) before it is again used. To be explicit: a vestment that has fallen to the floor must not be worn again until it has again been blessed.

Altar Servers must be especially attentive to this when preparing, moving, and storing vestments — including both the vestments of the Priests and Deacons, as well as their own. In the stricter days of our forefathers, those who negligently permitted vestments or other holy items to fall to the floor would, as an epitimia, be forbidden to serve in the Altar for a time, and would also be assigned prostrations before the iconostasis — and this still happens in some places today. This should be a sign of the seriousness with which this matter should be approached.

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