Russian Orthodox Liturgical Resources

Liturgical Handbook
of the Practices of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
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Handbook of Liturgical Practice of the Russian Church Abroad
Liturgical Question:
How is the Bishop’s mantia tended to by the appointed server?
Handbook Category: Hierarchical Services (index)

When the Bishop is vested in the mantia, two servers (normally Subdeacons) are required to assist him, one (on his left) responsible for his zhezl (crozier), and the other (on his right) responsible for tending to the train of the mantia. These Subdeacons remain exclusively in this obedience so long as the Bishop is thus vested, and are not given other tasks.

When the Bishop is stationary, the train of the mantia is lain on the floor behind him — it is never picked up and held except when the Bishop is moving about the temple. In most instances where the Bishop is thus stationary, the zhezl is taken from him by the Subdeacon on the left and held at his side. When thus stationary, care should be taken that the mantia is lain properly behind the Bishop, so that the ‘rivers’ (the stripes of red and white that symbolise the rivers of truth that flow from the Law and the Prophets, themselves symbolised by the four tablets on the front of the mantia) are neatly arranged (see illustration).

Illustration 1: The mantia as properly laid out behind the Bishop when he is standing in place and not moving within the temple.

At various points when he is thus standing in his mantia upon the cathedra, the Bishop will turn 180 degrees to offer the peace to the faithful. After he does so, and turns back towards the east, the Subdeacon should ensure the mantia again rests properly on the floor behind him.

When the Bishop moves within the temple (e.g. for a censing, or for any other reason), the train of the mantia is picked up by the Subdeacon on his right and carried a few paces behind him, so that the mantia does not drag upon the floor or become an obstacle to the Bishop’s own movement (see illustration).

Illustration 2: The mantia being carried behind the Bishop as he moves about the temple.

The Subdeacon thus carries the mantia only whilst the Bishop is moving about the temple; once he comes to stand in one place for any length of time, the mantia is again laid out flat behind him as before.

When, whilst the mantia is being carried, the Bishop passes through the Royal Doors (e.g. during a great censing of the temple), the Subdeacon carries the train of the mantia as far as the Royal Doors, then lets it fall to the ground as the Bishop enters the Altar. The Subdeacon then enters after the Bishop, via the south door, picking up the train again inside the Altar so as to enable the Bishop’s unobstructed movement in the sanctuary. When the Bishop then departs through the Royal Doors, the same is repeated in reverse, the Subdeacon departing via the north door and again picking up the mantia on the amvon.

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