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:
What is done with the central icon in the middle of the church when a Bishop serves?
Handbook Category: Hierarchical Services (index)

Generally, we do not place icons in the middle of our churches, except on specifically-appointed occasions. These occasions become yet more infrequent when a Bishop serves, as the space between his cathedra, in the middle of the temple, and the amvon is used liturgically during various portions of the Divine Services, and cannot be obstructed.

The following notes apply to central icons when a Bishop serves:

  • For All-night Vigils, the same rules are applied when a Bishop serves as at a non-Hierarchical service (i.e. bringing the festal icon into the middle of the temple at Matins before the Magnification, etc.).
  • An icon is never placed in the centre of the temple at an Hierarchical Liturgy, even during Paschaltide (except at Paschal midnight itself), since the space between the cathedra and the amvon is used liturgically during the Little Entrance. On the sole occasions when a central icon might be present at a non-hierarchical Liturgy (that is to say, during Paschaltide), it is moved to the foot of the amvon, at the right (south) side, replacing the icon of Christ that is normally there (since the Resurrection icon is itself an icon of Christ).
  • Similarly, an icon is never placed in the centre of the temple for an Hierarchical Vespers service (with the exception of Paschal Vespers on Pascha itself) — for example, at a Vesperal Liturgy of St Basil, or any other time when the Bishop celebrates Vespers from the cathedra (these are relatively rare) — for the same reason as at a Liturgy; namely, that the space between the cathedra and the amvon is used liturgically at the Vespers Entrance.

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