Russian Orthodox Liturgical Resources

Liturgical Handbook
of the Practices of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
Return to Handbook IndexРусская версия
Handbook of Liturgical Practice of the Russian Church Abroad
Liturgical Question:
When is the ryassa to be worn?
Handbook Category: Clergy Vesting and Entrance Prayers (index)

For those appointed to wear it (which includes all Deacons and Priests), the ryassa — the wide-sleeved outer garment worn over the cassock — is always worn in the church unless it is superceded by the Priest or Deacon donning full liturgical vestments. Except in cases of exceptional necessity, a cleric never enters the temple at all during any liturgical or pastoral context without wearing his ryassa (i.e. wearing only his cassock); and most certainly, he never dons ‘lesser vestments’ (i.e. stole, cuffs and phelon for lesser services) merely over a cassock, under any circumstances, but always over a ryassa.

The exception is when a Priest or a Deacon enters the temple outside of a liturgical or pastoral context, in order, for example, to clean the Altar or perform other such works for which wearing a ryassa would not be appropriate.

The ryassa is also worn by the Priest and Deacon in all formal circumstances of priestly life. It should be worn, for example, when teaching a parish class, when chairing a parish council meeting, at formal meals in a Parish Hall or similar venue, when speaking at a public engagement or representing the Church in a cultural or social setting, etc.; and all clergy always wear the ryassa in the presence of a Bishop, unless he invites them to do otherwise.


This Liturgical Handbook is provided as a resource on the liturgical customs and practices of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

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