Omophorion

Omophorion

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In the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic liturgical tradition, the omophor (Slavonic: омофоръ, omofor; Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

: omoforion) is the distinguishing vestment
Vestment
Vestments are liturgical garments and articles associated primarily with the Christian religion, especially among Latin Rite and other Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans...

 of a bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 and the symbol of his spiritual and ecclesiastical authority. Originally of wool, it is a band of brocade
Brocade
Brocade is a class of richly decorative shuttle-woven fabrics, often made in colored silks and with or without gold and silver threads. The name, related to the same root as the word "broccoli," comes from Italian broccato meaning "embossed cloth," originally past participle of the verb broccare...

 decorated with four crosses
Christian cross
The Christian cross, seen as a representation of the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, is the best-known religious symbol of Christianity...

 and an eight-pointed star and is worn about the neck and shoulders.

By symbolizing the lost sheep that is found and carried on the Good Shepherd's shoulders, it signifies the bishop's pastor
Pastor
The word pastor usually refers to an ordained leader of a Christian congregation. When used as an ecclesiastical styling or title, this role may be abbreviated to "Pr." or often "Ps"....

al role as the icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

 of Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

.

Clergy and ecclesiastical institutions subject to a bishop's authority are often said to be "under his omophor".

The equivalent vestment in Western Christian usage is the archiepiscopal pallium
Pallium
The pallium is an ecclesiastical vestment in the Roman Catholic Church, originally peculiar to the Pope, but for many centuries bestowed by him on metropolitans and primates as a symbol of the jurisdiction delegated to them by the Holy See. In that context it has always remained unambiguously...

, the use of which is subject to different rubrics and restrictions, while all Orthodox bishops wear the omophor.

Use


The omophor has two forms: the ancient great omophor, which passes around the neck, is folded in the front, and hangs down past the knees in both the front and the back, like a loosely-worn long scarf
Scarf
A scarf is a piece of fabric worn around the neck, or near the head or around the waist for warmth, cleanliness, fashion or for religious reasons. They can come in a variety of different colours.-History:...

; and the small omophor which is much simpler, passing around the neck and hanging down in the front similar to an epitrachil (stole), only wider and shorter, coming down only a little past the waist. Because of the complexity of the great omophor, and because of the dignity of the episcopal office, whenever the bishop puts on the omophor or takes it off, he is assisted by two subdeacon
Subdeacon
-Subdeacons in the Orthodox Church:A subdeacon or hypodeacon is the highest of the minor orders of clergy in the Orthodox Church. This order is higher than the reader and lower than the deacon.-Canonical Discipline:...

s.

Whenever he presides at any divine service, the bishop will be vested in the omophor. If he is serving the Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy is the common term for the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine tradition of Christian liturgy. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, use the same term...

 he will wear both the great and the small omophor at different times over his liturgical vestments. At any service other than the Divine Liturgy he will usually wear the small omophor.

At the Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy is the common term for the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine tradition of Christian liturgy. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, use the same term...

, the rubrics call for the bishop to put on and take off the omophor numerous times. When he is first vested, the subdeacons place the great omophor on him, but afterwards, when the rubric calls for him to wear the omophor, it is replaced, for the sake of convenience, with the small omophor. In some places, when several bishops concelebrate, it is now the custom for the chief celebrant to use the great omophor when called for, and the other bishops to wear the small omophor throughout http://ocaphoto.oca.org/filetmp/2005/June/1015/Image/DSC_0090.jpg.

In the Ruthenian Catholic Church
Ruthenian Catholic Church
The Ruthenian Catholic Church is a sui iuris Eastern Catholic Church , which uses the Divine Liturgy of the Constantinopolitan Byzantine Eastern Rite. Its roots are among the Rusyns who lived in the region called Carpathian Ruthenia, in and around the Carpathian Mountains...

 and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church , Ukrainska Hreko-Katolytska Tserkva), is the largest Eastern Rite Catholic sui juris particular church in full communion with the Holy See, and is directly subject to the Pope...

, often only the great omophor is used. In this simplified usage, the great omophor is not replaced by the small omophor http://www.byzcath.org/ssb/otpust2006/lg/BC-DSC06045-lg.jpg http://www.byzcath.org/ssb/otpust2006/lg/BC-DSC06050-lg.jpg, and is worn by the bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 throughout the entire liturgy
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

. In such cases, the omophor is often sewn into shape and can be simple draped onto the shoulders rather than wrapped on by assistants. Some Ukrainian Greek Catholic Bishops, however, will insist on the full ceremonial.

During the All-Night Vigil
All-Night Vigil
The All-Night Vigil , Opus 37, is an a cappella choral composition by Sergei Rachmaninoff,written and premiered in 1915. It consists of settings of texts taken from the Russian Orthodox All-night vigil ceremony. It has been praised as Rachmaninoff's finest achievement and "the greatest musical...

, the bishop will wear the small omophor at the beginning, but then near the end will change into the great omophor for the Great Doxology
Great Doxology
The Great Doxology is an ancient hymn of praise to the Trinity which is chanted or read daily in the Eastern Orthodox and Greek-Catholic Churches.At each of these hymns, the words “Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin,” will be altered to correspond with the time of day:*At Matins:...

.

Development



In the early church, the omophor was a broad band of white wool ornamented with crosses and draped loosely over the neck, shoulders, and breast. The modern Roman pallium
Pallium
The pallium is an ecclesiastical vestment in the Roman Catholic Church, originally peculiar to the Pope, but for many centuries bestowed by him on metropolitans and primates as a symbol of the jurisdiction delegated to them by the Holy See. In that context it has always remained unambiguously...

 developed from this early omophor; however, in the West it has changed over the centuries into a circular, thin woolen garment for the shoulders, with short, weighted pendants before and behind. The papal pallium adopted by Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

 is closer to the original omophor.

The only change in the omophor in the East has been the augmentation of its width, and the material from which it is made. There is testimony to the existence of the omophor as a liturgical vestment of the bishop in Isidore of Pelusium
Isidore of Pelusium
Isidore of Pelusium was born in Egypt to a prominent Alexandrian family. He became an ascetic, and moved to a mountain near the city of Pelusium, in the tradition of the Desert Fathers....

 about the year 400. It was made of wool and was already seen as symbolic of the duties of bishops as shepherds of their flocks. In the miniatures of an Alexandrian Chronicle of the World, written probably during the fifth century we already find pictorial representation of the omophor. In later times we meet the same representation on the renowned ivory tablet of Trier, depicting the solemn translation of relics. Among the pictures dating from the seventh and eighth centuries, in which we find the omophor, are the lately discovered frescoes in S. Maria, Antiqua in the Roman Forum
Roman Forum
The Roman Forum is a rectangular forum surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. Citizens of the ancient city referred to this space, originally a marketplace, as the Forum Magnum, or simply the Forum...

. The representation in these frescoes is essentially the same as its present form.

The omophor probably developed from the civil omophor, a shoulder garment or shawl in general use. Probably either the bishops introduced directly by a positive precept as a liturgical pontifical badge a humeral cloth resembling the ordinary omophor and called by that name, or the civil omophor was at first used by the bishops as a mere ornament without any special significance, but in the course of time gradually developed into a distinctively episcopal ornament, and finally assumed the character of an episcopal badge of office.

Oriental Orthodoxy


In Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

, the omophor takes a number of different forms:
  • The Armenian Orthodox emip'oron is similar to the Byzantine great omophor.
  • The Syriac Orthodox
    Syriac Orthodox Church
    The Syriac Orthodox Church; is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church based in the Eastern Mediterranean, with members spread throughout the world. The Syriac Orthodox Church claims to derive its origin from one of the first Christian communities, established in Antioch by the Apostle St....

     baţrašil or uroro rabbo ('great stole') is a straight strip of embroidered material, about 20 cm wide, with a head-hole midway along it, that hangs down a bishop's chest and back.
  • Coptic Orthodox hierarchs (Patriarch
    Patriarch
    Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. The system of such rule of families by senior males is called patriarchy. This is a Greek word, a compound of πατριά , "lineage, descent", esp...

    , Metropolitan
    Metropolitan bishop
    In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis; that is, the chief city of a historical Roman province, ecclesiastical province, or regional capital.Before the establishment of...

    s and Bishops) wear the omophor, usually folded, due to its large width. It is white in colour, with extensive ornamental embroidery. It is wider than its Byzantine counterpart, wrapped over the head over the monastic Kouklion, then crossed from the front over the chest, wrapped again from the back, crossed over the back by the waist level, then over the shoulders, then coming straight down, tucked under the frontal (over the chest) crossed wrapping. It is called a Ballin, and it is almost the double the length of the Byzantine Omophor.

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