From OrthodoxWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
A young man in sticharion performing the duties of an altar server
In the Orthodox Church, an acolyte or an altar boy is a term used for someone who, though unordained, performs liturgical duties such as lighting altar candles, preparing charcoal for incense, and assisting the major orders with the liturgy.

The acolyte in the Byzantine tradition

The Orthodox Church no longer possesses an exact equivalent for this office. The order of acolyte has fallen into disuse with other minor orders, such as doorkeepers and exorcists.

At one time there was a rank of minor clergy called the taper-bearer, responsible for bearing lights during processions and liturgical entrances; however, this rank has long ago been subsumed by that of the reader; the service for the ordination of a reader mentions both functions.

The functions of an acolyte or taper-bearer are therefore carried out by readers, subdeacons, or by unordained men or boys. Subdeacons wear their normal vestments consisting of the sticharion and crossed orarion; readers and unordained servers generally wear the sticharion alone.

While in other Christian entities the term Acolyte is used for someone preparing for the major orders of clergy, this is not implied in Orthodox usage.

The acolyte in the Western Orthodox tradition

Some canonical Western Rite parishes still have Altar servants, particularly in Rocor WR. They have the same function as the Eastern Rite acolytes earlier had.

The Acolyte inside the Church Orders in the Orthodox West in 8th century

IRHT 106966-p.jpg

IRHT 106967-p.jpg

The service of the Church servants is clearly seen on these pictures: Ostiar (guardian of the reliquaries), Lector (Reader), Acolitis (Acolyte), Exorcis (Exorcist), Subdiacon (Subdeacon), Deacon, Priest and Bishop

source pictures

Sacramentaire de Marmoutier à l'usage d'Autun - ms.19 bis, f. 5 - Autun - BM - © IRHT (CNRS) / Bibliothèque municipale d'Autun / MC

open access to public library Autun on French Ministry of Culture illuminated manuscripts website

External links

This article forms part of the series
Antiochian Local Synod
Major orders Bishop | Priest | Deacon
Minor orders Subdeacon | Reader | Cantor | Acolyte
Other orders Chorepiscopos | Exorcist | Doorkeeper | Deaconess - Presbityde
Episcopal titles Patriarch | Catholicos | Archbishop | Metropolitan | Auxiliary | Titular
Priestly titles Protopresbyter | Archpriest | Protosyngellos | Economos
Diaconal titles Archdeacon | Protodeacon
Minor titles Protopsaltes - Lampadarios
Monastic titles Archimandrite | Abbot - Hegumen
Related Ordination | Vestments | Presbeia | Honorifics | Clergy awards | Exarch | Proistamenos | Vicar
Edit this box