In the Byzantine tradition, the epigonation is awarded to a priest upon his elevation to exomologos (confessor) or the rank of οικονόμος. In the Russian tradition, it is an award given after many years of service.
It represents a shield, originating from the thigh shield worn by soldiers during the days of the early church. The epigonation holds a dual meaning. First, it denotes the celebrant as a "soldier" of Christ. Second, it symbolizes the Word of God, fighting the wiles of the enemy.