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Holy Royal Martyr Alexandra - Pray for us!
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Jurisdiction: Converting to Russian Orthodoxy
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« on: August 19, 2006, 08:57:58 PM »

I attended a 3 hour vigil last night and it was my first. There were a few things that we did that I wondered about and I was wondering what they were.

1) During the service, one of the Priests came through the Royal doors and said, "Hands" and then "Head" and he poured something oily over my hands and then on my head. He did it to everyone and they all smiled and even laughed. What was this and why was it done?

2) Also, we were encouraged at three points in the service to swing the lanterns in front of the icons and they swung a huge black circle suspended from the roof which had candles around it. Why was this done?

3) We went outside during the service and also we walked around the Church three times. Why?

Thanks in advance! I have to say it was a wonderful service and I was deeply inspired by it.

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« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2006, 09:18:07 PM »

1) You were anointed with blessed olive oil as a sanctification- in the Greek Church this usually comes from one of the lamps, and is usually done after the faithful venerate the Festal Icon.

2) The large circular chandelier is called the "Polyeleos" ("Plenteous in Mercy"). As part of the Vigil of Sundays, the Resurection is introduced by the chanting of Psalms 134 and 135 which contain many references to God's Mercy, and so the two Psalms are collectively known as the "Polyeleos". During the chanting of the Polyeleos, the "Beautiful Doors" (centre doors of the Iconostasis) are opened to signify that the Gates of Heaven are opened to us by the Ressurection, and the swinging of the chandeliers and lamps signify how the Powers of Heaven are rejoicing and taking part in the Service commemorating the Resurrection. The chandeleir known as the "polyeleos" takes it's name from the two Psalms chanted while it is swung.

3) This is the "Litia" or "Service of Entreaty", during which the Church supplicates God on behalf of the whole world. Hence the Procession out of the Sanctuary, into the Narthex and into the world.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2006, 01:28:15 AM by ozgeorge » Logged

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