Russian Orthodox Vestments
The Ultimate Guide to Russian Orthodox Vestments
Vestments are the apparels, which are worn by priests and important people of the churches. They are of various types and have different significance. The western world has its own varieties of vestments and the eastern world has its own. The kind of vestments, which are available nowadays in the market, has gone through a lot of changes since the very first making of the same.
First of all, what is a vestment?
A priest who performs liturgical services needs cassock and riassa. In the actual liturgy, other garments are needed for example, his robe which is called an Alb has close sleeves and a stole which is commonly known as epitrahilion which is basically a long piece of cloth which is broad and passes through the neck and has the length of the entire wearer. There is something called a girdle which the priests wear like a belt to gird himself above his robe and stole and it helps to serve more comfortably in the altar. Another distinguishing vestment is the chasuble which s a long garment with sleeves and is put on over other vestments.
Through the pages of the history book
Very much like the chasuble the phelonion was originally a round vestment with a hole in the middle of the head which has the length of the feet in all sides. The present form however is largely cut in the front and in Russia, the use of the phelonion is not limited to the Divine Liturgy but is specified for the major liturgical procedures. It originated in Europe and by the end of 15th century; it had travelled whole of Europe and other parts of the world like Ukraine, Poland, America and above all, Russia.
The vestments are symbolical of the gift of strength. The belief is that where god aids the priest in his services and exhorts him the vestment gives him strength and the courage. The epigonation is a long piece of brocade which is always suspended from the hip area which signifies the spiritual world and the word of god! Before the introduction of sakkos the bishops used to wear a phelonion identical to the ones which the priest used to wear but was made up of broidery with a multiple cross pattern that too on a piece of cloth.
The Russian style phelonion is generally used by the Ukrainian autocephalous, Ukrainian orthodox, polish orthodox and the orthodox churches in America. Some Bulgarian and Ukrainian orthodox churches use vestments, which are a hybrid between Russian and Greek styles. With time, the Russian orthodox vestments have changed a bit from the European vestment patterns and varieties yet the cause is not different.
Finally, why should people buy it??
Liturgy is incomplete without priests and the priests must be wearing the orthodox vestments so as to fulfill the task.