The episcopal vestments. I thought it might be interesting in the next several weeks to do a bit of an exploration on the stuff clergy wear - an explanation if you will, of why we wear what we do. This week we’ll look at the vestments unique to the episcopacy. Because the bishop is a priest also (just as all priests are deacons), he vests in stikarion, epitrachelion, and epimanikia (alb, stole, and cuffs) first and foremost. The sakkos “sack cloth” is worn instead of the priest’s phelonion (though the bishop may serve in phelonion if he wishes) - it fastens up the sides with bell buttons, similar to the Jewish temple high priest. The sort of stole worn around the bishop’s neck and shoulders is called an omophorion “carried on the shoulders,” and it comes in two types - great and small, both functionally the same, but the small may used for convenience or if there are multiple bishops concelebrating, only the leading hierarch wears the great. The miter “headband” resembles both the headgear of the Jewish high priest and the imperial crown of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium); they feature icons of Christ, the Theotokos, St. John the Forerunner, and the cross - and have a cross on top. The pendant worn upon the bishop’s chest (sometimes along with a cross) called the panagia “all holy” is generally oval in shape, crowned with a miter, and with an icon of the Theotokos (who is also called the Panagia). The crozier (from the Old French, “cross bearer”) called a zhezl in the Russian tradition, is a symbol of the bishop’s authority over his (arch)diocese. They’re generally in the rough form of a Greek tau, representing the Resurrection, and may have a pair of serpents or dragons facing one another with a cross in between them, symbolizing the role of the bishop as the lead protector of his flock.
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