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Dormition of the Theotokos - Orthodox Christian

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Time: 
Tue, 15/08/2017 - 00:15 - 23:45
Location: 
EVERYWHERE.

 15th August 

Dormition of the Theotokos - Orthodox Christian 

The Eastern Orthodox and the Byzantine Rite Catholics commemorate the Feast of the Procession of the Venerable Wood of the Cross (or Procession of the Precious Wood of the Life-giving Cross of Jesus Christ) on August 1.  This day marks the beginning of the Dormition Fast.  The propers of the feast are combined with those of the Holy Maccabean Martyrs, the commemoration of whose endurance is deemed appropriate for the first day of a fast.  Unlike the September 14 observance, this commemoration is considered to be a minor feast, but it does have the bringing out of the cross and veneration by the faithful like the September feast. 

The history of this feast begins in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul, Turkey).  It was the custom there to carry the relic of the True Cross through the streets and squares of the city to ask for God's blessing, and for relief from sickness.  On the eve of the feast (July 31), which is observed as a forefeast, it was taken out of the imperial treasury, and laid upon the altar of the “Great Church” (Hagia Sophia).  On August 1 it was solemnly placed in the middle of the Great Church for the faithful to venerate.  The relic was taken in procession daily throughout the city, offering it to the people to venerate until the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (August 15), when it was returned again to the imperial treasury. 

In commemoration of this tradition, it is customary to have a crucession (a procession headed by the cross) and celebrate the Lesser Blessing of Water on August 1.  It is the first of three “Feasts of the Saviour” in the month of August, the other two being the Transfiguration (August 6) and the Icon of Christ “Not Made by Hands” (August 16).  Because of the blessing of holy water, this holy day is sometimes called “Saviour of the Water.” There may also be celebrated on this day the Rite of Blessing New Honey, for which reason the day is also referred to as “Saviour of the Honey.” 

According to Saint Nikolaj Velimirović, this feast was instituted by mutual agreement of the Greeks and Russians to commemorate the simultaneous victories of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos over the Bulgarians and the Russian Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky over the Saracens in the 12th century. 

In the Russian Orthodox Church, this feast also celebrates the Baptism of Rus, which occurred on August 1, 988. 

Synaxarion 

Moveable Feasts 

In addition to celebrations on fixed days, the Cross may be celebrated during the variable, particularly in Lent and Eastertide. 

Eastern Christians celebrate an additional Veneration of the Cross on the third Sunday of Great Lent.  The services for this day are modeled on the Feast of the Exaltation (September 14), and include bringing the cross to the holy table at little vespers and with solemnity out into the center of church at matins, albeit without the ceremony of the Exaltation of the Cross, for veneration by the faithful.  It remains in the center of the church for nearly a week (the Fourth Week of Great Lent).  On the Monday and Wednesday of that week, a Veneration of the Cross takes place at the First Hour (repeating a portion of the service from matins of the previous Sunday).  On Friday of that week, the veneration takes place after the Ninth Hour, after which the priest and deacons return the cross to the sanctuary. 

Orthodox Churches, the Roman Catholic Church, and some Anglican churches have a formal Adoration of the Cross during the services on Good Friday. 

In the Roman Breviary before the 1961 reform, a Commemoration of the Cross is made during Eastertide except when the office or commemoration of a double or octave occurs, replacing the Suffrage of the Saints said outside Eastertide. 

Wednesday and Friday 

In addition to all of the above commemorations, Orthodox also hold Wednesday and Friday throughout the year as a commemoration of the Cross. 

Veneration of the Cross 

Feast Days 

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, on several of the feast days mentioned above, there is a public veneration of the cross.  It may take place at Matins, after the cross is brought out, at the end of the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, or at the end of one of the Little Hours, depending upon the particular feast and local custom. 

The faithful come forward and make two prostrations, make the sign of the cross on themselves, and kiss the feet of Christ on the cross, and then make a third prostration.  After this, they will often receive a blessing from the priest and bow towards their fellow worshippers on each side of the church (this latter practice is most commonly observed in monasteries). 

End of Services 

At the end of the Divine Liturgy, and at some other services as well, it is customary for the faithful to come forward and venerate the “Blessing Cross” (hand-cross) which is held by the bishop or priest, and to kiss his hand.  This practice is also called the “Veneration of the Cross”, though it does not involve making prostrations.  The cross which is venerated is small (typically 10-16 inches).  This cross is usually metal, often gold or gold-plated, and can be enameled and/or decorated with jewels.  The figure of Jesus on the Cross (the soma) is usually engraved, enameled, or painted on the cross, rather than being a separate three-dimensional figure as is found on a crucifix.  This is due to the Orthodox practice of using icons rather than statues in church.  

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