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Sinai Codex gr. 956  - (10th cent.)

This codex is found in the library of St. Catherine’s monastery on Mount Sinai. The monastery is the oldest existing Greek monastery, occupied ever since its foundation under Emperor Justinian I in 527.  It has a priceless collection of ancient manuscripts.  The codex in question contains liturgical texts that were copied in the 10th century from both a model in Constantinople and from another Byzantine model that has not yet been identified.[1]

Prayer for the ordination of a deaconess [’ευχη ’επι χειροτονιαι διακονισσης].

 After the sacred offertory, the doors are opened and, before the deacon starts the litany ‘All Saints’, the woman who is to be ordained is brought forward. And the pontiff says the ‘Divine Grace’ with a loud voice while she bows her head. And he imposes his hand on her head, and making three crosses on it says:

“Holy and Omnipotent Lord, through the birth of your Only Son our God from a Virgin according to the flesh, you have sanctified the female sex. You grant not only to men, but also to women the grace and coming of the Holy Spirit. Please, Lord, look on this your maid servant and dedicate her to the task of your diaconate [της διακονιας], and pour out into her the rich and abundant giving of your Holy Spirit. Preserve her so that she may always perform her ministry [λειτουργια] with orthodox faith and irreproachable conduct, according to what is pleasing to you. For to you is due all glory and honour.”

After the ‘Amen’, one of the deacons says the prayer, and while this happens, the archbishop, still keeping his hand on her head, prays as follows:

“Lord, Master, you do not reject women who dedicate themselves to you and who are willing, in a becoming way, to serve your Holy House, but admit them to the order of your ministers [λειτουργων]. Grant the gift of your Holy Spirit also to this your maid servant who wants to dedicate herself to you, and fulfil in her the grace of the diaconate [διακονιας], as you have granted to Phoebe the grace of your diaconate [διακονιας], whom you had called to the work of the ministry [λειτουργιας]. Give her, Lord, that she may persevere without guilt in your Holy Temple, that she may carefully guard her behaviour, especially her modesty and temperance. Moreover, make your maid servant perfect, so that, when she will stand before the judgement seat of your Christ, she may obtain the worthy fruit of her excellent conduct, through the mercy and humanity of your Only Son.”

After the ‘Amen’, he puts the stole of the diaconate [το διακονικον ‘ωραριον] round her neck, under her veil, arranging the two extremities of the stole towards the front.

When the newly ordained has taken part of the sacred body and precious blood, the archbishop hands her the chalice. She accepts it and puts it on the holy table.


1. Sinai gr. 956; Dmitrievskij, Opisanie, p. 16.

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