Orthodox Eastern Church

Ritual and Liturgy

The ritual that developed at the patriarchate of Constantinople—known as the Byzantine rite—gradually replaced other local rites in the Orthodox East, and after the 13th cent. became, with local variations and translations, the standard of Orthodox worship. It is sometimes called the Greek rite, because the original language was Greek, but the liturgy has been adapted into Slavonic, Arabic, Estonian, and many other languages. The liturgy is not usually celebrated daily as in the West, and it is always sung. Leavened bread is used in the Eucharist, and communion is given to laymen in both kinds (i.e., both bread and wine). Infants receive communion and confirmation. The other sacraments are similar to those of the Latin rite, except in details; e.g., confirmation is conferred by priests. The frequency of confession varies in the different self-governing churches. The church buildings are generally square, with a solid sanctuary screen covered with icons ( iconostasis ; for the style, see Byzantine art and architecture). Parish priests may marry prior to ordination; monks and bishops may not marry.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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