Definitions

enkolpia

Engolpion

An Engolpion or Enkolpion (Greek: ἐγκόλπιον, enkólpion, "on the chest"; plural: ἐγκόλπια, enkólpia) is a general term for something worn upon the bosom Formerly also including pectoral crosses, Enkolpion is nowadays used for a medallion with an icon in the center, worn around the neck by Orthodox and Eastern Catholic bishops. The icon is normally surrounded by jewels (usually paste) and topped by an Eastern-style mitre, and will often have a small jewelled pendant hanging down at the bottom. The engolpion is suspended from the neck by a long gold chain, sometimes made up of intricate links. A portion of the chain will often be joined together with a small ring behind the neck so that it hangs down the back. Engolpia come in many different shapes, including oval, rhombus, square, or a double-headed eagle.

Overview

All bishops wear a particular kind of engolpion called a Panagia (Greek: Παναγία), which depicts the Theotokos (Virgin Mary). All primates and some bishops below primatial rank have the dignity of wearing a second engolpion, which usually depicts Jesus. Occasionally, and archimandrite may be awarded an engolpion which bears not an icon of Christ or the Theotokos, but of the Cross. The enkolpion may be worn at all times as part of the bishop's street dress or choir dress. When the bishop vests for Divine Services, he will wear also a pectoral cross. When a bishop is vested before the Divine Liturgy, if he has the dignity of wearing an enkolpion in addition to the Panagia, the Protodeacon chants the following prayer as the subdeacons place it on the bishop: "Thy heart is inditing of a good matter; thou shalt speak of the deeds unto the King, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of age. Amen".

Some enkolpia are hollow, so they may be used as a reliquary.

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