Orarion

Orarion

[uh-rair-ee-uhn]

The Orarion (Greek: ὀράριον; Slavonic: Орарь, orar') is the distinguishing vestment of the deacon in the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches. It is a narrow stole, usually four to five inches (127 mm) wide and about ten feet long, made of brocade with seven crosses embroidered or appliquéd along its length. Occasionally the word "Holy" will be embroidered three times on it in large letters, using nomina sacra where customary.

The deacon wears the orarion over his left shoulder with the front portion draped over his left forearm. He will take this portion in his right hand when leading litanies or drawing attention to a particular liturgical action. This single orarion is the oldest form, as illustrated in traditional and older iconography.

Deacons may be awarded the double orarion, which is worn over the left shoulder, wrapped around the chest and back, and brought back over the left shoulder to the front. In Greek practice, all deacons wear the double orarion. When preparing for Communion, the deacon will tie the orarion around his waist, bringing the ends up over his shoulders (forming a cross in back) and then down in front, tucking them under the section around the waist.

The subdeacon also wears the orarion, but always wrapped around his body in the manner described above. In the Greek tradition, tonsured taper-bearers wear the orarion similarly crossed in back, but with the ends hanging parallel in front. In the same Greek tradition, altar-servers will sometimes be given a blessing to wear the orarion with the ends hanging parallel in front. In the Slavic use, servers never wear oraria.

Armenian usage is identical to the Byzantine, except that their deacons always wear the single orarion, which they call urar.

Eastern Catholics follow the same tradition as do their Orthodox counterparts. Sometimes in Greek Catholic practice, the double orarion is worn only over the left shoulder (folded to make up for length) over a cassock if the deacon in question is preaching but not participating otherwise. This use of the orarion on top of a cassock is most often seen among Greek-Catholics of the Ukrainian and Ruthenian tradition, which is a marked departure from general Byzantine practice, in which there is no tradition of wearing the orarion without sticharion.

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