What Is a Panachida Service?

A panachida service remembers the deceased and is traditional to the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The term is traditionally spelled “panikhida” in the Orthodox Church, and occurs after the family has washed, dressed and placed the body in a casket for an extended memorial.

During the Orthodox panachida service, the Book of Psalms is read until the time of the funeral. In Eastern Catholic traditions, the service is held graveside, or before a memorial table topped with a crucifix and a candelabra. Service attendees hold candles and the deacon swings a censer as Psalms and hymns are recited. At the end of the service, the candles are extinguished, symbolizing the surrender of the deceased person’s soul.