on Holy Mountain of Athos
in this, 1998 year the Chilandar Monastery celebrates its 800th Anniversary as
the Serbian Orthodox Monastery
GLOSSARY OF LESS FAMILIAR TERMS
ABBOT - a monk who is the head of a monastery.
AKATHISTOS HYMN - means "not sitting", a hymn sung all standing. The oldest
and most famous is the akathist sung in honor of the Holy Virgin. Akathists to Our Lord
Jesus Christ, various saints, the True Cross and angels were modeled on that one.
AER - a cover; a large piece of square cloth embroidered with motifs and
representations; used to cover either the chalice or the paten.
ANCHORITE - a hermit; a monk who withdrew from the world, living in solitude.
ANTIMENSION - a square linen or silken cloth into which is sewn a fragment of a Holy
Relic. The antimension covers the Holy Communion Table and is indispensable for
performance of the Holy Liturgy. An episcopos blesses the antimension and presents it to
the church on the day of its consecration. It is decorated with a representation of the
Body of Christ or Lamentation over Christ, and stands for the Christ's shroud.
APSE - part of a church. Semicircular niche or projection with a hemispherical vault.
Apart from the eastern, altar apse, a triconch building also has choir apses.
ARCHBISHOP - ranks first among bishops; see Bishop
ARCHDEACON - ranks first among deacons; see Deacon
ARCHIEROS - ranks first among priests; Father of the Church, the highest
ecclesiastical rank, bishop; see Bishop
ASCETICISM - a monastic way of life with praying, vigil, fastening. In secular sense,
a simple, strict way of life leading to spiritual growth.
ARCHIMANDRITE - the highest ecclesiastical rank of a presbyter in a monk order; chief
monk of a monastery; formerly chief monk of a number of monasteries.
AUTOCEPHALOUS - self-governing, autonomous, independent; with the right of electing
and ordaining archbishop and other bishops.
AUTOGRAPH - a manuscript signed by a certain person; original manuscript.
BARREL VAULT - a hemispherical vault, stretching between two opposite walls.
BASILICA - a rectangular church; the central nave usually higher and wider than the
lateral aisles, from which it is separated by rows of columns or pillars.
BAY - the basic unit of a church, square or rectangular in shape; internal division of
a church, usually defined by pillars or pilasters, and separated by arches.
BLIND DOME - a low windowless dome, usually without drum.
CALOTTE - the spherical part of a dome or cupola.
CAMEO - a raised shape or figure on a background of a small fine flat stone.
CHANDELIER - a circular frame of wood or metal with branches to hold candles,
sanctuary lamps or icons, hanging on chains from the ceiling of a dome.
CHRYSOBULL - an imperial edict with a gold bull or seal. Due to its length, it was
sometimes rolled in a scroll or written as a book.
CHURCH (parts of the) - a Christian church consists of an altar area, a nave and a
narthex. It can also have an outer narthex or exonarthex. Altar is the sanctuary apse, the
mystic center of the church, placed on the east side. It is separated by the altar screen,
called iconostasis, from the nave where the congregation stands during the liturgy and
prayers. The most important part of the sanctuary is the Holy Communion Table, left to
which, in the north, is the Prothesis with the oblation table. To its right is the
Diaconicon, (the sacristy) holding ecclesiastical vestments and books. Nave, a ship, is
the central part of a church, where the congregation worships. Narthex is an enclosed
vestibule of a church, preceding the nave and aisles; it is the western entrance to the
church; the narthex is separated from the nave with a wall and the door.
CODICES - old manuscripts, written on parchment or paper.
COENOBITIC MONASTICISM - communal monastic life. In coenobitic monasteries everything
is communal; shelter, work, food and prayer. All monks owe obedience to the abbot or
archimandrite. The rules of life in monasteries are prescribed by typikon; see Typikon.
CRYPT - a vaulted room under a church or a part of church, often used in the past as a
DEACON - the first and lowest rank in ecclesiastical hierarchy.
DEESIS - the iconographic motif representing Our Lord Jesus Christ with the Holy
Virgin and St. John the Baptist; the Virgin and St. John the Baptist are standing aside,
in the posture of prayer, facing Christ. The enlarged Deesis is called the Great Deesis.
DIACONICON - see (parts of the) Church.
DOCHEIARES - the monastery cellar-keeper.
DOME - cupola; a vault of stone or bricks; contains a calotte, hemispherical in shape,
supported by a cylindrical wall, the drum. The windows through which comes the lightening
of the inside of the church are on this wall.
DONOR - founder of a monastery; person who assisted financially and otherwise the
erection of the church.
ECCLESIARCHES - a distinguished monk, an old man in charge of the spiritual life of a
ENDOWMENT - a building erected for the sake of one's soul, being of general benefit to
EPARCHY - bishopric, diocese; the area that an episcopos (bishop) is in charge of.
EPISCOPOS - bishop, archieros, chief ecclesiastical officer of a diocese. His is the
highest rank in the church hierarchy. Only an episcopos has the power of performing all
liturgies, of ordaining deacons and presbyters, and of consecrating the holy oil,
antimension and the church.
EPITAPHIOS - the holy shroud, decorated with a representation of the corpse of Christ
and used in re-enacting the burial of Christ on Good Friday. It is taken out of the
sanctuary on Good Friday and displayed in the church until His resurrection.
EPITRACHILION - the stole of priests and archieroses. It is a long narrow piece of
cloth worn at knee-level, the upper part of which is put around the neck. It stands for
the rope that Christ had around His neck when He was taken before the Pontius Pilatus'
FRESCO PAINTING - wall-painting executed on wet mortar, giving it great durability.
GOSPELS - Four books of the New Testament, known as the Gospels according to Matthew,
Mark, Luke and John; used for liturgical service.
HAGIOGRAPHY - a biography of a saint.
HERMITAGE - a cell of an ascetic, in which a monk subjects himself to a strenuous
HIGH FEAST DAYS - the feasts of Our Lord and the Holy Virgin: The Nativity of Christ -
Christmas, The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, The Epiphany, The Transfiguration,
The Christ's Entry into Jerusalem, Easter, The Ascension, The Pentecost, The Exaltation of
the Cross, The Nativity of the Holy Virgin Mary, The Presentation of the Virgin, The
Annunciation, The Dormition of the Virgin
HIEROMONACH/ HIEROMONK - a monk-priest; see Presbyter.
HIEROS - a presbyter, priest; see Presbyter.
HOLY SACRAMENTS - visible Christian rites through which the invisible power of the
Savior, God's blessing, transcends the miraculous gifts to those who receive them. The
Holy Sacraments are: baptism, confirmation, communion (the Eucharist), penance, holy
orders, matrimony and extreme unction.
ICON - holy paintings representing Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Virgin, angels or
saints. They are supposed to lead and enforce the true beliefs. Although it is a common
belief that icons are painted on wood, they can be executed in any other technique.
Procession icons are carried in processions, on special occasions; they are double-sided,
i.e. painted on both sides. "Not made by human hands" icons are especially
revered. Patron icon is showing the saint to whom the church is dedicated.Despotic icons
are placed in the most commanding positions of the iconostasis. They represent Christ and
the Holy Virgin, St. John the Baptist and the saint to whom the church is dedicated.
Miracle-working icons are considered to have miracle-working qualities.
ICONOCLASM - is the extreme rejection of the veneration of holy images, the last of
big heresies of the 8th century. The fight against it lasted for one and a half century.
One of the most zealous defenders of the icons, and spiritually the most important
opponent to the iconoclasm was the Byzantine theologian and poet John Damascene. On the
first Sunday of the Big Fast in 843, the establishment of icons and icon veneration was
publicly announced in the church of St. Sophia (Ayia Sophia) in Constantinople.
ICONOSTASIS - an altar screen with doors, decorated with icons placed in a fixed
order, usually made of stone or wood; it separates the sanctuary from the nave.
IDIORRHYTHMIC MONASTICISM - self-regulating form of monastic life; the shelter and
prayer are communal, but the monks are not subjected to an abbot, and work and food are
regulated by the individual monk to his own taste. If a monk feels like living an ascetic
life for a while, he can leave the monastery, not depending on the community that he
belongs to. By unanimous decision of all members of a monastic fraternity, the monastery
can adopt a coenobitic way of life. See Coenobitic monasticism.
INCUNABULA - the oldest printed books, produced in the earliest years of printing,
generally before 1500.
KATAPETASMOS - the curtain on the Royal Doors.
KELLION/ pl. KELLIA - a separate monastic dwelling ; the monastic life is very much
like the one in skete, if there are a few monks. It differs from the skete in not having a
common church; each family has its own chapel. Kellia usually are dependencies of a
LAVRA - a monastic settlement, consisting of many cells.
LIMNER - church painter of wall-paintings, esp. frescoes and icons.
LITURGY - the Holy Liturgy is the central religious service, called the Eucharist. It
is the most important Sunday or feast day act of worship, attended by all of the
congregation, who takes part in the Holy Communion.
MARTYR - a witness; a Christian who suffered for his religion, thus confirming his
belief in Our Lord Jesus Christ's victory over death and all pains.
METOCHION/ pl. METOCHIA - dependency of a monastery, presented by donors, usually far
away from the central monastery.
METROPOLITAN - a high church dignitary of a bishop rank.
MINIATURE - illumination of manuscripts; an illustration which decorates the
MONK - a Christian ascetic, radically following the ideals of the Gospel or the
Baptism vows. When entering a monastic order, he takes three vows: of obedience to the
abbot, or ecclesiastic, of poverty and of celibacy. There are three monastic ranks:
novices, monks of small angelic vestments (those who have taken vows), and monks of big
angelic vestments (those who hardly have any contacts with the outer world).
MYRON - a beneficial balmy liquid, oozing from relics, icons and tombs, as a sign of
God's special blessing.
NARTHEX - a vestibule of a church; see (parts of the) Church.
NAVE - the central part of a church interior; see (parts of the) Church.
PANAGIA - a decorated, usually round, small icon with representation of Our Lord Jesus
Christ and the Holy Virgin. It is worn by archieroses, on the breast.
PARACCLESEION/ pl. PARACCLESEIA - a chapel, small church. It is usually built adjacent
to the church, but it can also stand as a detached building.
PARAPET SLABS - decorated stone slabs standing between two columns as partitions.
PATEN - a holy vessel in the form of a plate used for the consecration of bread,
representing the body of Christ, at the celebration of the Eucharist. Reminds the crib of
the newly born Jesus.
PATRON - the saint to whom the church is dedicated.
PILASTER - a square post that sticks out only partly from the wall of a building, both
inside and outside.
PORTA - a church courtyard; area around the church.
PORTICO - a porch.
POTIRION - a chalice; a Holy Communion cup with a stem and a foot; usually of precious
metal; used to hold wine mixed with water representing the Holy Blood of Christ, during
the Holy Liturgy. It also stands for the cup given by Christ to his disciples at the Last
PRESBYTER - a priest, hieros; a lower rank in the church hierarchy, ordained by a
bishop. Secular presbyters hold services in a parish, and monastic presbyters in
monasteries. Secular presbyters can receive a honorary title of protopresbyter, and the
monastic ones of hieromonach. The latter can also have titles of an abbot or
archimandrite, which are given to the head of a monastery.
PROTHESIS - an altar; see (parts of the) Church.
RELICS - holy remains of saints, usually miracle-working.
RELIQUARY - a receptacle containing relics (remains) of a saint.
ROTUNDA - a building with a round ground plan and a dome.
ROYAL DOORS - central doors of an iconostasis, with two wings representing the
Annunciation (the Holy Virgin and the archangel Gabriel).
SINGLE-NAVE CHURCH - a building with rectangular ground plan, usually with a
SKETE/ pl. SKETAE - a group of cells with a communal church in the courtyard. The
sketae follow the same pattern of life as the monasteries and can be either coenobitic or
THREE HIERARCHS - three Holy Fathers; Basil the Great, John Chrysostomos and Gregory
TRICONCH - a church with a trefoil ground plan, i.e. apart from the eastern altar apse
there are two lateral conchs, in the northern and southern parts of the church. A conch
has the form of an apse.
TRIPTYCH - a three-part icon, made in a way that the side parts can be folded inwards
over the middle one. Karyes Typikon - Book of Rules of monastic life in the Kellion of
St.Sava of Jerusalem in Karyes. It was written by St. Sava the Serb in 1199. The Typikon
is one of the oldest and most valuable existing written documents of Serbian medieval
culture and literacy. The Typikon text begins with the usual citing of Davids Psalms
and other Books of the Bible. After that the Monk Sava explains how he came to Mount
Athos, mentioning shortly the building of Chilandar and of this Kellion. The Kellion is
assigned for ascetic life of two or three monks who are not to be disturbed by anyone of
the monastic community, not even by the Abbot himself. Monks suitable for living in the
Kellion are chosen by the Chilandar Abbot and all the members of the community. After
being chosen, they are given the prescription for each day of how to fast, as well
as which religious songs and at what hour to sing. St. Sava one more time swears in all
the future Chilandar monks not to abandon the Karyes Typikon. Those who do it will be
damned forever by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, as well as himself. It is
signed "The last amongst all, Sava the Sinful".
TYPIKON - the Rule of a monastery; a book containing its rules and regulations. It
prescribes the order of a religious service, rules of sustenance of Christians,
particularly of monks, rules of fastening, rules of church order and behavior in church,
refectory, and rules of monastic life in general.
UNIONIZING - forced artificial Union of the two churches, East and West, implying
acceptance of the papal primacy.
VAULT - a concave roof or a ceiling made of several arches, resting on the walls of
VIGIL - a liturgy, including evening and morning performing.