Ordination rites

طقوس الرسامات

(الناشر قداسة البطريرك زكا الأول، إعداد الربان يوقن أونفال، دمشق 2009)

Botte, Bernard, ”La formule d’ordination “la grâce divine” dans les rites orientaux”, L’Orient Syrien 2 (1957): 285-296.

Breydy, Michel, ”Précisions liturgiques syro-maronites sur le sacerdoce”, Oriens Christianus 48 (1964): 57-76.

Breydy, Michel, Le concept du sacerdoce. Essai de théologie syro-maronite. Beyrouth: Imprimerie catholique, 1964.

Breydy, Michel, ed. La doctrine syro-antiochienne sur le Sacerdoce dans sa version Maronite. Jounieh, Liban: Institut für Religionswissenschaft und Theologie Internationales Forschungszentrum für Grundfragen der Wissenschaften Salzburg, 1977.

de Smet, Bernard, ”Le rituel du sacre des évêques et des patriarches dans l’Eglise syrienne d’Antioche. Traduction”, L’Orient Syrien 8 (1963): 165-212.

I.H. Dalmais, Les ordinations dans la tradition syro-antiochienne, in Ordinations et ministères, Roma, 1996, 97-106.

Khouri-Sarkis, Gabriel, ”Le rituel du sacre des évêques et des patriarches dans l’Église syrienne d’Antioche. Introduction”, L’Orient Syrien 8 (1963): 137-164.

Lécuyer, Joseph, ”Le sens des rites d’ordination d’après les Pères”, L’Orient Syrien 5 (1960): 463-475.

Jugie, Martin, « Les chorévêques en Orient », Échos d’Orient tome 7/48 (1904), 263-268.

Mouret, René, ”Studies on the Ordination liturgy of the “Holy Church of the Syrians of Antioch””, The Harp 2 (1989): 65-70.

Mouret, René, ”Un rituel d’ordination de Tagrit”, Pages 417-422 in Rituels. Mélanges offerts à Pierre-Marie Gy, O.P.. Edited by de Clerck, Paul and Palazzo, Eric. Paris: Cerf, 1990.

Tovey, Philip, ”The Ordination of Readers”, The Harp 11-12 (1998-1999): 75-88.

Vogel Cyrille, « Chirotonie et Chirotésie, Importance et relativité du geste de l’imposition des mains dans la collation des ordres », Irénikon 1972, 7-21; 207-238.

Order of the Offices of Ordination and the Administration of Sacraments by the Clergy

This huge service book contains:

  1. The prayers of the various offices of ordination for low and high church ranks, such as the offices of singer, reader, subdeacon, deacon, archdeacon, priest, chorepiscopus, abbot, periodeutes [visitor], bishop, metropolitan, Maphryono or Catholicos and Patriarch, as well as the order for assumption of the monastic habit of monks and nuns, according to the tradition of the holy mountain of Edessa, as is mentioned by the two manuscripts in Jerusalem and Paris,[1] whose canons were enacted by Metropolitan John Sa’id Bar Sabuni.[2] It also contains the benediction for deacons, abbots and church stewards.
  2. The order for consecration of churches, new altars and tablets for the altar.
  3. The order for consecration of baptismal oil and unction. This order has two versions, the long and the short; an old copy of the short version is preserved in our library (at Homs).
  4. The order for consecration of the Sacrament of the Holy Chrism, which is the exclusive right of the Patriarch of Antioch.
  5. Prayers for the penitents and heretics who rejoin the Orthodox Church. To these later was added the order by which the ascetics assume the leather habit, translated from the Ethiopian language into Syriac and revised by Joseph the Iberian, metropolitan of Jerusalem (d. 1537).
  6. The order for installing a new bishop.[3]


Ordinations are preceded by instructions for the elect priests and deacons, according to which the ordained confesses that he will follow the teachings of the fathers and doctors of the catholic church and obey the Patriarch of Antioch and the metropolitan of his diocese and will renounce the heretics and dissenters, enumerating them one by one from the Apostolic era to the ninth century. This statement of creed has two versions: a long one comprising ten pages, of which two copies, written in the beginning of the thirteenth century, are preserved in our library and in the Vatican MS. 51; and a shorter, more commonly used one, written by Jacob, metropolitan of Miyapharqin, in the middle of the tenth century.


The new bishop also reads a statement of creed drawn by Patriarch Quryaqos in which he confesses the church’s creed of faith, pledges allegiance to the doctors of the church and excommunicates the heretics and declares his obedience to the Patriarch of Antioch. The copy of this order was completed in 806.[4] At the same time, the Patriarch provides the new bishop with a statement called the sostathiqon, or the diploma of investiture, in which he invests him with episcopal powers to administer his diocese and orders his congregation to obey him. In Meddo, in Tur ‘Abdin, we found the oldest copy of this order, written in the thirteenth century and containing the investiture of Basilius, metropolitan of Khabur, by Ignatius III, Patriarch of Antioch in 1231 and signed by John II Bar Ma’dani, Maphryono of the East and by four bishops.[5] Our copy is a reproduction of this one. Later, however, this diploma of investiture was translated into Arabic; we possess two copies of the translation, completed in 1768 and 1806.


To the order of the consecration of the Patriarch, Jacob Bar Salibi, metropolitan of Amid, added a homily, which he delivered during the ceremony of enthroning Michael the Great (at the close of 1166); another homily on the assumption of the monastic habit by monks and initiates written by Moses Bar Kepha, was finished by Bar Salibi. The order of the consecration of the holy Chrism is followed by two anonymous homilies, one of which was recited after the ceremony. This ceremony is also followed by a heptasyllabic discourse chanted by the archdeacons in praise of the officiating dignitary and another dodecasyllabic discourse in which the bishop blesses the congregation. A copy of this metrical discourse is extant in MS. 109 in our library at Jerusalem.


The oldest manuscript of the office of ordination is the copy of Patriarch Michael the Great, dated 1190.[6] This illustrious church dignitary was the last to revise and arrange the orders of the offices of ordination, which had been in a state of confusion. His copy is most reliable. Two other copies are extant in our church in the town of Ma’murat al-‘Aziz; one of them was completed in either 1190 or 1200 and the second was transcribed and commented upon by the Bishop John David of Amid in 1203. Two other magnificent copies were transcribed by the deacon ‘Abd Allah of Bartelli in 1300,[7] at the request of Gabriel, bishop of the Jazira. Two more ancient copies are extant in our Library, together with an elegant copy transcribed by Joseph, metropolitan of Jerusalem, reproduced from the copy of the monk Abu al-Faraj of Amid, the secretary of Patriarch Michael.[8] Another copy, in the handwriting of Patriarch Nuh, dated 1506, is available in the Library at Jerusalem.[9]


Source: Barsoum, Ignatius Aphram. The Scattered Pearls: A History of Syriac Literature and Sciences. Translated by Matti Moosa. 2nd revised. Piscataway, New Jersey: Gorgias Press, 2003, 85-87.

[1] St. Mark’s Library MS. 113, Bibliothèque Nationale MS. 110.

[2] From a Beth Gazo in the Brit. Mus. MS. 17232, written in 1210.

[3] Also called “ Suntroniso,” a copy of which is preserved at our church in Hafar, a village near Homs.

[4] St. Mark’s Library MS. 118, from which our copy is taken.

[5] This should read five instead of four. See below p. 232 of the Arabic version, (tr.).

[6] Bibhotheque Nationale MS. 113.

[7] Jerusalem Library MS. 109; also in the library of the Edessans in Aleppo.

[8] Za’faran Librarv MS. 220.

[9] Jerusalem Library MS. 26.