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Clerical Attire, Vesture,Titles, and Precedence For Deacons, Hierodeacons, Protodeacons and Archdeacons According to the Byzantine Tradition

Serving the Divine Liturgy
The Diaconate in the Eastern Catholic Churches
The Diaconate in the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church
Clerical Attire, Vesture,Titles, and Precedence
The Hierarchical Liturgy Made Easy
Hierarchical Liturgy (simple version)
The Hierarchical Liturgy Made Easy - The "Standard" Course
Divine Services

B. David Kennedy
Protodeacon, Eparchy of Toronto

Preliminary Note: The purpose of this material is to be descriptive in respective to the issues it addresses. While the material is accurate, because of the fluidity of the nature of the topics covered, it is not definitive. Neither is it legalistic in its intent not does it pretend to be normative. It is written in response to the queries posed to the author in regards to the “best practice”.



Attire: refers to clothing, insignia, and head-coverings worn either within or outside of the liturgical assembly by clergy when they do not actively function in the liturgical role to which they have been ordained.

Vesture: refers to clothing, insignia and head-coverings prescribed to be worn by clergy within the liturgical assembly when these ministers actively function in the liturgical role to which they have been ordained.

Cleric: a sacred minister who has been chosen by the competent ecclesiastical authority and who has been ordained to be a minister of the Church participating in the mission and power of Christ, the Pastor (Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches Can. 323). Clerics can be distinguished as bishops, presbyters and deacons (CCEC Can. 325). These have received ordination within the bema or sanctuary. There are also minor clerics such as candlebearer, lector/reader and subdeacon (CCEC Can. 327). These have received ordination within the nave.

Cheirothesia: an imposition of the hands. It refers to the ordination rites for minor clerics and to the ranks of protodeacon/archdeacon, archpriest/protopresbyter, hegumen or archimandrite. These ordinations take place outside of the bema in the middle of the nave at the bishop’s cathedra. Cheirothesia to the minor orders takes place after the vesting of the bishop but before he washes his hands. Cheirothesia to the ranks of protodeacon/archdeacon, archpriest/protopresbyter, hegumen, or archimandrite takes place during the Little Entrance after the Prayer of Entrance but before the Blessing of the Entrance.

Cheirotonia: an extending of the hand. It refers to the ordination rite for bishops, presbyters and deacons. This occurs within the bema.

Deacon: a secular or diocesan cleric who has received cheirotonia or ordination to the diaconate and who functions in the ministries of liturgy, word and charity as diakonos or minister to the bishop.

Hierodeacon: a monk who has received cheirotonia to the diaconate. He might be in any one of the three grades of the monastic life - rasophore, stravrophore, or megaschemos.

Protodeacon: the “first” or principal deacon. This rank within the diaconate is conferred on a non-monastic Byzantine-rite deacon. Protodeacons enjoy liturgical precedence among deacons, i.e. they are to stand at the head of the deacons and they have the responsibility to set “an example of good” among the deacons.

(For The Order of Making and Raising an Archdeacon or Protodeacon confer with the Archieratikon. Rome. 1974. 270-271. An English translation is to be found in the Euchologion. The Basilian Press. 1986. 410-411. This prayer that can only be pronounced by a bishop is used for ordaining both archdeacons and protodeacons.

The distinction between the title of archdeacon and protodeacon in current Byzantine practice where such a distinction occurs, lies in the following: archdeacons are attached to the monastic clergy and protodeacons are attached to the secular or diocesan clergy.)

The example of good to which protodeacons and archdeacons are called should be a ministerial example in the diaconal functions of liturgy, word and charity. The use of the following insignia may be granted to protodeacons: the double or extended orarion, the purple skoufia, and the purple kamilavka.

Archdeacon: the “chief” or principal deacon. This rank within the diaconate is conferred on a hierodeacon or monastic deacon. It should be noted that this rank is only to be bestowed on monastic deacons.

The Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches states, “Moreover, it is not appropriate to confer monastic titles, with the associated insignia and attire, to secular clergy. This applies even more so to married clergy” (No. 78).

Archdeacons enjoy liturgical precedence and are to set an example of good in their ministry. According to Byzantine usage, monks precede diocesan or secular clergy; thus archdeacons should precede protodeacons because they are monks. The use of the following insignia may also be granted to archdeacons: a double or extended orarion. Since archdeacons are monastics they are not granted the use of the purple skoufia or kamilavka. The skoufia of the archdeacon is of black velvet, the kamilavka is of black velvet and the klobuk is of black stuff. Usually, when an archdeacon serves, he wears the kamilavka and not the klobuk.


No prescribed clerical attire existed in the early centuries of Christianity. The origins of clerical attire and vesture can be traced to the civilian dress of the late Roman Empire. It is certainly not derived from the priestly vesture of the Old Testament. In its origins there appears to be no connection with clothing and the Christian priestly office. Most of the clothing and insignia of Christian ministers, at least in their essentials, developed from the clothing of the laity as worn in antiquity. This development took place between the 4th and 9th centuries. As the laity abandoned the classical clothing of the late Roman Empire and adopted new fashions introduced by barbarian invaders, the clergy maintained the earlier fashions. (For a detailed account of the history of clerical attire and vesture refer to the bibliography.)


From the 6th century onwards, beginning with the Council of Braga in Portugal in A.D. 572, the clergy were required to wear a vestis talaris, i.e. a tunic reaching to the feet. They were to avoid the secular fashions of the laity. The Quinisext Council or Council in Trullo of A.D. 692 stresses that the clergy shall wear suitable clothes either when travelling or when at home (can. 27). If the clergy refused to wear the appointed dress they were to be punished with an excommunication of one week.

The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches states that “particular law is to be observed in regard to the attire of clerics” (CCEC can. 387). This is in continuity with previous legislation. The point is that the general or universal law does not prescribe one particular form of attire for all clergy throughout the world. The particular Churches sui iuris are to prescribe their own laws. Obviously, the particular law must take into consideration the traditions and customs of each Church sui iuris. (A Church sui iuris is one of its own right with an acknowledged autonomy with regard to government and discipline.) Unlike the Code of Canon Law for the Roman Church that makes exemptions for permanent deacons but not transitional deacons in regards to clerical attire, the CCEC includes all clerics (deacons, presbyters and bishops) under the same prescription.

Thus the general law of the Eastern Catholic Churches does not exempt deacons from wearing clerical attire as is the case in the Roman rite (CIC can. 288).

Further clarification on the legislation is presented in the Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. The Congregation for the Eastern Churches on the 6th of January 1996 promulgated this instruction. Under No. 66, The liturgical vestments, we read “As for the non-liturgical dress of the clergy, it is appropriate that the individual Churches sui iuris return to the style of the traditional Eastern usage.” It should be noted that this is a call to reform and to return to the authentic tradition of each Church sui iuris in the matter of clerical attire. This same document in No. 21, The ecumenical value of the common liturgical heritage, states,

“In every effort of liturgical renewal, therefore, the practice of the Orthodox brethren should be taken into account, knowing it, respecting it and distancing from it as little as possible so as not to increase the existing separation, but rather intensifying efforts in view of eventual adaptations, maturing and working together. Thus will be manifested the unity that already subsists in daily receiving the same spiritual nourishment from practicing the same common heritage.26”

Footnote 26 reads: Cf. John Paul II, Discourse to participants of the meeting about the pastoral problems of the Catholic Church of the Byzantine rite in Romania (22 January 1994): L’Osservatore Romano, 22 January 1994, p5; see also in Servizio Informazioni per le Chiese Orintali 49 (1994) 2.

We also note that in a instruction focusing on the attire of prelates in the Roman rite in No. 30, it states “With regard to the dress and titles of cardinals and patriarchs of the Eastern rites, the traditional usages of their individual rite is to be followed.” (Instruction Ut sive sollicite, 31 March 1969.)

The spirit of recent legislation calls for a reform and return to the authentic traditions. This legislation implies there is to be no imitation of the Roman rite or hybridization, let alone the polemical approach of some who attire themselves in clothes that are different from the Orthodox in order to make a point about being Catholic. It is apparent that the mind of the legislator is directing all clerics in the Eastern Catholic Churches to adopt the traditional practice of the Orthodox clergy in regards to clerical attire.


Here, we will address only the clerical attire of deacons, hierodeacons, protodeacons and archdeacons. Given current legislation on clerical attire, this will be framed with the current practice of the Orthodox Churches of the Byzantine rite in mind. It should be remembered that the descriptions that follow are broad and general in scope. We will speak of the current Greek and Slavic customs. However, the reader should bear in mind that clerical attire in not a prescribed uniform. It is not the equivalent of military dress.

Within the Byzantine rite the exact cut and minute tailoring details of clerical attire differ from one Church sui iuris to another. Current and past legislation has taken a rather general approach in regard to details. The legislation does not come with prescribed patterns for tailors to follow. While clerical attire tends to be very conservative, over the years minor changes have been introduced. Sometimes these changes are in continuity with legitimate customs, at other times they are not.

The clergy have a responsibility to educate those who will tailor their attire to fashion clerical attire according to the tradition. Excellent tailoring skills do not imply that the tailor has the requisite knowledge to attire the clergy. This requires an historical knowledge and without it the best-intentioned cleric or tailor can go astray. One is best to seek out a tailor who has a detailed knowledge of Orthodox clerical attire. This is usually not the case with commercial firms that specialize in Western vesture and clerical attire. What follows is a general description and guide.

Colour: The material for the inner rason may be of any colour. The material for the outer rason is black in color in the Greek Churches. However, in the Slavic Churches the outer rason while usually black may be of any colour. The most common colours of the inner rason are black, blue or gray. Some of the Slavs wear white at Pascha. The Patriarch of Bucharest and all Romania customarily wears a white outer rason. Purple, scarlet, blue or green have no hierarchical significance, nor do they indicate a special rank among the clergy and thus may be worn by any of the clergy. Patriarchs and metropolitans in the Slavic Churches wear a white klobuk; i.e. the veil on the kamilavka is white. Ukrainian and Russian protodeacons, if granted the privilege, may wear a purple or maroon skoufia, or purple or maroon kamilavka.

Material: Clerical attire may be of any material as long as it is simple, decent and not extravagant. The rason is usually made of wool or of a wool and synthetic blend. The kamilavka of protodeacons and archdeacons is usually covered in velvet.

The Inner Rason, Imation, Anteri, Podryasnik: This is a tunic like garment cut like a double-breasted coat. It extends from the neck to the ankles. Customarily fastened on the left side. In some, the fastenings are visible, in others they are not. It has a continual neckband and in this differs considerably from the cassock or soutane of the West. The shirt collar or Roman collar is not visible as with the Western style. The neckband is not cut away.

The Greek style rason buttons at the neck and waist and, with some, the cuffs also have buttons. It is tied at the waist with a broad ribbon and usually has exterior pockets on the breast and sometimes at the sides (Fig. 1).

The Slavic style also has buttons at the neck and waist and in some the cuffs also have buttons. Pockets are hidden on the inside and it has a more tailored appearance than the Greek style (Fig. 2).

Some monastics wear an inner rason with buttons down the front of the breast (Fig. 3). Unlike the Roman cassock the buttons do not usually extend to the hem of the garment nor does it have a neckband that is cut away to reveal the shirt collar. Hierodeacons and archdeacons, being monastics, wear a leather belt about the waist (Fig. 4). The leather belt is common to all monks and nuns of the Byzantine rite.

For non-monastics, a non-leather poyas may be worn with the Slavic style. Such a poyas is made of cloth and cut like the priest’s or bishop’s liturgical vestment of that name (Fig. 5). Protodeacons in the Serbian Orthodox Church may be granted the right to wear a poyas, the color of which resembles the purple fascia or sash of Roman Catholic prelates. Such a poyas designates this deacon as a protodeacon.

The Outer Rason, Mandorrason, Ryasa: This is a large and flowing garment that reaches from the neck to the ankles. It is worn always with and over the inner rason.

In the Greek style it fastens at the neck and has voluminous sleeves that extend a little below the hands (Fig. 6).

The Slavic style is cut in a similar fashion to the inner rason of the Slavs, only it is larger in order that it may fit over the inner rason. It fastens on the left and at the neck with buttons. At times the inner lining of the sleeves is drawn back to form facings, usually of a contrasting collar (Fig. 7). In current practice many of the Slavic clergy wear an inner rason of the Slavic style and an outer rason of the Greek style.

Skouphos, Skoufia: In the Greek style this is a circular cap with a minimum of stiffness (Fig. 8). In the Slavic style this is a soft cap made of four equal sections. Each section is cut like a lancet window (Fig. 9). Ukrainian and Russian protodeacons may be granted the right to wear a purple or maroon velvet skoufia.

Kalummavchion, Kamilavka: This is a cylindrical or stovepipe shaped hat. In the Ukrainian and Russian Churches, the sides flare outward at the top and it is somewhat higher than the Greek style (Fig. 10).

The Greek style worn by the diocesan clergy and by hierodeacons and hieromonks when outside of the monastery has a top that slants upward and a brim at the top of the hat (Fig. 11).

Ukrainian and Russian protodeacons, if granted the right, may wear one of purple or maroon velvet. The Serbian kamilavka is black with no flair and a flat top. However, a band of black silk is wrapped about the vertical section.


Epikalummavchion, Klobuk: This is a kamilavka covered with a black veil (Fig. 12). It is common to all monks of the lesser and greater habits.

Koukoulion, Koukoul: This head covering is peculiar to monks. It is a cap shaped like a thimble and fitted with a black veil (Fig. 13). The veil is decorated with five crosses flanked with the instruments of the passion: a spear and a sponge on a pole. One cross is on the forehead, one on the back between the shoulders, one on the lower back, and two on the lappets. Only the magaloschemoi or monks of the great habit wear this head covering. Among the Greeks it is set aside eight days after the taking of the vows but among the Slavs it is part of the usual habit of a skhimnik.

Mandyas, Mantiya: This is a large black hoodless cloak without (Fig. 14). Among the Greeks it is worn by the megaloschemoi in Church. Among the Slavs, the microschemoi or stavrophores, i.e. the monks of the middle grade, wear the mandyas. Thus it is part of the clerical attire of hierodeacons.

Analavos: Worn by the megaloschemoi, it is a piece of cloth about 14 to 16 inches in width worn over the inner rason. It reaches to about mid-calf both in front and behind and appears much like the Western scapular. It is decorated with the instruments of the passion of Christ (Fig 15).

Paramandyas, Paraman: The megaloschemoi and the stavrophores wear this. It is worn over the inner rason and is fastened by cords to the body. The instruments of the passion (Fig 16) likewise decorate it.


Deacons, hierodeacons, protodeacons and archdeacons do not wear at any time or in any style the pectoral cross. This is the privilege of presbyters when they have received a blessing from the bishop, while bishops make use of the enclopion or panagia bearing the image of the Mother of God. Archbishops add along side this panagia a pectoral cross, and metropolitans and patriarchs wear a panagia of Christ, a pectoral cross and a panagia of the Mother of God. This does not preclude the deacon from wearing under his shirt a baptismal cross. This of course is not visible. Stavrophore monks may wear a wooden cross that is visible on the breast but it is not worn over the sticharion.

When a deacon is present at a liturgical service but does not serve, he does not wear the orarion. The orarion is worn only with the sticharion and epimanikia. If a deacon is not serving but comes to communion in the bema, he is first to receive a blessing and then vest in sticharion, orarion and epimanikia. Presbyters should likewise refrain from wearing the epitrachelion unless they are serving. Such a practice is clearly a Latinization.

Further comments: The clerical suit along with vest or shirt which dates from the late 19th century, and Roman collar which dates from the middle of the 19th century are not the traditional form of clerical dress in the Byzantine tradition. It is not the equivalent of, nor does it replace, the inner and outer rasons. The inner and outer rasons along with appropriate head coverings are to be worn at liturgical services. Deacons and presbyters should follow the example of the patriarchs and heads of the autocephalic churches and wear the traditional clerical attire of inner and outer rason along with the appropriate clerical hat.

There are no prescriptions in regards to what is worn under the inner rason. This writer is of the opinion that a white neckband shirt, i.e. a shirt without a collar, black trousers, black socks and black shoes are most appropriate as they harmonize in color with the upper garments and do not provide a distraction.

Jewelry is not appropriate with clerical attire, as it is not compatible with simplicity and poverty. Wedding bands are acceptable, as they are a sign of a sacramental witness. However, other rings, bracelets, wristwatches, chains, and earrings are not.

The wearing of clerical attire reminds the deacon or priest to practice propriety, simplicity, poverty and humility in regards to his external behavior. It is a witness within the assembly that this person has been set aside for service to God and the Church. It also provides a witness and a sign in the secular world of the presence of God’s Kingdom and the Gospel message. Clerics have not only the right but also the obligation to wear it with dignity and humility according to the received tradition of their own Church sui iuris. And where an accurate observation of the tradition has fallen into disuse, a return to such a practice is obligatory.

In the choice of fabrics for the inner and outer rasons it should be born in mind that regular cleaning is necessary. Modern fabrics may be washed if they are pre-shrunk before tailoring. This should be checked before purchasing.


Colour: There are only two colours in the Byzantine tradition: bright and dark. Dark is worn during penitential services, for example from the prokeimenon of Sunday Lenten Vespers to the completion of Friday Lenten Vespers. Bright colored vestments are worn during non-penitential times.

Sticharion, Stikar: This is a long tunic with wide sleeves (Fig. 17), worn over the inner rason. It is decorated with bands of galloon or trim. This trim forms a yoke about the neck and bands at the hem and the end of the sleeves. Servers, readers, subdeacons, deacons, presbyters and bishops wear the sticharion. The sticharion of deacons and those in lesser orders is usually made of heavy brocade while that of the presbyter and bishop is of a lighter fabric. The equivalent vestment in the West is the alb. The sticharion is not the equivalent of the dalmatic and should not be referred to by this name. The dalmatic is a Latin vestment of bishops and deacons and similar to the sakkos of the Byzantine rite.

Orarion, Orar: This is a narrow band of fabric which hangs from the left shoulder, both front and back, to the hem of the sticharion (Fig. 17). This is the foremost insignia of the deacon. It symbolizes the wings of the angels.

Sometime following the 17th century it seems that protodeacons and archdeacons were granted the right to wear two oraria. This double orarion developed into a very long band that wrapped around the body about the right hip (Fig 18). In the Greek Churches all deacons wear the double or extended orarion.

In the Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox Churches the double or extended orarion is given as an award to deserving deacons. It is worn by all protodeacons and archdeacons but no longer seems to be an insignia of the rank of protodeacon or archdeacon.

The deacon holds the orarion with three fingers of his right hand during the prayers of petition and frequently crosses himself while holding it. The deacon holding it on high, uses it to gain the attention of the assembly and to emphasize the words and actions of the liturgy.

Besides being decorated by crosses, the orarion frequently has embroidered on it the words of the seraphim: holy, holy, holy. At the Our Father the deacon binds the orarion about himself and wears it in the manner of a subdeacon (Fig. 19). It then symbolizes the wings of the seraphim. Following communion the deacon unbinds the orarion and wears it in its usual manner. The orarion is always worn with the sticharion and the epimanikia.

Epimanikia, Narukavnytsi: These are detachable cuffs worn over the sleeves of the inner rason by the deacon and over the sticharion by the presbyter and bishop (Fig. 20). Deacons have worn them since the 17th century. They represent the bonds that encircled the wrists of Christ during his passion. They are held in place by long cords wrapped around the wrists. The cuffs may be embroidered or at least ornamented with a cross.

Comments: The sticharion of the deacon should be cut in an ample or full style. It ought to be lined and reach to the hem of the inner rason. The sleeves should be cut above the wrists so that the epimanikia are somewhat visible when the deacon raises his arms.
The sticharion is decorated on the back with one or sometimes two large crosses. The yoke and hem and sleeve hems, along with the orarion and epimanikia may be in a contrasting fabric or color. The fabrics and ornamental crosses used in the sticharion, orarion and epimanikia should be professionally dry-cleaned.

The deacon always receives a blessing from the presiding bishop or presbyter before vesting. At the Divine Liturgy vesting prayers are prescribed. Deacons should memorize these prayers which are taken from the psalms. At other services the diaconal vestments are donned without prayers. At all other services in which deacons function liturgically they are to wear the sticharion, orarion, and epimanikia. Before divesting at the end of the service, the deacon is again to receive a blessing from the presiding bishop or presbyter.

When Catholic deacons of the Byzantine rite are invited to function liturgically in the Roman rite they are to wear the vestments proper to the Byzantine rite (CCEC can. 701, and Instruction for Applying… No. 57). If they are present at liturgical services in the Roman rite but not serving, they are to wear the inner and outer rasons and the appropriate head covering. There should be no liturgical syncretism.

Part C: Titles and Precedence

Titles can fall under the following categories:

Title of order,

Title of rank,

Title of office,

Title of address.

Title of Order: Every cleric upon ordination receives a title. This title refers to the order conferred, e.g. lector, subdeacon, deacon, priest, or bishop. Such a title is connected to a place. One is either a deacon of an eparchy or a hierodeacon of a particular monastery or monastic community. Bishops are forbidden to ordain candidates without such a title. A title of ordination reads as follows: Ivan Bodnar, Deacon of the Eparchy of Toronto. The cleric by this title is incardinated into a local church. Thus the title of ordination implies both duties that the cleric owes the eparchy and duties that the eparchy has in regard to the cleric.

Titles of Rank: These titles determine precedence, liturgical and otherwise, among clerics, e.g. archbishops precede bishops. Among deacons the titles of rank in order of ascending precedence are deacon, hierodeacon, protodeacon and archdeacon. Note that monastic deacons precede eparchial deacons according to the Byzantine tradition. This is unlike precedence in the Roman tradition where the diocesan clergy precede monastic clergy. Precedence is also determined by date of ordination. For example Deacon Ivan who was ordained in July of 1982 precedes Deacon Gregory who was ordained in September of 1982. However, Protodeacon Thomas who was ordained deacon in October of 1983 and protodeacon in November of 1997 precedes both Deacon Gregory and Deacon Ivan.

Precedence serves to keep good order in liturgical services and helps to avoid idiosyncratic preferences.

Titles of Office: Offices such as pastor, pastoral vicar, rector, chaplain, dean (protopresbyter), consultor, syncellus, protosyncellus, judicial vicar or adjutant judicial vicar, require the candidate to be in priest’s orders. A deacon may serve as chancellor, assistant chancellor, notary, oeconomos/treasurer, archivist, teller, secretary of the patriarchal synod, eparchial judge, assessor, auditor, promoter of justice, or defender of the bond. These offices that may be held by a deacon do not confer precedence. It should be noted that the offices, that a deacon may hold do not bring to the office holder jurisdiction, except in a very limited sense in regards to the office of eparchial judge.

Jurisdiction in some offices does determine precedence. For example, the dean (protopresbyter) has liturgical precedence over the other priests of the deanery when he acts as dean. The pastor of a parish has liturgical precedence over the other priests of the parish and the protosyncellus has liturgical precedence over all the priests of the eparchy. This is a juridical precedence rather than one of liturgical rank, such as an archdeacon has over the other hierodeacons of a monastery or the protodeacon over the other deacons of an eparchy.

Titles of Address: The manner in which we use titles of address tends to cause a great deal of confusion. It should be remembered that titles of address are nothing more than courtesy titles. They are polite ways of speaking to the clergy according to their order, rank and office. Local language and customs tend to determine these titles of address. What might be appropriate in one language may not be deemed suitable in another. If one were to address the bishop in the English language as “despot” as one does in liturgical Greek, it would seem out of place and therefore, would not be considered courteous. The following titles of address for deacons are based on the customs of English speaking Christians in the Orthodox Churches. Based on the principles found in the Instruction for applying the Liturgical Prescriptions…it seems that the practice in the Orthodox Churches should be followed rather than the customs used by the Roman Catholics or the Protestants.


Envelope Address: "Father Deacon Bohdan Komar" or "The Reverend Deacon Bohdan Komar"

Written Salutation: "Dear Father Deacon Bohdan"

In Conversation: "Father Deacon Bohdan"


Envelope Address: "Father Hierodeacon Ivan (Komar)" (The family name is not customarily used among monastics.) or "The Reverend Hierodeacon Ivan"

Written Salutation: "Dear Father Hierodeacon Ivan"

In Conversation: "Father Hierodeacon Ivan"


Envelope Address: "Father Protodeacon Ivan Komar" or"The Reverend Protodeacon Ivan Komar"

Written Salutation: "Dear Father Protodeacon Ivan"

In Conversation: "Father Protodeacon Ivan"


Envelope Address: "Father Archdeacon Ivan (Komar)" or"The Reverend Archdeacon Ivan"

Written Salutation: "Dear Father Archdeacon Ivan"

In Conversation: "Father Archdeacon Ivan"

The author’s opinion is that titles of address have no weight in either general or particular law. They are simply customary courtesy titles. They are used to show respect and are a reflection of manners and custom which manners and customs are open to change. However, if one is going to use them, correct grammar and syntax are important both in the written and spoken forms. The word “reverend” is an adjective modifying a noun. In English, the definite article “the” before the adjective “reverend” should always be accompanied by the baptismal or monastic name, e.g. Ivan and not the surname alone. It is grammatically incorrect to use the following: “Reverend Komar”. Likewise, it is incorrect to refer to a clergyman as “The Reverend” or “Reverend” without including both his given and family names. If one insists on addressing clergy in the vocative case with the salutation of “reverend” (and it should be noted that this is not really a Byzantine custom), one should address the priest or deacon as follows: “Your Reverence”.

Some may be of the opinion that the title “Father” is reserved to the priest alone. But according to Byzantine custom spiritual fatherhood is not the preserve of the priest. Orthodox professed monks who are neither deacons nor priests are commonly addressed as “Father”.

When deacons (and priests) sign their name they should do it in the following manner:


Ivan Komar or Ivan Komar, Deacon [and below the signature in typeface]
(Fr. Deacon) Ivan Komar

They should not sign their name as Father Deacon Ivan Komar or The Reverend Deacon Ivan Komar as courtesy titles are not part of one’s name. It would be similar to signing one’s name with the courtesy title Mr., e.g. Mr. Ivan Komar. If one presumes that the person to whom one is writing needs to be prompted on how to address a deacon, underneath the signature proper, it is appropriate to include the courtesy title in brackets preceding the typed name.

Select Bibliography:

J. Braun, Die Liturgische Gewandung im Occident und Orient nach Ursprung und Entwicklung, Verwandung und Symbolik, 1907.

Archimandrite Chrysostom. Orthodox Liturgical Dress. 1981.

N.F. Robinson. Monasticism in the Orthodox Churches. 1916.

Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium, 1990.

Codex Iuris Canonici, 1983.

Instruction for applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, 1996.

The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, 1991.

Ukrainian version
Óźšąæķńüźą āåšń³˙


Fr. Roman Galadza