Info

The most common liturgy in the period under discussion was that of St John Chrysostom, a service that could range in length from less than one hour to more than two, depending on the status of the church and number of celebrants. The Liturgy of Basil was used for the Sundays of Lent and for important feast days. As the liturgy unfolded, the faithful were expected to stand and to pay attention, although, judging from the complaints of various churchmen, it was not always easy for the laity to endure the ceremony in quietude and solemnity, or to remain for the duration of the service. A text that is probably of Palaiologan date warns laymen of God's strictures at the Last Judgement for their irregular church attendance and for not paying attention when they did come to services.

Even if you come to [the churches], you go to them with your feet, but you lag behind with your soul . . . being preoccupied with the worries of daily life you engage each other in conversation, and do not pay attention to the scriptures ... barely staying until the reading of the Gospel, straightaway you quickly rush out and leave the church as if some force were pushing you out, each person shoving another and trampling upon them as if they were being chased out of there.14

Within the body of the church, according to both textual and artistic evidence, laymen and women were segregated, although the manner of division depended on the size and shape of the church as well as on the type of community. Written sources demonstrate that in the great churches of the Byzantine capital women - particularly those of high status - stood in the gallery or in the side aisles. Artistic evidence from the medieval period suggests that in city churches women and men were divided along the north and south sides of the nave, as is the case in contemporary practice. Further afield, as suggested by painted evidence in small rural churches, women and men were divided along the north and south sides of the church, or perhaps even according to perceived levels of sanctity, with men standing closer to the sanctuary and women relegated to the building's west end.

It is widely accepted that communion, in the medieval period, had decreased in frequency compared to early Christian practice. Although in the twelfth century Theodore Balsamon affirms that the laity may receive communion every day (provided that they are properly prepared), most churchgoers appear to

14 Vita of Basil the Younger, ed. A. N. Veselovskij, 'Razyskanija v oblasti russkogodu-chovnogo sticha', Sbornik Otdelenija Russkago Jazykai Slovesnosti Imperatorskoj Akademii Nauk 53 (1891-92), suppl. 172-3. Unpublished English translation by S. McGrath, D. Sullivan and A.-M. Talbot.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment