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affirmed to each: 'The servant of God [name] is engaged to the servant of God [name] in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.' At the end of the ceremony, the couple took communion, sealing the contract through the blessings of the church.

The ecclesiastical marriage rite, or crowning (cTspav^iJa), followed a ritual that was already in place by the eleventh century. Texts from the period under discussion describe the blessing of the couple in front of the sanctuary portal, the reading of prayers, petitions regarding the propagation of children, the marking of the heads of the couple three times with marriage crowns, and the joining of the couple's hands before they took communion from a common cup.57 The text of the rite is full of references to Old Testament marriages of renowned strength, such as those of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachel, as well as to New Testament marriages, particularly the Wedding at Cana. At the conclusion of the rite, according to several service books of the period, the couple was escorted from the church to their house.

Funerals, in medieval Byzantium, were held in the church following preparation of the corpse at home. The body of the deceased, if a member of the laity, was placed in the church narthex or nave for the funeral rites. The funeral service offered prayers for the repose of the soul and invited the mourners to approach the body for a final farewell. Wealthy Byzantines were often buried in churches, usually in graves dug below the floor of either the narthex or subsidiary chapels. More humble Christians were laid to rest in cemeteries, which often surrounded burial chapels in which commemorative services could be held. In most cases, the deceased was wrapped in a shroud and placed directly into the earth; only on rare occasions have wooden caskets been documented archaeologically. Corpses were laid in the tomb with their heads at the west end so that their faces would look towards the site of Christ's resurrection in the east; in many cases the heads were propped up by a stone pillow. The hands were crossed over the chest, a pose that is reproduced in numerous funerary portraits on icons and in monumental painting. Graves could be used for multiple burials; this was particularly the case for mothers and children, or for families taken by disease.

Burial was followed by a longperiod of mourning, punctuated by commemorative services (yvrnocuva) on the third, ninth and fortieth days after death as well as on the first anniversary. Some Byzantine writers, such as Symeon of Thessalonike, associated these staged memorials with specific days in the life and death of Christ. Thus, the third day was viewed as a ritual imitatio of

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