Lifecycle rituals

In addition to lifecycle rituals observed in the home, other rites of passage brought laymen and women into the church and engaged them in pious practices. Children were baptised within the church and were given names that derived primarily from the church calendar, most often names of saints, but occasionally with reference to Christ, the Virgin or feasts. The naming of a child established a close association between the name bearer and the name saint, a fundamental bond that would guide a layperson's devotional prayers throughout his or her lifetime. This bond is demonstrated through inscriptions in church and icon painting as well as in other media. One such example is seen in the church of St Michael, Charouda, in the Mani, dated 1371/72, where the represented donor of the small structure, the humble Michael Karydianos, offers a model of the church to the Archangel Michael.55

Among the most important events in the lives of Byzantine families were betrothal and marriage, which the service books of the middle and late Byzantine period include as separate rites. Girls were betrothed at a young age in Byzantium, often before they turned twelve. Depending on family circumstances the actual marriage could take place some years later. Since the rites of both betrothal and marriage took place within the church, the dissolution of these ecclesiastical contracts had to be overseen by church courts. Indeed, a number of cases brought before church courts by women concerned betrothal, marriage, adultery and even divorce.

According to liturgical texts of the late Byzantine period, the betrothed couple stood in the nave of the church directly in front of the sanctuary gates for the duration ofthe ceremony.56 In the course of the betrothal rite, preserved in slightly varied forms, the priest asked the prospective groom if he would accept his betrothed before posing the same question to the prospective bride. After swearing in the affirmative, the couple was blessed. Rings were given to the couple, a gold ringto the man and a silver ringto the woman. On occasion, the woman's ring was made of iron or copper. The rings were exchanged three times, the more precious metal ultimately remaining with the man. The priest

55 N. B. Drandakes, ''O Ta^iapx^S Tf|S XapouSas Kai ^ KTiTopiK^ srnypa^T tou', AaKrxiviKaiZvouSai, 1 (1972), 287-8.

56 P. N. Trempelas, MiKpov EvxoAoyiov: 1. Ai axoAoudiai KaiTa^sisuVTjaTpwVKaiyaixou, £uxs^aiou, xEipoTovitivKaifianTitriJaTos(Athens: [s.n.], 1950), 7-40.

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