Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Byzantine Feast of St Benedict in Rome

In the Byzantine Rite, the feast of St Benedict is kept on March 14th, one week before the day of his death, which is his traditional Roman day. The Greek College in Rome honors him as its Patron Saint, but because his feast always falls in Lent, when the Divine Liturgy is only celebrated on Sundays and Saturdays, it is commemorated when it falls during the week at a Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, Vespers combined with a Communion service. Here are a few pictures from yesterday evening’s ceremony.

An icon of St Athanasius. titular Saint of the College’s main church.
As Elijah once did, Father, you brought down the rain from heaven by your divine entreaty; you made a vessel run over with oil, and raised a dead man, and accomplished numberless other wonders, in all ways unto the glory of God and the Savior, o holy one; wherefore, Benedict, we celebrate your holy memory with love. (3rd Sticheron for Vespers)

The little entrance with the Gospel book. Normally, this is done with only the thurible, but on major feasts, an Epistle and Gospel may be added to the Vespers of the Presanctified Gifts, in which case the Gospel book is carried as is normally done at the Divine Liturgy.
After the Little Entrance, there are two readings from the Old Testament, Genesis and Proverbs in Lent, Exodus and Job in Holy Week. The altar is then incensed from all sides, as the priest and choir sing part of Psalm 140, with the refrain “Let my prayer rise before Thee as incense, the lifting up of my hands as and evening sacrifice.”, accompanied with a series of full prostrations.

The deacon sings the Gospel from the pulpit.

If you click on this picture to magnify it, you can see a metal Eucharistic tabernacle in the form of a dove suspended from the middle of the baldachin.
One of the chapels within the college.

The bell-tower of the Church of St Athanaius, seen from inside the college.
Another icon of St Benedict, here given the epithet “the Cenobiarch”, which means “one who rules over monks who live in common.” The very first section of the Rule of St Benedict, On the various kinds of monks, states “...there are four kinds of monks. The first kind are the Cenobites, those who live in monasteries and serve under a rule and an Abbot. ... Passing (the other kinds) over, therefore, let us proceed, with God’s help, to lay down a rule for the strongest kind of monks, the Cenobites.”

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: