2 October 2017

Realised Eschatology

Today, a Greater Double, the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels, the antiphon for the Benedictus in both the Breviary and the Liturgy of the Hours draws on Hebrews 1:14 to describe the Angels as leitourgika Spirits sent for diakonia. Is this why there is an iconographical convention of showing angels wearing dalmatics? Has anybody ever thought of using this to defend the (corrupt?) medieval practice whereby Byzantine Bishops wear not chasubles but dalmatics by saying that a Bishop is the Angel (see Rev 2:1 etc. and cf apostellomena of Heb1:14) of his Church?

[By the way, I have an ikon of the 1920s Bishop of Aegina, S Nektarios, wearing a chasuble; Although I know that Byzantine bishops do sometimes celebrate in a phelonion (and omophorion), I rather suspect this may be a delightful example of the conservatism of Byzantine iconography. He is also wearing a black hat; I assume it is his monastic hat.]

Incidentally, in this antiphon both the Breviary and LH change a very clear future (tous mellontas cleronomein which becomes capient haereditatem in both Vulgates) to a present capiunt: 'those who are already inheriting salvation'. Was there a nest of prescient adherents of C H ('Realised Eschatology') Dodd among the sixteenth century liturgists who put this office together?


Fr Ray Blake said...

The Sakkos started life as a vestment of the Emperor, rather than as a dalmatic, Patriarchs wore it but only after the fall of Constantinople did it become generally worn by bishops.

Perhaps one could suggest that it has diaconal associations because the Emperors function in the liturgy (like some European monarchs) of singing the Gospel. Then of course much of 'Imperial theology' was about him being episcopos of the outer mysteries, or even the angel of God (God's justice?).

If we use 'overseer' and 'messenger' we lose some of the mystique, though not necessarily.

Matthew Conner said...

Regarding the Western, post-Byzantine iconography of Angels vested in Dalmatics

The early Western tradition follows the Byzantine mode of depicting Angels in a himation and other accessories. However the Gothic period begins to show a variety of liturgical vestments, principally the dalmatic and the cope. Maurice McNamee SJ in Vested Angels: Eucharistic Allusions in Early Netherlandish Paintings makes an argument based on Durandus and the Medieval Liturgical Plays that Angels are depicted in the life and actions of our Lord vested as liturgical subministers. Viewing Christ's entire Earthly life are a participation in the Passion and Sacrifice offered on Calvary, the secondary actions of Angels would place them in suitable liturgical garb rather.

Fr Herman said...

Father John, yes, the icon of St. Nektarios is probably an example of iconographic conservatism. However as you note, the phelonion (= chasuble) is not unheard of for bishops, but usually only when they are "serving as priests," i.e., not serving the hierarchical rite. And, yes, the (usually small) omophorion is worn over it. St. N's black hat would indeed be his monastic headgear.

Now, the main reason I'm commenting: I believe the bishop's sakkos is not so much a dalmatic (sticharion) in origin as it is an imperial robe which, like the Byzantine-style miter, got taken over by the episcopate at some point. Originally it was only patriarchs who wore the sakkos; ordinary diocesan bishops still wore the phelonion always. Then it spread. I've never heard it thought of as a dalmatic before. In any case, the bishop wears a sticharion underneath it all. (For priests and bishops the sticharion equates to your albe, but the diaconal form of the sticharion is more akin to your dalmatic. They are considered the same vestment, however, as evidenced at the priestly ordination, where the zone [girdle], epitrachelion [priestly stole] and phelonion are put on right on top of the deacon's sticharion.)

All this is rather interesting also given the Western practice of bishops wearing a tunicle and dalmatic under their chasubles... I'm not sure there's any connection though.

Hieromonk Herman

Unknown said...

It might be of interest to note that in the Orthodox hierarchical Divine Liturgy the great omophor is removed before the consecration of the elements and the consecration itself is said, silently, except for the sung Words of Institution, without omophor. Later the small omophor is worn until the end of the liturgy. It appears, at least according to what I have seen, that the Greek Catholics have lost this tradition.

I was taught that the theological reason for this is that during the consecration of the elements there is no distinction between priest and bishop.

Many of the present episcopal elements surrounding Byzantine bishops were indeed adopted from the vesture of the emperor after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, including the orlitzi. They are no really of ancient origin.