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#374002 01/09/12 06:05 PM
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Can anyone tell me what they are and where they come from etc. etc. I am told they are called "zions"?

They look really COOL and are apparently used when the Hierarchical Liturgy prescribes a simultaneous/double incensation by 2 deacons...

cf. 0.24


Christ is Born!

Herb

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No idea....

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No idea, but they sure are cool-looking!

And can I just say that I love all the pomp and circumstance, smells and bells, and basso profundos of our traditions!

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"Zions" or "Jerusalems" are tabernacles. Someone mistakenly decided they could be used as incense holders. According to one ROCOR source, this practice was created about 10 years ago, when some creative subdeacons of Patriarch Alexis II thought up the practice of holding the Zions on the shoulder.

As a deacon who has served and observed hierarchical liturgies, I have never seen this practice nor found it it any of the service books for the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, Orthodox or Catholic.

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They look like gilded bird cages to me......

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Originally Posted by Deacon John Montalvo
"Zions" or "Jerusalems" are tabernacles. Someone mistakenly decided they could be used as incense holders. According to one ROCOR source, this practice was created about 10 years ago, when some creative subdeacons of Patriarch Alexis II thought up the practice of holding the Zions on the shoulder.

As a deacon who has served and observed hierarchical liturgies, I have never seen this practice nor found it it any of the service books for the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, Orthodox or Catholic.

In some circles such innovations are rightly termed "liturgical abuses".

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now that's an interesting statement...
IMO, it's useless, but it does make it look very cool...

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I too have heard that they are/were incense boxes, and while I do not know when exactly they entered the use of the Russian church, they DO go back more than 10 years. I believe they are monastic in origin. They are used on Mount Athos and Mount Sinai. In monastic settings, both monks and nuns will cense with the katzion (hand censer) at certain points of the service; sometimes they will hold hold a church-shaped container in the left hand.

Iconographically, deacons often have a church-shaped object in the left hand. It may be an artoforion--or it may not be. Is this a case of liturgy shaping iconography, or of iconography shaping liturgy?

Adding a handle to the box seems to be a Russian innovation. smile

Fr. David

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Actually, the subdeacons are deacons now and since only deacons and above can cense...

I asked a russian deacon about it a few years ago, I need to dig through my mail box about it. I didn't know that the 'tradition' was only about 10 years old though.

Also, the 2 deacons are the only ones you will see using the Zions.

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Christ is Born!

I remember seeing something like this so long ago in Armenian Cathedral the 1970's ? when I was there. I believe that it was deacons who held them at the same time censing the church in the Divine Liturgy. I am not really sure of what I remember but the pictures of little churches is still in my head.

Probably it is something quite different.

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thanks for all your very informative postings on Jerusalems/Zions.

they are brilliant!

I notice that they are used with what looks like an Aer (may be just practical?)

ps: I just assumed that in icons when people carry little churches, it was just symbolic (that they were church builders or some such idea); but maybe they are Zions?

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In August of 1981, I attended Pontifical Divine Liturgy in Theophany Cathedral, Moscow. The celebrant was Patriarch Pimen. At the censing prior to the transfer of the gifts, two hierodeacons vested similarly as the hierodeacons in the video posted above but without the double oraria, censed with zions. Being curious about this custom, I asked the Patriarchal Archdeacon Stephan to explain this practice. He told me that a few years previous, this custom had been observed on Mt. Athos and the patriarch had decided to implement it at Patriarchal Divine Liturgy in Moscow. To the best of my knowledge at present this practice has not spread beyond the Patriarchal Divine Liturgy at the censing prior to the Great Entrance.

Abbot Basil Pennington, OCSO mentions in his text "O, Holy Mountain" two hierodeacons censing with zions at polyeleos during Matins. The book is not at hand so I cannot cite the page.

What exactly is the zion? As speculated above either a container for the reserved sacrament (most likely) or a box for incense. The ones I saw in Moscow had no container within and did not open up.

It is a delight to see deacons censing with such care and grace!

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Christ is Baptized!

I remember seeing pictures of deacons censing with Zions when I was little so I know the custom is more than 10 years old. Protodeacon David Kennedy told me that on a trip to Moscow in 1981 (I think) he saw them being used in the patriarchal Theophany Cathedral in Moscow. After the service they had the opportunity to meet with my hero Archdeacon Stephan Gavshev and ask him some questions. Fr. David asked about the Zions and where this practice comes from. The Archdeacon replied that a group of clergy went to visit bout Athos (some time in the 70's I assume), saw the deacons using these and thought it looked super cool. So naturally they brought back the custom to Moscow. I have noticed this custom being restored in monasteries, particularly the ones which are liturgically forward thinking and into all the awesome little things that make liturgy fun.

And that is basically what it comes down to, awesome coolness. If it looks impressive, why not?

To the best of my knowledge, they were historically used as containers for phosphora. On Athos, two deacons perform the incensation at the Polyeleios with Zions on their shoulders. The Russians seem to only use them at the incensation at "O Lord I cry to you..." at vespers.

There is a picture in one of my books which shows the high place in an Old Believer church from the 19th century. The picture is titled "The Zion". It shows a rather large wooden tabernacle located behind the episcopal throne . On either side of this big tabernacle are two smaller, less ornate church shaped boxes that i can only assume have some commonality with what we are calling Zions in this thread. So we can assume that Zions have existed in Russia/Ukraine since at least the 18th century (the Zions in the picture look at least 100 years old already). How they would have been used at that time would be very interesting to find out.

In any case, the practice is certainly older than 10 years and it is not a muscovite invention.

I am planning on making a set for my parish. We are lucky enough to have three deacons so why not? After all, IT LOOKS SUPER DUPER COOL! If I was a deacon I would be all over that.

So there it is, that's all I know.








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Begging the pardon of Protodeacon David and Deacon John, but if I may be permitted to add my two cents...

Sions (or Jerusalems) are not incense boxes, nor tabernacles, nor artophoria, nor reliquaries. These are all mistaken folk interpretations. Sions are a survival of the moneyboxes that once deacons were in charge of, in their capacity as stewards of the goods and property of the church, and it was their duty to collect the offerings and alms of the faithful and distribute them among the needy. This is why in icons they hold a censer in their right hand and a Sion in their left, showing their two primary roles.

Once their non-liturgical duties largely ceased, the Sions lost their function as moneyboxes, and began being depicted in icons as little buildings and churches. Their liturgical use was largely confined to large city cathedrals and probably died out in the Byzantine world with the cathedral rite when it was replaced with the monastic rite. Nevertheless, they survive in extremely conservative places such as Mt Athos. They were also known and used in Russia before the Revolution, and a partial listing of these places may be found in the Nikolsky Typicon.

This, at least, was the researched opinion of Fr Serge (Keleher) of blessed memory.

They were never reliquaries or tabernacles. The principle is to add smaller things to greater ones to add solemnity - if the tabernacle containing the Holy Gifts is used to add solemnity to a censing of clergy, people and icons, what does that say about the relative importance of the Holy Gifts?

The reference in Dom Basil (Pennington) is on page 168, referring to DL on the feast of St Mary Magdalen: 'the deacons with chests of incense on their shoulders, passing through the dancing candlelight in their rich brocades, censers going in all directions!'. Seems Dom Basil got it wrong too!

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Kolya is right--they are used in the Armenian Church.

Armenian Deacons [1.bp.blogspot.com]

In Malachia Ormanian's A Dictionary of the Armenian Church, there are two relevant entries:

Quote
Ark/Dabanag
The meaning of this word is "small box." In the church the term is applied to various articles, such as (1) the ark of the censer, which sometimes has an artistic covering on top of which a candle is placed, and is held in the left hand while censing; (2) the ark of the priest into which the faithful used to drop their coins as their contribution to the priest.

Ark (of the censer)/Khngaman
A silver vessel for the purpose of carrying incense, with or without a cover. The incense is kept in it during the service, so that when the deacon goes to the officiant he may present the censer, which contains a spoon, along with the thurible, to have the incense transferred to the thurible.

So, it seems that in the Armenian tradition, these are actual incense containers, whether they look like Western-style incense boats or small churches.

The mention of offering boxes is interesting, since it meshes with what Ed mentioned, but while the word "ark" is used, the entries do not mention if these alms boxes look like little churches or not. I'd guess not.

Fr. David

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