At our mission parish (Ruthenian), we use the rapidia during the Great Entrance. We also use them during the chanting of the Gospel, but only when its being chanted by the priest (the rapidia are held above the priest). When the deacon chants the Gospel the rapidia are left in place behind the altar and the servers carry candles.

How 'come?
Well, I think the vowel there is an "e", so it would be repidia (I could be wrong).

I have read that repidia are actually only to be used when a Bishop is serving (or an Archimandrite with that right given to him). Therefore, I cannot answer your question, as, according to my reading, either case would not be permited. (They would be held over the gospel when the priest or deacon was reading it, but only if the bishop were presiding.)

However, at certain parishes (both at Greek Catholic and Orthodox parishes of Slavic tradition), I have seen them being used with priests presiding. I was told by one of the clergy at the Greek Catholic parish that books from Rome such as the Ordo Celebrationis do not prohibit their use. At the Orthodox Church I presume that they were simply immitating hierarchical serving.

Ripidia. Or for the Hellenophiles, hexapteryga.

Dear Daniil,

Where have you read these rules for the use of the ripidia?



Rhipidion,(it seems that this program does not recognize Greek script), Latin fabellum, also spelt ripidion; pl. ripidia and also known as hexapterygon

They are mentioned in the Apostolic Constitutions 8.12.3 from the 4th C. A ripidion is a disk of metal or wood on a pole of 4' to 7' approximately in height. On the disk is portrayed either cherubim or seraphim. The deacon waves the ripidion over the gifts during the anaphora to ward away insects. (The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium 1790-1791 with bibliography.)

They are mentioned in the following liturgical books of the Ruthenian recension.

1. The Archieratikon or Pontifical Service Book in the Order for Making a Deacon: after the deacon has received the orarion from the bishop, the bishop presents him with the censer and then the ripidion. This transfer of instruments attests that the ripidion is one of the liturgical instruments particular to the deacon. (Archieratikon 242)

2. The Archieratikon 76ff in The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. During the anaphora the deacon waves the ripidion over the Holy Gifts.

During the Transfer of the Gifts on page 66, four ripidia are carried by deacons; two with the diskos carried by the protodeacon and two with the poterion (chalice) carried by the senior presbyter.

3. The Liturgikon 243ff gives similar instructions for its use at the anaphora.

4. The Ordo Celebrationis... �133ff confers with the Liturgikon.

From this evidence, it is possible to say that the ripidion is a liturgical instrument proper to the deacon. It is not particular to Pontifical Services as it is clearly mentioned in services presided over by a presbyter. The Ruthenian Archieratikon makes no mention of ripidia during the Entrance with the Gospel (although in practice ripidia are used) or during the reading of the Gospel (although in practice ripidia are used). The rubrics of both the Archieratikon and the Liturgikon at the Little Entrance and at the Gospel speak of candles (and the trikerion and dikerion).

The ripidia clearly have a practical function in their origin - to keep insects away from the Holy Gifts. They also have a symbolic-iconic reality. They bring honour to the Gospel when it is carried and read. They are also used to honour the Gifts when they are transferred from the Prothesis Table to the Holy Table.

David, Protodeacon
Dear Father Protodeacon,

So there is no reason why the use of the ripidia by servers should be confined to the Bishop's Liturgy?

Is it appropriate that they be used during the distribution of the Mysteries?

Dear Father Elias,

Clearly, the ripidion is not restricted to the Pontifical Services. It is an instrument of the deacon based on the Order for Ordaining Deacons as found in the Archieratikon. The Liturgikon has the deacon using it during the anaphora.

While I am not familiar with the ripidia being used during the distribution of the Holy Gifts, I can see no reason not to use them at this point. But certainly, someone will object, so be prepared for some type of liturgical police to point out the error of this practice.

David, Protodeacon
Bless me a sinner with a hug, Rev. Protodeacon smile

Yes, the ripidia were descended from the Imperial practices of the Emperors of Constantinople.

To honour someone was to keep common flies off of them by waving a fan or what came to be the ripidia, used by slaves or servants, as the sovereigns progressed through the streets lifted on high.

In fact, the Cherubic Hymn in the Liturgy is actually a form of imperial praise given to the emperor as he was carried on top of shields following a military victory, as you know.

In the Ethiopian and Coptic Churches, it was common to cover one's mouth with a handkerchief when praying and when addressing a sovereign or prince as a sign of respect. Ethiopians still carry such handkerchiefs with them usually for liturgical purposes if they are asked to carry anything sacred in Church or their hand cross etc.

The gentle breeze of the ripidia is sometimes said to represent the Holy Spirit as well.

Again imploring your hug, I am sincerely yours,

Well, I never objected to the deacon's use of Rhipidia during the Anaphora. However, I did read that their use during the Small and Great Entrances and at the Gospel, were honours bestowed upon Archimandrites of certain Lavras by their local bishops. This was read in a book on the Trinity-St. Segius Lavra, written in the 1800s and republished with the blessing of Patriarch Alexei II. Therefore, the use of rhipidia, during the three mention points, being strictly during the serving of a heirarch is probably Synodal or some similar usage.

Dear Daniil,

I certainly do dispute the sources or the practice. However, this practice you refer to is not based on the original practice but appears to be based upon a misunderstanding. Clearly, the ripidion is an instrument of the deacon. It is not particular to the bishop. It is used to honour the Gospel (the Word of God) and the Holy Gifts (the Body and Blood of Christ).

Also remember that the Pontifical Service is the full service or in most cases the original paradigm of the liturgy. The presbyteral liturgy is usually a reduction of the episcopal.

The practice you cite just reverse this way of thinking. Therefore, the ripidia are seen to honour the celebrant or are seen as an honorific attached to a certain rank. This type of thinking reflects a lack of understanding of the services in their historical context.

David Kennedy, Protodeacon
© The Byzantine Forum