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Bodleian Codex E.5.13-(1132AD)

by John Wijngaards

This codex was made for the monastery of the Holy Redeemer in Messina, Sicily, and remained in continuous use there until at least the 16th century. Richard Rawlinson bought it, and bequeathed it to the Bodleian Library in Oxford in 1775. Part of it was copied from a Constantinopolitan model, another part from other, unknown sources [1]

Prayer for the ordination of a deaconess [’ευχη ’επι χειροτονιαι διακονισσης].

After the sacred offertory, the doors are opened and, before the deacon starts the litany ‘Remembering All the Saints’, the woman who is to be ordained deacon is brought forward to the bishop and he says the ‘Divine Grace’ with a loud voice. While she bows her head, the bishop imposes his hand on her head, and making the sign of the cross on it three times, he prays this:

“Holy and Omnipotent Lord, through the birth of your Only Son our God from a Virgin according to the flesh, you have sanctified the female sex. You grant not only to men, but also to women the grace and coming of the Holy Spirit. Please, Lord, look on this your maid servant and dedicate her to the task of your diaconate [της διακονιας], and pour out into her the rich and abundant giving of your Holy Spirit. Preserve her so that she may always perform her ministry [λειτουργια] with orthodox faith and irreproachable conduct, according to what is pleasing to you. For to you is due all glory and honour.”

After the ‘Amen’, one of the deacons now starts this prayer:

‘Let us implore the Lord in peace. For peace from above. For peace in the whole world. For this holy house. For our Archbishop, for his priestly ministry, his reward, his endurance, his peace and salvation and the work of his hands. For so-and-so [name of the woman] who is to be ordained deaconess and for her salvation let us pray the Lord. That God who loves people grant her a pure and immaculate diaconate, let us pray the Lord. For all the faithful and those who respect God. And the rest.’

While this prayer by the deacon is going on, the archbishop, still holding his hand on the head of the woman who is being ordained, prays as follows:

“Lord, Master, you do not reject women who dedicate themselves to you and who are willing, in a becoming way, to serve your Holy House, but admit them to the order of your ministers [λειτουργων]. Grant the gift of your Holy Spirit also to this your maid servant who wants to dedicate herself to you, and fulfil in her the grace of the diaconate [διακονιας], as you have granted to Phoebe the grace of your diaconate [διακονιας], whom you had called to the work of the ministry [λειτουργιας]. Give her, Lord, that she may persevere without guilt in your Holy Temple, that she may carefully guard her behaviour, especially her modesty and temperance. Moreover, make your maid servant perfect, so that, when she will stand before the judgement seat of your Christ, she may obtain the worthy fruit of her excellent conduct, through the mercy and humanity of your Only Son.”

After the ‘Amen’, he puts the stole of the diaconate [το διακονικον ‘ωραριον] round her neck, under her veil, arranging the two extremities of the stole towards the front. And the deacon who stands in the ambo says:

“Remembering all the saints”.

When she has taken part of the sacred body and precious blood, the pontiff hands her the chalice. She accepts it and puts it on the holy table.

Reference1. Oxford, Bodleian auct. E. 5.13; M. Arranz, Le Typicon du Saint-Sauveur à Messine, Rome 1969; A. Jacob, ‘Un euchologe du Saint-Sauveur «in lingua Phari » de Messine, le Bodleianus auct. E. 5.13’, Bulletin de l’Institut historique belge (1980), pp. 283-364.