Preparation and Sanctification
of the Holy Myrrh

Dormition Skete
Holy Week - 2009

Forty-Four Ingredients were collected over the past several months in preparation for the Sanctification of Holy Chrism.

Ingredients

1. Angelica Seeds 12. Coriander 23. Marjoram-Marjolaine 34. Resin, Pine
2. Balsam-Ylang 13. Fennel 24. Mastic 35. Rose water
3. Beeswax 14. Fenugrec 25. Melissa-lemon balm 36. Rose oil
4. Benzoin-almond oil 15. Frankincense 26. Myrrh-Smyrna 37. Rosemary
5. Bergamot oil 16. Heliotrope 27. Neroli-blossom of the bitter orange tree 38. Saffron
6. Cardamon 17. Iris 28. Nutmeg 39. Terebinthe
7. Carnation 18. Jasmine essence 29. Olive oil 40. Valerian
8. Cassia 19. Jonc odorant-lemon grass 30. Orange essence 41. Vanilla Powder
9. Cinnamon-ground 20. Lavender flowers 31. Orange flower water 42. Violet essence
10. Cinnamon Oil 21. Mace-French Macis 32. Orange peel 43. Wild Nard-spikenard
11. Citron essence-Tangerine 22. Malabar leaf-Bay Leaf 33. Red wine astringent 44. Zingiber racines (roots)-Ginger

 

A closer view.

 

Yet Another...

 

The spices were gathered from various parts of the earth.

 

The spices are divided into solids and liquids. The solids will be boiled for several hours, while the aromatic liquids for a much shorter interval.

 

Isaac Johnson and Novice Patrick are blessed to participate in the preparation of the Holy Chrism.

 

The Divine Liturgy of Palm Sunday, as Archbishop Gregory blesses the faithful.

 

The spices on the afternoon of Palm Sunday.

 

The Monastery Kitchen is prepared beforehand.

 

A view from a taller angle...

 

On Great Monday, after the Presanctified Liturgy, the service begins with the Blessing of Water.

 

Bishop John and Hieromonk Peter chant the supplicatory troparia to the Virgin.

The Trikiria and Dikiria are brought as part of the procession, and will be used to ignite the flame that is used to heat the Holy Chrism.

 

Novice Patrick bears the lantern which was used to bring the flame above the Holy Table in the Cathedral of the Dormition to the Monastery Trapeza.

 

The Archbishop blesses the water with the holy cross and sprigs of basil.

 

The sanctified water is added to the pot, and then we begin pouring in several litres of extra virgin olive oil.

 

Archbishop Gregory audibly reads the first prayer, beseeching God to bless this holy undertaking.

 

The flame is ignited with the Trikiria.

 

The entire four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John will be read continuously over the Holy Chrism for all the period that the ingredients are being heated. We are endeavoring to heat the mixture to over 300 degrees.

 

Archbishop Gregory began with the first reading; Bishop John, Hieromonk Peter, and Deacon Symeon continued with the reading of the Holy Gospels.

 

The Holy Chrism approaches 200 degrees. Gradually the water will boil off, enabling the temperature to rise another 100 degrees.

 

Hieromonk Peter completing the Gospel of Saint Matthew.

 

Stiring the oil.

 

At the conclusion of the first day.

 

At the beginning of the second day, after the Presanctified Liturgy on Great Tuesday, we begin the service by chanting the Supplicatory Canon to the Virgin Mary.

 

Archbishop Gregory stirs while Bishop John reads the Gospel of the Evangelist Mark on the second day.

 

Novice Patrick takes a turn...

 

The entire service was performed before two important icons: the Virgin Portaitissa and the Vladimirskaya. The service commenced on Monday, when the Portaitissa is commemorated each year.

 

On the fourth day, Holy Thursday, when the Mystical Supper is being commemorated, a procession is made from the Cathedral to the Monastery Kitchen where the Myrrh has been prepared. The four Gospels have been read in their entirety over the Myrrh, and all things are prepared.

Father Deacon Symeon Beck leads the procession of clergy.

 

We process chanting the Idiomela of Pentecost...

 

The Myrrh is taken up by Bishops, Priests and deacons, while the icons are carried by the servers.

 

Continuing to the Cathedral, whilst chanting the Dismissal Hymn of Pentecost.

 

The basket of Myrrh weights well over forty pounds. The deacon proceeds with care.

 

Slowly we process...

 

....into the Nave....

 

The Holy Chrism was placed inside twelve stainless steel, air tight containers, and one silver reliquary imported from Russia.

 

We begin the Great Vespers of Holy Thursday.

 

Subdeacon Patrick washes the hands of the Hierarchs.

 

"O Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of Truth..."

 

In a great voice, "Bless Master!"

 

The Holy Myrhh is set before the Virgin Mary.

 

At the Great Entrance, Hieromonk Peter presents the chalice and diskos.

 

Bishop John completes the second set of commemorations.

 

The deacon presents all the Myrrh. The Archbishop takes the first vial of Myrrh, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

 

Bishop John presents the second vial of Myrrh, and places it on the right side of the Holy Table.

 

The Archbishop takes the third vial of Myrrh, and places it on left side of the Altar Table.

 

"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

 

"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

 

The Myrrh is laid out on both sides of the Holy Table.

 

The Archbishop blesses the faithful.

 

A closer view of the Myrrh on the right side.

 

The Archbishop removes the covers of all the vials on the left side of the altar.

 

Bishop John and Father Peter open the vials on the right side of the altar.

 

The Archbishop then makes the sign of the Cross over each vial of Myrrh.

 

Continuing to the left side...

 

The Beautiful Gates are closed.

 

"The blessing of the Lord, and His mercy be upon you..."

 

The faithful smell the sweet fragrance of the newly consecrated Myrrh.

 

At the dismissal, we process to the center of the Cathedral.

 

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