Russia Glossary Orthodoxy Antimension


The antimension (Greek: in place of an altar) is a decorated cloth that fulfils the same functions as a communion table. It is usually adorned with an engraved or hand-drawn image of the Entombment, with the four Evangelists in each corner and the instruments of Passion down the sides. Texts running along the top or bottom of the antimension stated for which church it was intended, when it was consecrated and which tsar was on the throne at the time. Pieces of holy relics were often sewn into the upper reverse side.

The antimension plays an extremely important role in the church liturgy. Lying on the altar, beneath the Gospels, the holy sacrament is placed on it and consecrated. The liturgy can be celebrated on the antimension in the open air or in churches with unconsecrated altars.

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