Liturgical Point of Interest: Liturgy of St James in the Byzantine Rite

It is well known to those familiar with the Greek Rite that there are two liturgical anphorae used: the concise St. John Chrysostom and the long-winded St. Basil.  What is less well known is the third anaphora more commonly associated with Christians of the West Syriac tradition, that of St. James.

Part of the reason for this is that the liturgical use has been relegated almost exclusively to October 23 (the Apostle’s feastday), and even then is still only observed by very few – usually Greeks and Arabs in the Orthodox Jerusalem Patriarchate.

The most interesting aspect of this Liturgy as celebrated in the Byzantine tradition is one significant difference between the Slavic custom and the Greek/Arab custom.  The former do so as most would expect.

The latter celebrate on a temporary altar versus populum and will utilize 13 celebrants when possible to symbolize the Last Supper.

It goes to show that there are indeed examples of versus populum liturgies outside the Roman Novus Ordo Missae, but they are rare and usually done with a greater purpose in mind.



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