Posts tagged ‘orthodox church’

Orthodox Ecclesiastical Heraldry

Back in July of 2006, in the journal of the American College of Heraldry “The Armiger’s News”, the late Dr. David Pittman Johnson wrote a very good article trying to codify the system of ecclesiastial heraldry of the (Eastern) Orthodox Church.

As opposed to the Roman Catholic Church that has many established rules regarding its heraldry, the Orthodox Communion does not, mainly due to its decentralized structure.

Among the difficulties of this attempt is the fact that (1) heraldry is not very common in the East and in particular among the Orthodox clergy (at any level) and (2) each Orthodox Church is independent of each other and has its own particular rules and traditions within its hierarchy.

A good introduction on the organization Orthodox Church can be found, where else, on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthodox_Church_organization

I won’t reproduce the text here but will urge anyone with an interest in ecclesiastical heraldry and particularly Orthodox heraldry to read this very well written article. 

At this point, I want to make a note to say that the rules presented not only may apply to the Orthodox Communion but also those classified as “Eastern” or “Greek” Catholic.

I feel it necessary to say that what Dr. Johnson describes are not the rules of heraldry within the Orthodox Communion but rather a combination of observations and suggestions. Until such time as there are rules established by the Head of a particular Orthodox Church, every member of the clergy is pretty much free to do as he pleases. It is though recommended to try to create some standards and Dr. Johnson has provided us with an excellent foundation to do so.

The arms at the top of this post are those of the Rev. Fr. Deacon Nenad Jovanovich, head of the Board for Heraldic & Genealogical Studies at the Center for Research of Orthodox Monarchy (CROM-BHGS). These arms were emblazoned by the talented new heraldic artist Terry Sarros (who is also an associate and artist of the CROM-BHGS) following the basic principle of the rules described in the cited article but with a variation more appropriate for Serbia.

 It should be noted that the CROM-BHGS, under the leadership of the Rev. Fr. Deacon, has done much excellent work in the creation and promotion of heraldry within the Orthodox ecclesiastical community worldwide. A small sample of the work this group has done can be seen in their online gallery of ecclesiastical heraldry at this link: http://www.czipm.org/galerija-heraldika02-02.html

The article in question can be found at this link: 
http://www.americancollegeofheraldry.org/ORTHODOX.htm
and reprinted at the CROM-BHGS: http://www.czipm.org/dpj.html

 

Note: The image above was used with the approval of the Rev. Fr. Deacon Nenad Jovanovich and the artist Mr. Terry Sarros.
Note: I too am an associate of the CROM-BHGS.

Orthodox Orders

There are many orders of chivalry, knighthood or merit in the world. Some of them are completely secular, such as the Légion d’honneur of France while others are completely religious and tied to a specific church such as the Papal Order of Christ.

 

Officier Légion d'honneur Order of Christ

 

The insignia above are those of a knight of the Légion d’honneur (on the left) and the star and badge of the Order of Christ.

The majority of orders are somewhere in between though one can argue that almost all of them have a religious aspect to them. Some, of course, more than others.

One thing that differentiates the Orthodox Orders from all the others is, as the name implies, their foundation on Eastern Orthodox Christianity and under the spiritual protection of one of the Orthodox Patriarchates or Autocephalous Churches. There is a debate in the West on whether the heads of any of these Churches or even the Ecumenical Patriarch have the fons honorum to establish an Order of Chivalry however in the East they always enjoyed a sovereign status and continue to do so to this day. Regardless though, the notion of a religious Order of Chivalry is a foreign concept to the Eastern Churches; however, in the past century or so they have started giving out awards that even though they may resemble a knightly Order, they are clearly Orders of Merit. One of these meritorious Orders is the Order of St. Andrew or Archons under the auspice of the His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constaninople.

 

Archon crossArchon cross

Naturally, the Orthodox lands have had royal sovereigns to rule them and in their capacity as sovereigns, with a font honorum that cannot be disputed, had or have instituted Orders of Chivalry under their Grand Mastership and the spiritual protection of their Archbishop or Patriarch. Perhaps the most widely known Orthodox sovereigns were the Czars of the Russian Empire who where under the spiritual guidance of His Holiness the Patriarch of All Russia. Though, it must be noted that there were many other Orthodox sovereigns that were either completely independent or autonomous and under a greater and more powerful king/emperor.

Since there is so much written about all the non-Orthodox Orders while very little, if anything, about the Orthodox ones, we’ll be examining them one at a time as my research completes for each. I hope you enjoy this journey and if you can contribute or correct anything, please comment or contact me!

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