CopticChurch.net Dictionary of Church Terms
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Epitrachelion
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The epitrachelion is a liturgical vestment worn by priests and bishops over the sticharion*. It is a rectangular band of silk or cotton that measures about six feet by nine inches, and is embroidered with crosses or, if worn by a patriarch or bishop, with the figures of the twelve apostles. It has an opening for the head, allowing a small section of it to hang down the back while the remainder reaches down in front to the feet.

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The wearing of the epitrachelion is a symbolic allusion to the words of the Psalmist that form part of a hymn chanted by the deacons in the presence of the patriarch when he is thus robed: "Praised be God who has poured His grace upon His priests, like the precious oil upon the head, running down upon the beard, upon the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes" Ps. 133:2-3. It also signifies the act of carrying the cross and assuming the yoke of responsibility on behalf of the congregation.

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