The Orthodox Pages



















Question 3.

Father Christopher, your blessing.


I am writing from Canada and I am an Orthodox Christian of Greek Cypriot descent. My name is Basilios and I am 18 years old. I came across your wonderful website and noticed that you have a Sister Mariam at your Church as a Deaconess. Is she a properly Ordained Deaconess as St. Nectarius had in Aegina? I have heard that the Church of Greece has been thinking of reinstating this Order to the Church just as she had in Ancient times.


Answer to Question 3.
Dear Basilios,

Greetings in Christ.

Thank you for your email and the kind words for my website.

The answer to your question is No, Sister Mariam is not an Ordained Deaconess. She has the blessing to serve the Sanctuary, in other words, to clean the Sanctuary and prepare the censor, the lanterns and other small chores. But because you live in the west (I also was born and raised in London) it is essential to make clear that at no time have the Deaconesses of the Orthodox Church taken part in the Divine Liturgy as a Deacon or as they do in the Anglican church. During the first centuries of persecution, the Deaconesses had the blessing to give Holy Communion to the people, and as women, it was much easier for them to pass through the prisons and give Communion to the Christian prisoners. Also they were indispensable during the Baptisms of Adult women and would anoint the bodies with the Exorcised oil, something which understandably was not permitted for the Priests to do. Today, our Church doesn't have the need of the Deaconesses of old, but if we were again to have times of persecution (something which the Church of Russia suffered in contemporary History), then the Order of the Deaconess could again serve the Church.