IMAGES OF ORDINATION

 

It is hard to be precise about when a special rite of ordination first appeared in Christianity. The New Testament speaks of ministers receiving the laying on of hands, but this was more likely for blessing than for ordination. The Greek words for elders and supervisors are often taken as meaning priests and bishops, but the individuals referred to in the first century probably did not have the sacerdotal status they later acquired. Those presiding at eucharistic meals were sometimes referred to as priests during the second century, but the earliest ordination texts date from the third century. Division of the ordained into ecclesiastical ranks or holy orders did not occur until the fourth century. By the late patristic period, both the Latin and Greek churches had bishops, priests and deacons, although ordination practices and clerical duties differed somewhat from east to west.

The following images depict the sacrament from the Middle Ages to today. Unless otherwise noted, the rituals are those of the Roman Catholic Church.



Ordination

Ordination in the Middle Ages
Detail from the baptismal font of St. Peter’s Church in Suffolk, England
(Notice the outline of the bishop’s miter even though the heads have been defaced.)



Ordination 

Ordination in the 18th century
(Print from a series on the sacraments by Pietro Antonio Novelli)
Notice that the candidates' vestments are folded up to show that they are not priests yet.



Ordination

The imposition of hands is still the central action in the ritual of ordination.



Ordination

Here a young man is being ordained by Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Basilica.
The pope ordains many of the seminarians who come from around the world to study in Rome.



Ordinaton

But the ordination ceremony contains other ritual actions as well.
Here are some scenes from the ordination of a priest in Armagh, Ireland,
beginning with the presentation of the candidate to the bishop.



Ordination

The candidate lays prostrate as a sign of humliy
while the bishop and others pray for him.



Ordination

The ordaining bishop holds the hands of the candidate
while praying that they will be used for the service of God.



Ordination

The newly ordained is able to participate as a priest
in the eucharistic liturgy with the bishop.



Ordination

At the end of the ceremony, he receives congratulations
from the other priests in the diocese.



Ordination

If other priests are in attendance,
they too impose hands on the ones being ordained.



Ordination

Other symbolic actions are also included in the ceremony.
At this Anglican ordination in Australia, the candidate
is bing offered symbols of the duties he will perform as a priest.



Ordination

The ordination of deacons contains many ritual elements found in the ordination of priests.
Deacons wear the stole over one shoulder as a symol of their office.



Ordination

Currently, more deacons than priests are being ordained in the American Catholic church.
The ordination of these candidates for the diaconate in the California diocese of Santa Maria
was so large that the ceremony had to be held outdoors.



Ordination

The rite for the ordination of deacons contains many of the elements found in a priestly ordination.
At this diaconal ordination in Germany, the seven candidates are lying prostrate before the altar
while prayers are being said for them at the beginning of the ceremony.



Ordination

But the central ritual action is still the imposition of hands,
as shown here at the ordination in California.



Ordination

Catholic deacons may be married, and here the newly ordained in the Diocese of Los Angeles
are being congratulated by their wives and families.



Ordination

The Anglican Church allows the ordination of women as priests . . .



Ordination

. . . and also as deacons.
The same is true of the Episcopal Church in the United States.



Ordination

Like the Catholic Church, Orthodox churches allow only the ordination of men,
although the ordination ceremony is somewhat different.



Ordination

The ordination of a Russian Orthodox priest includes an imposition of hands
and of the scriptures as well, as a sign of submission to the word of God.



Ordination

This ordination to the diaconate in the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church
is taking place close to the altar.



Ordination

Afterwards, the ordaining bishop presents the new deacon to the assembled faithful.



Ordination

Bishops are also able to ordain other bishops,
and usually this is done by a group of bishops, as shown here.



Ordination

Even when the pope ordains a bishop, other bishops usually participate,
as seen here in this photograph taken in Rome.



Profession of Vows

Although initiation into a religious order is a ceremony similar to ordination in some respects,
the ritual is not numbered among the sacraments. Here a young man is entering
the Dominican Order through a profession of religious vows.



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Last modified: Thursday, 18 February 2016, 3:36 AM