Terminology - Glossary P

Term Definition

PAGAN – For the early Christians, a pagan was a believer in polytheistic religion. The word originally meant “country dweller.” The rural population was slower to adopt Christianity than the city dwellers, probably because their religion was closely bound to agricultural cycles. Nowadays there are religious groups that identify themselves as Pagans. Modern paganism is… Read More


PALACE – (an appellation of the Theotokos) – The Theotokos was the Palace within which the King Christ our God dwelt.


PALITSA – (Epigonation) Part of the sacred vestments – a diamond-shaped piece worn by the protopriest or bishop on the right side. It is given to the protopriest as an award for devoted service to his priestly duties


PALM SUNDAY – (Sl. Verbnoye Voskresenye) The Sunday before Easter when the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem is celebrated. In the Russian Church willow branches are blessed and the people hold the branches with lighted candles during the service.


PANAGIA – (Gr. All Holy) 1) A round or oval image of the Savior or the Mother of God, usually on enamel, richly decorated, worn by the bishop on the breast. 2) The Virgin Mary is known by many names that are both descriptive and honorific. One of the most popular of these is Panagia,… Read More


PANEHEDA – (Pannikhida, Pannykhida)  A service for the repose of the souls of the departed faithful.


PANTOCRATOR – The word Pantocrator is of Greek origin meaning “ruler of all”. Christ Pantocrator is an icon of Christ represented full or half-length and full-faced. He holds the book of the Gospels in his left hand and blesses with his right hand. The icon portrays Christ as the Righteous Judge and the Lover of… Read More


PARABLE – A story told to illustrate a greater truth through images related to the daily lives of the hearers. Christ’s teaching is filled with parables ( Matt. 13:1-54).


PARADISE – The place of rest for the departed in Christ. The original Paradise, seen in Gen. 2:8 14, will be restored in its fullness following the Second Coming of Christ. (Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 12:4; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 2:7; 21:1.) The word Paradise means a garden. It is the name given to the… Read More


PARADOX – That which is true, but not conventionally logical: for example, that a virgin could bear a Son and yet remain a virgin, as did Mary; or that God can be One, yet three Persons. The Christian faith is full of paradoxes, because our intellect is not sufficient to comprehend the mind of God… Read More


PARAKLESIS – A paraklesis is a service of supplication specifically for the living as opposed to a Memorial Service, which is a supplication for the departed. This service is most often addressed to the Theotokos, but may be used to seek the intercessions of any saint. The distinguishing feature of a paraklesis is the inclusion… Read More


PARALIPOMENA (Books of Chronicles) – Books known as the historical books of the Old Testament. First and Second Chronicles (1st and 2nd Paralipomenen in the Orthodox Bibles) were originally one book in the Hebrew Bible and can be seen as part of a larger history including the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. These books are… Read More


PARALYIC, SUNDAY OF THE – The fourth Sunday of Pascha is dedicated to Christ’s healing of the paralytic (Jn 5). The man is healed by Christ while waiting to be put down into the pool of water. Through baptism in the church we, too, are healed and saved by Christ for eternal life. Thus, in… Read More


PARASTAS – A solemn service for the repose of departed as a memorial to them, longer and more complete than the Paneheda.


PARISH – Group of faithful united under a properly ordained priest to form a unit of a Diocese, acceding to the Canons, Traditions, Doctrines, discipline and Divine Sacraments of the Orthodox Church.


PARISH REGISTER – Records of Baptisms, Marriages and deaths occurring in the parish.


PARTESNY SINGING – (Partesny Polyphony) A style of polyphonic singing, based on the Western European system of harmony and counterpoint, which arose in the early 17th c. in the Ukraine and in the mid-17th c. spread to Muscovite Russia. The leading theoretician and composer of that period, Nikolai Diletsky, distinguished two types of polyphony in… Read More


PARTICLES – Small pieces taken out of the prosphora and placed on the paten at the Proskomedia. The particles are in honer of Most Holy Virgin Mary, nine ranks of saints, and those commemorating the faithful living and dead.


PASCHA – Greek for “Passover.” Originally Pascha designated the Jewish Passover; now, it is the Feast of the Resurrection of Christ. Christ is the Lamb of God whose sacrifice delivers the faithful from death, as the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb delivered the ancient Jews from slavery and death in Egypt (Ex. 12; 13; 1… Read More


PASCHAL HOURS – During Bright Week the Hours (as well as certain other services of the Daily Cycle) are replaced by the festive Paschal Hours. The Paschal Hours are intended to reflect the joy and celebration of Pascha. The hymnography and prayers center on Christ’s victory over sin and death and our hope for salvation.


PASCHAL MIDNIGHT SERVICE – The complex of offices served on the first day of the Holy Pascha (Resurrection). The service is preceded by the Paschal Nocturns, after which, at midnight, the Paschal procession of the Cross takes place; this is followed by Paschal Matins, Paschal Hours, and the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.


PASCHAL WEEK – The week following the Day of Resurrection.


PASCHALIA – The table of dates for Easter and the movable feasts.


PASCHALION – The table of dates for Easter and all movable feasts of the year.