The Orthodox Church has offered prayers for her dead throughout history, this tradition has become embedded within our faith and daily lives. The Holy Gospel reveals that the reposed live and we see this in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man when the dead retain complete consciousness. The only thing that changes with death is the manner in which we communicate with the departed, our relationship is no longer the same, “Whether we live or die we belong to the Lord” (Romans 14;7-8).
It is the common testimony of the Church that memorial services (mnimosina) are offered for the souls of the departed, St John Chrysostom states the following “that it is a great honour for the soul whose name is mentioned (commemorated) during the Holy Liturgy”.
Saint Symeon of Thessaloniki in accordance with apostolic traditions also writes; “Nothing is as beneficial for the deceased, nor can anything cause such joy and enlightenment and unity with God, as this. For it is this same Blood of the Lord, which is shed for us, the wretched, in this sacrifice on The Holy Altar”.
Saint Gregory of Nysis, states that to commemorate someone at the time of celebrating the Holy Liturgy is “profitable and pleasing to God”.
When & What is required for a memorial service?
Prayers are offered to the departed at certain periods which are as follows.
On the 1st, 3rd & 9th Day (the first day being counted as the day they passed)
Then on the 40th
Thereafter on the 3rd, 6th and 9th month concluding on the anniversary and thereafter yearly.
For the 1st, 3rd and 9th day, a small bowl of plain boiled wheat (koliva) is offered with a traditional round Greek loaf. The family bring their bowl of koliva (plain) along with their bread το to the church were the priest (who has been made aware of the fact) will perform “The Trisagion” (prayer for the departed). After, family and friends share the koliva as they commemorate the memory of their departed one, saying “Eternal Memory”
On the 40th day, koliva are prepared with the addition of pomegranates, almonds, sesame and sultanas. The plate or tray is decorated using these additional ingredients to form the pattern of the cross. Alternatively, some people choose to coat their koliva with icing sugar and use sugar pearls to ornate the koliva.
In the gospels of Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:4-15, Jesus uses the Parable of the Sower to reveal that He is the sower and that He is the life, and those whom believe in Him will not die. Wheat is used as this is the dead part of the plant which is sown into the ground from which grows new life. Therefore, as we lay to rest the remains of our departed we do so in the assurance of the resurrection when the body returns to life and is re-united with the soul for the final judgement.
The Symbolic meaning to these Days & Numbers:
The 1st day or number 1 represents the One True living God.
The 3rd day represents the 3 days which Christ spent in the tomb before His resurrection, it also represents the Triune God, that is the Father, Son & Holy Spirit.
The 9th day represents the 9 Ranks of Angelic Hosts which are the Angels, Archangels, Thrones, Dominions, Principalities, Authorities, Powers, the Cherubim and the six-winged Seraphim.
The 40th day is symbolic with many events within the Gospel, for example in the Old Testament the people of Israel mourned for 40 days when Moses died, they also spent 40 years in the wilderness until God allowed them to reach the promised land. In the New Testament Jesus spent 40 days also in the wilderness when the Devil tried to tempt Him which he did not.
Therefore, intertwined within mnimosina lay a deep root of Orthodox Theology, Mysticism and Spirituality.
Mnimosina are not restricted and limited to just these periods as anyone who brings their gift of altar bread “prosphoro” can also include a list of names of living relatives which the priest offers prayers for their health and protection as well as the names for the departed, which are all commemorated within the Holy Liturgy. In theory you can commemorate your departed loved ones every week by doing the above.
Additionally, throughout the year you can request a priest to visit the graveside and read the prayers of the Trisgaion which does not require any koliva.
Booking a Mnimosino
You can order koliva to be made by the church for your mnimosino by simply calling us before Saturday with the names which are to be commemorated on Sunday, and tell us if you require a plate or platter, the cost for each is:
- Plate £12
- Platter £15
both come with the traditional Greek Bread, and you may pay on Sunday at the pankari (candle desk).