TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

EUCHOLOGION (Ritual of the Orthodox Church) selected prayers and blessings; DIDACTIC VERSES; EPISTOLARY MODELS

In Greek, decorated manuscript on paper
Mount Athos (monastery of Ivrion?), c. 1650-1665

TM 756

i+69+i folios on paper folded in 8°, chain-distance 30 mm., crown watermarks and A-S countermarks of three different types similar, respectively, to Andreev's nos. 40.202 with 40.202A (1661), 60.4 (1652) and 52.12 with 52.12A (1662), (collation, i8 [-1 and 8 with loss of text] ii-iii8 iv8 [-8, following f. 29, with loss of text] v8 vi8 [f. 38 replaced] vii8 viii8 [end of original manuscript] ix8), quires sometimes signed (possibly by the original scribe) with a cross in the centre of the upper margin of each quire's first and last pages and/or with Greek numerals in outer upper corner of each quire's first and last pages, starting with β [2] on f. 7, ruled in drypoint (justification c. 103 × 59 mm.), copied in a calligraphic script in fourteen lines per page by one scribe with later additions by as many as three hands, narrow handband on f. 1, red ornamented initials throughout, overall in good condition, apart from some foxing and worm holes. Bound in a recent binding of paper over cardboard, with flyleaves. Dimensions 148 × 103 mm.

This miscellany from Mount Athos, probably the monastery of Ivrion, includes liturgical blessings and other prayers, didactic verses, and model letters. Two of the prayers are unpublished – for the blessing of a herd, and for raising silk worms. The model letters, probably also unpublished, are of interest to historians for the light they may throw on social relations at the time. Although late in date, the present manuscript is of interest for its contents, and as an example of the continued tradition of manuscript production in seventeenth-century Greece.


1. Textual evidence suggests that the principal part of the volume (ff. 1-61) was probably copied at the Iviron (Iberon or Iveron) Monastery on Mount Athos, since the first item in its collection of models for correspondence (ff. 43-61v) ends on f. 43v with the signature Ὁ καθηγούμ(ε)νος τ(ῆς) ἱερᾶς κ(αὶ) βασιλικ(ῆς) μον(ῆς) τῶν Ἰβήρ(ων) ὁ δ(εῖνα) ἱερο(μον)αχ(ὸς) (καὶ) οἱ σὺν ἐμοὶ ἐν Χ(ριστ)ῷ ἀδ(ελφ)οὶ κ(αὶ) δοῦλοι τ(ῆς) μεγίστης σου παναγιότητος, i.e. 'Priest and monk so-and-so, abbot of the Holy and Royal Monastery of Iviron ….” The same phrase is repeated on f. 41v, naming as abbot one Joachim (Ἰωακείμ), otherwise unattested. Watermark evidence, and evidence of the script suggests it was copied in the seventeenth century, c. 1650-1665.

There have been monks on the “Holy Mountain” of Mount Athos in Northern Greece since the ninth century (and possibly earlier). Iviron, third in the hierarchy of the monasteries on Mount Athos, was founded near the end of the tenth century by a Georgian monk, John the Iberian or the Georgian (d. 10002), and his brother-in-law, Tornikios; the foundation still survives today, and is the home to a large library. 

2. ff. 62-69 are of the same paper as the rest of the volume but were originally left blank. The writing on them is by three different eighteenth-century hands. There is no evidence that this manuscript remained on Mount Athos. It does not appear in any of the library catalogues, and the later additions suggest a non-monastic owner. The monks at Mount Athos sometimes copied manuscripts for use elsewhere.

3. Private European Collection.


ff. 1-38, Euchologion: ff. 1-14r, [Lesser Blessing of Waters], Ἀκολοθία τοῦ μικροῦ ἁγιασμοῦ;

 Ed. Goar, Euchologion, sive Rituale Graecorum, 2d edn., Venice 1730, pp. 358-60; P. Trempelas, 'Ἡ Ἀκολουθία τοῦ Μικροῦ Ἁγιασμοῦ (Β)', Θεολογία 22 (1951) 407-15, esp. 408-10; and Goar, 1730, p. 362.

ff. 14v-23v, [Blessing of a field or vineyard], Τάξις γινομένη εἰς χωράφι ἢ εἰς ἀμπελῶνα;

Ed. Goar, 1730, p. 554; A. Dmitrievskii, Opisanie liturgicheskikh rukopisei, khraniiashchikhsia v bibliotekakh pravoslavnogo Vostoka, vol. 2, Kiev 1901, pp. 964-5, 778; and Goar, 1730, p. 556.

ff. 23v-24, [Prayer for blessing a herd], Εὐχὴ εἰς τὸ εὐλογῆσαι ποίμνην, inc. Δέσποτα Κ(ύρι)ε ὁ Θ(εὸ)ς ἡμῶν ὁ ἐξουσί(αν) ἔχων πάσης κτίσεως, σοῦ δεόμεθα κ(αὶ) σὲ παρακαλοῦμεν, ὡς ηὐλόγησ(ας) κ(αὶ) ἐπλήθυνας τὰ ποίμνια τοῦ π(ατ)ριάρχου Ἰακώβ, εὐλόγησον κ(αὶ) τὴν ποίμνην τῶν κτηνῶν τούτων τῶν δούλων σου ὁ δ(εῖνα), etc.


ff. 24v-28v, [Prayer for those who are about to receive Communion], Εὐχὴ λεγομένη ὑπὸ ἀρχιερέ(ως) ἢ πν(ευμα)τικοῦ π(ατ)ρ(ὸ)ς ἐπὶ τοὺς μέ(λλοντ)ους μεταλαμβάνειν τῶν ἀχράντων κ(αὶ) φρικτῶν μυστηρίων;

Ed. Goar, 1730, pp. 536-7.

ff. 28v-29, [Prayer for blessing wine], Εὐχ(ὴ) εἰς εὐλόγησιν οἴνου;

Ed. Goar, 1730, p. 553.

f. 29v, [Prayer for blessing grapes], Εὐχ(ὴ) εἰς εὐλόγησιν σταφυλῶν [Ending imperfectly];

Ed. Dmitrievskii, 1901, vol. II, p. 1021.

ff. 30-38, [Prayer over a sick person], Εὐχ(ὴ) εἰς ἀσθενοῦντα πᾶν νόσημα (CPG 4730) [end supplied by a later hand];

Ed. Vasiliev, 1893, pp. 323-7.

ff. 39-41v, Didactic Verses: f. 39, List of the letters of the Greek alphabet and of the Greek diacritical signs.

ff. 39v-40, Τοῦ ἀββᾶ Νείλου πρὸς Ἀρχάριον μοναχόν;

Twenty-four verses with an alphabetical acrostic; ed. M. Gedeon, Gedeon,'Φαντασίας παίγνια μοναχικῆς', Ἐκκλησιαστικὴ ἀλήθεια 36 (1916), pp. 35-6.

f. 40, [untitled distich], Σιγᾷν μονασταῖς τοῖς ἐν ἀσκήσει πρέπει / ἐν παντὶ ἔργῳ, ἐν (δὲ) τραπέζῃ πλέον;

Ed. A. Papadopulos-Kerameus, Ἱεροσολυμιτικὴ βιβλιοθήκη, vol. 2, St. Petersburg, 1894, p. 287.

ff. 40v-41v, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι κ(α)τ(ὰ) στοιχεῖον ἐκ διαφόρων ποιητῶν κ(αὶ) σοφῶν;

Metrical sayings, grouped by subjects (on virtuous men, on truth, on sin, on necessity, on virtue), ed. S. Jäkel, Menandri sententiae (Leipzig 1964) 33-83 passim.

f. 41v, [untitled saying], Πολλοὺς δεῖ τῶν διδασκάλων λαμβάνειν τοὺς μισθοὺς παρὰ τῶν μαθητευομένων· παρὰ μ(ὲν) τῶν εὐφυῶν, ὅτι πολλὰ μανθάνουσι, παρὰ (δὲ) τῶν ἀφυῶν, ὅτι κόπους παρέχουσι. 

ff. 42-61v, Model Letters:

ff. 42-43v, to a patriarch; ff. 43v-45, to a metropolitan; ff. 45-46v, to a bishop; ff. 46v-47v, to a priest and monk; f. 47v, to a monk; ff. 47v-48v, to a parish priest; ff. 48v-50v,  to a lay dignitary; ff. 50v-51v, to the wife of a lay dignitary; ff. 51v-52v, to a nun; ff. 52v-55v, to a high lay dignitary; ff. 55v-57,  to an abbot; ff. 57-58v, to one's parent; ff. 58v-59, to one's brother; ff. 59-60, to one's sister; ff. 60-61v, from a bishop, on behalf of a Christian who has suffered injustice, Ὑπὸ ἀρχιερέ(ως) εἰς ἀδικηθέντα ἀδελφόν.  

Formulaic letters that can be adapted to particular occasions; the text in this manuscript is not unique, but no similar Greek collection published in print is known to this cataloguer.

ff. 61v-69v, Later additions: f. 61v, [a riddle (about salt)], Ὕδωρ με γενᾶ, ἐωσφόρος με θηλάζη κ(αὶ) πάντες ἄν(θρωπ)οι κ(αὶ) μεγιστάνες με ἀγαποῦσι· κ(αὶ) ὅταν εἴδω τ(ὴν) μ(ητέ)ρα μου, λύομαι ες (?) τὸ πρῶτον.

ff. 62v-64, [Basil the Great, Instruction to Priests (CPG 2933)], Παραγγελία τοῦ ἐν ἁγίοις π(ατ)ρ(ὸ)ς ἡμ(ῶν) Βασιλείου ἀρχηεπισκόπου Καισαρί(ας) Καπαδοκί(ας) πρὸς τοὺς ἱερεῖς;

Ed. A. Mai in J.-P. Migne, ed., Patrologia Graeca, vol. 31, Paris 1857, cols. 1685-8.

ff. 64v-67, [Prayer for calming winds and sea storms], Ευχὴ επη δικρασί(ας) ανέμον καὶ κλήδονα θαλάσης;

Ed. Goar, 1730, pp. 636-7.

ff. 67v-68, [Prayer for blessing the meal on Easter Sunday], Εὐχὴ εἰς τὸ εὐλογῆσαι ἐδέσματα κρεῶν, τῆ ἁγία (καὶ) με[γάλῃ Κυριακῇ τοῦ Πάσχα];

Ed. Goar, 1730, p. 566.

ff. 68v-69r, [Prayer for blessing a newly-painted icon], Ευχη λεγομένη εἰς κενί εἰκόν;

Ed. Goar, 1730, p. 672.

f. 69r-v, [Prayer for raising silkworms], Ευχὴ λεγομένι εἰς ‹σ›κολήκον ὔγουν εἰς μετάξη, ἱ ὁπήα τρισεύεται εἰς τῆν αρχην κ(αὶ) εἰς το κλαδί κ(αὶ) εἰς το τέλος, inc. Κύριε ο Θ(εὸ)ς ἠμων ὠ παντοκράτορ, ο πηήσας τον οὐρανόν κ(αὶ) τῆν γήν καὶ την θάλασαν κ(αὶ) πάντα τα ἐν αυτής, ος ἐπλήθην(ας) τοῦς ἀστέρ(ας) του οὐρανού κ(αὶ) τῆν ἄμον παρά το χήλος της θαλάσις κ(αὶ) τους τέσαρους ποταμούς του παραδίσου Φυσόν, Γεόν, Τήγριν κ(αὶ) Οὐφράτην κ(αὶ) ἐπλήθηνας το φρέα(ρ) του Ἰακόβ κ(αὶ) τήν κολήμβήθρα του ‹Σιλωάμ› κ(αὶ) το ποτήριον τον αγί(ων) σου μαθητ(ὸν) κ(αὶ) ἀποστόλλων, σι εἰ, Θεέ ὑπεράγαθε, ἐλεήμων κ(αὶ) εἰκτήρμον κ(αὶ) δωτήρ. Εὐσπλαγχνε, μακρόθημε, δια του μεγάλου σου ὠνόματος σου δεόμεθα κ(αὶ) σε παρακαλοῦμεν· εὐλογισον κ(αὶ) πλίθηνον κ(αὶ) στερέοσον ἀκορέους τοῦς αγονιστ(άς) κ(αὶ) καματεροῦς σκολήκον τον δοῦλον σου κ(αὶ) πήησον αὐτοῦς ὑγιεί ης το ἐργάζουν τον γκαρπόν αυτ(όν), etc., [Ending imperfectly].


This manuscript exemplifies a type of calligraphic hand that was popular in the seventeenth century. Very similar scripts are reproduced in: A. Komines, Facsimiles of Dated Patmian Codices, Athens, 1970, pls. 68, 71, 73, 74, 78, 81; P. Gehin and M. Kouroupou, Catalogue des manuscrits conservés dans la Bibliothèque du Patriarcat Œcuménique: les manuscrits du monastère de la Panaghia de Chalki, vol. 2, Turnhout, 2008), pls. 111, 166, 185; P. Soteroudes, Ιερά Μονή Ιβήρων: Κατάλογος ελληνικών χειρογράφων, vol. 11, Mt. Athos, 2007, fig. 170; B. L. Fonkich, Grecheskie rukopisi i dokumenty v Rossii, 2d edn, Moscow 2003, pls. xii.1, xxxi.1.

The prayers, two of which seem not to have been published in print, ff. 23v-24, and f. 69rv, offer curious evidence for popular religious belief in Greece under Ottoman rule. Some of the model letters, especially those to a lay dignitary (f. 48v), to a lay dignitary’s wife (f. 50v), to a high lay dignitary (f. 52v) and from a Bishop on behalf of a Christian suffering injustice (f. 60) may be of interest to historians for the light they throw on social relations at the time.

The Euchologion is one of the chief liturgical books of the Orthodox Church, containing the portions of the services that are said by the bishop, priest, and deacon (it corresponds more or less with the Catholic Missal and Ritual). The oldest such text is a Greek manuscript written around 790 (Barberini Euchologion, Gr. 336), and the first printed edition was published in Venice in 1526. No two manuscript Euchologia are identical. This manuscript includes only a selection of the liturgical blessings and other prayers. It is of interest to see these texts here in a miscellany that also includes didactic verses and model letters.


Andreev, S. Les filigranes dans les documents ottomans: couronne, Sofia, 2007.

Dmitrievskii, A. Opisanie liturgicheskikh rukopisei, khraniiashchikhsia v bibliotekakh pravoslavnago Vostoka, vol. 2, Kiev, 1901.

Galavaris, George. Holy Monastery of Iveron: Illustrated Manuscripts, trans. Geoffrey Cox, Mount Athos, 2002.

Geerard, M. ed. Clavis patrum Graecorum, 5 vols. and Supplementum, Turnhout, 1974-98 [abbreviated as CPG].

Goar, J. Euchologion, sive Rituale Graecorum, 2d edition, Venice, 1730.

Taft, Robert F. The Byzantine Rite: A Short History, Collegeville, Minn., 1992.

Taft, Robert F. Liturgy in Byzantium and Beyond, Aldershot, Hampshire and Brookfield, Vermont, 1995.

Vasiliev, A. Anecdota Graeco-Byzantina (Moscow 1893) 323-7.

Online Resources

Website of Iviron (or Iveron)

Elpenor: The Greek World, Athos Holy Mount, Greek Manuscripts

Byzantine Liturgy and Liturgical Books (Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh; Metropolitan Cantor Institute)

Schaefe, L., ed. Greek Liturgical Texts of the Orthodox Church (in Greek)

“Euchologion” in the Catholic Encyclopedia

On the Barbarini Euchologion (Gr. 336)