ORNATE RITUAL MARKS SERVICE

 

Christmas Festival Celebrated at Russian Church.

 

With candles, incense and all of the elaborate and ornate service of the Orthodox Greek and Russian Church, Bishop Tikhon, the highest dignitary of his creed in America, celebrated yesterday at the Greek church on Powell street the high mass of Christmastide. According to the Gregorian calendar, which obtains throughout the whole Russian empire, this festival rightly falls upon the thirteenth day after December 25, all other calendars to the contrary notwithstanding, and as the true birthday of Christ it was celebrated with great pomp.

At promptly 10 o¹clock in the morning the bells in the minaret over the quaint, old church began to sound. Within there began a ceremony which for richness of color, impressive symbolism and elaborateness of detail cannot be equaled outside of a Muscovitic church.

Bishop Tikhon first entered the body of the church unaccompanied and after him came in order of rank Father Sebastian, his assistant; the Very Rev. S. Dabovich, priest of the church; Rev. T. Pashkovsky and Rev. Peter Popoff. The Bishop was clad in the blue silk gown of the Order of the Black Monks and as he paused at the church door a rich robe of silver cloth, with gold embossments, was thrown over his shoulders and a stole, crusted with gold, was added.

Mounting a dais in the center of the church, the Bishop washed his hands and combed his long hair to signify his purification before delivering the holy sacrament. Then was placed upon his head a marvelously wrought golden miter, sparkling with rich setting of gems.

Meanwhile the vested choir chanted in Russian and in Greek the ³Kyrie,² their heavy voices sounding in powerful unison. The Bishop advanced before the holy door of the sacred sanctuary, and there lighting two candelabra, blessed the people with sweeping signs of his hands, signifying the six wings of Cherubim and Seraphim.

After retiring within the sacred sanctuary, where he sprinkled the icons, or holy paintings, with incense, the Bishop administered the holy sacrament, first to his subordinate priests and then to the congregation. Babes in arms partook for the first time on the patton, sopped in wine, the mouth of all the participants being duly wiped after the sacrament by a deacon in attendance.

The high dignitary then mounted the pontifical throne in the chancel and the deacons and priests came to kiss his great seat ring in recognition of his supremacy, which is deemed equal to that of the twelve Apostles. The gospels were read in Slavic and English and Father Dabovich preached the Christmas sermon.

A song service in the evening, rendered by the full choir of male voices, closed the celebration of the Christmas festival.

The San Francisco Call, Thursday, January 8, 1903, p. 9