Clergy Awards
Archpriest John J. Udics (

Ecclesiastical awards in the Russian Church were in fact, representations of ranks in the clergy. The Russian Church, like the government agencies and military were organized into ranks, and a direct parallel used to be drawn between the various ranks the clergy and the military ranks.

The list of awards for the clergy of the Russian Church, still followed with little variation to this day is:

The Diaconate


Sacred Vestments: orarion worn over the shoulder, hanging straight to the ground.

Outside wear: black skufia coming to a point, worn when not vested, or for processions out of doors.

First Award - Protodeacon

Sacred Vestments: Orarion over the right shoulder, crossing the chest to the left hip, then up the back and over the right shoulder again to the ground. Monastic deacons were awarded the title Archdeacon. [I'm not sure this is correct - it is my understanding that the chief protodeacon of the Bishop is an Archdeacon whereas the any senior deacon would become a protodeacon. Note that the "Archdeacon" of the Patriarch of Moscow is married.[

Other Entitlements: Protodeacons were entitled to carry a staff when walking out of doors, its height specified and lower than that of the other clergy. This type of staff is a walking stick with a metal 'cap' on it.

Second Award - Purple Kamilavka

The purple kamilavka (cylidrical hat covered in purple velvet) could be worn outside, but usually the black skufia was worn outside when not vested.

The Priesthood


Priests wore the black skufia out of doors, and began with a silver three-bar cross.

First Award - Nabedrennik

The first award was the nabedrennik (a square piece of cloth on a ribbon worn over the left shoulder on the right hip. A very long time ago it was a towel, but now it is compared to the sword of faith.)

Second Award - Purple Skufia

The purple skufia is worn in place of the black skufia mentioned above. This entitled you to wear purple lining in the sleeves of your riassa (outer-cassock). This was given after approximately five years of being a priest.

Third Award - Gold Cross

The next award was the gold pectoral cross, which had one bar. This was also given to all priests that went abroad or who had other special positions, and was not just based on seniority. As an award, this cross was given after approximately ten years.

Fourth Award - Archpriest

The title of Archpriest (literally: protopriest) was given to senior priests after more then ten years in the priesthood. The "dean" of a cathedral would be given the title "Cathedral Archpriest." This is one of the main awards, and clergymen with this rank are liturgically referred to as "The Archpriest n."

Fifth Award - Palitsa

The palitsa, a diamond-shaped piece of cloth on a ribbon, is worn over the left shoulder on the right hip. The previously-awarded nabedrennik then gets switched to the left hip.

Sixth Award - Jeweled Cross

Given after approximately twenty years.

Seventh Award - Mitred Archpriest

Archpriests with this distinction are granted the honor of wearing the jewelled mitre during the celebration of the divine liturgy and other solemn liturgical moments. The mitre is the same as that worn by a bishop with the exception that there is no cross on the top of it. It is only worn when the phelonion is donned. Clergy with this honor are referred to as "The Mitred Archpriest n." The Orthodox Church in America no longer awards the mitre to any rank of the priesthood.

Eighth Award - Protopresbyter

There have never been more than a couple of these in Russia at any time. As with the Mitred Archpriest, the Protopresbyter is entitled to wear the mitre. In the Orthodox Church in America, Protopresbyters do not wear mitres except, ocasionally, when visiting Russia.

Ninth Award - Second Pectoral Cross

An extremely rare award.

Monastic Clergy

The Diaconate

Monastic deacons bear the title of "hierodeacon."

The Priesthood

Historically, monastics who were ordained to the priesthood were not awarded the same awards as the secular clergy. A simple monk priest was called just that -- a monk-priest -- or the title "hieromonk."

The abbot of a monastery was called an igumen, which literally means "leader" but is the equivalent of an abbot. The igumen was not necessarily a priest, but over time this more often became the case.

The overseer of a very large monastery, a group of monasteries, etc., was called an archimandrite. Bishops were often chosen from among a region's archimandrites.

In latter times, however, these began to be considered ranks roughly equivalent to the secular ranks of priest, archpriest, and mitred archpriest.

When members of the presbytery are lined up in order of rank, monastic clergy stand before the secular. I.e., an igumen outranks an archpriest, and an archimandrite stands before a mitred archpriest.

Several awards can be given to archimandrites. These awards are usually based on position. Some archimandrites are given the honor of wearing the mitre. A very few abbots from the largest or historically important monasteries are blessed to wear a panagia and the long mantle like a bishop. They may also bless with the trikiri and dikiri at the Divine Liturgy.

The Bishopric


Head-dress: black veil on kamilavka, called klobuk, as the veil is sewn to the klobuk for Russians.

Other special vestments: Mitre. One pectoral cross, one panagia. Purple mantle.


The archbishop is entitled to wear a cross on the klobuk.


The Metropolitan wears a white klobuk with a cross, and a blue mantle. He wears two engolopions: one depicted the Theotokos (panagia) and the other depicted Christ.


The Patriarch has a specially shaped klobuk, rounded, with a cross on top and with cherubim on the two front "tails." He wears a green mantle.