Saturday, October 19, 2013

Eastern Rite: The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church

“…I listen to the Churches of the East, which I know are living interpreters of the treasure of tradition they preserve. In contemplating it, before my eyes appear elements of great significance for fuller and more thorough understanding of the Christian experience…the Christian East has a unique and privileged role as the original setting where the Church was born…Tradition is the heritage of Christ’s Church…Tradition is never pure nostalgia for things or forms past, nor regret for lost privileges, but the living memory of the Bride, kept eternally youthful by the Love that dwells within her.” – Pope John Paul II the Great. Apostolic Letter, Orientale Lumen (The Light of the East)

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
Patriarch, Bishops and Priests

Syro-Malabar Mass at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome


1. Kottina - is the long tunic type garment reaching from the neck to the ankles, of any colour. Kottina is the Syriac term used for the outer garment of lso’-Msiha (Jesus Christ), which was woven as one whole by Blessed Virgin Mary and is said to have grown big with him.

2. Zunara - is the Syriac word for the belt-like strip of cloth worn over the Kottina at the waist.  It is the symbol of “Chastity”.  Holy Qurbana (Mass) and other rites of divine worship are acts which are to be performed with perfect holiness, keeping oneself away from all kinds of worldly thoughts and emotions.

3. Urara - is the special humeral vestment worn by priests in the neck in such a way that its both ends extend beyond the knees in front.  The Subdeacons (Heuppadiakana) wear it around their neck in such a way that its ends fall to the back and front on the left shoulder.  The Deacons (Msamsana) wear it on the left shoulder without putting it around the neck.  In Latin tradition, they call it the Stole. This sacred vestment is the symbol of ministerial priesthood in all liturgical traditions.

4. Zende - is the Syriac word for gloves or handcuffs. They are worn to keep the handcuffs of the Kottina in order.

5. Paina - is the outermost liturgical vestment that priests put on.  It is similar to the cope in Latin tradition.  In Syriac it is known as Gulta. Paina or Gulta is the garment of justice.  It proclaims the fact that a priest is the fount or source of all kinds of virtues.

Historically, Paina appears to be the outer garment of shepherds.  Thus it proclaims the pastoral duty of a priest as well.

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