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Information from the Archdiocese handbook


The Sacrament of Holy Marriage between a man and a woman should be performed in the Orthodox Church according to the liturgical tradition, and blessed by a priest recognised as canonical by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. The procedure for intended weddings is as follows:

  • There must be no impediment (regarding relationships) according to the Canons of the Church.
  • The priest must be given notice of at least one month before the intended date of marriage.
  • The parish priest will thereupon give directions as to the necessary documents, fees for the Archdiocese, as well as for the local Church.

In the case of mixed marriages, the non-Orthodox partner must be a person who belongs to a denomination which accepts the sacramental character of Holy Baptism. Having been baptised in the name of the Holy Trinity, he or she would declare responsibly that future children will be baptised according to the rites of the Eastern Orthodox Church and that they shall be raised in the Orthodox Faith. Marriages with persons who belong to the Pentecostal Church, Baptist Church, Salvation Army, Christian Revival Crusades, Reborn Christians, Assembly of God, Church of Christ and other similar religious groups are prohibited. A non-Orthodox Christian who marries an Orthodox Christian does not automatically become a member of the Orthodox Church, and is therefore not permitted to receive Holy Communion or other sacraments in the Orthodox Church. In addition, Orthodox priests are not allowed to conduct wedding services with priests of other churches. The civil marriage cannot be conducted without the priest simultaneously performing the religious service.

Marriages are not permitted:

  • from the 13th December until Christmas day.
  • on the 5th January, the eve of Epiphany.
  • from Great Lent until Easter Sunday.
  • from 1st to 15th August, the Dormition of Theotokos.
  • on the 29th August, the Beheading of John the Baptist.
  • on the 14th September, Elevation of the Precious and Life giving Cross.


An ecclesiastical divorce may be granted after a civil Decree Absolute has been given however, the parish priest must exert every effort to reconcile the couple and avert the divorce. Should the priest fail to bring about reconciliation, he will convey the petition of the party seeking ecclesiastical divorce to the Spiritual Court of the Archdiocese. A copy of the Decree Absolute must accompany this petition and the fees for the Archdiocese. Such ecclesiastical divorce is necessary in the case of a second or third marriage, which is tolerated by our Church.


Baptism is the sacrament through which one is received into the Church. Through baptism we receive the full forgiveness of sins, we "put on Christ", becoming members of His Body, the Church. To remind them of their Baptism, Orthodox Christians usually wear throughout life a small Cross, hung round the neck on a chain during their Baptismal service. Immediately after Baptism, the Orthodox Christian is "Chrismated" (confirmed) with the Chrism (in Greek "myron") by the priest. The Sponsor (or Godparent) of the baptised person must be an Orthodox Christian over the age of 12.

Non-Orthodox Christians wishing to enter the Orthodox Church are received by the Sacrament of Holy Chrism if they have previously been baptised in the Name of the Holy Trinity.

Memorial Services

Such services are held as an act of love and remembrance towards the departed members of the Church. They are not, however, held on the following days:

  • From the Saturday of Lazarus until the Sunday of St. Thomas.
  • On the feast days of our Lord:
    • Circumcision of our Lord (1 January),
    • Epiphany (6 January),
    • the Presentation (2 February),
    • the Annunciation (25 March),
    • the Ascension, (40 days after Pascha)
    • Pentecost (50 days after Pascha),
    • the Transfiguration (6 August), and
    • Christmas Day.
  • On the Feast of the Parish Church.
  • On the 15 August, the Dormition of the Virgin Mary.


Our Church adopted fasting from the Old Testament. Christ Himself fasted and preached about its significance (Matt. 6:16; Mark 2:20 and 9:29). The Early Church too, observed fasting (Acts 13:2, 14:23 and II Cor. 2:27). As early as the beginning of the third century, we have documents (of Didache) substantiating the early establishment of regular fast days, such as Wednesday and Friday: these two days are symbolical and commemorative of Christ's betrayal and crucifixion. And by the end of the fourth century, the forty day (Great) Lenten fast was wide-spread. Later other fasting periods were also adopted by the Church.

Fasting, accompanied by prayer and charity, is a way of disciplining our entire person, not just the body. Contrary to what most people think, it underlines - rather than undermining - the significance of the body towards whose glory it also contributes. Furthermore, fasting is a small way of sharing in contemporary suffering throughout the world.

In our ecclesiastical calendar, fasting usually precedes great feasts and acts as a preparation for these events.

Fasts prescribed by the Church

1. Wednesday and Friday

Every Wednesday and Friday is to be observed with fasting unless some important Feast takes precedence over the fast. (See exceptions noted below)

The Fast on Wednesday is in memory of the betrayal of the Lord, and the Fast on Friday is in remembrance of His Passion and Death upon the Cross.

2. Special Fast Days

August 29, The Beheading of St. John the Baptist.

September 14, The Elevation of the Holy Cross.

January 5, The Eve of the Epiphany.

3.Great Lent

Lent begins forty days before Palm Sunday, on the Monday after Cheese-Fare Sunday, and lasts until the evening preceding Palm Sunday.

Holy Week is a special Fast in honour of our Lord's Passion, and lasts from the evening of Palm Sunday through to Holy Saturday.

4. The Fast of the Holy Apostles

The Fast of the Holy Apostles begins on the Monday after All Saints' Sunday (the Sunday next after Pentecost) and lasts until June 29, the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. This Fast varies in length according to the date of Pascha (Easter).

5. The Fast of the Theotokos

The Fast which precedes the Feast of the Falling-asleep of the All-holy Theotokos begins on August 1 and lasts until the day of the Feast, August 15.

6. The Fast before Christmas

The Fast before Christmas begins on November 15 and lasts until the day of the Feast of the Nativity, December 25.

Periods when fasting is forbidden

The Church forbids fasting during the following periods:

  • From December 25 to January 5.
  • The week following the Sunday of the Pharisee and Publican.
  • The week following Meat-fare Sunday (abstinence from flesh-meat is required during this week, but no other fasting).
  • The week following Holy Pascha (Easter).
  • The week following Pentecost.

All Saturdays, excepting Holy Saturday.

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