Members of the Serbian Orthodox church are part of Eastern Orthodoxy in which their head bishop holds utmost authority. The head bishop is called the patriarch and he presides over the Holy Synod, a group of all the bishops of Serbian Orthodox faith. One of the key characteristics of the Serbian Orthodox church is that at least two people must lead a service, the likes of which usually occurs every day of the week.
Autocephaly in the Eastern Orthodox church is where one bishop -- the patriarch -- is the head of church. In the Serbian Orthodox church, the current patriarch is Irenej, appointed on January 22nd, 2010. Although his official title is Patriarch Irenej of Serbia, he oversees dioceses in Australia, Germany, former Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia), Serbia and the United States. He is the 45th patriarch since the Serbian Orthodox church attained autocephaly in 1219; St. Sava was the first.
Serbian Orthodox Christians employ the use of icons in churches because they believe that God is present through the symbolism. Icons can have a variety of figures painted on to them; it is through their Biblical representations that they act as liaisons for the presence of God and not as objects of worship. Orthodox Serbians also believe that their iconic depiction of Christ, where he is shown to have curly brown hair and brown eyes, is the true one. They also believe that the first icons of Jesus and Mary were painted by Luke the Evangelist.
The sacred sacrament of communion as practised by Serbian Orthodox Christians is the same as that of all Eastern Orthodox Christians. The sacrament is received only after the recipient has been baptized and prepared themselves by confessing their sins beforehand. The recipient must also abstain from consuming any food or liquids starting from the evening of the day before. Communion initially takes the form of wine and leavened bread and is transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ by the priest.
Services in the Serbian Orthodox church are conducted daily in monasteries and cathedrals and less often in churches at the discretion of the parish and priest. There are always at least two clergy members leading the service: at least one priest and another, like a bishop or canter. Each church may have more than one altar at which to celebrate the service, but each priest can only lead one service per altar per day.
- Monsters and Critics: Serbia's New Patriarch Irenej, A Traditionalist and Diplomat
- Encyclopaedia Britannica: Eastern Orthodoxy (Christianity)
- Encyclopaedia Britannica: Serbian Orthodox Church (Religion)
- George Fox University: Church and State Relations in Present-day Serbia
- Serbian Orthodox Fundamentals: The Quest for an Eternal Identity; Christos Mylonas
- Review of Religious Research; Serbian Orthodox Religiousness: An Empirical and Comparative Portrait
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