I have visited your website many times and consider it a great source of
information and an archive of Church Scriptures/Rubrics. Though, I have a
question regarding the practices of our Orthodox Faith.
Are all unmarried clergy (ie. archimandrites, bishops) required to receive
a new name at their first ordination (that of deacon)?
I always thought a new name was given, but I have discovered that this is
not the case for some clergy/hierarchs.
Answer to Question 29
Greetings in Christ.
The practice of receiving a new name when entering holy orders has been a
practice of the Church from Apostolic times. It reflects a new life in
Christ and thus a new beginning with a new name. A good example of this is
the Apostle Paul who before his conversion to Christianity was called Saul
and was given the name Paul by Christ himself to show that he was not the
same man who persecuted the Church, but had repented and became a new man
in Christ. Married as well as celibate clergy can change their name or
with the Bishop’s blessing can keep their old name if desired. In our
times it is common for married priest to keep their original name but
certain Bishops insist on giving them a new name and in some cases the
name is not known to the recipient until the ordination. The new name is
not given during ordination into the priesthood but rather at the service
of the Making of a Reader. There are four services where a name can be
changed and in these services a tonsure (cutting of the hair) takes place.
It often seems that the change of name takes place when someone is
ordained into the diaconate because in many cases the candidate is made a
Reader, Subdeacon, and then Deacon all on the one day. One is usually made
a Reader at the end of the Mattins Doxology and a Subdeacon just before
the start of the Liturgy. The service for the ordination of a Deacon
begins just before Holy Communion when the Bishop says: “Και έσται τα ελέη
του μεγάλου Θεού και Σωτήρος ημών Ιησού Χριστού, μετά πάντων υμών” (And
may the mercies of our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you
With Celibate Priests they can change their name when they become a
Reader, when they become a Rasoforos, when they take the Small Monastic
Schema and again when they take the Great Monastic Schema. Many change
their name at each occasion or use the opportunity to revert to their
original name, in other words someone might change his name from Andrew to
Peter and then back again to Andrew so that it appears that they haven’t
changed it at all. Celibate Priest, who although are monastics, but serve
a parish Church, prefer to keep their secular name for legal reasons. In
the West, civil laws do not recognize the spiritual new name and to have
it changed on legal documents like I.D. and passport, one must change it
through Deed Poll. I was rather lucky in that when I changed my name from
Christos to Christopher, the Cypriot authorities accepted the new name
when I provided a signed declaration from the Bishop that both names
belong to one and the same person, but my British Passport still carries
my old name.