When it happens that an old monk or any other monk falls asleep in the Lord
(they usually reach a great age, because they do not indulge in excesses and
have a healthy diet), they do not wash the corpse, but sponge it with warm water,
crosswise, on the forehead, the breast, the hands, the knees, and the feet ...
The monk who will dress him, without seeing the departed brother naked,
changes his clothes, putting on him clean socks, long pants, a vest, the schema,
and the polystavri. His hands are crossed and tied with a bandage, with a prayer
rope inserted into it. They put on him his cap and cover his face with the hood
which he has worn, forming it into a cross shape. He is then placed on a bed of
horse-hair or straw, after they have put on him his belt and a pair of new shoes.
His cassock is then put over him with the sleeves torn so that they can be placed
diagonally across him, and it is sewn up with black thread so that all the corpse is
contained within it. With white thread, three crosses are sewn on it: over the
head, the breast, and the feet. If the monk has died in hospital or in an old
people’s home, a priest comes to say the ‘Thrice Holy’. If the departed monk was
himself a priest-monk, they put a stole on him. If he was an abbot, his head is not
covered. He is borne on a wooden bier to the narthex. As long as he remains
there, a candle burns and the brethren take it in turns to recite the Psalter. The
funeral service of a priest-monk takes place in the middle of the katholikon, while
that of an ordinary monk is held in the middle of the lite.
During the service, the the brethren hold lighted candles. On the breast of the
departed monk is the appropriate icon; the service is much longer than that for a
Immediately afterwards, whilst the ‘Thrice Holy’ is being sung, the body is
taken to the cemetery. The acolytes go in front carrying lanterns; they are
followed by the choirs of the cantors, the priests, and then the rest of the
brethren. Stops are made on the way for various prayers to be said. When the
corpse, without the ‘bed’ beneath it, has been placed in the grave, the priest
throws earth and oil from the lamp of Christ (in the cemetery) crosswise upon it ...
The monks then say ten decades of their prayer rope for the repose of his soul ...
This is followed by the ‘Thrice Holy’ ... and the Abbot delivers an address in
praise of the virtues and the spiritual struggles of the monk who has died.
For 40 days the brethren of the monastery include in their rule of life a recital
of the prayer rope for the repose of the soul of the brother departed. The dead
monk is commemorated for 40 days after burial at the Great Entrance in the
Liturgy; if he was an abbot, for much longer. The name of every departed monk
is recorded in the ‘diptychs’ and is commemorated each day at the Preparation
during the Divine Liturgy (in the katholikon or a chapel).