On the Bright Saturday, the believers have an opportunity to get Artos in churches. What is the origin of the tradition of taking Artos and how should one do this in the right way?
What is Artos?
The word artos is translated from Greek as “leavened bread” – the common bread blessed for the all members of the Church, in other words the communion bread.
During the whole Bright Week, artos is placed on the most prominent place in the church near the icon of the Resurrection, and when the Paschal celebrations are over, it is handed out among the believers.
What is the origin of the tradition of artos consumption?
Artos consumption began with Christianity itself. On the 40th day after the Resurrection, Lord Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven. The disciples and followers of Christ found solace in prayerful commemoration of the Lord, they recalled His every word, every step and every action. When they gathered for a common prayer, they recalled the last Suppers and partook of Holy Communion. Preparing a usual meal, they left the first place at the table for the Lord who sat there invisibly and put a bread on this place.
What does it symbolize?
Emulating the apostles, the first shepherds of the Church began to put bread in the church as a visible expression of the idea that the Savior, who has suffered for us, became the true bread of life. On an artos we can see a cross with the crown of thorn, but there is no the Crucified One, which is the symbol of Christ’s victory over death or His Resurrection.
There is another ancient church story connected with artos. It states that the apostles always left a piece of bread – the part of the Mother of God – in a reminder of the constant communion with Her. After the meal, they shared that piece of bread between themselves. In monasteries, this tradition is called the rite of Panagia, i.e. the commemoration of the Most Holy Mother of God. In parish churches this bread of the Mother of God is recalled once a year, when artos is shared.
How is artos consecrated?
Artos is consecrated with a special prayer, besprinkling with holy water and censing it at the Liturgy on the first day of Holy Pascha and after the prayer behind the ambo. An artos is placed in front of the Royal Gates on a table or analogion. After the consecration, the analogion with the artos is put on the solea before the image of Christ, where artos will stand during the whole Bright Week. It is kept on the analogion before the iconostasis for the whole week.
Every day during the Bright Week, cross processions with artos take place after the liturgy. On Saturday of the Bright week, a prayer for fragmentation of artos is read. The artos is divided into pieces and given to people during the kissing of the cross after the Liturgy.
How should we keep and consume artos?
Faithful people keep the particles of artos they got in the church as a spiritual remedy from weaknesses and diseases. Artos is taken in special cases, for example, in case of sickness and always with the words “Christ is risen!”.