St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite on the Pre-Sanctified Liturgies

NOTE: The following article is taken from The Rudder.

St Nikodemos 2


Note that the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy is not one composed by Gregory Dialogist since he was unacquainted with the Greek language, according to Letter 29 of his sixth book, and since this Liturgy is not found in his written works. On the contrary, it dates from the times of the successors of the Apostles, according to Reply 56 of Symeon of Thessalonica, and existed before the time of Dialogist, as is shown by Canon XLIX of Laodicea, and especially by the custom which obtained in the East, as St. Basil says in his letter to Patricia Caesaria, and in the West, as St. Jerome says in his letter to Pammachius, of allowing Christians to commune on Wednesdays and Fridays with Pre-Sanctified Bread. For it is obvious that in communing these persons were wont to say something in the way of prayers before actually partaking, and after partaking thereof, which prayers, briefly speaking, were the liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified then in vogue, and that is what Argentes says. See also the Footnote to Canon XII of Laodicea.

St. Gregory the Dialogist, Pope of Rome (d. 604)
St. Gregory the Dialogist, Pope of Rome (d. 604)

But we mention Dialogist in the dismissal of the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy either because Dialogist, by communicating this Liturgy to the Romans in the days of fasting in the Great Fast, according to Mauritius, the deacon of the great Church who was the author of the Synaxarion, and according to their translator Maximus Marganios, and Michael Constantinopolite, furnished the Easterners the idea of celebrating it on every day in the Fast, as some insist (see Dositheos, Concerning those who served as Patriarchs in Jerusalem, page 526); or else it was because, though in existence long before, it was afterwards embellished by Dialogist, and brought to the state in which it is now seen. The Pre-sanctified Liturgy was devised by the Fathers in order to provide a way of becoming participants also on days of fasting of the heavenly life and of the grace that come from the holy Mysteries. For Blastaris, in Chapter 5 of Verse 300, says: “Just as soldiers at war, after the battle is over, in the evening of the day it ends, partake of food and nourishment prepared beforehand, in order to strengthen their bodies by means of it and to be able to fight the enemy the next day, and so in a similar manner we Christians (those of us, that is, who are worthy and prepared), while fighting the passions and the Devil during the days of the Fast, are wont to partake of the Body and Blood of the Lord during the evening of the day, which have been Pre-Sanctified from Saturday and The Lord’s Day, in order to strengthen ourselves from this and enable ourselves to fight the figurative enemies again more valiantly (though Blastaris does not say this out of his own head, but has translated it from some previous and older comment which we have discovered).


This same thing is also embodied in the Pre-Sanctified prayers of this very Liturgy.” Note that the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy must be celebrated during the evening of the day, according to the typikon and the Western Synod held in Cabilone. Hence those who celebrate it morning are in error, and let them correct themselves. For how can they say in the morning, “Let us fulfill our evening prayer unto the Lord,” which is not even one to be said at noon. Not only at four, and six, but also at two, and three, and five, according to this Canon, the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy may be freely celebrated by those who so wish. As for those who do not wet the Holy Bread with the all-undefiled Blood, as is prescribed in the Euchologion, and who neither keep it prepared to serve in the celebration of the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy, they are obviously Latin-minded. For one of the characteristics of the impiety of the Latins is this one of not giving the laity but of one kind, or, in other words, giving them of the bread only, the Mystery of the Eucharist, as the Western Council held in Constance, Germany, in the year 1414 unlawfully legislated. As for the many reasons why Pre-Sanctified bread was kept, see Eustratios Argenetes, page 284, and the Footnote to Canon XIV of Laodicea. Pre-Sanctified wine, too, used to be kept in the churches, as is attested by St. Chrysostom in his first letter to Pope Innocence, and also by St. Jerome in his letter No. 4 to Rufinus, and by St. Gregory the Theologian in his epitaph to Gorgonias, and by the local Synod, held in Toledo, and others. See also the Footnote to Canon XLIX of Laodicea. (The Rudder, pp. 838-839)

The Service of the Presanctified Gifts CD
The Service of the Presanctified Gifts CD

CANON XLIX of the Synod of Laodicea (364)

That in the Great Fast bread must not be offered, except on Saturday and the Lord’s Day only.


On no other days of the Great Fast except Saturdays and Sundays, says the present Canon, ought a complete Liturgy to be celebrated, but only the pre-sanctified.

Note, however, that according to Reply 56 of Balsamon an ordination of a sub-deacon, or deacon, or priest, or bishop cannot be carried out in a pre-sanctified Liturgy, which is celebrated on days of fasting and mourning, because an ordination is in the nature of a festival, and not of a time of mourning. But ordinations can be carried out on the Saturdays and Lord’s Days in the Great Fast, when a complete Liturgy is celebrated. But in his Reply 55 the same Balsamon says that not even baptisms can be performed during the Great Fast except only on the Saturdays and Lord’s Days therein, and the day of Annunciation. But those who do these things ought to be corrected with heavy penalties, as having sinned unpardonably, except in case there should be a dire necessity of death (page 389 of Jus Graeco-Romanum). Symeon of Thessalonica (Reply 58) states that in olden times according to the Typikon of the Great Church a Pre-Sanctified Liturgy was celebrated also on Wednesday and Friday of Cheese Week, and on Great and Holy Friday. But since that Typikon went out of use owing to incursions of heathens, the Pre-Sanctified was forbidden on these days by the Jerusalem Typikon, which has now come to prevail everywhere, concerning which see Canon XXXII of St. Nicephoros, and the Footnote to Canon LII of the 6th Ecumenical Synod. But in addition the same Symeon says (in Reply 58) for the Pre-Sanctified not to be celebrated with a cut, or section, of a loaf, but with an entire loaf, of bread, in order that it may be divided into pieces in accordance with custom, and after being broken into fragments, be administered; for this is left out of the complete Liturgy.


And note also this, that when priests dye the Pre-Sanctified bread with the divine Blood by means of the tongs, they ought not to say anything, but, on the contrary, they ought to keep silent. For certain ignorant wrongly say the following: “And though it swayed from this to that its vintager did not become empty” For the meaning of that passage in the Psalms is another. In fact, it is rather absurd for this to be said, seeing that that cup about which David is saying this is one which is full of sulfurous wrath, and from which the sinners of the earth drink, whereas this cup is a cup of blessing and one which conciliates and stops God’s wrath against us. As for the fact that the Pre-Sanctified was celebrated from the beginning, this is attested by Socrates in Book V of his Ecclesiastical History, wherein he says: “In Alexandria on Wednesday and on so-called Preparation-day (Friday), Scriptures are read, and the teachers interpret these. But all the details of the synaxis are carried into effect without the ceremony of the Mysteries.” (The Rudder, p. 1137; 1156-57).

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CANON LII of the 6th Ecumenical Synod (691)

On all the Forty days of the Great Fast devoted to fasting, with the exception of Saturday and The Lord’s Day and the days of the holy Annunciation, let the Holy Liturgy of the pre-sanctified be celebrated.


The days of holy fast are days of mourning and of contrition and of repentance. But for a perfect sacrifice to be offered to God, and indeed in the commemorations of saints, is deemed by the majority of people to be matter of jubilation and joy, and of festivity. That is why they are wont to indulge in merry-making during this period. For this reason the present Canon commands that on the other days of the Fast there shall be a celebration of the liturgy of the Pre-sanctified Gifts  which is the same as saying the second offering of the completed and sacrifice offered, whereas on Saturdays and The Lord’s Days, as more cheerful days and not devoted to fasting, likewise also on Annunciation Day, as being the commencement of our salvation and the exordium, and consequently as a feast day and festival, it allows a perfect sacrifice and Liturgy to be celebrated.

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