The Service of the Consecration of a Coptic Hermit or Anchorite
After various prayers, the Divine Liturgy is celebrated, and the Bishop then reads the Prayers of the Dead over the Hermit, who then goes into his cave by a rope. The Priests and Monks assembled then chant Psalm CXLVIII, CXLIX and CL. The Bishop pronounces the blessing and the dismissal, and the Hermit withdraws the rope into his cave.
“The Coptic Rite for the Consecration of a Hermit (Coptic: oueukhe ejenpikletos; Arabic: salat tuqal ‘ala al-habis) is not in current use, but it exists and demonstrates that the status of Hermit had ecclesiastical recognition in the past.
The Bishop or Hegumenos says the Prayer of Thanksgiving into which are inserted clauses making reference to the Hermit (marked thus ):
“Let us give thanks to the Beneficent and Merciful God, the Father of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ. For He has protected us, assisted us, preserved us, accepted us unto Himself, spared us, sustained us and brought us unto this hour. Let us also ask Him, the Almighty Lord our God, to keep us in all peace this holy day and all the days of our life.
O Master, Lord, God Almighty, the Father of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, we thank You concerning all things, for all things and in all things, for You have protected us, assisted us, preserved us, accepted us, spared us, supported us and brought us till this hour.
Therefore we ask and entreat Your Goodness, O Lover of Mankind, grant us to complete this holy day and all the days of our life in peace and with Your fear. All envy, all temptation and all the work of Satan, the counsel of wicked men and the rising up of enemies, hidden and manifest, do cast them away from us and from all Your people and from this church and from this holy place of Yours Grant us the endowments and benefactions as You have given us the authority to trample upon serpents and scorpions and on all the power of the enemy.
[Look forth, our Master, upon Thy servant who hath given his heart unto repentance and hath borne his Cross and hath followed Thee with all his heart, and give to him the seal of salvation and purity and continence and patience and self-restraint, in order that he may be blessed and perfect and that he may serve Thee in righteousness and truth all the days of his life.] And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one, by the grace, compassion and love for mankind of Your Only-Begotten Son, our Lord, God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. This is He through Whom glory, honour, dominion and adoration are due to You together with Him and the Holy Spirit, the Life Giver, who is Consubstantial with You, now and at all times and unto the ages of ages. Amen.”
A Prayer of Thanksgiving for a Hermit is then recited:
“We give thanks unto Thee, O Lord, God the Almighty, Who, through Thy manifold mercy hast delivered Thy servant from the evil and vain abode of this world, and hast called him unto this solemn life.”
The Divine Liturgy is then celebrated, and at its conclusion the Bishop reads over the Hermit the Prayer of the Dead.
The rubrics thereafter assume that the Hermit is to live in an elevated cave: “And then Hermit goes up (to his cave) by a rope. Then the Priests chant Psalm cxlviii and the two other Psalms (cxlix and cl) and the Bishop says the blessing and the second dismissal, and the Hermit lifts up the rope with him, and the Bishop says: Peace be to all.”
See O.H.E. Burmester “Rite and Ceremonies of the Coptic Church. Part VIII” in “The Eastern Churches Quarterly”, Vol. X, No. 5, Spring 1934: pp.228-229; and O.H.E. Burmester “The Egyptian or Coptic Church: A detailed description of her liturgical services and the rites or ceremonies observed in the administration of her sacraments” Cairo, Publications de la Societe d’Archeologie Copte, 1967: pp. 200-201.
This service for the Consecration of a Hermit has long been out of use. It is related to the Coptic Rites for the consecration of monks and nuns. These consist of:
1. The Rite of Initiation into Monasticism (for a Monk);
2. The Rite of Clothing with the Skhema (for a Monk);
3. The Rite of Consecration of an Abbot;
4. The Rite of Initiation into Monasticism (for a Nun);
5. The Rite of Clothing with the Skhema (for a Nun);
6. The Rite of Consecration of an Abbess.
For descriptions of these services, see: O.H.E. Burmester “The Egyptian or Coptic Church: A detailed description of her liturgical services and the rites or ceremonies observed in the administration of her sacraments” Cairo, Publications de la Societe d’Archeologie Copte, 1967:188-200
For the services for Nuns, see Pieternella van Doorn-Harder “Contemporary Coptic Nuns” Columbia SC, University of South Carolina Press, 1995: 95-111