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Molieben and Panikhida

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It is common in the Orthodox Church to make special requests for the service of Moliebens and Panikhidas.


A Molieben is an intercessory service conducted by a priest, asking our Saviour, the Mother of God, or one of the saints for assistance with a specific matter (e.g. illness, family difficulties, employment, travel, etc.). This service can be offered in behalf of the living (Orthodox and non-Orthodox). This type of supplicatory service is known as a Paraklisis in the Greek Orthodox Church.


A Panikhida is a prayer service offered by a priest for the repose of the soul of an Orthodox Christian who has departed this life. Customarily a Panikhida is served on the third, ninth, and fortieth day after the repose of the Orthodox Christian, and every year on the anniversary of the repose. The Panikhida is essentially the same as memorial services offered in Orthodox Churches outside the Russian tradition, known variously as the parastas, pannychis, or in abbreviated form as the “Trisagion for the Dead.” Only departed Orthodox Christians are commemorated at a Panikhida.


It is also not uncommon for family and friends of the departed to make Koliva for a Panikhida. Koliva is essentially boiled kernels of wheat mixed with dried fruit and nuts. It can also be sweetened with sugar and spices – covered with powdered sugar to resemble a tomb or grave. The wheat in the Koliva is symbolic of death and resurrection, according to the words of the Gospel:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:24)

Wheat which is planted in the earth and rises in new life is symbolic of those beloved departed who have died in the hope of resurrection, in accordance with the words of Saint Paul:

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body….(I Corinthians 15:42-44)

This symbolism has its highest expression in the Saints, whose blessed state in heaven have been manifested to the world. For this reason, Koliva is blessed not only at memorials for the departed, but also at times in commemoration of saints.