Preparations and Consecration of Holy Mooron

Published by Jacob P Varghese on

The consecration of the Holy Mooron is preceded by elaborate preparations. Fruits are collected from selected olive trees in the months of September and October. They are cleaned and squeezed. To this juice is then added pepper, spices and perfumes. The whole thing is then ground to a fine flour, which is mixed with oil and kept in jars which will then be heated by steam for three hours. After so heating, mea, a preservative is added. Again steam heating is done for one hour. On the day of consecration balsam is added.

For the consecration of Holy Mooron the Patriarch wears vestments. Besides the Catholicos and the Metropolitans, 12 priests, 12 deacons and 12 yavuppadeacons take part. 12 censors, 12 maruvahatas and 12 candles are taken for the procession. In fact there are two processions. During the first the Patriarch leaves the church through the door on the northern side, censor in hand, accompanied by two deacons with maruvahatas and two yavuppadeacons with candles. After going round, the Patriarch re-enters the church through the southern door. Long prayers follow.

The readings from the Old Testament and the Acts and Epistles, normally read by deacons, are read at the time of consecration of Holy Mooron by Metropolitans: it shows how important the occasion is. After the reading from Isaiah the Patriarch accompanied by the Catholicos goes to an area in the sanctum sanctorum covered by curtains, and mixes balsam in secret. Then the Patriarch enters the tent, hiding a bottle under his vestment. Four Cor-episcopa hold the tent during the second procession which now starts. The tent is preceded by 12 yavuppadeacons with candles, 12 deacons with maruvahatas covering the tent, a Cor-episcopa with the cross, another with the gospel, the archdeacon with scepter, and 12 priests fully attired and holding the censors. Before commencing the procession, the Patriarch says Halle-luiah thrice and the congregation says ‘Tesubuhato Laloho Bamerowme’.

All priests, deacons and sub deacons present, join the procession with lighted candles in their hands. At the doors of the church – north, west and south – the Catholicos puts frankincense in the thurible. At the end of the procession the tent covering the Patriarch is taken to the Madboho. The bottles containing the oil to be consecrated is then covered with sosappa and the service begins, with 12 deacons holding maruvahatas around the altar and 12 priests offering incense.

The service is very similar to the Holy Qurbana. There is recitation of the creed, the prayer of peace, call to lift up the hearts, the angelic glorification, invocation of the Holy Ghost and the Lord’s Prayer. Finally there is the “celebration of the bottle” and the blessing of the people with the bottle containing the consecrated oil.

The yavuppadeacons represent the prophets and the deacons the apostles. The maruvahatas stand for seraphins. The 12 censors remind that God who live sin all is the same; censors are twelve, but all give out the same good smell. The 12 candles stand for the orthodox teaching of the 12 apostles. The Patriarch wears white vestments because in this service he represents Christ who is the lamb without blemish. The first procession symbolizes the Old Testament and the sinful woman’s journey to the shop to buy the perfume; the second, the New Testament, the anointing by the woman, the crucifixion, the resurrection and the Pentecost. The Patriarch is hidden in a tent to remind us of Moses having a veil on his face, vide Exodus.


The Church is the mystic body of Christ and so the life of the church is life in Christ. Christians live, move and have their beings in Christ (Acts 17:28). This is sacramental life for which Christians are called. 

Sacraments are means of grace instituted by Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind. Through them the grace of God descends and indwells upon the Church and its members. In the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, there are seven sacraments of which Holy Baptism, Holy Chrism and Holy Eucharist are the most important. Baptism is the sacrament of entry into the church and only those who are baptized according to the teaching of the Church can partake of the sacrament of Holy Eucharist. The Holy Chrism is the holiest of anointing oils of the Church, also called the fragrance of the Holy Spirit and is used to chrismate the water of Baptism( in the baptismal font),signing in the name of Holy Spirit and also for post-Baptismal anointing. It is also used to consecrate church buildings, the altar and the altar stone (tablitho). The Holy Chrism itself is consecrated in the longest of the ceremonies of Syrian Orthodox Church by the Supreme Head of Church viz, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East. In our Church, only the Patriarch consecrates the Holy Chrism. The Bishops alone can transfer into smaller bottles and duly ordained priests can only sacramentally handle. Other clergy or laity is forbidden to even to touch it. The Holy Chrism is kept in a special casket in the ‘Holy of Holies’ (madbho) in the church. 

The Apostles of Christ received Baptism in the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost: and on the next day they consecrated the Holy Chrism using olive oil and spices (John 19:40) collected from the tomb of Jesus Christ .Using this Holy Chrism they consecrated the upper hall of St: Mark’s as the first church in Christendom in the name of St: Mary, Mother of God. 

The Holy Chrism of Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch has a history dating back to the first consecration by the Holy Apostles headed by St: Peter. This again is a continuation of Old Testament oil of anointment of Moses as dictated by “YHWH’ (God) (Exodus 30:22-33) for anointing the Arc of Covenant, Levites, Kings and Prophets. In fact the Prophets carried the anointing oil in horns along with them. 

In the New Testament Church, the Holy Chrism signifies Christ himself. In its constitution and consecration, the mysteries of incarnation of the word and of the person of Christ himself are signified in and through the Holy Chrism. 

The consecration ceremony of the Holy Chrism (Mooron Koodasha) is conducted in two parts. Sufficiently before the date of actual ceremony, pure olive oil is mixed and boiled along with the following spices in the measures given below.

  1. Pure Olive oil – 400 suso (prepared from seed coat of Olea europea) Gen 37:25 and Jer 8:22
  2. Nardeen spikenard, nard (Nardostachys jatamansi) root – 60 suso Songs. 1: 1, 4:13, 14; Mk. 14: 3, Jn. 12: 3
  3. Clove (Eugenia caryophyllata) flower bud (grampoo)–20 suso 
  4. Crocus sativus flower bud  – 20 suso 
  5. Zingiber officionale (chukku) rhizome – 20 suso 
  6. Piper nigrum (Black pepper) – 20 suso 
  7. Cinnamomum verum (Karuva patta) – 50 suso 

Items 2-8 are powdered and mixed in olive oil (item 1). And the bottles containing these are suspended by iron wires in boiling water in a copper vessel for 3 hours. After this, 60 suso of green ‘njerias’ is added into the bottles and boiled for one more hour. On cooling the oil is filtered and transferred to bottles and is ready for consecration. On the day of consecration, it is taken into the ‘Basgasa (Bethgazo) room’ of the Church. Side by side with this is also brought and placed Balsamoun oil (prepared from immature seeds of Balanites aegyptica). 

The consecration service of the Holy Mooron is conducted in two parts with elaborate prayers and songs. At the end of first service, the Chief Celebrant( Patriarch) with full vestments enters the Basgasa room and mixes the medicated olive oil with balsamoun signifying the fusion of divinity and humanity in the person of Jesus Christ( Unity indivisible). It symbolizes that Christ accepted our humble humanity and gave us His Divine Godhood. 

There are two processions during the service. The first procession in the first part of the service is headed by a Metropolitan and is symbolic of the way of sinful woman who went out to buy oil for anointing Christ for expiation of her sins. The second procession takes out with the Patriarch carrying the sacred oil and covered on all sides with ‘Cububso’ which is again covered by twelve ‘marvahthos’ carried by 12 deacons signifying seraphims which cover their faces by 12 wings. With this procession goes all the attending Metropolitans with full vestments, 12 priests in full vestments with burning censors and 12 yapudyaknos with 12 candles. The first procession also sets the route in which the second procession is to go. As the procession of dignitaries goes by, the congregation stays around the church. At the end of the service the Holy Chrism is waved in four directions (Howde malache) and the congregation is blessed with the newly consecrated Holy Mooron. 

The consecration of the Holy Mooron is the most sacred and magnificent ceremony of the Church. It is highly charged with spirituality and link back in OT connection to the fragrant oil prepared by Moses according to divine recipe received at Mount Sinai. It is through use of the Holy Chrism that all members of Church become heirs of the Royal Priesthood the Church is. (1 Pet. 2:9). 

It is the teaching of the Church that where the Holy Chrism is, there Christ himself is. Baptism in chrismated water signifies death and resurrection along with Christ (Romans 6:4). One wears Christ by chrismation of his entire body at the close of the Holy baptism. Here, he is also signed with Holy Chrism for eternal life in the form of cross in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Without chrismation baptism is not completed at all. Just as the bread and wine of Holy Eucharist becomes the body and blood of Christ, the Holy Chrism represents the life and self of Christ. These three mysteries together constitute the centre of the inner life of the Church to which all its members belong together. These three sacraments bring purity to the Church and protects her form the evil designs of the adversary (Satan). The Church flourishes under the banner of the Cross, the anointing of the Holy Chrism and partaking of Holy Eucharist in its march to life everlasting


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