Rassophore Monk and Stavrophore Monk: What is the Difference?

According to one tradition (e.g., the one observed in Kiev Caves Lavra), there are several degrees of monasticism. First, a novice becomes a Rassophore monk (Greek: ρασοφόρος, rasophoros, lit. “Robe-bearer”), and then is professed into the Lesser Schema, alternatively known as Stavrophore.

Typically, it is the Lesser Schema that is recognized as monasticism proper. Nevertheless, many people mix these two degrees of monasticism.

Thus, a tonsure into Rassophore is distinct from a tonsure into the Lesser Schema in that the person who is being tonsured doesn’t say monastic vows in the former case but is sometimes given a new name. A Rassophore monk’s vestment consists of an undercassock, a belt, a cassock, a kamilavka, and a prayer rope. When a Rassophore monk is professed to the next degree, he receives a paramand (a four-edged cloth with an image of the Cross), a mantle, and a klobuk.

Therefore, the tonsure into Rassophore is just a preparatory stage, which is basically meant as a way to try and figure out whether the person is really resolute in his decision to become a monk.

Translated by The Catalog of Good Deeds

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