A 15th-century bishop celebrates Mass ad orientem, facing the same direction as the people.
A 15th-century bishop celebrates Mass ad orientem, facing the same direction as the people.
Tridentine Mass, celebrated regularly ad orientem.
Tridentine Mass, celebrated regularly ad orientem.

Ad orientem, meaning "to the east" in Ecclesiastical Latin, is a phrase used to describe the eastward orientation of Christian prayer and Christian worship,[1][2] comprising the preposition ad (toward) and oriens (rising, sunrise, east), participle of orior (to rise).[3][4]

Ad orientem has been used to describe the eastward direction of prayer that the early Christians faced when praying,[2][1][5] a practice that continues in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox churches, Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Assyrian Church of the East, as well as the Eastern Catholic and Eastern Lutheran churches.[6][7] It was normative in the Roman Catholic Church until the 1960s, with the current exception of the Tridentine Mass; many Lutheran and Anglican churches continue to offer the Divine Service ad orientem.[8] Although the Second Vatican Council never ordered any change from ad orientem to versus populum, in the aftermath of the Council, such a change was widespread in many places afterward and became the norm, though ad orientem was never forbidden, and indeed the Pauline Missal presumes the Mass is said ad orientem in its rubrics. In the celebration of the Mass, it indicates that the priestly celebrant faces the altar with his back to the congregants, so they all face the same direction, as opposed to versus populum, facing the people.[9]

Since the time of the early Church, the eastward direction of Christian prayer has carried a strong significance, attested by the writings of the Church Fathers.[1] In the 2nd century, Syrian Christians hung a Christian cross on the eastern wall of their house, symbolizing "their souls facing God, talking with him, and sharing their spirituality with the Lord."[10] Two centuries later, Saint Basil the Great declared that "facing the east to pray was among the oldest unwritten laws of the Church".[11] Nearly all Christian apologetic tracts published in the 7th century in the Syriac and Arabic languages explicated the reason that Christians prayed facing the east is because "the Garden of Eden was planted in the east (Genesis 2:8) and that at the end of time, at the second coming, the Messiah would approach Jerusalem from the east."[12]

Parishes of the Coptic Church, a denomination of Oriental Orthodox Christianity, are designed to face east and efforts are made to remodel churches obtained from other Christian denominations that are not built in this fashion.[10]

Christian prayer facing east

A Christian cross hanging on the eastern wall of a modern house, indicating the eastward direction towards which prayer is focused[13][10][14]
A Christian cross hanging on the eastern wall of a modern house, indicating the eastward direction towards which prayer is focused[13][10][14]

In the time of the early Church, the eastward direction of Christian prayer was the standard and carried a strong significance, attested by the writings of the Church Fathers.[1][15][16]

Origins of the practice

The eastward direction of prayer among early Christians is a custom inherited from the Jews.[17][18] At the time of the formation of Christianity, Jews commonly prayed not only towards the Temple of Solomon, where the "presence of the transcendent God (shekinah) [resided] in the Holy of Holies of the Temple", but also toward the east, although to what extent this practice was widespread is disputed.[19][20] After the Temple was destroyed, synagogical liturgy continued the practice of praying in that direction, "inseparably bound up with the messianic expectation of Israel."[21] It was the practice, Paul F. Bradshaw says, of the Jewish sects of the Essenes and the Therapeutae, for whom "the eastward prayer had acquired an eschatological dimension, the 'fine bright day' for which the Therapeutae prayed being apparently the messianic age and the Essene prayer towards the sun 'as though beseeching him to rise' being a petition for the coming of the priestly Messiah."[22] Eventually, a "process of mutual stimulus and disaffection" between Jews and early Christians seems to have brought about the end of Jewish prayer towards the east, and Christian prayer towards Jerusalem.[23] The Islamic practice of praying initially towards Jerusalem, as well as the concept of praying in a certain direction, is derived from the Jewish practice, which was ubiquitous among the Jewish communities of Syria, Palestine, Yathrib and Yemen.[24]

Additionally, the Christian custom of praying towards the east may have roots in the practice of the earliest Christians in Jerusalem of praying towards the Mount of Olives, to the east of the city, which they saw as the locus of key eschatological events and especially of the awaited Second Coming of Christ. Although the localization of the Second Coming on the Mount of Olives was abandoned after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, the eastward direction of Christian prayer was retained and became general throughout Christendom.[25]

Early Christianity

Early Christians, who were largely persecuted, usually worshipped in house churches,[1] and the Eucharist was never exposed to non-Christians. The church-hall, according to the evidence found at Dura-Europos, was oblong, with the people facing the eastern wall, where there was a platform where the table-altar of the Eucharist was offered by the presbyter/priest, who also apparently faced east. Images of biblical scenes and figures, including that of Christ, adorned the walls, including the eastern wall. In the 2nd century, Syrian Christians indicated the direction in which to pray by placing a cross on the eastern wall of their house or church, a direction that symbolized "their souls facing God, talking with him, and sharing their spirituality with the Lord."[10] Believers turned towards it to pray at fixed prayer times, such as in the morning, evening and other parts of the day;[14] this practice continues among some Christians today, along with the related custom of Christian families erecting their home altar or icon corner on the east wall of their dwellings.[13][26][27][28][29][30][14]

Among the early Church Fathers, Tertullian used the equivalent phrase ad orientis regionem (to the region of the east) in his Apologeticus (AD 197).[31][32] Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 – c. 215) says: "Since the dawn is an image of the day of birth, and from that point the light which has shone forth at first from the darkness increases, there has also dawned on those involved in darkness a day of the knowledge of truth. In correspondence with the manner of the sun's rising, prayers are made looking towards the sunrise in the east."[33] Origen (c. 185 – 253) says: "The fact that [...] of all the quarters of the heavens, the east is the only direction we turn to when we pour out prayer, the reasons for this, I think, are not easily discovered by anyone." Origen "firmly rejects the argument that if a house has a fine view in a different direction, one should face that way rather than towards the east."[34][35]

In the fourth century, Saint Basil the Great declared that one of the many beliefs and practices that Christians derived not from written teaching but by the tradition of the apostles was to turn to the East when praying.[36][11] Using the phrase ad orientem, Augustine of Hippo mentioned the practice at the end of the fourth century.[2]

Syriac and Arabic Christian apologetics of the 7th century explained that Christians prayed facing east because "the Garden of Eden was planted in the east (Genesis 2:8) and that at the end of time, at the second coming, the Messiah would approach Jerusalem from the east."[12] Saint John of Damascus taught that believers pray facing east because it "reminds Christians of their need to long for and strive for the paradise that God intended for them" and because "Christians affirm their faith in Christ as the Light of the world" by praying in the direction of sunrise.[1][37]

Later ecclesiastics

In the ninth century, Saint John of Damascus, a Doctor of the Church, wrote:[37]

It is not without reason or by chance that we worship towards the East. But seeing that we are composed of a visible and an invisible nature, that is to say, of a nature partly of spirit and partly of sense, we render also a twofold worship to the Creator; just as we sing both with our spirit and our bodily lips, and are baptized with both water and Spirit, and are united with the Lord in a twofold manner, being sharers in the Mysteries and in the grace of the Spirit. Since, therefore, God is spiritual light, and Christ is called in the Scriptures Sun of Righteousness and Dayspring, the East is the direction that must be assigned to His worship. For everything good must be assigned to Him from Whom every good thing arises. Indeed the divine David also says, Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth: O sing praises unto the Lord: to Him that rideth upon the Heavens of heavens towards the East. Moreover the Scripture also says, And God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed: and when he had transgressed His command He expelled him and made him to dwell over against the delights of Paradise, which clearly is the West. So, then, we worship God seeking and striving after our old fatherland. Moreover the tent of Moses had its veil and mercy seat towards the East. Also the tribe of Judah as the most precious pitched their camp on the East. Also in the celebrated temple of Solomon, the Gate of the Lord was placed eastward. Moreover Christ, when He hung on the Cross, had His face turned towards the West, and so we worship, striving after Him. And when He was received again into Heaven He was borne towards the East, and thus His apostles worship Him, and thus He will come again in the way in which they beheld Him going towards Heaven; as the Lord Himself said, As the lightning cometh out of the East and shineth even unto the West, so also shall the coming of the Son of Man be. So, then, in expectation of His coming we worship towards the East. But this tradition of the apostles is unwritten. For much that has been handed down to us by tradition is unwritten.[37]

Eastern Orthodox Christian pilgrims making prostrations at Golgotha in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

Timothy I, an eighth-century patriarch of the Church of the East declared:[38]

He [Christ] has taught us all the economy of the Christian religion: baptism, laws, ordinances, prayers, worship in the direction of the east, and the sacrifice that we offer. All these things He practiced in His person and taught us to practise ourselves.[38]

Moses Bar-Kepha, a ninth-century bishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church called praying towards the east one of the mysteries of the Church.[38]

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI, described the eastward orientation as linked with the "cosmic sign of the rising sun which symbolizes the universality of God."[39] He also states in the same book (The Spirit of the Liturgy) that:

Despite all the variations in practice that have taken place far into the second millennium, one thing has remained clear for the whole of Christendom: praying toward the east is a tradition that goes back to the beginning. Moreover, it is a fundamental expression of the Christian synthesis of cosmos and history, of being rooted in the once-for-all events again.

Present-day practice

The Agpeya is a breviary used in Oriental Orthodox Christianity to pray the canonical hours at fixed prayer times during the day, usually in an eastward direction.[40]
The Agpeya is a breviary used in Oriental Orthodox Christianity to pray the canonical hours at fixed prayer times during the day, usually in an eastward direction.[40]

Members of Oriental Orthodox Churches, such as those belonging to the Syriac Orthodox Church, Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Coptic Orthodox Church, as well as Oriental Protestant Churches such as the Mar Thoma Syrian Church, pray privately in their homes in the eastward direction of prayer at seven fixed prayer times; when a priest visits a home, he asks the family where the east is before leading them in prayer.[6][7][10][41][42] Indian Christians and Coptic Christians in these traditions, for example, pray daily in private the canonical hours contained in the Shehimo and Agpeya, respectively (a practice done at fixed prayer times seven instances a day) facing the eastward direction.[6][7][43][44]

Eastern Orthodox Christians, as well as members of the Church of the East, also face east when praying.[45][46]

Members of the Pentecostal Apostolic Faith Mission continue to pray facing east, believing that it "is the direction from which Jesus Christ will come when he returns".[47]

Liturgical orientation

Further information: Orientation of churches

Catholic priest at an altar attached to a wall
Catholic priest at an altar attached to a wall

The Ecclesiastical Latin phrase ad orientem is commonly used today to describe a particular posture of a priest in Christian liturgy: facing away from the people towards the apse or reredos or wall behind the altar, with priest and people looking in the same direction, as opposed to the versus populum orientation in which the priest faces the congregation. In this use, the phrase is not necessarily related to the geographical direction in which the priest is looking and is employed even if he is not facing to the east or even has his back to the east.

In the Tridentine Roman Missal published in 1570, however, ad orientem and versus populum are not mutually exclusive. The altar may indeed be versus populum (facing the people), but even in this case it is assumed to be ad orientem (towards the East): "Si altare sit ad orientem, versus populum, celebrans versa facie ad populum, non vertit humeros ad altare, cum dicturus est Dóminus vobiscum, Oráte, fratres, Ite, missa est, vel daturus benedictionem ..." (If the altar is ad orientem, towards the people, the celebrant, facing the people, does not turn his back to the altar when about to say Dominus vobiscum ["The Lord be with you"], Orate, fratres [the introduction to the prayer over the offerings of bread and wine], and Ite, missa est [the dismissal at the conclusion of the Mass], or about to give the blessing ...).[48] The wording remained unchanged in all later editions of the Tridentine Missal, even the last,[49] which is still in active use today even outside the circumstances in which its use is authorized by the 2021 motu proprio Traditionis custodes.

History and practice

The altar of the cathedral of Rome, at which popes have always celebrated Mass facing east and also facing the people
The altar of the cathedral of Rome, at which popes have always celebrated Mass facing east and also facing the people

The earliest churches in Rome had a façade to the east and an apse with the altar to the west; the priest celebrating Mass stood behind the altar, facing east and so towards the people.[50][51] According to Louis Bouyer, not only the priest but also the congregation faced east at prayer. Michel Remery critiques Bouyer's view on the grounds of the unlikelihood that, in churches where the altar was to the west, Christians would turn their backs on the altar (and the priest) at the celebration of the Eucharist. According to Remery, the view prevails that the priest, facing east, would celebrate ad populum in some churches, in others not, in accordance with the churches' architecture.[52] The official journal of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments Notitiae also commented in its May 1993 issue on the unlikelihood that the people would turn their backs on the altar so as to face east; and it recalled the reproaches of Pope Leo I against those who on entering Saint Peter's Basillica would turn round to face the rising sun and bow their heads to it.[53][54]

Outside of Rome, it was an ancient custom for most churches to be built with the entrance at the west end and for priest and people to face eastward to the place of the rising sun.[55] Among the exceptions was the original Constantinian Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which had the altar in the west end.[56][57]

After the Edict of Milan legitimized the building of Christian churches, the practice of praying towards the east did not result in uniformity in their orientation.

It was in the 8th or 9th century that the position whereby the priest faced the apse, not the people, when celebrating Mass was adopted in the basilicas of Rome.[58] This usage was introduced from the Frankish Empire and later became almost universal in the West.[59] However, the Tridentine Roman Missal continued to recognize the possibility of celebrating Mass "versus populum" (facing the people),[60] and in several churches in Rome, it was physically impossible, even before the twentieth-century liturgical reforms, for the priest to celebrate Mass facing away from the people because of the presence, immediately in front of the altar, of the "confession" (Latin: confessio), an area sunk below floor level to enable people to come close to the tomb of the saint buried beneath the altar.

Anglican Bishop Colin Buchanan writes that there "is reason to think that in the first millennium of the church in Western Europe, the president of the eucharist regularly faced across the eucharistic table toward the ecclesiastical west. Somewhere between the 10th and 12th centuries, a change occurred in which the table itself was moved to be fixed against the east wall, and the president stood before it, facing east, with his back to the people."[61] This change, according to Buchanan, "was possibly precipitated by the coming of tabernacles for reservation, which were ideally both to occupy a central position and also to be fixed to the east wall without the president turning his back to them."[61]

In 7th century England, it is said, Catholic churches were built so that on the very feast day of the saint in whose honor they were named, Mass could be offered on an altar while directly facing the rising sun.[62] However, various surveys of old English churches found no evidence of any such general practice.[63][64][65]

A Palm Sunday Low Mass celebrated ad orientem (not necessarily in the geographical sense) in 2009
A Palm Sunday Low Mass celebrated ad orientem (not necessarily in the geographical sense) in 2009

The present Roman Missal of the Catholic Church (revised in 1969 following the Second Vatican Council) does not forbid the ad orientem position of the priest saying Mass: its General Instruction only requires that in new or renovated churches the facing-the-people orientation be made possible: "The altar should be built separate from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible."[66] As in some ancient churches the ad orientem position was physically impossible, so today there are churches and chapels in which it is physically impossible for the priest to face the people throughout the Mass.

A letter of 25 September 2000 from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in the Roman Catholic Church treats the phrase "which is desirable wherever possible" as referring to the requirement that altars be built separate from the wall, not to the celebration of Mass facing the people, while "it reaffirms that the position toward the assembly seems more convenient inasmuch as it makes communication easier ... without excluding, however, the other possibility."[67] This is also what is stated in the original text (in Latin) of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2002), which reads, "Altare maius exstruatur a pariete seiunctum, ut facile circumiri et in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit, quod expedit ubicumque possibile sit."[68] As quod is a neuter pronoun, it cannot refer back to the feminine celebratio [versus populum] and mean that celebration facing the people expedit ubicumque possible sit ("is desirable wherever possible"), but must refer to the entirety of the preceding phrase about building the altar separate from the wall so to facilitate walking around it and celebrating Mass at it while facing the people.

On 13 January 2008, Pope Benedict XVI of the Catholic Church publicly celebrated Mass in the Sistine Chapel at its altar, which is attached to the west wall.[69] He later celebrated Mass at the same altar in the Sistine Chapel annually for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. His celebration of Mass in the Pauline Chapel in the Apostolic Palace on 1 December 2009 was reported to be the first time he publicly celebrated Mass ad orientem on a freestanding altar.[70] In reality, earlier that year the chapel had been remodeled, with "the previous altar back in its place, although still a short distance from the tabernacle, restoring the celebration of all 'facing the Lord'."[71] On 15 April 2010 he again celebrated Mass in the same way in the same chapel and with the same group.[72] The practice of saying Mass at the altar attached to the west wall of the Sistine Chapel on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord was continued by Pope Francis, when he celebrated the feast for the first time as Supreme Pontiff on 12 January 2014. Although neither before nor after the 20th-century revision of the Roman Rite did liturgical norms impose either orientation, the distinction became so linked with traditionalist discussion that it was considered journalistically worthy of remark that Pope Francis celebrated Mass ad orientem [73] at an altar at which only this orientation was possible.[74]

In a conference in London on 5 July 2016, Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in the Catholic Church, encouraged priests to adopt the ad orientem position from the first Sunday in Advent at the end of that year. However, the Vatican soon clarified that this was a personal view of the cardinal and that no official directives would be issued to change the prevailing practice of celebrating versus populum.[75]

The post-1992 United Methodist rubrics stated:[76]

In our churches, the Communion table is to be placed in such a way that the presider is able to stand behind it, facing the people, and the people can visually if not physically gather around it. The table should be high enough so that the presider does not need to stoop to handle the bread and cup. Adaptations may be necessary to facilitate gracious leadership. While architectural integrity should be respected, it is important for churches to carefully adapt or renovate their worship spaces more fully to invite the people to participate in the Holy Meal. If altars are for all practical purposes immovable, then congregations should make provisions for creating a table suitable to the space so that the presiding minister may face the people and be closer to them.[76]

Oriental Orthodox Christianity

In Oriental Orthodox Christianity, the liturgy of the Coptic and Ethiopian rites exhort believers with the words “Look towards the East!”[1] All churches of the Coptic Orthodox Church are designed to face east and efforts are made to remodel churches obtained from other Christian denominations that are not built in this fashion.[10]

Eastern Orthodox Christianity

The Eastern Orthodox Church normally celebrates the Divine Liturgy facing eastward. Only in very exceptional circumstances does it do so versus populum.[77]

Lutheran Christianity

Lutheran Church of the Redeemer with an ad orientem high altar in Atlanta
Lutheran Church of the Redeemer with an ad orientem high altar in Atlanta

Traditionally, in the Lutheran Churches, the Divine Service "is oriented to the East from which the Sun of Righteousness will return".[78] Though some parishes now celebrate the liturgy versus populum, the traditional liturgical posture of ad orientem is retained by many Lutheran churches.[8]

Among Eastern Lutheran churches that celebrate the Byzantine Rite, the eastward position is universally practiced.[79]

Anglican Christianity

An ad orientem altar in an Anglican cathedral
An ad orientem altar in an Anglican cathedral

The English expression "eastward position", which reflects the continuance in England of the traditional orientation abandoned elsewhere in the West, normally means not only "east-facing" but also unambiguously "the position of the celebrant of the Eucharist standing on the same side of the altar as the people, with his back to them".[80] The opposite arrangement is likewise unambiguously called the "westward position". Those who use the phrase "ad orientem" refrain from using the correspondingly ambiguous "ad occidentem" phrase and speak of that arrangement instead as "versus populum".

With the English Reformation, the Church of England directed that the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist be celebrated at a communion table placed lengthwise in the chancel or in the body of the church, with the priest standing on the north side of the holy table, facing south. Turning to the east continued to be observed at certain points of the Anglican liturgy, including the saying of the Gloria Patri, Gloria in excelsis Deo and ecumenical creeds in that direction.[81] Archbishop Laud, under direction from Charles I of England, encouraged a return to the use of the altar at the east end, but in obedience to the rubric in the Book of Common Prayer the priest stood at the north end of the altar. In the middle of the 19th century, the Oxford Movement gave rise to a return to the eastward-facing position, and use of the versus populum position appeared in the second half of the 20th century.[82]

In the time when Archibald Campbell Tait was Archbishop of Canterbury (1868–1882), the eastward position, introduced by the Oxford Movement, was the object of violent controversy, leading to its outlawing by the Parliament of the United Kingdom in the Public Worship Regulation Act 1874. In their pastoral letter of 1 March 1875, the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England lamented "the growing tendency to associate doctrinal significance with rites and ceremonies which do not necessarily involve it. For example, the position to be occupied by the minister during the prayer of consecration in the Holy Communion' [...] We, the clergy, are bound by every consideration to obey the law when thus clearly interpreted [...]".[83]

In spite of the legal prohibition, adoption of the eastward position became normal in the succeeding decades in most provinces of the Anglican Church with the exception of the Church of Ireland. Then, from the 1960s onward, the westward position largely replaced both eastward position and north side and, in the view of Colin Buchanan, "has proved a reconciling force within Anglican usage".[84]

"Over the course of the last forty years or so, a great many of those altars have either been removed and pulled out away from the wall or replaced by the kind of freestanding table-like altar", in "response to the popular sentiment that the priest ought not turn his back to the people during the service; the perception was that this represented an insult to the laity and their centrality in worship. Thus developed today’s widespread practice in which the clergy stand behind the altar facing the people."[85]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Arthur Serratelli (28 February 2017). "Praying Ad Orientem". Catholic News Agency. From the earliest days of Church, Christians also faced east when at prayer. In fact, Tertullian (160–220 AD) actually had to defend Christians against the pagans who accused them of facing east to worship the sun. Many Church Fathers, such as St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Basil and St. Augustine, also speak of the practice of facing east. In the 3rd century, the Didascalia, a treatise on church order from northern Syria, set down the rule of facing east during the Eucharist. ... Before Christianity was legal in the Roman Empire, Christians worshipped in their homes. One of the oldest known house churches has been discovered on the far eastern edge of the Roman Empire, in present day Syria, at Dura-Europos. This house church dates from 233 A.D. Archaeologists have uncovered an assembly room in the house where as many as 60 people would gather for prayer. The room was designed with an altar against the east wall. In this way, the priest and all the faithful would together be facing east when celebrating the Eucharist. Writing in the 7th century, St. John of Damascus gives three explanations for the eastward stance of Christians at prayer. First, Christ is “the Sun of Righteousness” (Mal 4:2) and “the Dayspring from on high” (Lk 1:78). Facing the light dawning from the east, Christians affirm their faith in Christ as the Light of the world. Second, God planted the Garden of Eden in the east (cf. Gn 2:8). But, when our first parents sinned, they were exiled from the garden and moved westward. Facing east, therefore, reminds Christians of their need to long for and strive for the paradise that God intended for them. And, third, when speaking of his Second Coming at the end of history, Jesus said, “For just as lightning comes from the east and is seen as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Mt. 24:27). Thus, facing the east at prayer visibly expresses the hope for the coming of Jesus (cf. St. John Damascene, An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book IV, Chapter 12). Holding fast to this ancient tradition of facing eastward at prayer, the 12th century builders of the first St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna oriented this church to be in line with sunrise on the feast of St. Stephen. ... In celebration of the ancient Coptic Rite of Egypt, a deacon exhorts the faithful with the words “Look towards the East!” His age-old exhortation, found also in Greek and Ethiopian liturgies, stands as a strong reminder of the spiritual direction of our prayer.
  2. ^ a b c Thunø, Erik (2017). The Apse Mosaic in Early Medieval Rome. Cambridge University Press. p. 130. ISBN 9781107069909. In the West, the tradition is first witnessed by Augustine: 'When we stand at prayer, we turn to the east (ad orientem), whence the heaven rises.'
  3. ^ "Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, ad". www.perseus.tufts.edu.
  4. ^ Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary: "orior
  5. ^ "Cum ad orationem stamus, ad orientem convertimur, unde caelum surgit" (Augustini De Sermone Domini in Monte, II, 5, 18; translation: "When we stand at prayer, we turn to the east, whence the heaven rises" (Augustine, On the Sermon on the Mount, Book II, Chapter 5, 18).
  6. ^ a b c Shehimo: Book of Common Prayer. Diocese of South-West America of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. 2016. p. 5. The seven hours of prayer create a cycle that provides us with a foretaste of the eternal life we will spend in the presence of God worshipping Him. ... We pray standing upright while facing East as we collect our thoughts on God.
  7. ^ a b c Richards, William Joseph (1908). The Indian Christians of St. Thomas: Otherwise Called the Syrian Christians of Malabar: a Sketch of Their History and an Account of Their Present Condition as Well as a Discussion of the Legend of St. Thomas. Bemrose. p. 98. We are commanded to pray standing, with faces towards the East, for at the last Messiah is manifested in the East. 2. All Christians, on rising from sleep early in the morning, should wash the face and pray. 3. We are commanded to pray seven times, thus...
  8. ^ a b Ruff, Anthony (11 August 2016). "The Worst Reasons for Ad Orientem". The Catholic Herald. Archived from the original on 25 August 2016.
  9. ^ Tomás Ó Carragáin. Churches in Early Medieval Ireland: Architecture, Ritual and Memory. Yale University Press; 2010. ISBN 978-0-300-15444-3. p. 174.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Kalleeny, Tony. "Why We Face the EAST". Orlando: St Mary and Archangel Michael Church. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  11. ^ a b Morris, Stephen (2018). The Early Eastern Orthodox Church: A History, AD 60–1453. McFarland & Company. p. 28. ISBN 978-1-4766-7481-0. The Christians faced east to pray for several reasons. Jesus was expected to come again to judge the world "as lightning flashes from the east to the west" (Matthew 24:27). Jesus was the Dawn that enlightened the world. Basil the Great wrote that facing the east to pray was among the oldest unwritten laws of the Church (On the Holy Spirit 27).
  12. ^ a b Griffith, Sidney Harrison (2008). The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque: Christians and Muslims in the World of Islam. Princeton University Press. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-691-13015-6. Prominent among them was what in the context of life in the world of Islam one might call the Christian qiblah, the direction the Christians faced when they prayed, and the Jews, who faced Jerusalem, Christians customarily faced east to pray. This distinctive, Christian behavior came up for discussion in virtually every apologetic tract in Syriac or Arabic written by a Christian in the early Islamic period. In their answers to the queries of the Muslims on the subject, Christian writers never failed to mention that the reason they prayed facing east was due to the fact that the Garden of Eden was planted in the east (Genesis 2:8) and that at the end of time, at the second coming, the Messiah would approach Jerusalem from the east. Consequently, they insisted all Christians face this direction when they pray.
  13. ^ a b "Sign of the Cross". Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East - Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and Lebanon. Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East - Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and Lebanon. Archived from the original on 14 April 2020. Retrieved 11 August 2020. Inside their homes, a cross is placed on the eastern wall of the first room. If one sees a cross in a house and do not find a crucifix or pictures, it is almost certain that the particular family belongs to the Church of the East.
  14. ^ a b c Storey, William G. (2004). A Prayer Book of Catholic Devotions: Praying the Seasons and Feasts of the Church Year. Loyola Press. ISBN 978-0-8294-2030-2. Long before Christians built churches for public prayer, they worshipped daily in their homes. In order to orient their prayer (to orient means literally "to turn toward the east"), they painted or hung a cross on the east wall of their main room. This practice was in keeping with ancient Jewish tradition ("Look toward the east, O Jerusalem," Baruch 4:36); Christians turned in that direction when they prayed morning and evening and at other times. This expression of their undying belief in the coming again of Jesus was united to their conviction that the cross, "the sign of the Son of Man," would appear in the eastern heavens on his return (see Matthew 24:30). Building on that ancient custom, devout Catholics often have a home altar, shrine, or prayer corner containing a crucifix, religious pictures (icons), a Bible, holy water, lights, and flowers as a part of the essential furniture of a Christian home.
  15. ^ Kennedy, Brian J. (2020). "For Effective Prayer". St. Finian Orthodox Abbey. Retrieved 19 November 2020. For 2,000 years Christians have prayed facing towards the Orient, the East. East is the direction of the sunrise and was naturally associated with various Christian imagery. East was first seen as a symbol of Christ, the “light of the world,” and the direction of his Second Coming. The sunrise was also associated with the Resurrection, as it is written in the Gospels that Christ rose from the dead at dawn. Christians for many centuries prayed facing east (ad orientem), both for the Eucharistic liturgy of the Mass and at daily prayers. Today, only Holy Orthodoxy perpetuates the practice of the Apostles in offering Mass and prayers “ad orientem”.
  16. ^ Schönborn, Christoph (1 January 2000). Living the Catechism of the Catholic Church: The Sacraments. Ignatius Press. ISBN 978-1-68149-304-6. Jews, wherever they were, always said their prayers turning toward Jerusalem, but Christians, from very early on, prayed toward the east, the direction of the rising sun, which for them was the symbol of the Second Coming of Christ.
  17. ^ Uwe Michael Lang
  18. ^ Franz Joseph Dölger, Sol salutis: Gebet und Gesang im christlichen Altertum : mit besonderer Rücksicht auf die Ostung in Gebet und Liturgie (Aschendorff 1925), pp. 28−88, cited in Uwe Michael Lang, Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer (Ignatius Press 2009), pp. 35−36
  19. ^ Peters, F. E. (2005). The Monotheists: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Conflict and Competition, Volume II: The Words and Will of God. Princeton University Press. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-691-12373-8. At first, the prayers were said facing Jerusalem, as the Jews did--Christians faced toward the East--but later the direction of prayer, the qibla, was changed toward the Kaaba at Mecca.
  20. ^ Lang (2009), pp. 42−45
  21. ^ Lang (2009), pp. 37
  22. ^ Bradshaw, Paul F. (1 October 2008). Daily Prayer in the Early Church: A Study of the Origin and Early Development of the Divine Office. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 978-1-60608-105-1.
  23. ^ Lang (2009), p. 44
  24. ^ Heinz, Justin Paul (2008). The Origins of Muslim Prayer: Sixth and Seventh Century Religious Influences on the Salat Ritual. University of Missouri. p. 78. Facing a specific geographic location while praying was also an important part of prayer practice. At first, early Muslims prayed toward Jerusalem, as the Jewish communities in Syria-Palestine, Yemen and Yathrib did. A shift occurred when Muhammad was in Yathrib, as shown in the Qur’an. The reason for this shift is not relevant to the present argument. Rather, Muhammad’s salāt incorporates facing a geographic location, clearly an influence from the Jewish communities discussed above.
  25. ^ Lang (2009), pp. 37−41
  26. ^ Danielou, Jean (2016). Origen. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 29. ISBN 978-1-4982-9023-4. Peterson quotes a passage from the Acts of Hipparchus and Philotheus: "In Hipparchus's house there was a specially decorated room and a cross was painted on the east wall of it. There before the image of the cross, they used to pray seven times a day ... with their faces turned to the east." It is easy to see the importance of this passage when you compare it with what Origen says. The custom of turning towards the rising sun when praying had been replaced by the habit of turning towards the east wall. This we find in Origen. From the other passage we see that a cross had been painted on the wall to show which was the east. Hence the origin of the practice of hanging crucifixes on the walls of the private rooms in Christian houses. We know too that signs were put up in the Jewish synagogues to show the direction of Jerusalem, because the Jews turned that way when they said their prayers. The question of the proper way to face for prayer has always been of great importance in the East. It is worth remembering that Mohammedans pray with their faces turned towards Mecca and that one reason for the condemnation of Al Hallaj, the Mohammedan martyr, was that he refused to conform to this practice.
  27. ^ Charles, Steve (24 March 2002). "Among the Living Maya". Wabash Magazine. Wabash College. Retrieved 11 August 2020. In Chamula, ancient Mayan beliefs mingle with Roman Catholicism—the "syncretism" we’ve been observing in various forms since we arrived in Mexico—to form the costumbres of these descendants of the Maya. A cross is placed on the eastern wall of every Mayan home to commemorate the risen Christ and the rising sun; on the patio another cross faces west to salute the sun’s passage below the earth.
  28. ^ "Icons in the Church". Resurrection Greek Orthodox Church. 19 December 2016. Archived from the original on 28 April 2016. Retrieved 11 August 2020. In Orthodox homes, the eastern corner of a centrally located room is always dedicated to the display of icons.
  29. ^ Shoemaker, Caleb (5 December 2016). "Little Church Foundations: Icon Corner". Behind the Scenes. Ancient Faith Ministries. Retrieved 11 August 2020. Identify a wall or corner in a main living area of your house. Preferably, your icons will be on an east wall so your family can be facing east–just like at Divine Liturgy–whenever you say your prayers together.
  30. ^ "Making a Prayer Corner". Nativity of Our Lord Parish. Retrieved 11 August 2020. A Prayer Corner can be as simple as a Crucifix hung where it is visible, or an image of the Blessed Mother with our Rosary near by. It can be an elaborate arrangement of icons or sacred images on an eastern wall of our home (the direction of the Sun's rising), or even a room set aside, almost as a chapel, really anywhere where we feel comfortable, calm, collected, and free of distraction from household duties - free to offer our heart to God, and speak with him.
  31. ^ "Inde suspicio [solem credere deum nostrum], quod innotuerit nos ad orientis regionem precari" (Tertulliani Apologeticum, XVI, 9); translation: "The idea [that the sun is our god] has no doubt originated from our being known to turn to the east in prayer" (Tertullian, Apology, chapter XVI).
  32. ^ Tertuliano, Apologeticus, 16.9–10; translation
  33. ^ "CHURCH FATHERS: The Stromata (Clement of Alexandria)". www.newadvent.org. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  34. ^ Bradshaw, Paul (6 October 2016). "Did the Presider Face East in the Early Church?". PrayTellBlog. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  35. ^ "quod ex omnibus coeli plagis ad solam orientis partem conversi orationem fundimus, non facile cuiquam puto ratione compertum" (Origenis in Numeros homiliae, Homilia V, 1; translation
  36. ^ "CHURCH FATHERS: De Spiritu Sancto (Basil)". www.newadvent.org.
  37. ^ a b c "Why We Pray Facing East". Orthodox Prayer. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  38. ^ a b c Lang, Uwe Michael (2009). Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer. Ignatius Press. pp. 37–38, 45, 57–58. ISBN 9781586173418. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  39. ^ The Spirit of the Liturgy, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Ad Solem, 2006 p. 64
  40. ^ Dawood, Bishoy (8 December 2013). "Stand, Bow, Prostrate: The Prayerful Body of Coptic Christianity : Clarion Review". Clarion Review. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  41. ^ Brock, Sebastian P. (1987). The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life. Cistercian Publications. ISBN 978-0-87907-601-6. Why is it that we stand in prayer facing east? The holy Basil tells us in his book on the Holy Spirit: 'So this is the reason why our gaze is directed eastwards when we stand in prayer: it is so that our eyes may gaze in the direction of Paradise, in this way we may seek for our original...
  42. ^ Gettu, Assta Bereket (2017). Fear Not, for I Am with You. Dorrance Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4809-3707-9. That had been my understanding for many years, and for that matter I had never prayed a small portion of the prayers in most of my entire life as a student at my Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church. As it had been a common practice in my church, I had prayed every morning the whole prayers I bentioned afore from cover to cover and always concluded my prayer with the Lord's Prayer followed with the Hallow Thee Mary. Usually I did not sit down until I had said all my prayers, my face always facing toward the east because I had been told that east symbolizes Mary, and the light that comes out from the east symbolizes Jesus. Also, I was told that when Jesus comes for the second time, he would appear in his glory from the east.
  43. ^ Dawood, Bishoy (8 December 2013). "Stand, Bow, Prostrate: The Prayerful Body of Coptic Christianity". The Clarion Review. Retrieved 6 August 2020. On the other hand, the general practices of prayer that have been formalized in the Coptic Church are included in the personal prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours, which is called the Agpeya, and the communal liturgical prayers in the church. ...Standing facing the East is the most frequent prayer position. ... This is further emphasized in the fact that Copts pray facing the East, waiting for the return of Jesus in glory; his return as the enthroned Pantocrator is portrayed in the iconography that is placed before the worshippers.
  44. ^ Mary Cecil, 2nd Baroness Amherst of Hackney (1906). A Sketch of Egyptian History from the Earliest Times to the Present Day. Methuen. p. 399. Prayers 7 times a day are enjoined, and the most strict among the Copts recite one of more of the Psalms of David each time they pray. They always wash their hands and faces before devotions, and turn to the East.
  45. ^ "Facing East to Pray". www.orthodoxprayer.org. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  46. ^ Baum, Wilhelm; Winkler, Dietmar W. (2003). The Church of the East: A Concise History. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-43019-2. When at prayer, Christians should put on a belt and face east, where the lost paradise lay.
  47. ^ Farhadian, Charles E. (16 July 2007). Christian Worship Worldwide: Expanding Horizons, Deepening Practices. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 58. ISBN 9780802828538. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  48. ^ Manlio Sodi, Achille Maria Triacca (editors), Missale Romanum: Editio Princeps (1570) (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1998), p. 12
  49. ^ Ritus servandus in celebratione Missae, V, 3 (page LVII in the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal)
  50. ^ The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press 2005 ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3), article "orientation"
  51. ^ "When Christians in fourth-century Rome could first freely begin to build churches, they customarily located the sanctuary towards the west end of the building in imitation of the sanctuary of the Jerusalem Temple. Although in the days of the Jerusalem Temple the high priest indeed faced east when sacrificing on Yom Kippur, the sanctuary within which he stood was located at the west end of the Temple. The Christian replication of the layout and the orientation of the Jerusalem Temple helped to dramatize the eschatological meaning attached to the sacrificial death of Jesus the High Priest in the Epistle to the Hebrews" (The Biblical Roots of Church Orientation by Helen Dietz).
  52. ^ Remery, Michel (2010). Mystery and Matter. Brill. p. 179. ISBN 978-9-00418296-7. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  53. ^ Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, "Pregare «ad orientem versus»", in Notitiae, issue 325 (vol. 9, No. 5), May 1993, pp. 346–347; English translation.
  54. ^ "Church Fathers: Sermon 27 (Leo the Great)". www.newadvent.org.
  55. ^ Porteous, Julian (2010). After the Heart of God. Taylor Trade. p. 25. ISBN 978-1-58979579-2. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  56. ^ D. Fairchild Ruggles, On Location: Heritage Cities and Sites (Springer 2011 ISBN 978-1-46141108-6), p. 134
  57. ^ Lawrence Cunningham, John Reich, Lois Fichner-Rathus, Culture and Values: A Survey of the Humanities, Volume 1 |(Cengage Learning 2013 ISBN 978-1-13395244-2), pp. 208–210
  58. ^ The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press 2005 ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3), article "westward position"
  59. ^ The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press 2005 ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3), article "eastward position"
  60. ^ Ritus servandus in celebratione Missae, V, 3
  61. ^ a b Buchanan, Colin (2006). Historical Dictionary of Anglicanism. Scarecrow Press. p. 472. ISBN 9780810865068.
  62. ^ Andrew Louth, "The Body in Western Catholic Christianity," in Religion and the Body, ed. by Sarah Coakley, (Cambridge, 2007) p. 120.
  63. ^ "Ian Hinton, "Churches face East, don't they?" in British Archaeology". Archived from the original on 11 March 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  64. ^ Ali, Jason R.; Cunich, Peter (2001). "The Orientation of Churches: Some New Evidence". The Antiquaries Journal. 81: 155–193. doi:10.1017/S0003581500072188. ISSN 0003-5815. S2CID 130645183.
  65. ^ Peter G. Hoare and Caroline S. Sweet, "The orientation of early medieval churches in England" in Journal of Historical Geography 26, 2 (2000) 162–173 Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  66. ^ "General Instruction of the Roman Missal". Usccb.org. p. 299.
  67. ^ English translation of Letter of protocol number 2036/00/L and date 25 September 2000.
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  70. ^ Kollmorgen, Gregor (15 January 2008). "Pope Celebrates Ad Orientem in the Pauline Chapel". New Liturgical Movement.
  71. ^ "Sandro Magister, "The Pauline Chapel Reopened for Worship. With Two New Features", 6 July 2009" (in Italian). Chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  72. ^ Kollmorgen, Gregor (15 April 2010). "Holy Father Celebrates Mass with the Pontifical Biblical Commission". New Liturgical Movement.
  73. ^ Stanley, Tim (1 November 2013). "Pope Francis says Mass "ad orientem"". Blogs.telegraph.co.uk. Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  74. ^ West, Ed (3 May 2011). "Catholic Herald, 3 May 2011: "First images of John Paul II's new tomb"". Catholicherald.co.uk. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  75. ^ "Catholic News Service, "Vatican rejects Cardinal Sarah's ad orientem appeal"". Archived from the original on 2018-05-19. Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  76. ^ a b The United Methodist Book of Worship. United Methodist Publishing House. 1992. p. 36. ISBN 0687035724.
  77. ^ Sanidopoulos, John. "The Divine Liturgy of Serapion Celebrated For the First Time".
  78. ^ "The Direction of Christian Worship". Christ Lutheran Church. 30 April 2016. Retrieved 28 September 2021.
  79. ^ Bebis, Vassilios (30 March 2013). "The Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, used by the Ukrainian Lutheran Church, and its missing elements". Eastern Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  80. ^ The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford University Press; 2005. ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3. p. 525.
  81. ^ Russell, Bruce (24 September 2006). "Gestures of Reverence in Anglican Worship". The Diocese of Saskatchewan. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 22 June 2014. In subsequent centuries the practice was clearly understood as rooted in Scripture and tradition and survived the Reformation in the Church of England. According to Dearmer: The ancient custom of turning to the East, or rather to the altar, for the Gloria Patri and the Gloria in Excelsis survived through the slovenly times, and is now common amongst us. (The choir also turned to the altar for the intonation of the Te Deum, and again for its last verse.)
  82. ^ Heflig, Charles; Shattuck, Cynthia (2006). The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer. Oxford University Press. pp. 106–115. ISBN 9780199723898. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  83. ^ William Archibald Scott ROBERTSON. Clerical Address to the Prelates against legalising the Eastward Position and a distinctive Eucharistic Dress: with the names of 5376 clergymen by whom it was signed; and an appendix ... Edited by W. A. S. Robertson. 1875. p. 73.
  84. ^ Colin Buchanan. Historical Dictionary of Anglicanism. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; 2015. ISBN 978-1-4422-5016-1. p. 217.
  85. ^ Liles, Eric J. (2014). "The Altar". St. Paul's Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Many Episcopalians remember a time when the altars in most Episcopal churches were attached to the wall beyond the altar rail. The Celebrant at the Eucharist would turn to the altar and have his back – his back, never hers in those days – to the congregation during the Eucharistic Prayer and the consecration of the bread and wine. Over the course of the last forty years or so, a great many of those altars have either been removed and pulled out away from the wall or replaced by the kind of freestanding table-like altar we now use at St. Paul’s, Ivy. This was a response to the popular sentiment that the priest ought not turn his back to the people during the service; the perception was that this represented an insult to the laity and their centrality in worship. Thus developed today’s widespread practice in which the clergy stand behind the altar facing the people.