Could someone tell me the significance of the napkins used in a Coptic service please? I've just been given, (surprised) many silk, laced edged, embroidered napkins from a Coptic. Not large, (hand made i would say) but as i would like to know the true significance. 
Im aware of a master folding a napkin at table setting, or not folding
Thank you


  • edited May 2020
    The, "napkins" are used to cover your mouth when you take communion.

    Compared to the distribution of Roman Catholic eucharist, Coptic communion may only be given by a priest, and just as Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox, we are not allowed to touch it.

    It is initially used in a similar manner to the plate some Catholics have the Deacon hold between the Priest/Eucharistic Minister during distribution of the Holy Mysteries, then we place it over out mouths.

    Please forgive me, as I am not sure of your awareness of how we distribute the Holy Mysteries, but it is separate just as the Roman's, unlike being mixed in the Byzantine rite and it is leavened bread. We receive the Blood from a small spoon, not directly from the cup like Catholics. Sadly, when I was Roman Catholic, many churches did not give the Blood to laity. You cannot do that in the Coptic church.

    The Priest is the only person who does not use this during communion. Comparatively, Copts are extremely respectful to the Eucharist, and as you'll learn more about out Liturgy, how the Priest cleans the paten will reflect the seriousness.

    I hope this helps!
  • Yes, thank you. Im aware of the rites you mention. But as i received these in the post, and in great number i wanted to be sure i knew the exact meaning, as they are so beautifully made. I presume there are no personal napkins, just a mass of them which are used in the service?
  • edited May 2020
    Some people have them, most use it from a communal basket. My wife has her own, I usually use the ones up on the Altar or my stole if I am the guy holding the candle during communion.
  • Thank you. They will be placed in my oratory as such.  Would it be so wrong of me to ask where i might purchase, if is possible a Qalansuwa. ( Monks hood). Im aware they can be brought from monastery's in Egypt, the shops within??
  • edited May 2020
    Hahaha, @ricci, you’re going to the Monastic hood as a corporal (corporal is the real word, not napkin)? Where are you even going to take Communion these days!
    Everything has its own designated purpose :)
  • Forgive my ignorance, but im a little losy with your post? Could you explain for me, with respect.
  • edited May 2020
    I believe she was referring to the Corporal, which is a Catholic term -- I suppose it would be the English translation -- or the cloth placed on the chalice during a Catholic Mass prior to distribution. I am guessing we would use the same word, as we also place a cloth over the paten body during distribution of the Eucharist.

    I've never heard that term used by the Orthodox church, but I do believe you were referring to the small cloth placed over our mouths. I doubt anyone would give out the Altar, "corporals" to people.

    And in reference to the Monastic hood. There is a Star Trek episode of the original series where a Captain beamed down to a planet when his crew died from some kind of virus. The Captain became involved in War between the two factions on the planet. The Enterprise, of course, came to find the ship, then eventually the Caption down on the planet.

    The bad Captain asked Captain Kirk to beam down ten phasers, so they could be used as weapons. When Kirk asked his crew, they denied him, as that was against protocol. I would have to say the same thing about a Monastic hood. You do not become a Monk by getting the hood. If I walk around in a black tunic with pectoral cross, am I a Priest? No.

    I am extremely blessed to serve in a female Monastery, but I don't believe it appropriate to purchase clerical garments online. It took me two years after ordination to receive a person cross as Reader!

    I also believe you must be a member of clergy to order them. If I am incorrect, please forgive me for my ignorance.

    Best of luck again!

    Your Brother in Christ.
  • Thanks for your reply, makes sense now about Napkins, which the Coptic church here name them as such.
    As for hoods, i wont go into detail, but i am ordained and have been through all offices a such,  from brother, deacon to now. I have many cassocks and skull caps, all given at ordinations. The Coptic Monk one was more of an item that i would like to have. one can go and buy most cleric items of any religion, it does not mean that one would wear them, out or in doors. 
    Thanks again, i will keep searching or even find out how they are made or who makes them.
    Your brother also in Christ
  • ok, i think (maybe) jojohanna was suggesting that you (ricci) intended to use the monk's hood instead of the communion cloth.
    but i don't think you meant that.
    if italiancoptic doesn't mind, i think the best word to use in english for the cloth people use over their mouths after taking Holy Communion is 'communion cloth' as i (and all non italian english speakers) get confused when orthodox Christians start using latin in order to help the english speakers understand.
    our latin is as bad as our arabic / coptic and it doesn't help!

    i call the cloths on the altar 'altar cloths' (i like a simple life...)
    and i don't know which one italiancoptic was referring to by the word 'corporal'.
    did you mean that 'corporal is the word for communion cloth? 

    but i agree with italiancoptic that even captain kirk wouldn't wear a monastic hood without becoming a monk first (it would have to be in saint moses the strong monastery, as he would need a lot of time to repent of killing so many aliens!)

  • I had no issues with the word Napkins. Communion cloth i know of. I was totally lost with Corporal as even that word here is not used, not even in the RCC.

    The hood was something that im sure with help i will locate, it does not mean im a monk, or even want to be, which i cant. It was something that i would like to own, i have many such items that i have which bring to remembrance to me a lifestyle, a coomitment to Christ, it helps me where i am at now...self reflection,  if that makes sense? :)
  • guess u have a big house...
  • No. I have small home with a small space to worship
  • Unsure the relevance to my question,??
  • edited May 2020
    Thanks, @mabsoota. I know I am just as guilty about using Latin words! The Corporal is a cloth placed over the chalice, which Latins use to distribute communion. I thought JoJo was referring to the Altar clothes. It looks like it's cleared up though. Thanks for the Kirk shout out. I had to get some of my inner Trekkie out.

    Here is info about the term, "Corporal." It's stems for the Latin word, Corpus, which means Body. My apologies for the confusion.

    @Ricci I'll ask the Nuns and my Priest. Me, my wife and son go up to see our Priest once a week. I'll see what he can do. He usually has some goodies, and collects Liturgy items as you do. I didn't remember you were a Priest. My apologies again!
  • + Christ is Risen +


    I’m sorry I didn’t understand anything from this comment: “As for hoods, i wont go into detail, but i am ordained and have been through all offices a such, from brother, deacon to now. I have many cassocks and skull caps, all given at ordinations.”

    What are you ordained? What offices and ordinations? Oh and can you clarify if you are Coptic Orthodox or not, please? This will help clarify a lot of confusion in my head right now.

    God Bless!
  • I was not ordained onto the Coptic Church. I lead a personal life , as best I can in a kind of reclusive manner when at home. I spend that time in prayer, study etc.. I'm quite happy to be on my own for weeks at time. With my bible, hourly offices.
  • Italiancoptic. Thank you.
  • I still don’t understand, sorry.
  • don't worry jojohanna, i get confused also.
    i thought maybe ricci has a big house if he is collecting so many things.
    i was wrong, sorry!

    italiancoptic, you SEE your priest?

    i haven't seen a priest for more than 7 weeks!
    you must be in a part of a country without many restrictions on movement.
    i am trying not to be jealous (especially as i already have many weeks of confession saved up, i should not add any more sins to the list!)

    i would LOVE to see a priest, i am missing our priests very much.
    i have seen one of our priests on online Bible study, but i really miss the liturgy and talking to priests.

    wait, you see nuns as well!

    ok, now i need tips on how not to be jealous, i am struggling!
  • @mabsoota

    I didn't mean to brag! Please forgive me. I don't want to make you jealous!! I☹☹

    I serve at female Monastery in Ohio over here in the States. They are still in lockdown until early June. It is a unique situation as it is located a neighborhood in a populated suburban area. We have a small congregation, but we've lost a number of people due to the politics of it.

    I do not serve or attend Liturgy at our Monastery at this time because the head Mother only allows a few guys to serve (both are single men in their 30s and 40s, while I am married and have a son) during the Liturgy.

    I also don't believe it to be very appropriate if so many are not receiving the Holy Mysteries and here I am going all the time. I don't even feel comfortable about us having Liturgy, but that's a bit above me pay grade.

    We are very close to our Priest and his family, so perhaps I shouldn't go around talking about it. He is a very approachable guy, and his immediate congregation is very small, so he's very accessible.

    I miss the Liturgy as well, so I'm with you!


    I believe @Ricci explained he is a Roman Catholic Priest. He is part of the Old Catholic Church, which separated from the Roman church in the 19th century over papal infallibility, and I believe their clergy marry as well. He collects religious items, which my Priest does, and I do as well. I have a hat from Abouna Fanous, and relics of Abu Sephem (my bad on the spelling) and other items.

    He is an ordained Priest in his communion. That's what he meant.
  • Yes, to that last sentence.
    Yes, the hood is as others have stated, and have similar is for that reason, as i do have a skull cap from Rome, which was presented to me, which i do wear....legally :)) 
  • thanks for explaining, ricci!


    i don't mind, but i wish we could be have liturgy in our houses in small groups, although i am fairly sure we don't have enough priests to make that possible, they are busy enough as it is.

    i do think that those who are able to get to church should have Holy Communion and attend liturgy, as that way you will have more grace and patience to deal with those like me who are complaining. so i am not really that jealous, i just realised that i was missing these things!

    i have opened a new discussion topic so i can rant about it and not distract the topic of this one.


  • @mabsoota

    I forgot to thank you both for repetitively clarifying the things that weren’t clear for me! Thank you both so much!
  • Still trying to source the Hood. If you ever come across a link, please let me know. No need to reply :)
  • Thank you, I have my link for a hood :)
  • The Coptic church have heard of my request and thoughts and are sending me a hood. I'm humbled
  • Wdym, Ricci?
  • i think someone is sending him a kolonsowa, as he likes to look at church items.
    not the neighbourhood or the brotherhood...
  • I'm afraid you have no idea. And your words are not said in the faith we both hold
  • No idea what wdym means. Sorry to disappoint you
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