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Q: What is the "Synaxarion"?

A: There is not a single precise answer because the exact definition has changed considerably over time. For a general introduction, see the Wikipedia entry "Synaxarium". This article lists two kinds of Synaxaria (Simple and Historical), but while this is useful to know, we can further refine our understanding by identifying specific bodies of Synaxaria literature as Lectionary and Calendar Synaxaria:

I. Lectionary Synaxaria

1a) Pericope Indexes. The earliest type of Synaxaria were indexes of Biblical and other lessons to be read in church (i.e., listings of Biblical Lectionary pericopes), usually listed according to the calendar year, but also according to the Paschalion cycle (from Pascha, including the Sundays after Pascha and Pentecost, the Lenten cycle, and ending with Holy Saturday).

1b) Liturgical Lectionaries. Then the Synaxarion was filled up with the whole text of the pericopes to be read, forming the complete Biblical Lectionaries.

1c) Biblical Lectionaries. Later, the complete texts of the Gospels and Epistles, now forming two separate liturgical books, were presented intact, with numbers indicating the separate pericopes, and the earlier index-Synaxaria were added to the backs of these books, listing the pericope numbers of the appointed readings. This arrangement continues to be used in modern editions of the Gospels and Epistles.

II. Calendar Synaxaria

2a) Liturgical Calendars. Many of the early index-Synaxaria (see 1a above) were expanded upon and became lists of the saints arranged in the order of their anniversaries, e.g. the early liturgical calendars of the fixed year. In the West, some metrical calendars compiled in the Middle Ages were also called Synaxaria. — [A listing of the saints commemorated each day of the year is refered to as "Mesjatseslov" (Месяцеслов) in many Slavonic books. Other material is often included as well, such as troparia, kontakion, etc. These listings are also sometimes called "Svjattsy" (Святцы) . The word "mesjsateslov" is a translation of the Greek "menologion", but the latter as a book is different in content.]

2b) Prologue Synaxaria. In the 10th century, scribes began to including brief biographical notices to these calendar listings. "The notices given in the historical synaxaria are summaries of those in the great menologies, or collections of lives of saints, for the twelve months of the year. As the lessons in the Byzantine Divine Office are always lives of saints, the Synaxarion became the collection of short lives of saints and accounts of events whose memory is kept." (from the above-referenced Wikipedia article) Another name for these synaxaria containing brief "Lives of the Saints" is the Prologue, a term which did not remain in popular use in the Byzantine church, but which remained popular among the Slavic nations. Essentially, the Slavonic Prolog (traditionally published in 4 volumes containing brief lives of the saints for 3 months per volume) and the modern Greek Synaxarion are the same (or at least analogous) collections. (The pre-Nikonian Prolog has been republished in recent years, reprinted from the 1895 edition of the Sretensky Monastery in Moscow.)

It is interesting to note that the Slavonic Prolog contains other material in addition to the abridged lives of the saints. This material is homiletic or didactic in nature and is frequently taken from various paterica. Apparently, such material is not found in the modern Greek editions. But probably such material was at one time a standard feature of the Greek Synaxaria, since it seems doubtful that the Slavonic translators would have included in on their own initiative. It has to be remembered that the Synaxarion as a genre was highly flexible regarding content.

2c) "Brief" Daily Lives of the Saints. "Emperor Basil II (976-1025) ordered a revision of the Synaxarion (much of which was done by St. Symeon Metaphrastes), which forms an important element of the present official edition (Analecta Bollandiana, XIV, 1895, p. 404). The Synaxarion is not now used as a separate book; it is incorporated in the Monthly Menaia. The account of the saint or feast is read in Matins (Orthros) after the sixth ode of the Canon. It is printed in its place here, and bears each time the name synaxarion as title. Synaxarion then in modern use means, not the whole collection, but each separate lesson in the Menaia and other books." (from the above-referenced Wikipedia article)

[A version of the Monthly Synaxarion in Greek is being translated into English. Already 5 out of 6 volumes are available. According to the prefatory material, this edition is ultimately based on the "Synaxarion of the Church of Constantinople", for which there exists a critical edition published in 1902. But just how faithful the new English version is to that original source is not clear. There are many additional lives in the English version (including some ancient Western saints and various modern saints, as well as more obscure earlier saints that were venerated locally in various places). -- more information coming]

2d) Verse Synaxaria. In some modern editions of the Greek Monthly Menaia, however, the Synaxarion readings after the Sixth Ode of the canon have been omitted, and only the introductory headings of these readings have been retained. These headings, which are very abbreviated notices regard the saints of the day, are in the form of poetic verses, often couplets or three lines of semi-Homeric Greek, incorporating puns and other literary antics (best described as "doggerel"). These are also called Synaxaria, but in truth they are actually Prologoi.

2e) Triodia Synaxaria. A separate set of synaxaria readings is contained in the two volumes of the Triodia (the Lenten Triodion and the Pentecostarion), which provide service materials for the movable portion of the year. (These readings have been omittd in many modern editions of the Slavonic Triodia, but are still preserved in the Greek and Old Rite Russian books.)

3) "Full" Daily Lives of the Saints. The longer, full texts of the Lives of the Saints are usually contained in 12 separate volumes, in the modern Greek Menologion (-ia), and the Slavonic Velikii Chetii Minei (the "Great Reading Menaion" compiled by the Russian Metropolitan Makarii in the 17th century, a collection which was rarely printed in Russia, and which is virtually impossible to find now. This was later followed by a new 12-volume collection of the Lives of the Saints by St. Dimitrii [Tuptalo] of Rostov, first printed in 1711-18.)

III. Other Uses of the Term "Synaxarion"

One other use (or perhaps mis-use) of this title is encountered in some monastic manuscripts, where it apparently is synonymous with the word Typicon. Concievably, the original text started out as a calendar synaxarion and was expanded to include detailed liturgical rubrics while retaining its original manuscript title. Two specific instances are noted:

a) the Synaxarion of the long extinct Evergetis Monastery of the Theotokos, which has been translated and published in Belfast, Ireland (with unfortunate translation problems, I might add, particularly in choice of vocabulary that doesn't relate to already well established terminology); see the reference below.

b) [?]

a. Введение
a. Introduction

Пролог (книга) (Wikipedia)

Синаксарь или Синаксарий (Wikipedia)

Synaxarium (Wikipedia)

Synaxarion (New Advent: Catholic Encyclopedia) [ARCHIVE]


  • Synaxarion (Lectionary and Calendar Synaxaria): see above.
  • Prologue: the Slavonic Lives of the Saints (shorter version; the longer version is called Chetii Minei or Reading Menaion).
  • Menologion: the Greek Lives of the Saints (longer version; the shorter version, called Synaxarion, is contained in the 12 monthly Menaia, and is introduced by a brief Prologue).
  • Menaion: the 12 monthly volumes of collected services in honor of the saints.
  • Typicon: a volume of collected rubrics for how to conduct the order of church services for the whole year.
b. Лекционарий
b. Lectionary Synaxarion

Лекционарий — Википедия

Biblical Lectionaries

c. Календарный синаксарь
c. Calendar Synaxarion

The Short Synaxarion (by Archimandrite Ephrem) - incomplete (September only)

Synaxarion of the Orthodox Church - [mirrored here]

Rongolini Synaxarion (this is a fixed calendar Synaxarion, similar to a "Prologue") [ARCHIVE]

Synaxarion (Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox christian Archiocese of North America - Diocese of Los Angeles and the West)

d. Пролог/Синаксарь
d. Prologue/Synaxarion


  • Синаксарь в неделю о мытаре и фарисее
  • Синаксарь в неделю о блудном сыне
  • Синаксарь в субботу мясопустную
  • Синаксарь в неделю мясопустную, о Страшном Суде
  • Синаксарь в субботу Сырной седмицы, всех преподобных отцов, в подвиге просиявших
  • Синаксарь в неделю сыропустную, воспоминание Адамова изгнания
  • Синаксарь в субботу первой седмицы Великого поста. Великомученика Феодора Тирона
  • Синаксарь в неделю первую Великого поста. Торжество Православия
  • Синаксарь в неделю вторую Великого поста. Святителя Григория Паламы, архиепископа Фессалонитского
  • Синаксарь в неделю третью Великого поста
  • Синаксарь в неделю четвертую Великого поста. Преподобного Иоанна Лествичника.
  • Синаксарь в четверток пятой седмицы Великого поста. «Стояние Марии Египетской»
  • Синаксарь в субботу пятой седмицы Великого Поста, Похвала Пресвятой Богородицы (Суббота акафиста)
  • Синаксарь в Лазареву субботу
  • Синаксарь в Неделю ваий Вход Господень в Иерусалим
  • Синаксарь во Святый Великий Понедельник
  • Синаксарь во Святой Великий Вторник
  • Синаксарь во Святую Великую Среду
  • Синаксарь во Святой Великий Четверг
  • Синаксарь во Святую Великую Пятницу


Синаксарь во Святую и Великую неделю Пасхи (another)

Синаксарь на Вознесение Господа Бога и Спаса нашего Иисуса Христа

Синаксарь на Преображение Господне

The Prologue

Literature Synaxaria - Calendar Year

Literature Synaxaria - Moveable Year

e. Иные ресурсы
e. Other Resources

Подлинник – Icon Painter's Manual

The Synaxarion of the Monastery of the Theotokos Evergetis. vol. 6.5: September to February. – vol. 6.6: March to August, The Movable Cycle
Translated/Edited by Robert H. Jordan; Publisher: Belfast Byzantine Texts and Translations, Belfast Byzantine Enterprises. [Queen's University, Belfast, N. Ireland]

Menologion 3.0 freeware – Lives of Saints/Troparia/Kontakia/Scripture reader

Synaxarion of Constantinople

St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, Dallas, Texas has various selections from the Synaxarion scattered throughout its site (see especially the section on "Services, Prayers, Typicon" halfway down the page).

Treasures of Mount Athos - Synaxarion (another)

Lund University Library, Medeltidshandskrift 57 - Synaxarion, September - February, Constantinople, 14th century (c. 1360), Greek. - Item 57 (see also Item 39)


Ιερά Μητρόπολις Αττικής - Συναξαριστής (Warning: The pages at this site are not designated with a font encoding; one should select Greek Windows-1253 if necessary. Temporarily setting "Windows Greek" as your default browser encoding will allow free movement around the site without having to select the text encoding for every page.) — The Great Synaxaristes is a multi-volume set of books in which are listed the commemorations for each day of the year with an account or description (some brief and some rather extensive) of each. (I am not certain if this has been translated into English and published; information will be added at a later date. Possibly the following item:)

The Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church. Published by the Holy Convent of the Annunciation of Our Lady, Ormylia (Chalkidike, Greece), 1998. (6 volumes?) – Introduction

Богослужебный синаксарь константинопольского монастыря Христа Человеколюбца: (Istanbul. Patriarchate library, Panagia Kamariotissa, Cod 29): Сентябрь, 1–14


  • A version of the Monthly Synaxarion in Greek is being translated into English. Already 5 out of 6 volumes are available. According to the prefatory material, this edition is ultimately based on the "Synaxarion of the Church of Constantinople", for which there exists a critical edition published in 1902. But just how faithful the new English version is to that original source is not clear. There are many additional lives in the English version (including some ancient Western saints and various modern saints, as well as more obscure earlier saints that were venerated locally in various places).


The Scriptures in Orthodox Worship Services

The Lectionary of the Greek Orthodox Church

Orthodox Christian Scripture Lectionary (by Daniel Olson)


Orthodox Christian Scripture Lectionary

PROPHETOLOGION - Readings for Vespers (for the calendar year)

Portions of the Lectionary: Translated by Archimandrite Ephrem

The Schoyen Collection (images of lectionary manuscripts)

Tones & Readings for Sundays after Pentecost

PDF The Old Testament Readings from the Triodion – as edited by Mother Mary and Archimandrite Kallistos Ware (PDF, compiled by Reader James Morgan) - Revised Standard Version (Traditional English). This has the complete readings for the services from Pre-Lent until Holy Saturday, including all the appointed Troparia and Prokeimena.

Lenten Weekday Lectionary - Weekday readings for the Great Fast
(compiled by James Miller of Marquette University) – Traditional English (KJV?), but the Troparia and Prokeimena are missing.

Editions For Sale

The Gospel Lectionary - The Evangelion of the Greek Orthodox Church According to the King James Version