Stoles, Introduction3 November 2011
From the 6th century, the stole (epitrachelion) was regarded as the necessary vestment of the priest. Without it, he was not permitted to approach the altar. It consists of a strip of material narrower than the pallium, worn round the neck and with the two strips hanging down in front; these are fastened together with small bells or buttons, or not fastened at all. The stole symbolises the yoke of Christ or the halter by which He was led to His Passion. The fringes along the bottom edges stand for the souls for which the priest will give an account on the Day of Judgment. The Monastery possesses a number of fine stoles, from which we have chosen the seven most important. The stole which was the gift of Domnitsa Roxandra, daughter of the Voivode Basil Lupu to the Metropolitan of Laodicea is a masterpiece of craftsmanship from the workshops of Moldavia, while that of Radu Païsié calls to mind the princely protectors of the Holy Mountain. A Byzantine item such as the epitrachelion with the Dodekaorton* calls forth our greatest admiration.