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Feast Books

FEAST BOOKS

Special paraliturgical books that register the annual commemorative meals in a monastic community throughout the calendar year.

Formally the Feast books are similar to Western late medieval anniversary books in parishes and brotherhoods. The Russian term for "feast book" is kormovye kniga, literally "feeding book." Kormy, "feedings," in memory of the deceased, correspond functionally and genetically to anniversary meals in Byzantine monasteries as well as in Western communities. The Russian term reflects the idea that by means of the donation, on the basis of which the meal is established, the monks become guests of the donor. "Feeding" the monks equals alms to the poor, in return for which the monks offer their liturgical services. Kormy were the most representative and most expensive form of commemoration in Muscovite Russia. Regular kormy usually took place on the anniversary of death or on the name day of the deceased. In earlier times, the dates of kormy were registered within the Ustav, the liturgical Rule. Probably as early as the beginning of the sixteenth century, monasteries began to register the dates separately in special Feast Books, but the preserved manuscripts derive only from the last third of that century and from the seventeenth century. The entries range from brief notation of date and name of the commemorated person to elaborate detail concerning donor and donation, the food to be served, and the burial place within the monastery. Some Feast Books additionally specify the menu throughout the year and contain instructions concerning discipline of the brethren, services, distribution of alms, and related matters.

See also: donation books; sorokoust

bibliography

Steindorff, Ludwig. (1995). "Commemoration and Administrative Techniques in Muscovite Monasteries." Russian History/Histoire Russe 22:433454.

Ludwig Steindorff

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