Vespers with reading of the first “Passia”
On the evening of Sunday 1 March, the first Sunday in Great Lent, Vespers with the reading of the First “Passia” (or account of the suffering of Christ) was served. The service of the Passia was introduced to the Russian Orthodox Church in the seventeenth century by the righteous hierarch Peter (Moghila), Metropolitan of Kiev. In the parishes of our Diocese it is customarily served on the evening of the first, second, third and fourth Sundays of Great Lent. The account of the suffering of Christ is read from each of the four evangelists in turn: Matthew (Chapters 26 and 27) on the first Sunday, Mark (Chapters 14 and 15) on the second Sunday, Luke (Chapters 22 and 23) on the third Sunday, and John (Chapters 18 and 19) on the fourth Sunday. Before and after the reading of the Gospel, which occurs at the very end of the service, certain stichera from Great and Holy Friday and Great and Holy Saturday are sung, slowly and solemnly. In our parish the singing of the stichera and the reading of the Gospel are generally in English.