Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

( menaîon from mén, "month")

The Menaion is the name of the twelve books, one for every month, that contain the offices for immovable feasts in the Byzantine rite. As in the West, the Byzantine Calendar consists of two series of offices. First there are the movable days, the days of the ecclesiastical year turning around Easter ( proprium de tempore ); overlying this, as it were, are the feasts of our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, and the Saints that are fixed to certain days of the month of the civil year. The offices for these feasts are contained in the menaia, which therefore correspond to the proprium sanctorum in the Roman breviary.

The origin and first compilation of the menaia is obscure. Apparently the various elements that make up the collection were put together gradually. It seems that the Synaxarion (now an extract from the menaia) was composed first. The Synaxarion contains only short accounts of the saints' lives, the history of the feast and so on, like the lessons of the second nocturn in the breviary. These lives of saints are attributed to Symeon Metaphrastes. The menaia include the Synaxarion and supply also all the other texts and poems (the Canons with their heirmoi, troparia, stichera, kontakia, and so on) required to complete the office. A great part of these poems are ascribed to Romanos, the chief hymn-writer of the Byzantine Church (fifth century). The menaia do not affect the holy liturgy (which is hardly influenced by the calendar), being used only in the Divine Office. The Byzantine ecclesiastical year begins with September. That month therefore forms the first menaion; there is then one for each month to August. The rules for coincidence of feasts and the manner of saying the office on any day must be sought in the typikon; but extracts from the typikon are printed in the menaia. Each office fills five or six small folio pages, the rubrics being printed in red. The general arrangement is this: first come the verses (stichera) sung at the Hesperinos, then the Biblical lessons with the prokeimena and any troparia that may be wanted. The Canon sung at the Orthros follows with all its odes and their troparia. The Synaxarion of the feast follows the sixth ode. The psalms and other unchanging matter are not given. They are found in the other books (Triodion, Parakletike, Oktœchos). The churches of the Byzantine rite that do not use Greek liturgically have translations of the menaia with additional offices for their special feasts and any other modifications they may have introduced. The Slavonic name for the book is mineja, Arabic minaiun, Rumenian mineiu . Parts of the menaia were translated into Syriac by the Melchites during the time that they used that language (a list in Charon: "Le Rite byzantin dans les Patriarcats melkites", Rome, 1908, pp. 33-44). The whole has not been translated into Arabic. The Orthodox and Melchites of Egypt and Syria use instead a selection from them called in Greek " Anthológion " (but "minaiun" in Arabic). The "Menology" ( menológion ) is either an ecclesiastical calendar or a kind of Synaxarion. The first printed edition of the menaia was made by Andrew and James Spinelli at Venice (1528-1596), and reprinted (1596-1607). The latest Greek editions were published at Venice, in 1873 (Orthodox), and at Rome, in 1888 (Uniate).

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 2:19-22
19 So you are no longer aliens or foreign visitors; you are ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 19:2-3, 4-5
2 day discourses of it to day, night to night hands on the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 6:12-16
12 Now it happened in those days that he went onto the mountain to pray; ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 28th, 2016 Image

St. Jude Thaddaeus
October 28: St. Jude, known as Thaddaeus, was a brother of ... Read More