Several typika (liturgical or monastic rules) and euchologia (liturgical manuals or service books) mention women's choirs, which chanted the first part of matins.
The organization of ordination rites in the Byzantine euchologia is informative.
The terms were still in flux in the middle Byzantine period--for example, cheirotonia was used in the euchologia for the subdeacon's ordination, although it followed the cheirothesia format (127)--but the distinction Trembelas draws on the basis of physical and liturgical location is clear and consistent.
It is easier to distinguish among the orders for the middle Byzantine period than for the early church or early Byzantine period based on these ritual characteristics because the rubrics for the various ordinations are much fuller and more specific in the Byzantine euchologia than in the earlier Apostolic Constitutions.
According to the Barberini and Grottaferrata euchologia, the deaconess was ordained during the Eucharist, at exactly the same point in the liturgy as for the male deacon--that is, immediately following the end of the anaphora section, after the royal doors are reopened.
(156) For neither sex is the full text of the prayer given in the euchologia, (157) but it is common to the ordination rite for all three major orders in the middle Byzantine period.
While neither middle Byzantine liturgical commentaries nor the rubrics of the euchologia of that period make any mention of this, frescoes mimicking liturgical acts, such as the Communion of the Apostles, show that typically the hands were covered when handling liturgical vessels (see the figure on the left in Figure 1).
(174) Although the euchologia do not give the order of reception of Communion in the rubrics for the normal celebration of the Divine Liturgy, (175) the order followed at ordination would have been followed more generally.
Since euchologia often retained archaic and obsolete practices, the mere appearance of an ordination rite for female deacons, as discussed previously, does not necessarily confirm the existence of ordained female deacons at the time the liturgical manual was written.
Certainly, that is how the Byzantines treated it, as evidenced from the sixth through the twelfth centuries in imperial legislation, church orders, ordination rites, and even the order in which the ordination rites were organized in the euchologia. The ordination rite itself, including vesting with the diaconal orarion and reception of Communion at the altar with the deacons, presbyters, and bishop, further underscores the Byzantines' assumption that the deaconess was part of the higher clergy of the church.
Yet the mainstream position, so far as it is testified, for example, by Orthodox service books (euchologia
), follows rather the approach of St Basil's late-4th-century Canonical Epistle, which prescribes entry by baptism only for those, such as Manichaeans, Gnostics or Marcionites, with a radically different conception of God.(5)