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The Ambon or Ambo (Greek: Άμβον, meaning, "step", Slavonic: amvón) is a projection coming out from the soleas (the walkway in front of the iconostasis) in an Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic church. The ambon stands directly in front of the Holy Doors. It may be either rouded or square and has one, two, or three steps leading up to it.
Originally, the Ambon was positioned in the center of the nave. It was an elevated platform where the scriptures were read during the Divine Liturgy and is still so arranged for celebrations of the Liturgy of St James. It is a development from the bimah in the Jewish synagogue.
Originally used in both the East and West, the structure has almost disappeared in the Western Rites. In early Western churches it was known aslo as the Gradus, lectorium, or lectricium, and from it has developed the lectern or pulpit, and took the form of a singing-desk, approached by steps. In the West, there were often two ambons, one on the north (for the reading or chanting of the Gospel) and one on the south (for the Epistle) side of the choir or presbytery. Remnants of the ambo may be found at the Basiica of St Clement in Rome and St Mark's Basilica in Venice.
The ambon is considered to be a part of the altar (i.e., the sanctuary), so normally only the clergy will go up onto the ambon. The exception is that the faithful will step up onto the ambon when they come forward to receive Holy Communion. During the Rite of the Churching of Women, the newborn infant is taken by the priest up onto the ambon (provided the child has been baptized by this time--otherwise, this ceremony will wait until after the baptism). If the child is female, the priest lays her in front of the icon of the Theotokos; if it is a male, the priest takes the child around the Holy Table (altar).
The last public prayer of the Divine Liturgy is the "Prayer Before the Ambon" (Greek: euche opisthambonos), originally a prayer of thanksgiving said as the clergy descended the ambon at the end of the service. In ancient times, there was a large collection of Prayers Before the Ambon, written for the different Feast Days of the church year and for those occasional services (Weddings, Funerals, etc.) which called for a celebration of the Divine Liturgy. In some Orthodox Churches this more extensive collection of prayers are used.
- ↑ "Gospel in the Liturgy" article from The Catholic Encyclopedia
- ↑ Ambo Definition from Answers.com.
- ↑ USCCB Glossary of Church Terms: "Ambo: The place where the Scriptures are proclaimed. Avoid: Pulpit"
- Ambo (in the Rusian and Greek Church), article from Catholic Encyclopedia.
- Early Christian ambo from Hagia Sophia in Constantinople