|This article forms part of the series|
|Bishop - Priest - Deacon|
|Subdeacon - Reader|
Cantor - Acolyte
|Chorepiscopos - Exorcist|
Doorkeeper - Deaconess
|Pope - Patriarch - Cardinal - Catholicos|
Archbishop - Metropolitan
Auxiliary bishop -
|Archimandrite - Protopresbyter|
Archpriest - Protosyngellos
|Archdeacon - Protodeacon - Hierodeacon|
|Abbot - Igumen|
|Ordination - Vestments|
Presbeia - Honorifics
Clergy awards - Exarch
Proistamenos - Vicar
The subdeacon's essential role is to assist the bishop during a hierarchical Divine Liturgy (a Divine Liturgy at which a bishop is present and presiding) by vesting him, holding his service book, carrying his staff, presenting him with the dikiri and trikiri, etc. There is a special service for the ordination of a subdeacon, although in contemporary practice an acolyte or a reader may receive the bishop's blessing to vest and act as a subdeacon, either for a particular occasion or permanently. The main reason for this practice lies in the fact that the canons, e.g., Apostolic canon 26., prohibit subdeacons from marrying after their ordinations (just like deacons and priests). This latter stipulation has sometimes led to the reservation of the formal ordination service to candidates for the priesthood, although this is not universal.
Subdeacons in the Anglican Church
While the office of subdeacon was abolished in the Anglican Church at the time of the Reformation, certain churches and communities in the Anglican Communion and within the Anglican Continuing Churches assign a layperson to act as subdeacon in the celebration of the liturgy of the mass or Holy Eucharist (especially Solemn High Mass). However, this is considered a liturgical function one fulfills and not an order to which one is ordained. In some dioceses and provinces, laypersons who act as subdeacons in this manner may be required to be specifically authorised by the respective bishop or archbishop. In practice, an Anglican subdeacon performs similar roles to those performed in Latin Rite Catholic or Western Rite Orthodox churches. The proper garments of the subdeacon are the alb and tunicle.
Subdeacons in the Orthodox Church
Although the canons stipulate the subdeacons may not marry after their ordination to the subdiaconate, in modern practice, some churches allow them to marry. (As with many canons, the way this one is applied varies.)
The subdeacon is vested in a sticharion with an orarion tied around his waist, up over his shoulders (forming an X-shaped cross in back), and with the ends hanging down in front, tucked under the section around the waist. Like readers, subdeacons are permitted to wear a cassock, although many only do so when attending services.
When there is no bishop present, a subdeacon will take the role of acolyte, assisting the priest during religious services in the altar.