Patriarch of Russia Combats Coronavirus - Church Services Now Require Extensive Sanitation Measures

Cancel Sunday School. Don't kiss icons, don't kiss the chalice, and don't kiss the priest's hand. Disinfect the communion spoon with alcohol. Distribute the blessed bread with disposable plastic gloves. These measures, and more, are now required for all Church services in Moscow, until the Coronavirus threat has passed.


Instructions to Rectors and their Parishes, and to Abbots and Abbesses of Monasteries of the Moscow Diocese in Connection with the Threat of the Spread of Coronavirus Infection

This document was approved by His Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill.

For the sake of pastoral care of people, as well as in response to a request from health officials, while maintaining a firm faith in the good work of God and in Divine omnipotence, the following rules are adopted, taking into account the canonical and liturgical Tradition of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Until the epidemiological situation changes for the better and relevant instructions are received from the diocesan administration on the complete or partial termination of this instruction in the parishes and in the Patriarchal, bishop's, and monastery churches, as well as in the monasteries of the Moscow diocese, the following must be performed:

Concerning the Communion of the Holy Mysteries of Christ

1. We should bear in mind that the Bloodless Sacrifice can in no way be canceled, because where there is no Eucharist, there is no church life, and also because the Holy Body and Blood of Christ are given for the health of both soul and body (see. , for example, the 7th and 9th prayers from the Canon before Holy Communion by St. John Chrysostom). At the same time, we must take into account the historical practice of the Orthodox Church in epidemics [1] - to wipe the spoon used for Holy Communion with a cloth that is periodically soaked in alcohol, and then to dip the cloth in water and subsequently dispose of the water according to the practice provided for washing the cloths.

2. To give out the drink after Communion individually for each communicant in disposable cups.

3. Use disposable hygiene gloves to distribute the antidoron.

4. Cloths for the communion of the laity should be used only to protect the Holy Mysteries from possibly falling on the floor and to wipe the spoon. To wipe the communicants' lips individually, use paper towels and burn them afterwards. Boil and wash the communion cloths with due reverence after each liturgical use.

5. Communicants should refrain from kissing the Chalice.

Concerning the Sacraments of Baptism and Anointing

6. Strictly adhere to the practice of changing and blessing water for each individual case. In this regard, the sacrament of Baptism is performed only individually with intermediate disinfection (wiping) of the font (baptistery) with a disinfectant liquid (a list of recommended liquids is attached).

7. For Chrismation and anointing with oil, use a cotton swab (instead of a brush) and a paper towel (instead of a sponge), and then burn them. 

Concerning the Sacrament of Holy Unction

8. When doing the sacrament of Holy Unction in churches, for each parishioner use individual disposable brushes (for example, cotton swabs), burning them afterwards.

Other Directions for Worship, Pastoral Practice, and Parish Life 

9. Instead of giving the cross to kiss at the end of the Divine Liturgy and other services, it is recommended to lay the cross on the heads of the parishioners.

10. Returning to the statutory practice that has undergone a change in recent years, perform anointing at the All-night Vigil only in cases where the litany and the consecration of oil are performed. In those cases when the anointing is done, use a disposable brush for each parishioner individually (for example, a cotton swab) with subsequent disposal. In other cases, kiss the Gospel or the icon of the feast after the polyeleum with the blessing of the clergyman and wipe the Gospel and the icon (Cross) after each kiss with the use of a disinfectant solution.

11. Priests are advised to refrain from giving their hands to be kissed.

12. To distribute prosphora, as well as consecrated breads at the All-night Vigil, use disposable hygiene gloves.

13. Pay increased attention to the cleanliness of utensils and liturgical vessels, wiping them after each liturgical use and thoroughly washing them with boiling water.

14. Suspend the work of Sunday schools, as well as parish circles and gatherings, until further notice.

15. Whenever possible, the social services of parishes, metochions, and monasteries should assist elderly parishioners at risk in delivering home essentials and goods.

General Directions

16. Abbots and abbesses should have the staff of parishes, farmsteads and monasteries strictly observe general hygiene measures, including those related to hand disinfection during the day (at least once every 2 hours).

17. Ensure frequent airing of churches, as well as parish and monastery common premises, by establishing a mandatory ventilation schedule.

18. Regularly treat the surfaces of temple furniture for general use with disinfectant solutions (including places for writing names, candle boxes, etc.), as well as door handles.

19. Regularly treat the icons that the parishioners venerate in the church with disinfectant solutions.

20. Priests, clergymen and employees of parishes, farmsteads and monasteries are responsible and should be attentive to their own health. If you feel unwell, immediately inform the dean, abbot, or abbess of this and seek medical help.

21. Deans, abbots, and abbesses should organize a mandatory temperature check before the start of the working day (for example, using a non-contact thermometer) among clergy, as well as among church workers who interact with a large number of parishioners.

22. Explain to the parishioners that the fulfillment of the prescribed requirements and restrictions should be taken as following the words of the Holy Scripture: "Do not tempt the Lord your God" (Matthew 4: 7). Also, explain to the parishioners that in case of symptoms of SARS or other contagious diseases, they should refrain from visiting churches for the sake of love for their neighbors.

[1] - In particular: for the Communion of patients with infectious diseases after other partakers (or even at a separately performed divine service) the spoon should be wiped with a piece of cloth, which should be burned. Use separate vessels and spoons for patients, wash them in vinegar, and pour the latter into a dry well (see S.V. Bulgakov. Handbook for the clergy and ministers; Pidalion with the interpretations of the Monk Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain - on rule VI.28).


The following drugs are recommended for sanitization:

  • preparations based on tertiary amides (for example Evolayn-4D);
  • 3% hydrogen peroxide;
  • 70% isopropyl alcohol (for example Septolit antiseptic);
  • 75% ethyl alcohol;
  • chlorine-containing preparations (for cleaning rooms).


For more great memes like this one, follow Global Orthodox News on Telegram:

  • Shqip
  • العربية
  • English
  • Français
  • Deutsch
  • Bahasa Indonesia
  • Italiano
  • Português
  • Русский
  • Español