Ambo, in the Russian and Greek Church
Semicircular steps directly in front of the royal doors of the iconostasis
Ambo, IN THE RUSSIAN AND GREEK CHURCH. —its use has now practically disappeared in the Roman Rite and the only reminder of it in modern churches is the pulpit or reading desk. Sometimes two ambos were used, from one of which the Epistle was read and from the other the Gospel. Examples of these may be seen in the church of St. Clement at Rome and the cathedral of St. Mark at Venice. In the Russian Orthodox Church the word ambo is now applied to two or three semicircular steps leading from the middle of the soleas (or platform immediately in front of the iconostasis) to the floor of the church. These semicircular steps are directly in front of the royal doors of the iconostasis. In cathedral churches in Russia there is also another ambo situated in the middle of the nave, upon which the bishop stands during certain parts of the pontifical service. In the Greek (Hellenic) Orthodox Church the ambo is more often in the ancient style, but has been removed from the middle to the sides of the church. The Greek Liturgy, however, plainly shows that the ambo was originally raised and that it was in the middle of the church. One of the concluding prayers of the Greek Mass is the “prayer behind the ambo” (euche opisthambonos), which is directed by the rubric to be said in front of the royal doors outside of the iconostasis. In the Greek Catholic (United) Church, both in Slavic countries and the United States, the ambo is a table standing in front of the royal doors of the iconostasis, upon which there are a crucifix and two candles. It is used as the ambo and replaces the analogion. Services such as baptisms, confirmations, and marriages are performed at the ambo. The Greek Catholic churches of Italy and Sicily do not use the ambo, having apparently followed the Roman Rite in its disuse.
ANDREW J. SHIPMAN