•                     “While they were eating,Jesus took a loaf of bread andafter blessing it he broke it, gaveit to the disciples, and said, Take,eat, this is my body. Then he tooka cup, and after giving thanks, hegave it to them, saying, “Drinkfrom it, all of you for this is myblood of the covenant, which ispoured out for many for theforgiveness of sins” (Mt. 26: 26-28). Thus using bread and wine,the symbols of His body andblood, Jesus instituted theholy Qurbana. To have an active participation in theholy Qurbana, we must comprehend the meaning of all the signs related with the holy Qurbana together with what they indicate and reveal.

    ACTIVITY - 1

    Find out the signs and symbols used in theholy Qurbana.And ask them to writedown also theirmeaning.



    The Temple of God (church):

                      The church is the place for worship of God. It is also the symbol of thesalvific presence of God brimming across the universe.The church acquires greater meaning and aptness when the faithful, united in Christ, assemble there for worship. This worshipping community represents theChurch as a whole; hence, the temple of God is asymbol of the Church. According to the tradition of ourChurch, a church is built in an east-west direction,having three important portions:Sanctuary, the Questroma and the Hykla

    The Sanctuary (Madbaha) : 

                  The sanctuary's position in a church built in an eastwest direction is at the extreme eastern end; this is the most holy  place. The sanctuary is symbolic of heaven; it provides an experience of heaven suffused with the glorious presence of God and the praises of Godcontinuously poured out by the heavenly hosts. The lowering height of the sanctuary as well as its roof  reveals the supremacy of heaven over the earth. The sanctuary is, usually, built three steps higher than the questroma. The custom of protecting the sanctuary with a veil reveals the sanctity and supremacy of the place.

    The Altar 

                 The altar is the center of the sanctuary. The divine mysteries are celebrated on the altar. The altar symbolizes the divine throne of the Holy Trinity, the tomb of Christ, the sacrificial altar, the ladder leading to heaven, the table for banquet, etc.

    The Tabernacle 

                 The tabernacle is a receptacle for reserving the Holy Eucharist for holy communion outside the Qurbana, and for adoration.

    The Bethgazzas 

               On either side of the altar, the bethgazzas are arranged for preparing the sacrificial offerings. The meaning of the word bethgazza is 'nikshepalayam' (treasury).

    The Bethsahade

                   This is a place to treasure the relics of martyrs.Generally, this is arranged at the right side of the sanctuary.


    The Bema

                     The bema is arranged either in the middle of the hykla or adjacent to the questroma. A table is kept at the center of it with a cross and candles. On either side of it, lecterns and chairs for the celebrant and deacons are arranged. The bema is a symbol of the earthly paradise.             

    The Questroma

                     Between the sanctuary and the hykla and a step higher than the hykla, the questroma is arranged. The questroma, where the choir stands, will be usually separated from the hykla with railings.

    The Baptismal Font

           This is specially arranged to baptize the candidates.Christians are supposed to be born in the font, receive food from the altar and grow into the community of saints.

    The Hykla 

               This is the place where the faithful assemble; it is symbolic of the earth.

    The Sacristy

              This is the place where the celebrant and the deacons put on their sacred vestments and prepare for the celebrations. 


    The individuals participating in the holy Qurbana are also considered as signs. They can be divided into three groups:

    The Community 

                    The community is the symbol of the Churchparticipating in the holy Qurbana. All those who are redeemed by Jesus are included in this group.

    The Celebrant  

                   The celebrant is a representative of Christ and amediator between God and man. He celebrates the Qurbana on behalf of the community.

    The Deacons

         The deacons and servers enjoy the position of angels.They impart timely instructions to the community so asto have an active participation in the Qurbana. Theyassist the celebrant in the ministry as well.


     Cross (Sleeva)

      The cross placed in the sanctuary is both a sign of salvation and a symbol of the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus. It is a symbol of Jesus himself, a sign of glory and an emblem of success. The word 'Cross' comes from the Portuguese word 'Cruz'; in Syriac, we say 'Sleeva'.

    Gospal Book

    This, placed at the right side of the altar, symbolizesJesus gloriously sitting at the right side of the heavenly Father.

    Bread & Wine

    Bread and wine are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus.

    Sacred Vessels

    The important sacred vessels used in the holy Qurbanaare the Chalice, Paten and Ciborium; The chalice and paten are for the sacred Blood and Body respectively. The sacred Body is reserved in the ciborium.

    The Ever-glowing Lamp

     This indicates the everlasting presence of Jesus, thelight of the world (Jn 8: 12). The lamp is placed either in the sanctuary or at the entrance of the sanctuary.


    Sacred Vestments

                 Every individual Church uses, for thecelebration of the Sacraments, sacred vestments suiting their ancestral tradition. Donning them, they celebrate the Holy Qurbana.


    Kotina is symbolic of Christ as well as man renewed inChrist. This sacred vestment reminds us of the need todiscard the old self (of evil) and embrace the new self (of goodness).


     This is a symbol of chastity and service. Zunara used asa girdle over kotina reminds that we must refrain from worldly thoughts and serve God with alertness and purity of mind.


    The urara worn on the neck is a sign of the sacredservice entrusted upon the celebrant; this indicates priestly authority and purity.


    With this, the borders of kotina are designed. It means that the hands are ready for the sacred service.

    Paina (Kappa)

    Paina is worn over the other sacred vestments by thepriest. This is called 'vestment of justice' proving thedictum 'a priest must adorn himself with justice', the priest's duty of a shepherd is also indicated here.


    Sosappa is a square-shaped sacred veil of the samecolour as that of paina. The act of covering the holymysteries with the sosappa signifies the burial of Jesusand the sosappa being arranged around the sacredmysteries refers to the resurrection of Jesus. Thesosappa is qualified as the lid of the coffin of Jesus, the shroud covering his sacred body and also as his headdress


    Gestures and Body Postures


    We come across different types of gestures and body postures in the holy Qurbana; they have meaningspertaining to the symbols and redemptive values.


    The general characteristic of our liturgy is to stand.Standing signifies resurrection. We are children ofresurrection with heavenly hope. Through our faith inJesus and baptism, we are liberated from death and all sorts of slavery.


    We can sit during all the readings except the gospel, and homily. This indicates careful listening.


    This is a posture of the one pleading for exemption from debts and that of a repentant sinner. This reveals the attitude of man requesting for divine help, it signifies penance as well.


    Submission, respect, worship, gratitude etc. are expressed through bowing

    Stretching out Hands

    This signifies request and interceding for others.

    Exchange of Peace

    The deacon receives peace from the priest and gives itto others; this indicates mutual love and unity. This is asign of reconciling with each other. This, further, signifies that we are all one body in Christ.


    Kissing the altar, the Holy Bible, Cross etc. denotes the love and respect for them as well as staunch hope in them.


    The Sign of the Cross

    Making the sign of the cross and blessing with the signof the cross are there in the holy Quarbana. The priest,with an open palm of the hand or with the thumb makesthe sign of the cross on himself; with the right handblesses the deacon, the faithful, the sacred offeringsand the incense; blesses the people with the gospelbook, puts a cross on the altar with the thumb, thesacred body and blood are sealed with mutual signs ofthe cross. The cross is a sign of salvation of mankind; it represents Jesus himself.


    Besides being a symbol of forgiveness of sins,reconciliation, respect, penance and sanctification itsymbolizes the prayer raised heavenward and the praises dedicated to God.

    Washing of the Hands

    As the prayer during this washing of the handsindicates may the Lord wipe away the sins this ritual signifies the wiping out of the stains of sins, and purification of the heart.


    There are many processions in the holy Qurbana. The introductory procession, processionwith the gospel book, the procession to the altar carrying the sacred body and blood refer to the incarnation, public life, the entry into Jerusalem, the journey to Calvary etc.

    Lighting of Lamp

    Amidst the sacred mysteries a lamp is being lit in memory of Jesus, the light of the world.When we participate in the holy Qurbana comprehending the meaning of all these rituals and sacred mysteries, our oblation will be blessed.

    The Church Arts

    The arrangements within the church, architectural beauty, icons, wall-pictures,sacred statues, decorations, music, the excellence in presentation of rituals and rites all these go into the making of worship of God an act of devotion.

    Sacred Music

    The role of songs in the liturgy is very great. The worshipping community sings andworships God joining with the angels who adore God perpetually. The Second Vatican Council teaches that the sacred music should be appropriate so that the community may have an active involvement in the liturgy (Sacred Liturgy 114).

    The Church Bells

    The Church bells are used to remind the people of the timings of liturgy and the important contexts in the course of the liturgical services.

    ACTIVITY - 2

    Prepare a chart presentingthe pictures of the signsand symbols used in theholy Qurbana and explain
    their meaning to thestudents of your class.

    LET US


    (Rev. 15 : 2 - 4)

    A Verse to Remember

    “…the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the
    saints rose before God from the hand of the angel.”
    (Rev. 8:4)

    Let us Pray

    O' Loving Jesus, bless us to offer the holy Qurbana after
    understanding fully the meaning of all the signs and
    symbols used in the Qurbana.

    My Resolution

    I will try to acquire a thorough knowledge about all the signs and
    symbols used in the holy Qurbana.

    Teaching of the Fathers of the Church

    Mankind has become weak, sad and exhausted. You have empowered it with
    your holy bread. With your sweet wine, you have comforted it, With your
    anointing oil, you have lent it satisfaction. (Mar Ephrem)