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Small sewn cloths on safety pins?

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#1 Sbdn. Peter Simko

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Posted 17 August 2015 - 03:46 PM

Forgive me, because I did not want to attempt to spell out what I am talking about in the title of this post.  I was wondering if anyone can correct my spelling or naming convention for the tiny cloth rectangles or triangles that are sown together and have safety pins on them, typically given away at monasteries.  The fabric they are made of usually has crosses on it, or a cross is stitched onto it.  My mother calls them (again, forgive the spelling, which I am sure is very incorrect) "hamaleikia", and I have often worn them on the inside of my shirts or other clothing since I was a child.  I have rarely seen others wear them on the outside of their clothing as well.


If I recall, I was once told they can sometimes contain little pieces of paper with prayers or Scripture; they may even contain some sort of relics.


Does anyone know more about these?  I know they can often be treated like "good luck" charms of sorts, but I would like to know more if anyone knows.  How are thy made?  Who can make them?  Thank you!

#2 Rdr Thomas

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 07:00 PM



I'm sorry that I don't have a lot of information, but I can tell you of my own experience with them.  When I bought a cassock via mail-order, it came with one of the little objects you are describing.  It's a bit of vestment, perhaps 1" (25mm) square.  I asked my priest about it, and he said it was called a "phylactos" (sp?).  Apparently, they are somewhat like the phylactery (note the nearly identical name) that observant Jews wear, presumably to obey the Lord's commands in Scripture (Deuteronomy 11:18 is frequently referenced here).  Unlike Jewish phylacteries, Christian ones contain relics.


With the blessing of my priest, I do wear it safety pinned inside my cassock, both to honor the prayers of the one who assembled the cassock, as well as to honor the unknown saint whose relics are (presumably) in the phylactos.  So far as I know though, I'm the only person who has or carries one, at least at my parish.  None of the other parishioners (even our resident "Baba") knew what they were, so I'm guessing they're not very common, at least in Slavic traditions.


Hope that helps!

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