On Saturday, February 24th, Presvytera Deborah will be hosting a Prosphora Bread Baking Class at our home.
Space is limited (our kitchen is small!), so let her know as soon as possible if you plan to attend.
A prosphoron (Greek: πρόσφορον, offering) is a small loaf of leavened bread used in Orthodox Christian liturgies. The plural form is prosphora (πρόσφορα). The term originally meant any offering made to a temple, but in Orthodox Christianity it has come to mean specifically the bread offered at the Divine Liturgy (Eucharist).
Prosphoro is made from only four ingredients, wheat flour (white), yeast, salt, and water. Salt was not used in early times, and is still not used in the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem.
Any member of the church who is in good standing and whose conscience is clean may bake prosphora. Often in a parish church the women will take turns baking the prosphora; in monasteries, the task is often assigned by the Hegumen (abbot or abbess) to one or several monastics of virtuous life.
It is common but not necessary to go to confession before baking prosphora, and it is often done in the morning while fasting. Sometimes, special kitchen implements are used for making the prosphora which are used for no other purpose. There may be special prayers said before commencing, and the baker tries to maintain a religious state of mind throughout, often saying the Jesus Prayer. Usually enough prosphora for a number of services are baked at the same time.
A prosphoron is made up of two separate round pieces of leavened dough which are placed one on top of another and baked together to form a single loaf. This double-loaf represents the two natures of Christ: human and divine. Before baking, each prosphoron is stamped with a special seal called sphragis or Panagiari usually bearing, among other things, the image of a cross with the Greek letters IC XC NIKA (“Jesus Christ conquers”) around the arms of the cross. This impression is baked into the bread and serves as a guide for the priest who will be cutting it.
In the Slavic practice (Russian Orthodox, Bulgarian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, etc.) five smaller prosphora are used (in commemoration of the five loaves Jesus used to feed the multitudes). In the Greek practice one larger prosphoron is used (in commemoration that all share in one “Bread” 1 Cor 10:16-17).