The ministry of Acolyte is very old, going back to at least the third century A.D.. These early acolytes had functions very similar to those of the modern day. They were to assist the bishop and clergy during liturgical services and help lead and define the tone of worship for the community. Like today, these early acolytes gave strong witness to their Christian faith and were dedicated to their worship community.
Acolytes at Christ’s Church include the Crucifer, who processes with the cross, directs the other acolytes in the preparation of the altar at offertory, and acts as chief acolyte for the team serving that day; Torch-bearers (Lucifers), who process with the torches and assist the crucifer at offertory; the Gospel Bearer, who processes with the Gospel Book; and the Thurifer, who disperses incense when used.
Throughout the centuries acolytes continue to be dedicated witnesses for Christ in both dramatic and mundane ways. Tarsicus, an acolyte in Rome, was martyred in 258 when he was found bringing the Eucharist to early ‘shut-ins’; and St. Vincent of Saragossa, the patron saint of acolytes, was martyred in 304 for his defense of Christianity in a Roman court. The next time you see an acolyte carry a torch, remember that you’re witnessing a piece of our apostolic tradition that spans at least seventeen hundred years!
Interested in acolyting? Please contact Beverley Sherrid.