Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Comparative Religion

First Advisor

Dr. H. Byron Earhart

Second Advisor

Dr. Francis L. Gross Jr.

Third Advisor

Dr. Nancy E. Falk

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The Holy Dormition Monastery demonstrates the Orthodox Christian appeal to the tradition and authority of the Church Fathers, Mothers, and the ultimate source of power, the Holy Trinity, which is enacted on the several complimentary and interactive levels of monastic history, spatial and architectural arrangements, personal relationships and community structure, and liturgical or ritual activity cycles. This appeal to authority and power is achieved most notably through a complex system of ritual acts that are typically "embedded" into the many facets of the monastic life which simultaneously orients the monastic participant towards the correct, "Orthodox" relationships with those sources of authority on the interactive levels mentioned above. The primary Orthodox relationship is based on the model of "Spiritual Fatherhood," which indicates not only a hierarchical preference, but also one that suggests the intimacy of parenthood and familial relationships. Lastly, the yearly Feast-Day pilgrimage to the monastery provides a powerful example of this system and the interaction of its many levels in one single public event.