1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Prothesis
PROTHESIS (Gr. πρόθεσις, a setting forth, from προτιθέναι, to set forward or before), in the liturgy of the Orthodox Eastern Church, the name given to the act of “setting forth” the oblation, i.e. the arranging of the bread on the paten, the signing of the cross (σφραγίζειν) on the bread with the sacred spear, the mixing of the chalice, and the veiling of the paten and chalice (see F. E. Brightman, Liturgies Eastern and Western, 1896). The term is also used, architecturally, for the place in which this ceremony takes place, a chamber on the north side of the central apse in a Greek church, with a small table. During the reign of Justin II. (565–574) this chamber was located in an apse, and another apse was added on the south side for the diaconicon (q.v.), so that from his time the Greek church was triapsal. In the churches in central Syria the ritual was apparently not the same, as both pro thesis and diaconica are generally rectangular, and the former, according to De Vogué, constituted a chamber for the deposit of offerings by the faithful. Consequently it is sometimes placed on the south side, if when so placed it was more accessible to the pilgrims. There is always a much Wider doorway to the pro thesis than to the diaconicon, and there are cases where a side doorway from the central apse leads direct to the diaconicon, but never to the prothesis.