A synaxis (Greek: ?; Slavonic?, sobor) is a liturgical assembly in Eastern Christianity (the Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite), generally for the celebration of Vespers, Matins, Little Hours and the Divine Liturgy.
In Constantinople, the clergy and faithful would often gather together on specific feast days at a church dedicated to the saint of that day for liturgical celebrations. These gatherings were referred to as synaxes. These synaxes came to have services written specifically for them. A Synaxis often occurs on the day following a Major Feast Day and is in honor of saints who participated in the event. For example, services on the Feast of Theophany (the revelation of the Trinity at the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan) would be held at Hagia Sophia; then, the next day, a Synaxis was observed in honor of St. John the Forerunner at the church dedicated to him. Over time, the synaxes came into general use and are now celebrated in every church.
Synaxis can also refer to a common commemoration of a number of saints in a single service, such as the Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles. Each individual saint may have his or her own separate feast day, but they are all commemorated together on their synaxis.
Most synaxes are observed as fixed feasts, being celebrated on the same calendar date year after year, though some occur on the nearest Sunday to a particular date. Other synaxes are celebrated on the Paschal cycle, moving backward or forward in the calendar according to the date of Pascha (Easter) that year.
The following are Synaxes which are universally observed in the Rite of Constantinople:
There are also synaxes which have been composed for local observance:
Because they did not recognize the authority of the Latin Patriarchs following the Council of Florence, the group of churchmen opposing the Council and its Union called themselves the Synaxis. The most influential and famous of these was the monk Gennadios, better known as Georgios Scholarios, who later became Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.