The Origin of the Engolpion and the Pectoral Cross

An engolpion is a medallion with an icon worn by orthodox bishops nowadays. In some local traditions, among Greeks and Russians, for example, the bishop's engolpion is also called panaghia (gr. Παναγία - most Holy), when the icon represented on the engolpion is the Mother of God, as is often these latter days. Some of bishops, usually starting with the rank of patriarch, they wear a second engolpion, with the representation of the Savior Jesus Christ. In the first centuries of Christianity the medallions (engolpions) were not worn only by the bishops, but also by other clerics and even some lay people. These medallions could be crosses or representations of saints, often carrying relics inside them.