Great Schema (From Wiki) (Greek: μεγαλόσχημος, megaloschemos; Church Slavonic: Схима, Schima)—Monks whose abbots feel they have reached a high level of spiritual excellence reach the final stage, called the Great Schema. The tonsure of a Schemamonk or Schemanun follows the same format as the Stavrophore, and he makes the same vows and is tonsured in the same manner. But in addition to all the garments worn by the Stavrophore, he is given the analavos (Church Slavonic: analav) which is the article of monastic vesture emblematic of the Great Schema.
For this reason, the analavos itself is sometimes itself called the “Great Schema”. It drapes over the shoulders and hangs down in front and in back, with the front portion somewhat longer, and is embroidered with the instruments of the Passion and the Trisagion. The Greek form does not have a hood, the Slavic form has a hood and lappets on the shoulders, so that the garment forms a large cross covering the monk’s shoulders, chest, and back.
Another piece added is the Polystavrion (Πολυσταύριον, “Many Crosses”), which consists of a cord with a number of small crosses plaited into it. The polystavrion forms a yoke around the monk and serves to hold the analavos in place, and reminds the monastic that he is bound to Christ and that his arms are no longer fit for worldly activities, but that he must labor only for the Kingdom of Heaven.
Among the Greeks, the mantle is added at this stage. The paramandyas of the Megaloschemos is larger than that of the Stavrophore, and if he wears the klobuk, it is of a distinctive thimble shape, called a koukoulion, the veil of which is usually embroidered with crosses.The Schemamonk also shall remain some days in vigil in the church. On the eighth day after Tonsure, there is a special service for the “Removal of the Koukoulion”.
In some monastic traditions the Great Schema is never given or is only given to monks and nuns on their death bed, while in others, e.g., the cenobitic monasteries on Mount Athos, it is common to tonsure a monastic into the Great Schema only 3 years after commencing the monastic life.
In Russian and some other traditions, when a bearer of some monastic title acquires the Great Schema, his title incorporates the word “schema”. For example, a hieromonk of Great Schema is called hieroschemamonk, archimandrite becomes schema-archimandrite, hegumen – schema-hegumen, etc.
In the Russian Orthodox tradition, in such cases the part “schema” is commonly truncated to “схи” (sche), and correspondingly the titles are spelt as схимонах (schemonach), иеросхимонах (ieroschemonach), схиархимандрит (schearchimandrit), and схиигумен (scheigumen).
Video of the Bularian Monks:
To read more about their Monks robes go to
For the full explanation go to