• WordNet 3.6
    • n subdeacon a clergyman an order below deacon; one of the Holy Orders in the unreformed western Christian church and the eastern Catholic Churches but now suppressed in the Roman Catholic Church
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Subdeacon (Eccl) One belonging to an order in the Roman Catholic Church, next interior to the order of deacons; also, a member of a minor order in the Greek Church.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n subdeacon A member of the ecclesiastical order next below that of deacon. Subdeacons are first mentioned in the third century. They assisted the deacons, and kept order at the doors of the church. In the Western Church the duty of the subdeacon is to prepare the holy vessels and the bread, wine, and water for the eucharist, to pour the water into the chalice, and, since the seventh or eighth century, to read the epistle—a duty previously, as still in the East, assigned to the reader. In the Greek Church the subdeacon prepares the holy vessels, and guards the gates of the bema during liturgy. In the Greek Church the subdiaconate has always been one of the minor orders. In the Western Church it became one of the major or holy orders in the twelfth century. The bishop, priest, or other cleric who acts as second or subordinate assistant at the eucharist is called the subdeacon, and the term is used in this sense in the Anglican Church also, although that church has no longer an order of subdeacons. See epistler.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Subdeacon sub-dē′kn a member of the order of the ministry next below that of deacon, preparing the vessels, &c., at the eucharist
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Pref. sub-, + deacon,: cf. L. subdiaconus,


In literature:

The Emperor divested himself of the symbols of the empire, and now ministered to the Pope as subdeacon at mass.
"The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 5" by Various
In it, the balsam is carried by a subdeacon, etc.
"The Ceremonies of the Holy-Week at Rome" by Charles Michael Baggs
A cope of black worsted with priest, deacon, and subdeacon, with all their apparel.
"Bell's Cathedrals: Southwark Cathedral" by George Worley
After being ordained subdeacon, he went to Rome and became a Jesuit in 1573, spending some years at Brunn, Vienna and Prague.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 5, Slice 2" by Various
Leo the Great (d. 461) and Gregory the Great (d. 604) further extended the rule of celibacy to subdeacons.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 5, Slice 5" by Various
Brother Fray Juan Crespo, subdeacon, of the convent of San Pablo, of Valladolid.
"The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898" by Various
I have no profession at all, but am a Canon of the Pieve, of Santa Maria of Arezzo, and am merely a subdeacon.
"The Old Yellow Book" by Anonymous
An exemption was still made for priests, deacons, and subdeacons.
"Constitutional History of England, Vol 1 of 3" by Henry Hallam
He at once became a canon of St Peter's; he was made subdeacon of the Roman Church by Gregory VIII.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 14, Slice 5" by Various