It is an old tradition in Catholicism to make the sign of the cross when passing a Catholic church, as a sign of respect to the Eucharist contained in the tabernacle, located within the Church.

I am wondering:

  1. Do Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Church of the East also have tabernacles in their churches?
  2. If they do, is it appropriate for a Catholic to make the sign of the cross when passing these churches?
  • In France, men also remove their hats!
    – Ken Graham
    Commented May 12, 2020 at 13:09

3 Answers 3


Is it appropriate for a Catholic to make the sign of the cross when passing an Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox or Church of the East church?

Of course it is!

It is also a tradition for some Catholics to make the sign of the cross when passing in front of cemeteries, whether a Catholic one or otherwise. Of course there would be some of the faithful departed in many of these cemeteries I imagine.

Seeing that the Orthodox Church does have valid sacraments which includes the Eucharist, it would be appropriate for a Catholic to make the sign of the cross when passing in front of a Orthodox church in order to show an external sign of respect of the real presence of Jesus Christ in the consecrated host.

Yes, the Orthodox Churches do have tabernacles in their churches (No. 8) as this image from Wikipedia shows:

Orthodox church building


Of course Eastern Orthodox church, like Russian, or Greek, have the tabernacles of Eucharist gifts in their churches. Orthodox christians called it as kibot (ru: Кивот, gr: κῑβωτός). It is always resided at the altar. Frequently, in modern time it has a form of mini church. Usually tabernacles is being covered with a glass hood, and the only bishops, priests, and deacons can touch the tabernacles.

The origin the of tabernacles is very ancient. In 4-th century many church writes note about a pidgins, which the Eucharist gist is kept in. Since the oriental churches, and churches of East, dissociated much later (in 5-6 cen.) it is allowed to think that they are also kept the ancient tradition to use the tabernacles.


Although the Orthodox are, in the traditional Catholic view, schismatic, they do have valid priestly orders, which means they are able to validly consecrate the Eucharist, so I don't see what would be wrong with making the sign of the cross out of respect for the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist in these churches.

  • 1
    Happy to accept but I'm still wondering, do these churches store their eucharist in a tabernacle within the church? I peeked in a Greek Orthodox church yesterday and didn't notice anything resembling a tabernacle. Perhaps it was behind the iconostasis? Perhaps they consume all of the hosts at their service and there are no leftovers to store, in which it seems ambiguous whether i should make the sign of the cross Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 23:24
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    @TheIronKnuckle A show of respect is never out of order. You could even, in the spirit of Christ, utter a small prayer of hope that we (Catholics) may be reconciled with our estranged Greek Orthodox brethren sooner rather than later. That's the kind of thing that Jesus might do. Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 1:02
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    @TheIronKnuckle You are right in your guess, the Eucharist is stored in the altar, behind the iconostasis.
    – arrowd
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 4:38
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    @Geremia: I'm sure it's the Filioque, although the real reason for the Great Schism was the issue with Petrine supremacy.
    – Wtrmute
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 16:16
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    @Geremia - there are many Catholic teachings that are claimed to be wrong by the Orthodox Church. The most important would be: Filioque; the purgatory; papal supremacy and infallibility; the Immaculate Conception; indulgences; clerical celibacy Commented May 10, 2017 at 11:08

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