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An antimension or antimensium (from the Greek: "instead of the table"; in Slavonic: antimins) is one of the most important furnishings of the altar in many Eastern Christian liturgical traditions. The Antimins (literally, "In place of the Table") is a piece of cloth, often silk, that has depicted on it Christ laid out for burial with Icons of the four Evangelists in the corners. It also has a space provided for the bishop to inscribe and sign the Antimins. Relics of Martyrs are sewn into the Antimins, and it is usually wrapped in another protective cloth called the Iliton, which is often red in colour and symbolizes the swaddling-clothes with which Christ was wrapped after His birth, and also the winding-sheet in which His body was wrapped after His Crucifixion.
It is forbidden to celebrate the Divine Liturgy without the Antimins. If the Holy Table is damaged or destroyed the Divine Liturgy may still be celebrated with the Antimins. If it becomes necessary to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in an unconsecrated building, it is permitted to do so as long as the priest uses an Antimins.
Only a bishop may Consecrate an Antimins. This may take place as a part of the Consecration of a church, or as a separate rite. The bishop wears a special linen garment over his vestments, called a savanon, during the service, just like when he consecrates a church. He will anoint the pocket sewn into the Antimins to receive the Relics with Chrism, he then places the Relics in the Antimins and seals them in place with wax mastic. He then inscribes the Antimins with the name of the church for which it has been Consecrated and signs it. He may also stamp it with his official seal.
The Antimins always remains the property of the Bishop. He bestows an Antimins and Chrism on a priest as a sign that the priest has his authorisation to celebratethe Sacred Mysteries. If a bishop withdraws this authorisation from the priest, he takes the Antimins and Chrism away from him.