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Church architecture and Orthodox Liturgy
  The Orthodox liturgy entails two main processions of the clergy, the Little and Great Entrance. The first half of the liturgy, the so-called liturgy of the Word, starts with the Little Entrance, in which the deacon accompanied by priests carries the gospel from the altar into the nave and back to the altar through the central opening of the chancel screen. The second half of the liturgy, the Eucharist, opens with the Great Entrance. The paten and chalice containing the eucharistic bread and wine are carried from the prothesis into the nave and through the chancel screen to the altar. Local liturgical customs affected the layout of church furnishings. In Syria, facing the sanctuary is a U-shaped platform (also called a Syrian bema) set up in the centre of the nave. During the liturgy of the Word, the clergy remained on the bema for the readings, chants and litanies. After the gifts had been placed on the altar, the clergy descended from the bema and entered the sanctuary where the eucharist was celebrated. Another distinguishing feature of Syrian churches is the side-rooms (prothesis and diaconicon) flanking the sanctuary bay, all three enclosed within a straight wall (elsewhere, during the Early Byzantine period, the prothesis and diaconicon flank the narthex at the western end of the church). One of the side-rooms sheltered a reliquary; the other served as a sacristy. The Syrian custom of segregating men from women (men stood in front of the bema, women behind it) lead to the placement of two doors on the south wall of the building.