Why do Orthodox priests grow beards while Catholics shave?
Have you ever thought about why Catholic clergy shaves cleanly while Orthodox clergy almost always wear a beard? What is the reason for such a difference in appearance? Did the Orthodox grow beards just to somehow be different?
“And the Lord said to Moses: Declare to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and tell them… They must not shave their heads or trim the edges of their beards…” (Lev. 21:1-5).
On the vast majority of icons (almost 100%), Jesus Christ is depicted with a beard. After this fact, it is already possible to close the discussion and not even figure out who is an orthodox Christian and a vile schismatic!
These are all jokes, of course. In fact, there is no fundamental difference between the presence and absence of a beard. Her presence on the face or absence is nothing more than a tradition. Moreover, the tradition is not strict, since both today and in the past, there were Catholic priests and monks who wore beards, like their Orthodox counterparts.
As for the tradition of wearing or not having a beard, it’s all about the tradition of culture. The split of the Church continued for many centuries. At the same time, one of the thrones ended up in Rome (cap!), And the other is in Constantinople. Both thrones were in “their” Roman Empire after the death of Emperor Theodosius I in 395 AD. There was much in common between the empires, but gradually they began to differ more and more from each other culturally. It manifested itself even in such trifles as wearing a beard…
In Western Rome, they relied much more on the “classical” Roman culture, where the attitude towards any vegetation on the body was rather negative, it was considered a sign of barbarism. Although, of course, by the 4th century AD, morals nevertheless became “softer”.
Nevertheless, the classical tradition is the classical tradition for you! In Eastern Rome, they relied much more on the endemic “classical” Greek culture, albeit heavily Romanized, and in Greece, at all times, even in the era of absolute Roman domination, the attitude towards vegetation on the body and face was much simpler.
Rumor has it that the ancient Romans even teased bearded men with jokes that they were “some kind of Greeks.” Actually, from here came the attitude towards beards among priests of two different denominations, the thrones of the Church.