A PHELON - AN ANCIENT SACRED GARMENT
"The phelon (Greek - to shine), also "riza", "sakkos" - the sleeveless upper liturgical vestment of Orthodox priests and bishops. Symbolically, the phelonion is an illustration of divine light, righteousness, and joy.
In ancient times, a phelonion was a round or rectangular piece of white cloth with a hole for the head. It was usually long and wide and served as protection from the rain and wind. Similar garments were worn in daily life by Christ and the apostles. First patriarchs and metropolitans, and later bishops began to wear sakkos as an upper liturgical garment, so the phelonne came to be considered the garment of priests. The short phelonion was often used in sacred services.
Later, in order to make the phelonion top of light fabrics lofty, it began to be sewn with a rigid lining.
The cross is placed on the back at the top of the phelonion in the same way as on the stichar. And at the bottom of the back of the phelonion, in line with the cross is an eight-pointed star, which signifies the eighth century - the coming of the kingdom of heaven.
Thus, the two symbols, the cross and the eight-pointed star, symbolize the beginning and end of human salvation. These symbols may also signify the birth of Christ and his feat on the Cross. Another meaning is the connection in the Orthodox Church of the Old and New Testaments.
The phelon remains an integral part of the priest's vestments until the present time.