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Azymes is an archaic English word for the Jewish matzah, derived from the Greek word ἄζυμος ázymos, "unleavened", for unfermented bread in Biblical times;[1] the more accepted term in modern English is simply unleavened bread or matzah, but cognates of the Greek term are still used in many Romance languages (Spanish pan ácimo, French pain azyme, Italian azzimo, Romanian azimă). The term does not appear frequently in modern Bible translations, but was the usual word for unleavened bread in the early Catholic English Douay-Rheims Bible.

The adjectival form Azymite was used as a term of abuse by Byzantine Rite Christians against Roman Rite Christians. The Orthodox Church has continued the ancient practice of using leavened bread for the Lamb (Host) in the Eucharist. When the Latins began to use unleavened bread, azymes, for the Eucharist, this became a point of liturgical and theological difference between the two, and was one of several disputes which led eventually to the Great Schism between Eastern and Western Christianity in 1054.[2]


  1. ^ Azymes - Catholic Encyclopedia article
  2. ^ Ware, Timothy (1964), The Orthodox Church, London: Penguin Books, p. 66, ISBN 0-14-020592-6