RDCA II, 4: Naming a Church

The name is important. I’ve outlined the text here to bullet points:

4. Every church to be dedicated must a have a titular. This may be:

  • the Blessed Trinity;
  • our Lord Jesus Christ invoked according to a mystery of his life or a title already accepted in the liturgy;
  • the Holy Spirit;
  • the Blessed Virgin Mary, likewise invoked according to some appellation already accepted in the liturgy;
  • one of the angels;
  • or, finally, a saint inscribed in the Roman Martyrology or in a duly approved Appendix.
  • A blessed may not be the titular without an indult of the Apostolic See.

A church should have one titular only, unless it is a question of saints who are listed together in the Calendar.

Now you know how and why those blessed popes and American saints are popping up associated with new parishes.

The Trinity is interesting: nothing for God the Father; nothing for Jesus Christ alone (Though I know of one parish called “Christchurch.” Perhaps that is more the mystery of Christ as the head of the Church.), but the Holy Spirit is okay–but no mention of titles.

And speaking of the Holy Spirit, what about a title taken from the liturgy? Lumen Cordium Church? (Holy Spirit, Light of All Hearts Parish).

For the Blessed Mother, I suppose one would need an indult for one, say, of the thousands of titles by which she is acclaimed in various litanies but for which there is no liturgical feast. (Seat of Wisdom, or Mystical Rose, for example.) Can you imagine Mary, Refuge of Sinners Parish? One unique Marian title is Our Lady of Nazareth in Roanoke, Virginia.

Obscure saints can be fun. I did a workshop once in a Fourteen Holy Helpers Parish outside of Buffalo. There’s a Saint Munchin in my old diocese in northwest Missouri.

Any thoughts on names?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Rite of Dedication of a Church and an Altar, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to RDCA II, 4: Naming a Church

  1. nassauny says:

    South of the cathedral of St. Agnes, Rockville Centre, are two adjacent parishes where the communities have become Orthodox Jewish: St. Joseph, Hewlett, and St. Joachim, Cedarhurst. I presume that these men were observant Jews, rather than Roman Catholics listed in the martyrology.

    • Actually, many people of the Old Testament are in the latest edition of the Martyrology, so a parish under the title of St. Job or Saint Ezekiel is apparently permissible.

      It also seems we are now allowed to use Hildegard.

  2. Todd says:

    Joe, that’s very interesting.

    By the way, the Martyrology is the official listing of declared saints, and it includes all saints–not just martyrs. Joseph of Nazareth and Joachim, father of Mary, would certainly be included in the Martyrology.

  3. Liam says:

    Btw, Todd, the Litaniae Lauretanae (Litany of Loreto), aka the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is a public litany, and a liturgical one that was ordered to be added to the end of the office in Rome and a variety of other places. So it’s also “liturgical”.

    (The other public litanies are the Litany of Saints (and there limits on who can be included in it – being includable in it is one of the public marks of being raised to the altars, as it were – the Martyrology would be the reference point for this), Litany of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, the Litany of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, and the Litany of St Joseph.)

  4. Liam says:

    Btw, one very odd example of a local beatus/beata title: “Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta”. I wonder if the formal Latin title (and I believe that parochial titles are, canonically, still defined in Latin) includes the “Mother”; it sure is odd.

    And we only now have to wait a bit for St Kateri to be more common, albeit unlikely in NY where I doubt there are many new parishes being made these days.

    I would recommend choosing a title that can be celebrated easily by transferral (as permitted in the calendar) to the nearest Sunday in Ordinary Time, so that it has the ability to become a true parochial feast. Titles with days in September, October and November would be prime candidates in my part of the world. I’d love to see Holy Archangels parish somewhere nearby; it’s a title that is more common in Eastern and Orthodox parishes and cathedrals, but should be more common in the Roman world.

  5. Liam says:

    As for Christchurch: the default title for Jesus Christ is, customarily, Most Holy Redeemer/Savio(u)r, the title for the “mother and head” of all churches in the Roman world.

    It used to be that the default titular day for titles of Christ not otherwise inscribed in the calendar or martyrology was the Feast of the Transfiguration, but it seems that, at least at the Lateran, it got moved to Ascension Thursday in 1966 (due to a 1961 decree on conforming local calendars to the Breviary of John XXIII).

  6. Jimmy Mac says:

    Anything non-Marian is fine with me. Is there some reason that Catholic Churches are not ALL named after the Deity in some way, shape or form?

    • Liam says:

      Because churches were initially named after the families that long hosted them and/or the tomb-shrines of the saints over whom the altars were built, and because Catholicism celebrates the communion of saints with abundance in that regard rather than fearing that God would be jealous of the custom.

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