QUAERITUR: sacristy sign with the name of the bishop

I had an interesting note from a priest with a question:

I want to put in our sacristy a sign for visiting priests about the name of the bishop so they know what name to say during the Eucharistic Prayer.  Since we have guests, and since some want to say Mass in the Extraordinary Form, – and since I am learning to say the Extraordinary Form little by little – I thought it would be a good idea to do the sign in Latin. 

Two questions therefore:

1. Is there a standard formula for such a sign?

2. What is the Latin name for our bishop, ____.

Great questions!

And may I add right here and now, before anything else, every sacristy ought to have such a sign, along with the names of any patron saint which could be useful for the Eucharistic Prayer. But since priests generally know the name of the Pope, at the very least display the name of the local bishop!

To the second question first, (for anonymity I won’t put this fellow’s bishop here) if you don’t know the Latin name, you might try to find and consult a handy volume by Carolus Egger, Lexicon Nominum Virorum et Mulierum, which I suspect your seminary library would have as would any good university library.

Sometimes the names of Celtic origin can be hard to figure out.  You can also call your chancery and ask, or perhaps we can help on this blog.

The first question, I don’t think there is a standard form.  I have seen quite a few ways of doing this.  Sometimes there are slots built into old vestment cases.  Sometimes there are signs on the wall.  I have made for different sacristies signs to be framed with the actual Latin form of the Pope’s name in Latin in the ablative (used in the Roman Canon but genitive in the generally neglected 4th EP) and of the ordinary in Latin. 

I suppose you could also simply put the names in the nominative and let the visitor work out the forms himself, given that in other prayers we don’t always use the ablative.

Here I will enlist the help of priests who might in their goodness post in the combox or send me e-mail with PHOTOS hopefully of signs in their sacristies, or perhaps seminarians of what is in their sacristy.

I suppose you could use a form something along the lines:






You could even dress it up with little coats-of-arms.

Again, there is no standard form, but every sacristy should have something along these lines.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. In our sacristies, it is normal to put a postcard with the line: Nomen Episcopi: Quiranus (Kieran).

  2. FrCharles says:

    We have a nice one in our sacristy. It has a place for the name of the parish in the center and the name of the bishop on the right. On the left there is a slot labeled for the oratio imperata. When I arrived here nobody knew what that was, so they had been putting the name of the pastor in the slot. Not that we don’t pray for him. :)

  3. Consilio et Impetu says:

    When I was a young altar boy there was a sign (Black leather, trimmed in gold and PAPA NOSTRO and NOMEN EPISCOPI inscribed in gold) with the names of the Pope, John XXIII, then Paul VI; then directly beneath that was the name of the Ordinary, John Krol. All the names appeared in Latin. The sign hung right above the clipboard where the priests would sign their initial next to the name of the person for whom the Mass was to be offered. It seemed to me to be an item that was ordinary in Philadelphia parishes as I had noticed them in other sacristies in parishes I had visited. The last time I was at my boyhood parish it was still there, updated to Benedict XVI and Justin Rigalli, which looked like they were printed on a piece of heavy stock paper, cut out, and placed into the sign from the rear (there is a small flap that opens. Since the Parish had no special patrons the card read none whereas other sacristies had the name of the parish patron and/or the patron of the Religious Order who served that parish.

  4. I think it would be great to have these things out in the Narthex or entrance to a parish.

    I know in our church we have the Archbishops picture… somewhere? And I don’t know if we have the current pope?

    The Coat of Arms of each would be a splendid little thing to have. I know this isn’t the topic per se, but Coat of Arms are very helpful to visually teaching and representing the importance of the person that they stand for.

  5. Very nice…I love it!
    Thanks, Fr.Z!

  6. Joshua08 says:

    There is a website somewhere with tons of names in Latin

    Rogerus, Rogeri for +Mahony I know. My current bishop is easy, Salvatore has an obvious Latin equivalent

    But other names like Elden…. And I wonder what we will do when and if some of the ridiculous names used now start showing up.”Jayden” was number 8 for 2009….of course girls names are even messier, with so many male names being appropriated (Madison is not a female name!). Thankfully we don’t have to worry about those

  7. A reader sent this photo of a sacristy sign:

    Note the addition of petitions which might have been designated by the bishop.

  8. Oleksander says:

    Shouldnt they know already their name, i thought visiting priests had to get permission from the bishop to publicly celebrate the sacraments

  9. TrueLiturgy says:

    Good point Oleksander!!! Same thought came to my mind.

  10. Jaden actually is a Biblical name, from Nehemiah 3:7. So Bishop Iadon would be weird, but pre-Latinized. :)

    Re: weird names unknown to Latin:
    If all else fails, you just transliterate to some approximation of pronounceable Latin sounds and add “-us”. Seriously. It worked just fine for weirdly named European scholars for thousands of years. As long as “Eldenus” doesn’t mean anything embarrassing in Latin, you are golden. If it does, you play with it until it’s harmless or meaningless again.

    Anyway, this is linguistics, not rocket science. The name won’t blow up if you make a mistake. :)

  11. The name won’t blow up if you make a mistake.

    And if you say the Roman Canon silently, no one will hear.

  12. ShihanRob says:

    For those of us who were catechized after Vatican II, could one provide the translation for the terms in that photo?
    “Titulus Ecclesiae”
    “Nomen Episcopi”
    “Pro Re Gravi”
    “Pro Re Non Gravi”

    Thanks! :-D

  13. AnAmericanMother says:


    On our new archbishop’s first visit to our parish, for his first class of confirmands, our music director decided to ‘put on the dog’ with all the appropriate “pontifical ceremony” music from Nicola Montani’s St. Gregory Hymnal and Catholic Choir Book.

    There was some discussion about exactly how we were going to Latinize the abp’s given name. We wound up just sticking an ending on it, as you suggest. Nothing exploded, nobody died in the operating theatre, and what’s more I don’t think anybody noticed.

  14. Incaelo says:

    I rather like the text in the sacristy of the cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands: http://img146.imageshack.us/i/dsc00056oxp.jpg/

    “Patronus Basilicae-Cathedralis: S. Joannes, Apostolos et Evangelista. Nomen Ordinarii Diocesis: Antonius.”

  15. yatzer says:

    Shihan, I believe it is:

    Title of the Church
    Name of the bishop
    For serious things
    For non-serious things

  16. I like this idea and it helps those of a certain age with dodgy memories. I go once a month to celebrate a Latin Mass in another diocese (where I do have faculties) but I am prone to forget the bishop’s name.

    I would suggest, however, if this is going to be in Latin that you check with the diocesan office to see if there is a form that the ordinary prefers. For example here in Oakland I remember priests rendering Floyd (Begin) as third of the declension (genitive “Floydonis”). Then, after his death, I ran across a Latin letter of his, he used “Florus” as the Latin form. So it should have been “Flori.”

    A visit from a bishop who finds his Latin name mistranslated in the sacristy might make for an interesting moment.

  17. Geoffrey says:

    “The name won’t blow up if you make a mistake.”

    “And if you say the Roman Canon silently, no one will hear.”

    Hmmm… is this the real reason for the silent canon?! ;-)

  18. Tim Ferguson says:

    Fr. Augustine, surely a bishop who would be offended by the mistranslation of his name would have already taken the step of informing his priests by way of his initial greeting letter to them, in Ciceronian epistolary form, of course. :)

    A priest friend of mine who was preparing dimissorial letters for seminarians from his diocese once consulted me on how he should translate the name “Woodrow.” Since the seminarian in question normally went by the epithet “Woody,” I suggested he use “Silvester,” but instead, he opted for a simple transliteration – Woodrow, Woodronis.”

  19. Animadversor says:

    Animadversor auditurum Aliquem ait.

  20. Dear Tim,

    I didn’t say he would be offended, only that the conversation might be interesting!

    Woodrow, Woodronis. Yes, just like Floydo, Floydonis! More or less . . .

  21. P.S., you are missed here in CA.

  22. catholicmidwest says:

    I wouldn’t put it in Latin. A shameful proportion of priests don’t speak any Latin.

  23. catholicmidwest: I am not sure that that is a good enough reason not to put it in Latin.

    Should we just give up?

  24. catholicmidwest says:

    Maybe if you put it in Latin on the left side and English on the right side, just like in the old St. Joseph school missals, it would work, Fr Z. =)

  25. Since “Floyd” is really a transliteration of the Welsh name “Lloyd/Llwyd”, which means ‘gray’, the man really had a wide range of possibilities open to him. “Florus” is a nice choice, though.

  26. Random Friar says:

    Yes, as my confrere Fr. Augustine, OP, pointed out, easy on us fogeys who forget where we are and whose diocese we’re in. There’s a distinct disadvantage in being itinerants!

    And I have used the 4th EP on occasion, but never in Latin, alas.

  27. Mariana says:

    Slightly OT, but for a quick look at some latinized forms readers could check Vicipaedia and Index praenominum at
    (Not that I otherwise would like to promote Wikipedia in any way.)

  28. Rob F. says:

    Very handy sign. I wonder whether it would be useful to add a place for “dies in dedicatione ecclesiae”? Might save father the trouble of hunting around for a possibly obscured corner stone.

  29. irishgirl says:

    I saw such a sacristy sign when I visited my priest-friend in northern England back in 1997. He had just been assigned to the parish-where he still is now-and he showed me around the church and the presbytery [rectory to us Yanks].

    I spotted the name of his bishop posted on one of the cabinet doors. I don’t think it was in Latin. His first name is definitely of Latin origin, however…the bishop’s, that is! ; )

  30. Andrew says:

    Latin on the left, English on the right = Eselsbrücken (pons asini?)

  31. albinus1 says:

    Seriously. It worked just fine for weirdly named European scholars for thousands of years

    A.E. Housman, the British classical scholar (and poet) of the turn of the 20th century, is regularly identified in the Latin preface and apparatus criticus of scholarly text editions as “Housmannus”. This has been the general pattern for classical scholars with very un-Roman names.

  32. Peter from Jersey says:

    The name of the bishop, Jacques, is, or used to be, in the sacristy at the Grotto in Lourdes where there are many visiting priests.

  33. Charivari Rob says:

    This is slightly sideways to the topic and question, but Catholic Hierarchy ( http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org ) is a wonderful and interesting resource on bishops and dioceses, including historical information.

    They have a link to a language translator function. Unfortunately, Latin is not one of the supported languages. It is interesting, however, to click on “Italian” or “Spanish” and watch it convert some of the proper names.

  34. croys says:

    Why is it “BENEDICTUS” and not “BENEDICTI”? Perhaps there is a Latinist here?

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