QUAERITUR: People’s names on chalices, windows, etc.

The chalice I mention, below.

From a  reader:

I have noticed that on some of the vessels, vestments, and crucifix at Mass, there is an inscription to a deceased person.

Is this a tradition? Is there some sort of indulgence for the deceased person?

Yes, it is a tradition and, No, there is no indulgence for the person whose name is on something, because of donations made to obtain the object in question.

It is a common thing to inscribe a sacred vessel with the name or names of the donors.  This is especially common with chalices.  You will see this also for furnishings of the sanctuary, statues, stained-glass windows, etc.

As a matter of fact, I am trying to raise some money right now to buy a chalice which someone offered me for sale.  It is pretty spiffy.  I would then want to add the names of the people somehow on a plate I would have made to cover the bottom of the chalice.  That is what I did for the chalice I have from when I was ordained.  Then I would ask the bishop to consecrate it with the older rite.  When I use my chalice from my ordination, I think of the people who gave it to me and I remember them during Mass at the “Memento of the living” and the “Memento of the dead”.   Thus, they are constantly prayed for during Mass.  Not bad.

The diligent priest will do this, happily and eagerly and regularly.

Moreover, the thoughtful lay person, especially lay people who are not well-off enough to give larger or more costly items which enrich the parish’s worship, would do well to pray for the people whose names they see inscribed.

We should be grateful for donations and benefactors.  We benefit from the the gifts other people make to the parish.  Those beautiful vestments you see up there may have been given by someone to whom you ought to be grateful.  You can see names on the stained-glass.  Say prayers for them, lest their generosity or the person in whose remembrance they were given be forgotten.

It is important to remember benefactors, living and dead, in prayer.  That is why I remind people that I say Masses for benefactors.

And, may I add, those of you who benefit from this blog and who have never donated… you might pray for my benefactors as well.  Without their help, this blog would not exist. Be grateful to them.

I especially recommend to your prayers DY, without whose help none of this would be here.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. NoraLee9 says:

    Those of us who have access to particularly old churches (Holy Innocents, NYC comes to mind) should be cognizant of these great folks who left us the patrimony of the faith. We have no idea as to whether these folks are still in purgatory and with so many Catholics believing that everyone goes to heaven when they die, it is doubly important to pray for the Holy Souls. The folks who donated the windows at HI probably passed away during the early 20th century. Their grandchildren are probably gone by now…. If you have a great old church, read the stained glass, read the pew plaques, read the list of pastors now gone, and say and Ave.

  2. Say an ‘Ave’… Do I hear an “Amen!”?

  3. Nan says:

    I’m forever tied to my grandpa’s old parish as he donated money to pay for one of the stained glass windows. St. Nicholas to be exact. His name, together with those of his mother and sister, are inscribed on the lower panel that opens. Similarly, my uncle had been given a chalice by his aunt and uncle, whose names were inscribed on the bottom ; there’s a removable plate on the bottom, which was given to my cousin, and on the new plate, an inscription to the new priest who has the chalice, naming the one who made the gift. I was caretaker of the chalice for awhile so made arrangements for it. And if you do have a chalice sitting around, for whatever reason, please do return it or any other random priest thing that you have, to the Church.

  4. tominrichmond says:

    Our Knights Council at our FSSP parish obtained a beautiful chalice from an antique dealer, had it inscribed with our Council name and “Christmas 2009” and presented it to our pastor. We’re currently raising money to purchase a set of vestments that will belong to the parish.

    What would be very expensive for one or two benefactors becomes manageable with the combined efforts of an organized group such as the Knights. I hope it’s an everlasting memorial at our parish of the support our Catholic men provide to our priests.

  5. Deirdre Mundy says:

    One of the coolest examples of this I’ve seen is in the back of St. Joseph’s Church in Alexandria, Virginia.

    There’s a plaque on the back wall urging people to pray for the Benefactors who gave money to build this historically African American parish.

    So…. it asks church members to pray for Katherine Drexel……

    It makes me giggle–because she’s probably busy interceding for them! :)

  6. A holy monsignor from my childhood had a beautiful chalice with the names of benefactors on the bottom. I always said that if I were ever to be ordained, I would have ‘For the Souls in Purgatory’ inscribed on my chalice. Alas… not sure if that will happen. But if I can scrounge up some money and talk to a young deacon about to be ordained a Priest, I should be able to get him to put that on his chalice

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