An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

A - Z Glossary

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An early Christian symbol, the transliteration of the Greek word ixous, "fish." The letters are the initial letters of the Greek words for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. This acrostic was used as a confession of faith. The fish was also an iconographic Christian symbol and identified with Christ... Read More »

The traditional icon is a stylized religious picture that is usually painted on a wood panel in egg tempera. Icons depict Christ, the Trinity, St. Mary, other saints, and events in the gospels and lives of the saints. Icons have been used in both eastern and western churches. Icons were painted or... Read More »

The term means "the smashing of icons." The most important iconoclastic controversies occurred in the seventh and eighth centuries. These controversies led to the Seventh Ecumenical Council of 787. The orthodox party urged that in the Incarnation deity was united to created human nature, so it is... Read More »

The art of making icons. An iconographer who aspires to make a theological statement may be said to "write" an icon. The term also refers to the whole history and tradition of the Christian use of icons. A number of conventions of iconography have been maintained, such as the frontal position,... Read More »

A wall of icons placed between the nave and sanctuary in an Eastern Orthodox church. It developed from the older custom of placing or painting icons on interior beams and low screens of ancient church buildings. The iconostasis became popular after the thirteenth century, especially in Russia. At... Read More »

The state of Idaho was part of the Missionary District of the Northwest, which was established in 1859. The 1865 General Convention established the Missionary District of Colorado and Parts Adjacent, including Idaho. In 1866 the House of Bishops created the Missionary District of Montana, Idaho and... Read More »

(c. 35-c. 115). Bishop, patristic theologian, and martyr. Very little is known about the life of Ignatius. He was the second, or possibly third, Bishop of Antioch. He was serving as Bishop of Antioch by the year 100. Ignatius is the most significant of the Apostolic Fathers. He is remembered for... Read More »

(1491-July 31, 1556). Founder of the Jesuits. He was born in the Basque province of Guipuzcoa, Spain. Ignatius was a soldier who underwent a conversion on May 20, 1520, while he was recuperating from a leg wound. With six companions he founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in Paris on Aug. 15,... Read More »


Monogram of the Holy Name of Jesus. It is taken from the first three letters of Jesus' name in Greek, which have been latinized to "IHS." The monogram appears in liturgical art and architecture, especially vestments. Devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus was popularized by the Franciscans in the... Read More »

This newsletter of American Indian/Alaska native ministry of the Episcopal Church began publication in Spring 1987. IKHANA is a Choctaw word which means "to teach, to inform."

The Diocese of Chicago was named the Diocese of Illinois from Mar. 9, 1835, until May 28, 1884.

This dogma of the Roman Catholic Church is that the Virgin Mary was kept free from original sin from the first moment of her conception. Mary is understood to be kept free from original sin by the grace of God and the merits of Christ. This dogma was defined in the bull Ineffabilis Deus of Pope... Read More »

See Trinity.

Mode of baptism in which the candidate's entire body is introduced into the water. The term "baptize" is from the Greek, "to dip." Immersion was the normal way of baptism in the early church. Questions concerning the candidate's belief in the Father, the Son, and the... Read More »

To petition or beseech; to obtain by entreaty. Impetrative prayer asks God to accomplish what has been requested. Impetration relies on God's loving generosity and willingness to answer prayer. In eucharistic theology, impetrative sacrifice entreats God's favor, and impetration is one of... Read More »

Ashes may be imposed on the heads of participants in the Ash Wednesday service as a sign of mortality and penitence. The ashes are imposed with the words, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return" (BCP, p. 265). Ashes are typically imposed by inscribing a cross on the forehead. The... Read More »

See Reproaches, The.

The formal acceptance of a member of the clergy by the ecclesiastical authority of a new diocesan jurisdiction. In the Episcopal Church, such transfers of clergy from jurisdiction to jurisdiction are governed by the canon concerning Letters Dimissory.

The term, from the Latin carnis ("flesh") literally means "enfleshment." It reflects the christological doctrine that Jesus was fully human and fully divine, the Son of God "in the flesh." It is based on Jn 1:14, "And the Word became flesh and lived among us.... Read More »

Latin term translated into English as Incarnation. It refers to the christological assertion that Jesus was fully human and fully divine, the Son of God or Word in the flesh. The specific term Incarnatus refers to the assertion in the Nicene Creed that Jesus "became incarnate from the Virgin Mary... Read More »

When burned or heated, usually over charcoal, certain woods and solidified resins give off a fragrant smoke. Both the materials and the smoke are called incense. Incense was widely used in Judaism and other cultures of the ancient world as a means of sacrifice, purification, and veneration.... Read More »

The opening phrase or word of a text. The term is from the Latin, "it begins." It may refer to the opening words of the text of a psalm or to the introductory words of a medieval manuscript or early printed book. The incipit may also serve as the title of the text. The BCP publishes the Latin... Read More »

Spoken and written language that intentionally avoids word use that is needlessly gender-specific or exclusive. Inclusive language also means the use of male and female imagery and metaphors in a balanced way to express the truths we know of God. Inclusive language may challenge the church to... Read More »

The member of the clergy, typically a priest, who holds and has pastoral responsibility for a parochial charge. The incumbent may be a rector, a vicar, or a priest-in-charge.

Commemoration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. It is a legal holiday in the United States. The 1785 General Convention directed that a service be drawn up for this day, and "That the said form of prayer be used in this Church, on the fourth of July, for ever." The... Read More »

Independent bishops are those persons who hold the title bishop or archbishop in an irregular manner. Although they derive their authority through the traditional lineage of bishops reaching back through the ancient patriarchical sees of Rome, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch, Canterbury, and... Read More »

Jackson Kemper was consecrated the Missionary Bishop of Indiana and Missouri on Sept. 25, 1835. On Aug. 24-27, 1838, the Diocese of Indiana was organized at Christ Church, Madison, Indiana. The General Convention of 1898 voted to divide the diocese. On Sept. 1, 1902, the name was changed to the... Read More »

See Celebration of a New Ministry.

The belief that the Bible contains no errors, whether theological, moral, historical, or scientific. Sophisticated holders of this theory, however, stress that the biblical manuscripts as originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek were inerrant, but not those that are presently available.... Read More »

The dogma of the Roman Catholic Church that the Pope is preserved from error in the teaching of revealed truth. This dogma was formulated in the decree Pastor Aeternus of Vatican Council I (1870). It was slightly reformulated at Vatican II in its dogmatic constitution on the church, Lumen Gentium,... Read More »

Receiving communion was the climax of the baptismal rite for infants as well as adults until the thirteenth century in the west. Canon law asserted that infants should not die without having received communion. Withholding communion from infants was not a reasoned decision but the result of efforts... Read More »

The grace of God may be understood to be "poured into" the human soul. Grace is said to come to us by infusion (from the Latin in and fundere, "to pour"). Although the BCP does not refer to infused grace, the collect for Proper 22, which asks God to "pour upon us the abundance of your mercy,"... Read More »

(1734-Feb. 24, 1816). Church of England clergyman and Loyalist. He was born in Ireland, probably at Glencolumbkille, County Donegal. Inglis came to the American colonies around 1755 and taught in the Free School at Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He went to England in 1758. He was ordained deacon on Sept... Read More »

Class for newcomers or visitors who "inquire" about the Episcopal Church. Instruction typically includes information concerning the beliefs, history, worship, and practices of the Episcopal Church. Participants in the class may be known as inquirers. Those who wish to become members of the... Read More »

The initial letters of the inscription in Latin, "Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum," which means "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." When Jesus was crucified, Pilate had this inscription placed on the cross. It was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek (Jn 19:19-20). INRI is frequently used in... Read More »

See Celebration of a New Ministry.


Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.