An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

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Latin incipit (opening words) of the traditional Easter sequence, "Christians, to the Paschal victim" (Hymn 183 in The Hymnal 1982). This plainsong chant hymn is ascribed to Wigbert (Wipo of Burgundy) in the eleventh century. It provides a dramatic celebration of Christ's victory over death in... Read More »

1) A service at night prior to a major feast or other important observance. The vigil anticipates and begins the commemoration of the following day. It may allow the participants an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the next day's service. Scripture texts that will be used at the... Read More »

(See Vincentian Canon.)

(d. 304). He was probably born in Osca, the modern Huesca, in Spain. Vincent is known as the Deacon of Saragossa. He was martyred during the persecutions of Diocletian and Maximian. He was apparently subjected to torture and starvation before he died as a result of his sufferings. There are six... Read More »

The canonical threefold test of catholicity is found in the fifth-century Commonitorium of Vincent of Lérins (d. c. 445). Vincent was a monk on the island of Lérins in Gaul. He may have written the Commonitorium around 434. It defines the catholic faith as "what has been believed everywhere, always... Read More »

The virge is the staff which a verger carries in procession. The name comes from the Latin virga, "rod" or "staff." It goes back to the ceremonial mace carried before civic and ecclesiastical dignitaries. It was originally a weapon used to clear the way for processions and to control unruly... Read More »

This term describes the birth of Jesus. Jesus' mother was Mary, and he was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit, without a human father. Mary's virginity at the time of Jesus' birth is mentioned specifically in the gospels of Matthew (Ch. 1) and Luke (Ch. 1). Although... Read More »

The Virgin Islands became a part of the Missionary District of Puerto Rico in 1919. The House of Bishops established the Missionary District of the Virgin Islands in 1947, but it was still under the care of the Missionary Bishop of Puerto Rico. The first Missionary Bishop of the Virgin Islands,... Read More »

See Mary the Virgin, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, Saint.

On Apr. 10, 1606, King James I of England chartered two companies to settle, respectively, the southern and northern portions of the land claimed by England in America. The Virginia Company was to settle the south and the Plymouth Company was to settle the north. In 1607 the Virginia Company... Read More »

See Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in Virginia, The, Alexandria, Virginia (VTS).

Organized in Richmond on May 18, 1785. The 1892 General Convention divided the diocese and today it includes the following counties: Albemarle, Arlington, Caroline, Charles City, Clark, Culpeper, Essex, Fairfax, Fauquier, Fluvanna, Frederick, Gloucester, Goochland, Greene, Hanover, Henrico, King... Read More »

The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 1, records that at the time of the Annunciation, Mary learned her relative Elizabeth was miraculously pregnant. Mary went to visit Elizabeth and greeted her. At this greeting the child leaped in Elizabeth's womb. Her child was John the Baptist. Elizabeth was filled with... Read More »

Traditional term for the pastoral office of Ministration to the Sick (BCP, p. 453). It may include one or more of the following: ministry of the word, laying on of hands and anointing, and Holy Communion. These parts are used in the order indicated if two or more are used together. The Lord's... Read More »

See Episcopal Visitation.

Vocare is a form of the Latin word meaning "to call." The Vocare weekend is a renewal weekend for young adults, ages nineteen to thirty. At this time they face many serious decisions which set the direction for much of their adult life. The focus of the weekend is "Let yourself hear Christ's... Read More »

From the Latin vocare, "to call," vocation is the "calling" one infers from the external and internal signs which evolve over time. Vocation may involve a task or job, but it also concerns a way of life. All Christian vocations-lay or ordained, single or married or religious-are specific... Read More »

(See Hermann von Wied of Cologne.)

A historically African American, coeducational, liberal arts college affiliated with the Episcopal Church. Voorhees was founded by Elizabeth Evelyn Wright (1872-1906) as the Denmark Industrial School. It opened on Apr. 14, 1897. In 1902 the name was changed to Voorhees Industrial School in honor of... Read More »

Eucharistic celebration in which the proper collect, psalms, and readings concern a particular devotion. A votive may be chosen for pastoral reasons when no other celebration is required by the calendar of the church year. The BCP provides twenty-five propers for Various Occasions, including "Of... Read More »

These are short thick candles inserted into small glass cups which worshipers may light as an act of devotion. They may be placed on shelves or stands in front of the Blessed Sacrament, or in front of pictures or statues of Our Lord or saints. Votive lights may also be used in the home, especially... Read More »

Formal pledges or promises. All Christian vows are ultimately based in the promises made in the baptismal covenant (BCP, pp. 304-305). Vows may give form and particularity to the baptismal covenant in the person's life. In the Christian tradition, vows often reflect a life commitment to a... Read More »


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.