Hallo again to all.
It is in the Western church calendar the end of Christmas. Twelfth night. Epiphany. Three Kings day. Θεοφάνεια. The Day of the Lights. We've written about it many times (including 2013, 2010, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002). So this year we shan't.
Today we want to reflect on patronal feast days and 'feast of title' days. We will shortly explain why that topic is relevant.
Almost every church in the Anglican and Roman traditions has a 'feast of title'. The Parish of St Swithin celebrates its feast of title on St Swithin's day, 15 July. The Church of St Mark celebrates at the Feast of St Mark, on 25 April. St Botolph's Church notes the Feast of St Botolph on 17 June. Those celebrations are not just feasts of title, they are patronal feasts. A church dedicated to an actual patron has an easy time determining its feast of title, because someone long ago did the work of assigning feast days to saints.
What of the churches dedicated not to St This or St That? Skimming quickly through the prodigious parish listing resources of Anglicans Online, we see names like these:
Church of All Saints (or All Souls)
Many of those are pretty easy to figure out. The Church of All Saints can hold its feast of title on 1 November. The Parish of Christ the King can hold its feast of title on the last Sunday before Advent. Holy Trinity Church can hold its feast of title on Trinity Sunday. Others are less clear. We know of Christ Churches (and Redeemers and Good Shepherds) that celebrate their feast of title on the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, the Feast of the Circumcision, the Feast of Christ the King, or the Feast of the Annunciation. Were Easter season not already so busy, one could make the argument that a Christ Church could celebrate its feast of title at Ascension or even Easter. The obvious candidate for the feast of title of Church of the Holy Sacrament is Corpus Christi, usually celebrated on the first Thurday after Trinity Sunday.
Church of the Resurrection is somewhat problematic in that the most obvious candidate for its feast of title is already quite allocated to another event.
Some other church names that we find in our parish listings seem not to have an obvious logical link to a particular feast of title:
We suspect that some of these hard cases represent parishes that are not interested in a feast of title because it sounds too Catholic for their tastes. We trust that the others can pick some date on which the parish can celebrate its existence. The anniversary of the first worship service? The anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of the first church building? The anniversary of the date the mortgage on the church building was paid off? It oughtn't require vast amounts of creativity to choose a date for a feast of title even if you don't have a title. We urge those parishes that do not yet celebrate a patronal feast or feast of title to get started. Just keep it to once a year, especially you Churches of the Holy Sacrament.
The parish that we attended this morning considers Epiphany to be its feast of title, so we'll be off shortly to celebrate. We won't mention any of these trivia to our fellow titular feasters.
See you next week, when it will be the feast day of St Benedict Biscop, St Ælred of Rievaulx, and St Tatiana.
5 January 2014
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