(Old English Sexestein, sextein , through the French sacristain from Latin sacrista ).
One who guards the church edifice, its treasures, vestments, etc., and as an inferior minister attends to burials, bell-ringings and similar offices about a church. In ancient times, the duties of the modern sexton, who is generally a layman, were part of the functions of the clerical order of ostiariatus. The clerics called ostiarii had the keys of the church committed to them and were responsible for the guardianship of the sacred edifice, the holy vessels, books, and vestments. They opened the church and summoned the faithful to the Divine Mysteries. Others of them were specially deputed to guard the bodies and shrines of the martyrs. According to the Council of Trent (Sess. XXIII, cap. xvii, De Ref.), the sexton or sacristan should be a cleric, but it allowed him to be a married man, provided he received the tonsure and wore the clerical dress. By custom, however, these conditions have ceased to be effective, and at present the office is usually held by a layman. In many cathedral churches, e.g. in Austria and Germany, the title of sacristan or custos is still held by a priest, who is generally one of the dignitaries of the cathedral chapter, and has supervision of the fabric of the cathedral and of the buildings that serve for the residences of canons and parochial vicars. This official has special charge of the cure of souls and sees also to the solemnizing of the great church festivals. He generally has an assistant, whose particular duty it is to watch over the performance of the Divine service in choir. According to a decision of the Roman Rota, the sacristan of a cathedral church should always be in priest's orders. In Rome the office of sacristan in the Apostolic palace is always committed to a member of the Order of Hermits of St. Augustine , by a Decree of Pope Alexander VI. The sacristan of the conclave for the election of a new pope has all the privileges of the conclavists.
Biography Of Our Lady Of
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online