19 March 2011


It is well-known that Elizabeth Tudor had a strong prejudice against married clergy: which is why the Lords Spiritual in her parliaments had wives who, unlike the wives of her Lords Temporal, did not share in their husbands' dignity. Poor Mrs Parker. Well, up to a point.

But the Catholic Church has no history of such misogyny. So will the wives of the new batch of Monsignori be Monsignore? Mesignore? Medonne? ... er ... help ... or what about the good old Benedictine style Dame??


Conchúr said...

Well each of them is already a presbytera. I'm not sure any other title is necessary.

John F H H said...

Oh dear Conchur: in approximately 1900 years time, someone will stumble upon your fragmentary comment and write a whole book demonstrating that there were women priests in communion with the Holy See on St.Joseph's Day, 2011!

Kind regards,
John U.K.

Doodler said...

What about the wives who are NOT making the move with their husbands?

Sui Juris said...


GOR said...

Well, at least one should avoid a term which may be subject to mispronunciation, particularly if it is not perceived as British.

In Irish a husband and wife are written as “Seán agus Bean ------“ with ‘Bean’ being the Gaelic for ‘woman’ or Mrs. and pronounced ‘Ban’.

When Seán T. O’Kelly was President of Ireland many years ago, I distinctly recall a BBC announcer blithely proclaiming them as ‘Seen’ and ‘Been’ O’Kelly...!

Of course one does not expect BBC announcers to be paragons of proper pronunciation – either in English or Gaelic… But, why tax their abilities?

Matthew M said...

Conchur, you are correct as this Presbytera/Prevytera is the Greek form for a Presbyter's spouse.
Actually, the Latin/Roman form would/should be Presbyterissa/Prebyterisa from the Latin Prebyterissae used in the west for the early centuries.
I did a study of all the various forms a titles for priests wives which are still used and are common in the Eastern Churches Orthodox and Catholic.
Presbytera corresponds to the following equivalent titles:

* Albanian: Prifteresha
* Arabic: Khouria (from the word khoury, meaning "priest")
* Carpatho-Russian: Pani (literally "lady," comparable to Pan for priests, meaning "lord")
* Finnish: Ruustinna (from the word rovasti (protoiereos), in Karelia: Maatuska)
* Old Icelandic: Prestkona ("priest's woman")
* Romanian: Preoteasa
* Russian: Matushka (pronounced MAH'-too-shkah, literally means "mama," i.e., the intimate form of "mother"; more common in "diaspora" Russian traditions than within Russia itself)
* Serbian: Popadija (from the word pop, meaning married priest); Protinica (pronounced proh-tee-NEE'-tsah) for a protopresbyter's wife
* Ukrainian: Panimatka or Panimatushka (pani, "lady" + matushka, "little mama"); Dobrodijka (pronounced doh-BROH-deey-kah, literally means "a woman who does good"); Popadya ("priest's wife")

The wife of a deacon has a title, too! In Greek, it’s Diakonissa (for ‘deaconess’). In the Slavic tradition, it’s the same as the title used for the priest’s wife!
Don't know about the other traditions.
This is one 'tradition' that should be restored in the west.

Joshua said...

I seem to recall that Pope Pius XII's father, who worked in the curia, was so high-ranking as to be a Monsignor, though a layman; so presumably whatever title his father's wife had sets the relevant precedent.

Священник села said...

What about the wives who are NOT making the move with their husbands?

Surely it is not possible for a man to be ordained whose wife is not in the communion of the Church?

Joshua said...

I believe one of the ex-Bishops has a wife who is Jewish.