An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Glossary of Terms


(d. Jan. 20, 250). Early Pope and martyr. According to the early church historian Eusebius of Caesarea, the Roman-born Fabian was chosen to succeed Pope Anterus when a dove descended from heaven and lighted on his head. He was Pope from Jan. 10, 236, until his death. Fabian was an opponent of the Gnostic heresies […]


1) Authority or license from an ecclesiastical superior to perform an action. 2) A branch of instruction at a college, school, or university. The traditional university faculties were theology, canon and civil law, medicine, and arts. The term may also refer to the instructors in a branch of instruction at a school, a body of […]

Fair Linen

A long white cloth that covers the top of the altar. It typically hangs down some distance over the ends of the altar. The BCP directs that at the eucharist the altar “is spread with a clean white cloth during the celebration” (p. 406). Historically, in the early church, a small table was brought out […]

Fairfield Academy

This school was opened in 1803 by the Rev. Caleb Alexander, a Presbyterian minister. In 1813 an Episcopalian, the Rev. Bethel Judd, became the Principal. Trinity Church, New York City, gave it a grant of $750 provided it should give free tuition to four divinity students of the Episcopal Church. As a result it was […]

Faith and Order

The Faith and Order Movement was an early attempt to reunite the divided Christian churches by means of dialogue and analysis of divisive issues of doctrine (faith) and polity (order). The 1910 General Convention passed a resolution to appoint a joint commission to bring about a conference to consider questions concerning faith and order, and […]


Backless chair with arms or stool that can be used for sitting or as a prayer desk. The term is from the Latin, “folding stool.” It is portable, and it may or may not fold. It was historically used by a bishop or prelate who does not occupy the episcopal throne in the sanctuary. The […]


A brief composition, usually for brass instruments or organ trumpet stops. A fanfare is often in a martial style used to proclaim important events, such as the moment a new bishop is presented to a congregation following ordination and consecration.


Fasting is abstaining wholly or partially from all or certain foods, for physical or spiritual health. The extent and rigor of abstinence depends largely on custom and circumstance. Ancient Jews used fasting extensively. Christ taught it and practiced it. Early Christians fasted on specific days of the week, especially Wednesday and Friday. Baptismal candidates fasted […]


” Honorific title used by some male priests. Anglican usage of the title dates from the ritual revival of the Anglo-catholic movement of the nineteenth century. It was borrowed from Roman Catholic practice, and it spread to widespread acceptance among Anglo-catholics. By the late twentieth century, the title was used widely by male priests in […]

Fauxbourdon, or Faburden

From the French, meaning “false bass,” this fifteenth-century term is used to describe a style of composition in which the melody, usually a plainsong tune, is moved to a lower voice, often the tenor. Since much early chant-based music found the melody in the lower or bass voice, music in this style was given the […]

Feast of the Tabernacles (Booths)

One of three great festivals of Israel requiring attendance of all males. Also called Ingathering (in Hebrew, Sukkoth), Tabernacles was an autumn feast observed at the time of the full moon of the seventh month. It continued for eight days (Ex 23:16; 34:22; Lv 23:33-36; Dt. 16:13-17). The Feast of the Tabernacles came at the […]

Feasts of the Church Year

The calendar of the church year includes two cycles of feasts and holy days. One cycle is based on the movable date of Easter Day, and the other is based on the fixed date of Christmas Day, Dec. 25. Easter Day is the first Sunday after the full moon that falls on or after Mar. […]

Felicitas, or St. Felicity

(193-211). They were put in prison. A number of Carthaginians were martyred in 202, including Felicitas. A contemporary account of the martyrdoms is in The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity. Felicitas is commemorated on Mar. 7, the feast of Perpetua and her Companions, Martyrs at Carthage. See Perpetua and her Companions. . One of the […]

Feria, or Ferial Day

An ordinary weekday in the liturgical calendar, a day that is neither a feast nor a fast. A ferial day is understood as an extension of the preceding Sunday. The collect and proper readings for the Sunday eucharist are used in weekday celebrations of the eucharist unless otherwise provided. Ferial days became important in the […]


Small pieces of the consecrated bread from the episcopal Mass, called fermentum (leaven), were sent to parish churches and placed in the consecrated wine at the eucharist to signify the unity of the Christian assembly with their bishop. This practice dates from the fifth century in Rome. It continues today in some dioceses of the […]

Ferrar, Nicholas

(Feb. 22, 1592-Dec. 4, 1637). Deacon and founder of Little Gidding. He was born in London. Ferrar received his B.A. in 1610 and his M.A. in 1613, both from Clare College, Cambridge. In 1626 Ferrar, his widowed mother, and the families of his brother and brother-in-law established a religious community at Little Gidding, Huntingdonshire, England. […]

Ferris, Theodore Parker

(Dec. 23, 1908-Nov. 26, 1972). Seminary professor and ecumenist. He was born in Port Chester, New York. Ferris received his B.A. from Harvard University in 1929 and his B.D. from General Theological Seminary in 1933. He was ordained deacon on June 11, 1933, and priest on May 27, 1934. From 1933 until 1937, Ferris was […]


Concerning a feast day or festivity. Something that is joyous and festive.

Festivals (Ecclesiastical)

See Feasts of the Church Year.


Latin for “and the Son.” The words were added to the Nicene Creed at the Council of Toledo in 589 and gradually grew in acceptance in the west. The filioque states that the Holy Spirit proceeds not only from the Father, but from the Father and the Son. The Eastern Orthodox churches condemn the addition […]

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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.