An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Glossary of Terms


An early Christian symbol, the transliteration of the Greek word ixous, “fish.” The letters are the initial letters of the Greek words for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. This acrostic was used as a confession of faith. The fish was also an iconographic Christian symbol and identified with Christ. In early Christianity a representation […]


The traditional icon is a stylized religious picture that is usually painted on a wood panel in egg tempera. Icons depict Christ, the Trinity, St. Mary, other saints, and events in the gospels and lives of the saints. Icons have been used in both eastern and western churches. Icons were painted or placed on the […]


The term means “the smashing of icons.” The most important iconoclastic controversies occurred in the seventh and eighth centuries. These controversies led to the Seventh Ecumenical Council of 787. The orthodox party urged that in the Incarnation deity was united to created human nature, so it is appropriate to make material images of Christ. There […]


The art of making icons. An iconographer who aspires to make a theological statement may be said to “write” an icon. The term also refers to the whole history and tradition of the Christian use of icons. A number of conventions of iconography have been maintained, such as the frontal position, inverse perspective, and elongated […]


A wall of icons placed between the nave and sanctuary in an Eastern Orthodox church. It developed from the older custom of placing or painting icons on interior beams and low screens of ancient church buildings. The iconostasis became popular after the thirteenth century, especially in Russia. At the height of its development, the iconostasis […]

Idaho, Diocese of

The state of Idaho was part of the Missionary District of the Northwest, which was established in 1859. The 1865 General Convention established the Missionary District of Colorado and Parts Adjacent, including Idaho. In 1866 the House of Bishops created the Missionary District of Montana, Idaho and Utah, and in 1880, it created the Missionary […]


(c. 35-c. 115). Bishop, patristic theologian, and martyr. Very little is known about the life of Ignatius. He was the second, or possibly third, Bishop of Antioch. He was serving as Bishop of Antioch by the year 100. Ignatius is the most significant of the Apostolic Fathers. He is remembered for his contributions to the […]

Ignatius of Loyola

(1491-July 31, 1556). Founder of the Jesuits. He was born in the Basque province of Guipuzcoa, Spain. Ignatius was a soldier who underwent a conversion on May 20, 1520, while he was recuperating from a leg wound. With six companions he founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in Paris on Aug. 15, 1534, to work […]


Monogram of the Holy Name of Jesus. It is taken from the first three letters of Jesus' name in Greek, which have been latinized to “IHS.” The monogram appears in liturgical art and architecture, especially vestments. Devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus was popularized by the Franciscans in the fifteenth century. Bernardino of Siena […]


This newsletter of American Indian/Alaska native ministry of the Episcopal Church began publication in Spring 1987. IKHANA is a Choctaw word which means “to teach, to inform.”

Illinois, Diocese of

The Diocese of Chicago was named the Diocese of Illinois from Mar. 9, 1835, until May 28, 1884.

Immaculate Conception

This dogma of the Roman Catholic Church is that the Virgin Mary was kept free from original sin from the first moment of her conception. Mary is understood to be kept free from original sin by the grace of God and the merits of Christ. This dogma was defined in the bull Ineffabilis Deus of […]

Immanent Trinity

See Trinity.


Mode of baptism in which the candidate's entire body is introduced into the water. The term "baptize" is from the Greek, "to dip." Immersion was the normal way of baptism in the early church. Questions concerning the candidate's belief in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were answered in the affirmative, and each […]


To petition or beseech; to obtain by entreaty. Impetrative prayer asks God to accomplish what has been requested. Impetration relies on God's loving generosity and willingness to answer prayer. In eucharistic theology, impetrative sacrifice entreats God's favor, and impetration is one of the purposes of the celebration of the eucharistic sacrifice.

Imposition of Ashes

Ashes may be imposed on the heads of participants in the Ash Wednesday service as a sign of mortality and penitence. The ashes are imposed with the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (BCP, p. 265). Ashes are typically imposed by inscribing a cross on the forehead. The imposition […]


See Reproaches, The.


The formal acceptance of a member of the clergy by the ecclesiastical authority of a new diocesan jurisdiction. In the Episcopal Church, such transfers of clergy from jurisdiction to jurisdiction are governed by the canon concerning Letters Dimissory.


The term, from the Latin carnis ("flesh") literally means "enfleshment." It reflects the christological doctrine that Jesus was fully human and fully divine, the Son of God "in the flesh." It is based on Jn 1:14, "And the Word became flesh and lived among us." During the first four centuries of the church, the nature […]


Latin term translated into English as Incarnation. It refers to the christological assertion that Jesus was fully human and fully divine, the Son of God or Word in the flesh. The specific term Incarnatus refers to the assertion in the Nicene Creed that Jesus “became incarnate from the Virgin Mary and was made man” (BCP, […]

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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.