An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Glossary of Terms

Pastoral Letter

From the Latin littera pastoral, the original definition was an official letter addressed by a bishop to all members of the diocese. Pastoral letters may be issued in the Episcopal […]

Pastoral Offices

Prayer Book services that are done on an occasional basis according to pastoral need at significant moments in the lives of church members. The pastoral offices are also known as […]

Pastoral Staff

See Crozier, or Crosier.


A shallow dish or small plate for the bread at the eucharist. The bread is placed on the paten for consecration and distribution. It typically matches the chalice. The paten […]

Pater Noster

See Lord's Prayer, The.


(c. 390-c. 460). Bishop and missionary of Ireland. He was born into a Christian family somewhere on the northwest coast of Britain. Patrick was the son of a local town […]


From the Latin pater, “father,” and passio, “suffering,” it is a form of modalism chiefly associated with a third-century Roman Christian teacher, Praxeas, whose work is known to us chiefly […]


The term is from the Latin and Greek for “father.” It is the study of the lives and writings of the “Fathers” of the first centuries of the church. It […]

Patronal Feast

The feast of the patron saint or title of a church, school, religious order, or other organization. The custom of having a patron saint can be traced to the practice […]

Patteson, John Coleridge

(Apr. 1, 1827-Sept. 21, 1871). Bishop and martyr. Born in London, Patteson graduated from Balliol College, Oxford, in 1849, and in 1852 became a fellow at Merton College. He was […]

Paul, Saint

(d. c. 64). Apostle to the Gentiles, author of several NT epistles, preeminent Christian missionary. He was originally named Saul. He was a Jew of the Diaspora, a member of […]

Pavement Lights

Candles in long holders or poles in stands that rest on the floor (or pavement) of the church. Pavement lights are free-standing. They may be placed near an ambo or […]

Pax Board

See Peace, The.

Pax Brede

See Peace, The.

Pax, The

See Peace, The.

Payne, John

(Jan. 9, 1815-Oct. 23, 1874). First Missionary Bishop sent to Africa by the Episcopal Church. He was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia. Payne graduated from the College of William and […]

Peace, The

A liturgical exchange of greeting through word and gesture. It is a sign of reconciliation, love, and renewed relationships in the Christian community. It is initiated by the celebrant, who […]

Pectoral Cross

A cross, typically of silver or gold, suspended by a chain around the neck. The cross hangs at about the breastbone or pectoral muscles of the wearer. It may be […]


See Foot Washing.


A heresy taking its name from Pelagius, a lay monk from either Britain or Ireland, who came to Rome in the early fifth century. Pelagius denied that infants were born […]

218 records

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.