An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Glossary of Terms

Vail, Thomas Hubbard

(Oct. 21, 1812-Oct. 6, 1889). Bishop and ecumenist. He was born in Richmond, Virginia. Vail graduated from Washington (now Trinity) College in 1831 and from the General Theological Seminary in 1835. He was ordained deacon on June 29, 1835, and priest on Jan. 6, 1837. While a deacon he officiated at St. James' Church, Philadelphia, […]

Validity (Sacramental)

A sacrament is recognized by the church to be genuine and true when certain minimum requirements are met. These requirements concern proper form, matter, minister, and intent. The form means the words of prayer that are used in the sacramental rite, and the matter concerns the material or gesture constituting the outward and visible sign […]

Valle Crucis, North Carolina

In 1842 Bishop Levi S. Ives of North Carolina decided to form a religious community in North Carolina on the model of the one that was beginning in Nashotah, Wisconsin. It was established in western North Carolina, near the Tennessee border, where three streams make their junction and thus form the shape of a cross. […]

Vaughan Williams, Ralph

(Oct. 12, 1872-Aug. 26, 1958). English composer, hymn writer, and editor. He was born in Down Ampney, Gloucestershire. Williams was educated at Charterhouse, The Royal College of Music, and Trinity College, Cambridge. He studied music with several of the most prominent musicians and composers of the day in England and Europe. His musical roots were […]


1) A square cloth that covers the paten and chalice until preparation of the altar for communion. The veil usually matches the vestments and altar hangings in the liturgical color of the season. It is draped over the pall, which is a white square placed on top of the paten, purificator, and chalice. The burse, […]

Veil of the Temple

In the Jerusalem Temple, the veil or curtain of the temple was at the entrance to the most holy place (see Ex 26:33, 35:12, 39:34; 2 Chr 3:14). It has also been known as the holy of holies. This inner room contained the ark of the covenant, which was covered with the veil when the […]


1) The title of address for an archdeacon. It is abbreviated The Ven. 2) In the Roman Catholic Church, a deceased person may be declared venerable in the first main stage of the process of beatification. This process may eventually lead to canonization as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church.

Venerable Society, The

See Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG).


The reverence or honor paid by Christians to saints, crosses, altars, images, etc. Veneration is distinguished from the absolute worship that is due to God alone. Various Puritans and iconoclasts have failed to make this distinction and wrongly accused others of idolatry.

Veneration of Saints

Christians began to honor their departed heroes of the faith as early as the second century. After Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, was martyred in about 155, his ashes were gathered up by the faithful and laid in a suitable place. The cult concerning the relics of saints began at the same time. Memorial buildings came […]

Veneration of the Cross

The earliest description of this ceremony is found in the late fourth century treatise “The Pilgrimage of Egeria.” In this diary she describes the Good Friday ceremonies in Jerusalem. During that service, fragments that were believed to be of the true cross were placed on a table in front of the bishop. The people came […]

Veni Creator Spiritus

The opening line of a medieval Latin hymn, “Come, Creator Spirit,” usually ascribed to Rabanus Maurus (776-856). It appears in The Hymnal 1982 in three different translations (Hymns 500-504). It was used in the middle ages as an office hymn at terce on Pentecost. It was later used in the Sarum ordination rites, and it […]

Veni Sancte Spiritus

The opening words of the medieval Latin Golden Sequence, “Come Holy Spirit,” sung before the gospel on Pentecost. It is considered a masterpiece of Latin sacred poetry and has been ascribed to various authors, including Archbishop Stephen Langton and Pope Innocent III. It was probably written in the twelfth century. It appears in The Hymnal […]

Venice Statement

This agreed statement on Authority was finalized by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) at Venice in 1976. It was eventually included within the ARCIC Final Report (1982). It said the church can be described as “indefectible” because human “failures cannot destroy the Church's ability to proclaim the Gospel and to show forth the Christian […]

Venite, The

Invitatory psalm based on Ps 95:1-7. It begins, “Come, let us sing to the Lord; let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation” (BCP, p. 44-45, 82). See Invitatory Psalm.

Venture in Mission (VIM)

The 1976 General Convention resolved to issue a call to the church to work and pray for a “Venture in Mission” to provide mission development funding for the national church. Most dioceses participated, joining their efforts for Venture in Mission with their own fund-raising efforts to contact every congregation for support. The 1979 and 1982 […]

Verbal Inspiration

The belief that the individual words and even verbal relationships of the Bible were inspired by God. Some would make a distinction between the words themselves and the ideas expressed by the words, holding that only the latter were inspired. This theory, therefore, stressed the inspiration of the biblical text itself rather than the inspiration […]


See Verger; see Virge.


A lay minister who assists the clergy in the conduct of public worship, especially in the marshaling of processions. Vergers may be full-time or part-time, paid or volunteer. The history of the verger dates back to the middle ages when the verger was the “Protector of the Procession.” He would lead the way, making room […]

Vermont, Diocese of

On Sept. 20, 1790, the Diocese of Vermont was organized at Arlington. On May 29, 1810, representatives from Vermont and four other New England dioceses met in Boston and organized the Eastern Diocese. The Diocese of Vermont withdrew from the Eastern Diocese on May 30, 1832, and elected its own bishop, John Henry Hopkins. St. […]

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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.