An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Glossary of Terms

Beatific Vision

The joy or blessedness given in the vision of God. It is reflected in the beatitude “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8) and […]


From a Latin root that means “blessed” or “happy.” It refers to statements in the OT and NT which begin with a similar form: “Blessed are . . ., for. […]

Becket, Thomas

(c. 1118-Dec. 29, 1170). Archbishop of Canterbury and martyr for the church. He was born in London and educated at the University of Paris. After serving for a time as […]

Bede the Venerable

(673-May 25, 735). Monk, priest, theologian, chronologist, and historian. He was born in Northumbria and at the age of seven was entrusted into the charge of Benedict Biscop at St. […]

Bedell, Gregory Thurston

(Aug. 27, 1817-Mar. 11, 1892). Leading evangelical theologian and the third Bishop of Ohio. He was born in Hudson, New York, and attended William Augustus Muhlenberg's famous school at Flushing, […]

Bedell, Gregory Townsend

(Oct. 28, 1783-Aug. 30, 1834). A leading evangelical preacher, who wrote several poems and musical compositions. He was born in Fresh Kill, Staten Island, New York, and educated at the […]

Bedell, Harriet

(Mar. 19, 1875-Jan. 8, 1969). Missionary among indigenous peoples. She was born in Buffalo, New York, and graduated from the State Normal School in Buffalo in 1894. She taught in […]

Beecher, Catharine Esther

(Sept. 6, 1800-May 12, 1878). Influential advocate of women's concerns. She was born in East Hampton, Long Island, New York, and was raised a Presbyterian. She was a daughter of […]

Believer’s Baptism

A term describing the practice of baptizing only those who consciously and knowingly affirm their faith in Christ. The practice normally requires prior instruction and precludes infant baptism. In contrast, […]

Bell, Bernard Iddings

(Oct. 13, 1886-Sept. 5, 1958). A leading American educator. He was born in Dayton, Ohio. Bell received his B.A. from the University of Chicago in 1907 and his S.T.B. from […]

Bell, Wilbur Cosby

(Apr. 1, 1881-Apr. 6, 1933). Theologian and Seminary Professor. He was born in Augusta County, Virginia. Bell received his B.A. from Hampden-Sydney College in 1900 and his M.Div. from the […]

Bells and Smells

” Colloquial term for the elaborate ritual style common in many Anglo-catholic parishes. In this expression, “bells” refers to the ringing of bells at various points during the eucharist. “Smells” […]

Bene Esse

See Esse, Bene Esse, Plene Esse.

Benedicite, omnia opera Domini

Canticle from the Apocryphal book, Song of the Three Young Men, verses 35-65. It is also known as the “Benedicite.” It appears as Canticles 1 and 12 in the BCP […]

Benedict of Nursia

(c. 480-c. 547). The “Patriarch of Western Monasticism.” He was born in Nursia in Umbria, Italy, and then educated at Rome. He did not like the degenerate life of the […]

Benedictine Spirituality

Shaped by the Rule of St. Benedict (c. 540), Benedictine spirituality is essentially monastic. It focuses on the desire to seek God under the guidance of an abbot. The abbot […]


A blessing pronounced by a bishop or priest at the conclusion of a worship service. In a general sense, it may refer to any prayer that closes a meeting or […]

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

A service of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. In this service a large Host is placed in the luna of a monstrance on the altar so that the Host is […]


See Benedictus Dominus Deus.

Benedictus Dominus Deus

Canticle based on Zechariah's hymn of thanksgiving at the circumcision of his son, John the Baptist (Lk 1:68-79). The hymn blesses God “who has come to his people and set […]

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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.