An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

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 of building churches over the tombs of martyrs. Patron saints may be chosen for a variety of reasons. For example, a church that was founded on a saint's day might have that saint as patron. Some patron saints are associated with particular countries, regional or ethnic backgrounds, or forms of ministry. St. David is the patron saint of Wales, and St. Luke is the patron saint of physicians. The patronal festival is usually the feast of the church or organization's title, but in some cases the patron is not mentioned in the title of the church or organization. The feast of a church's patron or title may be observed on or transferred to a Sunday, taking precedence over the usual Sunday observance in the calendar of the church year. This substitution may not be made in the seasons of Advent, Lent, or Easter (BCP, p. 16). The proper readings for a patronal feast may be used at the Consecration of a Church (BCP, p. 571).

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.