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Friday, 28 April 2017


A priest or priestess is a person who is allowed to do religious rites.


The priests among the early Roman Christians used their everyday clothing for Mass and only gradually began to reserve more costly apparel for that use. It was Constantine The Great who first bought about the change. The Roman emperor liked to be arrayed in splendid jewel-encrusted robes. When he presented the Bishop of Jerusalem with an attractive set to use when celebrating Mass, they were as lavish and impressive as the best ceremonial robes of the pagan high priests. This was the first recorded use of vestments by a priest.

By the 6th century fashions had changed and people were abandoning the traditional Roman kind of apparel, in favour of the new short tunics, trousers, and cloaks of  the invading barbarians. However, one style remained the same - the garments worn at Mass by the priest.

The clergy, conservative in all things, refused to adopt the "modern" garment and continued to use the now outmoded Roman toga and long type of tunic. Indeed, Pope Gregory the Great, determined to obstruct any change, decried the new fashion as barbarian and decreed retention of the Roman garb by his priests.

This form of dress still survives today in the surplice, cassock, and frock worn by priests.

The Anglican Bishop of Willesden wearingvestments on Laetare Sunday,with three of his priests, 

In 1566 Thirty-seven English clergy are suspended from their posts by the Archbishop of Canterbury for refusing to wear ecclesiastical dress because it smacked of Roman Catholic trappings.


In the early Middle Ages, it was not uncommon for an abbess (the female head of a religious community) to rule "double" communities of both men and women. One who did so was Hilda of Whitby (614-680), whose abbey became famous for its learning and libraries. Five future bishops were trained in her community, and kings and rulers sought her advice.

Antoinette Blackwell ((May 20, 1825 – November 5, 1921)) was inspired by evangelical revivals to enrol at the Presbyterian Oberlin College and study theology, but as a woman she was refused a degree and ordination. After lecturing on women's rights and occasionally preaching at progressive churches, she was appointed in 1853 pastor by the First Congregational Church in South Butler, New York, thus becoming the first woman minister in an established Protestant denomination. However due to theological disagreements she resigned after less than a year and later joined the Unitarian church.

Portrait of Antoinette Louisa Brown Blackwell

In 1944, the first woman priest in the Anglican communion, Florence Li-Tim Oi of the neutral Portuguese colony of Macau near Hong Kong, was ordained. However after the Second World War finished there was an explosion of anger and outrage and even the Archbishop of Canterbury denounced her ordination so now under pressure Li Tim Di decided to give up her license. However she continued to serve a small congregation in a Chinese church as an unlicensed priest.

The American Episcopal Church approved the ordination of women as priests and bishops in 1976. Two years later,  the Episcopal Canon Mary Simpson of New York spoke from the pulpit of Westminster Abbey in London. She was the first ordained woman to preach there in the 913 years since 1065, when the Abbey was first consecrated.

In 1992 the Church of England Synod voted in favor of women priests. Two years later, the first 32 Anglican women priests were ordained at Bristol Cathedral by Bishop Barry Rogerson. However in response, 700 Anglican clergymen threatened to leave the Anglican Church for the Roman Catholic Church.

Women aren't allowed to be priests in the Catholic Church because, according to Catholic doctrine, priests actually embody the persona of Jesus and God.


Catholic priests are not allowed to marry meaning that they have to be celibate. Orthodox priests can be married, but they must not marry after they become a priest. Anglican priests can get married before or during the time they are a priest.

Celibacy of the clergy had been promoted as an ideal since the second century when it was first taught that clerical sexual abstinence was an apostolic practice which must be followed by ministers of the church. However it was not enforced legally until 1075 when Pope Gregory VII as part of his Dictatus Papae (The Pope¹s Memorandum) enjoined the people to take action against married priests and deprive these clerics of their revenues. There was much opposition to this. For instance in Normandy, the Archbishop of Rouen was stoned by an angry mob after ordering that priests whether single or married must give up sex.

There are actually about 80 married Roman Catholic priests. In almost all the cases, the priests were married before they joined the Catholic church. Once they converted to Catholicism, they remained married and their vows are recognized by the Vatican.


The Roman Catholic religion was outlawed in Elizabethan England, , In 1568 William Allen, an exiled English Catholic priest, founded a seminary at Douai in The Netherlands, to train English priests for the Catholic community in England. He desired to restore Roman Catholicism in Britain and he wanted to ensure there was a supply of trained clergy ready to come into the country when Catholicism was restored.

John Southworth was the last English Catholic priest to be executed in 1654.

Bonnie Prince Charlie's younger brother Henry (1725-1807) was a celibate Roman Catholic Priest who later become a cardinal.

When Stephen T. Badin, a French Catholic missionary, completed his studies at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore in 1793, he became the first Catholic priest to be ordained in America.

Stephen Badin

In 1865 Franz Liszt became a secular Franciscan priest. After his ordination on July 31, 1865, he was often called Abbé Liszt.

Hannibal Goodwin, the inventor of celluloid photographic film, was an Episcopal priest.

The Big Bang theory was formulated in 1927 by Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian Catholic priest.

Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty was an Irish priest who organised an escape organisation in Italy during World War II. He saved the lives of 6,500 Allied soldiers and Jews by hiding them in farms, homes and convents. O'Flaherty was a master at disguises and evaded capture by the Gestapo many times earning him the nickname "Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican".

Tom Cruise was raised as Catholic and actually wanted to be a priest in his earlier days. He left seminary school a year after enrolling.

Rock musician Jack White was once accepted to the Wisconsin Seminary and almost became a priest. He didn’t go when he found out he couldn’t bring his guitar and amp.

Catholic Digest, Europress Encyclopedia,

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