Terms beginning with P


1)     A parish is a geographical location with its own parish church. The parish is responsible for pastoral care of its parishioners and this is delegated by the bishop to the parish priest known as the vicar or rector. He or she is sometimes assisted by a curate.

Pastoral Care

1)     The Pastoral care of parishioners is a duty laid on the clergy at their ordination and reaffirmed when they are appointed to a parish. It is often shared with the laity of the congregations and seen as an extension of the local bishop’s ‘cure’ or care of that parish which he entrusts to the parish priest.


1)     This is a dish or plate often of silver which is used in the Eucharist and upon which the bread is consecrated. It is also used for the distribution of the bread at Communion.


1)     The Feast of Pentecost is originally a Jewish festival. The name derives from the Greek meaning ‘fifty days’ and originally fell on the fiftieth day after Passover. Its Christian association springs from the events associated with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the apostles as described in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. The name is now associated with the third most important feast of the Church, which is commonly called Whitsunday in the English calendar.


1)     A pilgrim is one who sets off on a spiritual journey in search of truth and meaning. This may be a physical journey to a holy place or shrine or it can be a metaphorical journey through life as illustrated in John Bunyan’s classic ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’.


1)     Pilgrimages were popular in the Middle Ages and were the first holidays. Groups of Christians would set off together on a spiritual journey to visit a holy place or shrine where they would pray together. The practice is regaining popularity and is undertaken by most faiths.


1)     The concept of prayer depends on the belief in a personal God who wishes to sustain and develop a loving relationship with his people. The practice of prayer may involve meditation, adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. Basically it is a conversation with the Almighty and is dependent on both parties wanting to cherish a relationship and be empowered to effect change in a fallen world. Intercessory prayer is perhaps the most popular form and many churches and cathedrals have found that in recent years intercessory prayers associated with the lighting of votive candles have become a widespread practice. Prayer aids such as the rosary have recently become popular as way of ordering or disciplining prayer life.


1)     is the clergyperson responsible for the direction of choral services in a cathedral.


1)     The eastern most end of a church where the High Altar is kept.


1)     The idea of priesthood is found in almost all the great religions except that of Islam. It is usually associated with ‘sacrifice’. In the New Testament the term is only used of the whole people of God or of Jesus himself as the ‘great high priest’. The second order of ministry now known as priest was originally known as ‘presbyter’ or ‘elder’. It was not until the second century that the term ‘priest’ became popular. The modern usage retains both elements. A priest is a teacher and elder of the church who also offers a sacrificial ministry of service based on the self offering of Jesus Christ. In the Anglican, Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches only priests and bishops are allowed to preside at the Eucharist. They alone bless and pronounce absolution.


1)     A prior is a monk who deputizes for the Abbot.


1)     A Priory is a monastic house run by a prior rather than an abbot.


1)     The Psalms are a collection of songs or hymns some of which date back some three thousand years and are collected together in a book of the Old Testament and associated with King David. The subject matter covers a whole range of emotions and relations between God and humanity. These prayers and cries of joy and anguish have sustained people for centuries and are still used both in public worship and private prayer by Jews and Christians today.


1)     The pulpit is the place from which the sermon is delivered in services. It is usually elevated so that the preacher can be seen as well as heard by the congregation. Pulpits became central in church furnishing after the Reformation when a new emphasis was placed on the sermon.

Pulpitum Screen

1)     The pulpitum is the stone screen often found in a cathedral or major monastic church to divide the nave from the choir. A rood screen may be found in a late medieval church and is made of wood decorated with images of saints and used to display the ‘rood’ or crucifix. It also divides the nave from the chancel or choir.

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The original core of this glossary was commissioned from Canon Phillip McFadyen of St George's Colegate, in Norwich.