Friday, July 15, 2011


During St. Sebastian Choir’s trip to Rome we sang a Mass in the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter. I was sent into a sacristy as big as St. Sebastian Parish with a sacristan and two little altar boys whose English consisted of smiling and nodding whilst everyone else went their separate ways. The main celebrant for the Mass was to be Angelo Cardinal Comastri, the archpriest of the basilica. I was rather nervous as you might imagine and wanted to make sure that I got his name correct and so was practicing it as I paced the room.

Interestingly enough when one addresses a cardinal such as in a formal introduction and using his full name, the title cardinal does not come at the beginning of the name as it would with a priest’s title such as in Father John Valencheck. Rather, it comes just before his family name. So it would be Angelo Cardinal Comastri. This is for reasons entirely lost to me. If you know why I would appreciate knowing.

A formal introduction would go like this (assuming that the cardinal was the highest ranking person etiquette wise in the introduction), “Your Eminence, may I introduce to you Fr. John Valencheck. Father Valencheck, this is His Eminence Angelo Cardinal Comastri.”

Of course if that is all way too intimidating or if you are so nervous that names start slipping out of your head, you could skip the remembering the name thing and simply say, “You Eminence” unless and until invited to do otherwise (and then only in private.)


lynn said...

Great picture Father. I didn't see this one. Could I have one to put in our archives, please?

Robert M Kraus Sr said...

so and so cardinal so and so . . . . . it's been that way forever

Anonymous said...

I think it probably derives from a time when Cardinals were a form of nobility. Other nobles would be known as John Duke of... for example.

Fr. V said...

Oooh Anon.

Excellent conjecture!

If it isn;t true, it should be.

Anonymous said...

From the Catholic Answers Website:

"In recent times, some people will reverse the word order, saying, 'Cardinal William McCarrick' instead of 'William Cardinal McCarrick.' The formal word order originated in the time when last names were not common, but individuals were known by occupations or even places. For example, 'John, the Smith' (or Blacksmith) eventually became 'John Smith.' The same evolution occurred with cardinals: What would have been "William, the Cardinal" would now be, with the use of family names, 'William Cardinal McCarrick.'"

Fr. V said...

Thanks Anon!