Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Friday 15 January |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Nikolaus Gross
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

What is a sacristan?

SACRISTAN

Santiagonostalgico | CC BY ND 2.0

Philip Kosloski - published on 01/17/18

Priests rely on sacristans for many things and are always grateful for their service.

In parish life, one of the roles that is rarely seen by parishioners is that of a sacristan. It is a “behind-the-scenes” position that makes the priest’s job on Sundays less stressful.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal explains, “The following also exercise(s) a liturgical function: The sacristan, who carefully arranges the liturgical books, the vestments, and other things necessary in the celebration of the Mass” (No. 105).

In the medieval Church this task was often completed by the doorkeeper, who lived close to the parish church. For many centuries the sacristan, especially in monastic communities, was a younger priest or seminarian in minor orders. However, as the Church expanded to far-off regions of the world with solitary missionary priests, the laity or religious women would be given the important task.

In the past few hundred years there also arose “Altar Societies,” where members of the parish join together in assisting the priest with whatever is needed for the liturgy.

It is an essential service in the parish as it helps priests focus on the ministerial aspect of their priesthood. The sacristan keeps the liturgical items for Mass in order while the priest is free to visit parishioners, anoint the sick and prepare homilies.

Sacristans are always needed, especially in rural parishes, and it is a way to serve the Church in a less public way.


CHALICE,PURIFICATOR,PATEN

Read more:
In close-up: The sacred vessels and linens used at Mass

Tags:
Liturgy
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
DAD, HOW DO I?
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on Y...
FORGIVING COUPLE
Bret Thoman, OFS
An exorcist teaches 4 steps to forgive
Philip Kosloski
What is the Holy Cloak of St. Joseph?
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Why God loves ordinary stuff: Pope Francis' r...
POPE FRANCIS; Ash Wednesday
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Vatican: Imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday...
D'CRUZ FAMILY
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the family of 12 siblings with a very sp...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.