Not Prepared to Donate?

Here are 5 ways you can still help Aleteia:

  1. Pray for our team and the success of our mission
  2. Talk about Aleteia in your parish
  3. Share Aleteia content with friends and family
  4. Turn off your ad blockers when you visit
  5. Subscribe to our free newsletter and read us daily
Thank you!
Team Aleteia



God the “Holy Ghost”? Does that mean God is a spooky spiritual being?


Here is the truth behind the archaic expression.

When looking at older prayer cards in English, it will often refer to God as the “Holy Ghost.” This was a common way to identify the third person of the Holy Trinity and was an extremely popular term used in prayers and catechism classes that date before the mid-20th century.

What does that mean? Is God some sort of “spooky” spiritual being?

In modern usage the word “ghost” is used almost exclusively as a term for a deceased person who haunts an individual. When someone says the word “ghost,” often the immediate image that pops into a person’s mind is that of a white bedsheet, or a hazy apparition seen in horror movies.

However, the English word “ghost” didn’t always have this association. The word was derived from the Old English word “gast,” which is related to the German word “geist.” Originally these words simply meant “spirit.” For many years Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit were used interchangeably to identify the third person of the Holy Trinity.

Eventually Holy Spirit replaced Holy Ghost, being a preferred translation of the Latin “Spiritus Sanctus.”

In reality, both words are valid ways to describe God, but because of the modern association of “ghost,” it is no longer in wide usage.

Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.
Aleteia offers you this space to comment on articles. This space should always reflect Aleteia values.
[See Comment Policy]
Readers like you contribute to Aleteia's Mission.

Since our inception in 2012, Aleteia’s readership has grown rapidly worldwide. Our team is committed to a mission of providing articles that enrich, inspire and inform a Catholic life. That's why we want our articles to be freely accessible to everyone, but we need your help to do that. Quality journalism has a cost (more than selling ads on Aleteia can cover). That's why readers like you make a major difference by donating as little as $3 a month.