Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Notification Concerning the Constitution of Patrons of Dioceses and Parishes Omnis ecclesia titulum, 10 February 1999.

1. Every church must have a title assigned to it within a liturgy either of dedication or blessing.1

2. In their title, Churches may use the Most Holy Trinity; Our Lord Jesus Christ, invoked under a mystery of his life or under his name as already used in the divine liturgy; the Holy Spirit; the Blessed Virgin Mary under a given title already found in the divine liturgy; the holy Angels, or a Blessed or Saint inscribed in the Roman Martyrology.2

3. There may be only one title for a church, unless it is derived from Saints who are inscribed together in the same proper Calendar.

4. Any Blessed whose celebration has not yet been inscribed in the legitimate diocesan Calendar may not be chosen as the title of a church without an indult from the Apostolic See.3

5. Once established in the dedication of a church, the title can not be changed (can. 1218), unless, for grave reasons, it is expressly allowed by indult of the Apostolic See.

1. Cf. Pontificale Romanum, Ordo dedicationis ecclesiae et altaris, editio typica 1977, cap. II: Ordo dedicationis ecclesiae, n. 4.

2. Cf. Ibidem.

3. Cf. Ibidem; Congregatio de Cultu Divino, Notificatio de dedicatione aut benedictione ecclesiae in honorem alicuius Beati, diei 29 novembris 1998.

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6. However, if a title has been assigned as a part of the blessing of a church, according to the Ordo Benedictionis Ecclesiae,4 it may be changed by the diocesan bishop (cf. Can. 381, 1) for a grave reason and with all factors duly considered.

7. The name of a parish may commonly be the same as the title of the parish church.

8. As an intercessor or advocate before God, the patron is a created person, such as the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Angels, a Saint or Blessed. For the same reason, the Most Holy Trinity and the divine Persons are always excluded as patrons.5

9. A patron must be chosen by the clergy and the faithful, whose choice must be approved by the competent ecclesiastical authority. In order that they may carry liturgical effect, the choice and approbation require the confirmation of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which is granted by decree of this same Dicastery.6

10. The patron of a place is distinguished from the title of a given church; they may be the same but are not necessarily so.

11. When a new parish has been erected in place of several suppressed parishes, the new parish may have its own church, which, unless it is a new building, retains its existing title. Further, churches of suppressed parishes, whenever such parishes are considered as “co-parishes," retain their own proper titles.7

12. If several parishes are joined together so that a new parish is established thereby, it is permitted, for pastoral reasons, to establish a new name differing from the title of the parish church.

4. Cf. Pontificale Romanum, Ordo dedicationis ecclesiae et altaris, editio typica 1977, cap. V: benedictionis ecclesiae.

5. Cf. Sacra Congregatio de Cultu Divino, De Patronis constituendis, diei 19 martii 1973: Acta Apostolicae Sedis 65 (1973): 276-279, nn. 4, 6.

6. Cf. Ibidem, nn. 3, 7-8.

7. Cf. Ibidem, nn. 5-6.

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Given at Vatican City, 10 February 1999.

Jorge A. Card. Medina Estévez


Mario Marini


Prot. No. 329/99/L, 10 February 1999, Notitiae 35 (1999): 158-159; RRAO 1999, pp. 20-21.