Children in Clerical Attire

I discovered these priceless photos through our blogging friend Augustinian Canon Herr Alipius. As a convert I would like to ask you, our dear readers, some questions: I was not born and raised in a Catholic milieu, but I’ve learned from my experience that Catholics are not the sullen faced folk the media like to present them to be. Catholics know how to have fun! And a playful approach to the routines of the Church belongs also to an integral Catholic life. It can have educational effects, for example to bring children near to the Praxis of the Church. I’ve seen in a local antiquity shop a miniature altar, with all its lovely details, designed for boys whom their parents wish to lead into priesthood. Now, my question is: Is this impression of mine correct? And can you tell in what occasion these children were putting on this kind of attire? Judging from the photo they seem to be in the middle of a procession. Please do share with us your experience and information on this topic!

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12 Responses to Children in Clerical Attire

  1. Looks as if it might be in the Phillipines. Here in the UK we used to have the position of ‘boy bishop’ who was elected by his fellow choristers in the large (now Anglican) cathedrals.


  2. alipius says:

    My experience tells me that you are correct. Many of the priests I know in Germany and Austria used to play “priest” when they were little boys, even if their parents didn’t get them a real kid’s altar. They would just build their own little altar, put on one of mom’s scarves as a stole and mumble stuff while elevating a teacup.


  3. teresa says:

    Thank you so much, Reverend Father Alipius (hope I am addressing you correctly, a convert has so much to learn). I do enjoy the intact Catholic life and society such as in South Germany and Austria, where the Church is a part of people’s daily life!

    Thanks David, it would be wonderful if you can tell us more about the praxis of the choir boys!


  4. toadspittle says:


    “Catholics know how to have fun!
    And a playful approach to the routines of the Church belongs also to an integral Catholic life.”

    Toad couldn’t have put it better himself if he had tried!
    Especially as, as we all know, the first sentence was the motto of Torquemada!


  5. toadspittle says:


    Toad fears that others on here are not taking this topic with due gravity. Shame on them! Poking their noses into the praxis of the choir boys!

    What is the world coming to?


  6. As requested I looked up the ‘boy bishops’ and found the following:
    The boy was elected from his fellow choristers on 6th December (Feast of St Nicholas) & ruled until 28th December (Feast of Holy Innocents). The actual bishop symbolically stood down at “deposuit potentes de sede” (put down the mighty from their seat) & boy bishop took the Cathedra at “et exaltavit humiles” (raised the humble) in the Magnificat.
    The boy was attired in full episcopal robes including mitre & crozier and was attended by ‘boy priests’ as he processed around the city ‘blessing’ the people. They carried out all episcopal ceremonies except Mass. The custom was banned by King Henry VIII.
    In 1973 Hereford Cathedral resurrected the custom & it continues today.
    More information may be gleaned from Wikipedia.


  7. Gertrude says:

    Living in Hereford, you are absolutely right – it is a custom the Anglican’s celebrate each year. Hereford Cathedral was actually administered by either Augustinian or Premonstratensian Canons in Medieval times!
    I tried to find a picture, but here is what the Hereford Times had to say:

    Boy bishop to take throne at Hereford Cathedral
    9:00am Thursday 3rd December 2009

    CHORISTER Alex Shepherd will take to the pulpit at Hereford Cathedral on Sunday as this year’s boy bishop.

    Like many selected before him, the 14-year-old will address the congregation at a special service originally devised to fight off the darkness of midwinter in medieval times by celebrating the importance of revelry.

    His talk about making decisions in life will be the pivotal point of a ceremony in which he replaces the bishop of the diocese on the throne in order to lead the prayers and preach a self-written sermon.

    Having prepared his text in good time, the former head chorister was feeling enthusiastic about his new role.

    “It’s like getting your best Christmas present three weeks early,” he said.

    He is one of only a handful of choristers countrywide that are still chosen to take part in the tradition, according to their good character, by the cathedral dean, precentor and organist.

    The service takes place at Hereford Cathedral at 3pm, when everyone is welcome to attend.


  8. I must look around for you but the practice continues in Spain of boys being garbed as clerics on specific, traditional feast days– I remember seeing photographs… where, where. Will look about.


  9. teresa says:

    Many thanks Marc, I am looking forward to it.
    David and Gertrude, thank you both for this very interesting information!


  10. rebrites says:

    …and seeing as Hereford Anglicans are the ones still celebrating things so, we can look forward soon to seeing a girl bishop!


  11. Dear Teresa,

    have a lok at my post:
    which I published in July 2011.
    Similar from Spain but here instead of the red cardinal’s biretta we have the Spanish bonete.


  12. teresa says:

    Dear Mr. Philippi, that is amazing, the photos of the boy bishops are most lovely!


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