World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Verger

Article Id: WHEBN0000650714
Reproduction Date:

Title: Verger  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Dad's Army, List of participants in Queen Elizabeth II coronation procession, Hugh Denys, Cox & Barnard, Wells Cathedral
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Verger

A traditional verger gown.

A verger (or virger, so called after the staff of the office) is a person, usually a layperson, who assists in the ordering of religious services, particularly in Anglican churches.

History

The office of the verger has its roots in the early days of the Church of England's history. The Order shares certain similarities with the former Minor Orders of Porter and Acolyte. Historically Vergers were responsible for the order and upkeep of the house of worship, including the care of the church buildings, its furnishings, and sacred relics, preparations for liturgy, conduct of the laity, and grave-digging responsibilities. Although there is no definitive historical examination of the Office of Verger, evidence from Rochester, Lincoln, Exeter, and Salisbury Cathedrals points to the existence of Vergers even in the twelfth century. Koster is the Dutch word for sexton or verger, derived from the Latin custos (the equivalent German word is "Küster").

The symbol of a Guild of Cathedral vergers is the Crossed keys. Perhaps the best-known portrait of an Anglican verger in fiction is in Somerset Maugham's short story, "The Verger.". In UK popular culture, the BBC sitcom "Dad's Army" featured a bumbling caricature of a Verger named Maurice Yeatman, played by English actor Edward Sinclair. The sitcom The Vicar of Dibley, whose title character is among the Church of England's first female vicars, also featured a female verger, the dim-witted but well-intentioned Alice Tinker (Emma Chambers).

Duties

During the service itself, a verger's main duty is ceremonially to precede the religious participants as they move about the church; he or she does not typically take any speaking part in the service itself. It could be argued that a verger's main pride during a service lies in his or her inconspicuousness; vergers often play a very prominent role "behind the scenes" — helping to plan the logistical details of service and discreetly shepherding the clergy through it (in some churches these latter duties are handled by a Master of Ceremonies, while the verger functions as a sort of marshal in the procession).

The virge

This is a traditional virge. Note the brass ball at the end with a small cross on top.

The office's title comes from the ceremonial rod which a verger carries, a virge (from the Latin virga, "branch, staff, rod"; see virgule). The Maces of State used in the House of Lords and the House of Commons of the British Parliament are examples of another modern use of the medieval virge. In former times, a verger might have needed to use his virge to keep back animals or an overenthusiastic crowd from the personage he was escorting or even to discipline unruly choristers.

Vestments

The typical vestments of a verger are a black cassock with Fascia, purple or violet chimere, and a jabot. Today many modern vergers wear a scapular instead of a chimere.

Modern function

In small churches today, the office of verger is often combined with that of sexton: the verger assisting at services and the sexton maintaining the church building the rest of the time are one and the same person.

Roman Catholic Church

The office of the verger has, for the most part, disappeared in the Roman Catholic tradition, the closest function being that of the sexton or the head or senior usher, particularly in those churches (usually large establishments, like St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City or the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC) that have an organized and formal corps of ushers.

See also

External links

  • The Church of England Guild of Vergers
  • Vergers' Guild of the Episcopal Church
  • Mark Emory Graham Chapter of VGEC - Diocese of Atlanta
  • Walter Mace Chapter of VGEC - Diocese of Texas
  • Diocese of Dallas Guild of Vergers
  • The Vergers of St. Paul's Cathedral, San Diego
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.