In some of the more traditional denominations—certainly Catholicism and Anglicanism, to name two—churches or church buildings are named after "saints". This is in contrast to the more evangelical denominations, where churches are generally either named after their local area ("Mytown Baptist Church" / "Mytown Methodist Church" etc.) or more free-form.

How do the traditional churches determine which saints to dedicate each congregation/building to? Is it the building or the church itself (the people) that take on the name?

  • 1
    +1 I belong to St. Augustine's Parish not because anyone in Footville, WI has any particular devotion to St. Augustine or came from northern Africa. It certainly seems rather willy nilly, except in specific ethnic communities where you're more likely to get a patron of the homeland like St. Patrick for Ireland or St. Stanislaus for Poland
    – Peter Turner
    Dec 2 '11 at 14:17
  • @Peter - ha, my last residence was in Evansville WI. Small world. I had customers in Footville. Dec 2 '11 at 14:57
  • @Joel Cool, that's where I grew up! facebook.com/groups/199453836779959/255620674496608
    – Peter Turner
    Dec 2 '11 at 15:02
  • I still own a house up there, but since they GM plant closed I owe way more than it's worth now. Okay, I'll stop comment-spamming the question now ;) Dec 2 '11 at 15:04

The denominations that dedicate their churches in this fashion tend to be those with a more centralized structure. As far as I know the decisions are usually made by consultation between the local congregation and the church authorities. I've been part of one Anglican church where the choice of a name was clearly that of the congregation, with the approval of the central authorities.

Other organizations can also have an input. I was part of one congregation where the choice of name was vetoed (or at least recommended against) by the Fire Department, on the grounds that there was already a church with that name in the town, and the fire trucks might be dispatched to the wrong one. In this specific case "Saint Luke" was the preferred name, since the church was to share a building with a medical centre (St. Luke was a doctor). However in the end "Saint Francis" was chosen.

  • Where did that story happen? I had no idea the Fire Department had that kind of power.
    – user23
    Dec 5 '11 at 16:18
  • 1
    In the UK. It may technically have been a recommendation from the Fire Department. Dec 5 '11 at 16:26

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