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Home > Encyclopedia > Basics Of Catholicism > Capitalization Of Catholics

Capitalization Of Catholics

The Catholic Church often capitalizes words to put emphasis on their importance, whether sacrament, place, concept or item. Much like capitonyms (when a word takes on a different meaning capitalized, due to proper nouns and eponyms), the Catholic Church places emphasis on certain words in writings and letters by capitalizing them in certain sentences.

The Catholic Bible does not contain many capitalizations in its published versions due to the fact that the first printing of the English language Bible used Roman type instead of italics when inserting words supplied by translators. Also, publishers had different thoughts on which words required capitalization. Writers within the Catholic Church often capitalize words to underscore their importance in the religion itself, or to refer to a specific person, in terms of general sounding words like “father”, “son” or “mother”.

The following is a list of common examples of words capitalized in the Catholic Faith that are capitalized in other writing:

Church—When referring to the religion as an entity, as the Catholic Church, the word “church” is capitalized. This is not so when using the term “church” for a specific physical structure, or using it in conjunction with the specific name of the church (For example: John the Baptist church).

Blessed—The term “blessed” is used in Catholic writings to denote a station (in the second stage of veneration as a saint, or as a title to the Virgin Mary) and is capitalized when used in this connotation. For example, “Blessed Hedwig”.

Faith—When referring to faith in a general sense, “faith” does not need to be capitalized. When used instead with reference to Catholic Church, as a proper noun, it requires capitalization: The Catholic Faith underwent certain reforms in the Middle Ages.

God—When used to refer to the Almighty God, the word “god” is capitalized. The proper noun refers to the name of the Judeo-Christian God, as compared to the word god used in a broad sense, i.e. “the Greco-Roman gods and goddesses”.

Him, He, His—These capitalized pronouns are used in reference to God the Father to denote His importance in the hierarchy of the Faith.

Holy— When referring to a specific person, rite or place, the word “holy” is capitalized to give weight to the quality of those specified. It can also be used informally, when referring to God as our Holy Father, in place of the word God. For example: Holy See, Holy Father, Holy Mother.

Saint—Referring to one who has attained canonization in the Catholic Church, the term “saint” is capitalized when referring to a specific saint, or when used in conjunction with the saint’s name. Much like the abbreviations “PhD” or “Atty.” in secular writing, “saint” is used to denote a person of special importance and holiness within the Church.

Sacraments—Each sacrament of the Holy Church is capitalized to show its importance in the life of a Catholic. The words Baptism, First Holy Communion (also known as the Eucharist), Reconciliation, Confirmation, Matrimony, Holy Orders, Anointing of the Sick (also known as (Healing of the Sick) are all capitalized when referring to the seven possible sacraments a Catholic will experience in their lifetime. When referring to these sacred ceremonies, each term is to be capitalized in writing.

The Church has gone through many changes through the years, and the rules have changed for many of its followers, however the veneration and respect for those in the Church and for the many rites, people, and concepts remain the same. The capitalization of these words shows the place of honor these things hold for Catholics.