Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What Ever Happened To The Possessive Apostrophes?
More change for the sake of change

Remember the old says when Catholic parishes (and hospitals, cemeteries, etc) had the possessive apostrophe? You know... St. John's, St. Theresa's, St. Michael's, etc?

That lil' apostrophe "S" indicated that the parish in question was dedicated to and under the patronage and protection a certain Saint. In essence, that parish belonged to that Saint, right? Of course... we all knew that.

But as of the past handful of years, the latest fad to come down the pike has reared it's ugly head. Can someone please tell me the rhyme and reason behind dropping the possessive apostrophe? We now have St Timothy parish, St Joseph Hospital, St Elizabeth cemetery. Is it just me, or does the singular just sound... well... awkward?

How screwed-up would it come across if you told someone that you just finished watching "The Bells of St. Mary"? Or just how goofy does it strike the ear if you told friends and relatives that when you were on vacation to New York City, you attended Mass as St. Patrick Cathedral?

Whenever I hear folks locally tell me "I'm going to St. Mark", I just have to ask them "oh really, is St. Mark personally at your parish? Has he just come down from heaven?"

Sheesh... no, you're going to St. Mark's! It's dedicated to HIM! It's HIS parish! Dropping the possessive apostrophe makes about as much sense as saying "I'm going to visit Caveman blog". That rates right up there on the Irritant-O-Meter with "did you aks him?" and "exspecially". Isn't that what we use to call in the old days improper/broken English?

I tell you, this whole singular usage thing strikes me as an example of rather insecure individuals who must do and say stupid things just so people will pay attention to them. Seriously, has The Church had the naming of parishes (et al.) wrong for all these centuries?

Well, I'm off for now. There's a documentary coming on that I've been waiting to see. It's all about the history of St Peter Basilica. By the way... who the hell is "Peter Basilica", and when was he canonized?


Blogger doce me, Domine said...

Maybe Saint Mark no want "faith community". Mission statement make saint angry. Maybe Saint Cecelia no like song. Saint Agnes no like clothes daughter wear.


8:20 AM  
Blogger VSO said...

Just thinking about the liberal logic behind it makes my head spin.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

I'd been led to understand that the 's is just sloppy, the churches are all named for the saint that is the patron; they are not the possession of the saint (they are the Church's). The official name of our cathedral is (and always has been) "Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist" even though we all call it "St. John's"

check what the names are here:

Basilicas and Papal Chapels

Google will return lots of results for St. Peter's Basilica but you will notice that the 1911 Catholic encyclopedia at New Advent has the entry titled Basilica of Saint Peter, in which it is called the Church of St. Peter. Nothing modernist in that article! however, we speak as we do, and thus you find at the vatican web site Visit of the Excavations below St. Peter's Basilica. although the official Vatican Calendar simply refers to it as Vatican Basilica

You see? It seems to me that we are the ones to step up from sloppy grammer, so to speak; not a big deal, but a chance to learn a bit too.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Kevin Whiteman said...

"Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist" makes sense. "St. John parish" doesn't. "The Basilica of Saint Peter" makes sense. "St. Peter Basilica" doesn't.

I see the point you're making... I just disagree. But thanks for posting!

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i blame it on message texting, everything's shortened, when my kids e-mail me they never capitalize the word "i" it drives me crazy!

3:33 PM  
Blogger Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Totally agreed.

4:18 PM  

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