IMAGES OF RECONCILIATION

 

What today is called the sacrament of reconcilation developed in the early Middle Ages as a practice for people seeking spiritual direction from monks, who at that time were mostly laymen living in community. An earlier process of public reconciliation for notorious sinners had by then fallen into disuse. By the 13th century, when many monks were ordained, church officials approved the private practice and restricted its performance to priests. Officially known as the sacrament of penance before Vatican II, it is still popularly referred to as confession.

The following images depict the sacrament from the Middle Ages to today. Unless otherwise noted, the rituals are those of the Roman Catholic Church.



Penance

Confession to a medieval monk being blessed by an angel
Detail from the baptismal font of St. John the Baptist Church in Badingham, England.



Penance

The Sacrament of Penance
(19th century colored engraving)



Penance

Older Catholics may remember going to confession on Saturday afternoons,
especially when planning to receive holy communion at mass the next day.



Penance

Soldiers did not want to die without knowing that their sins were forgiven,
so chaplains were always in demand during World War II.



Penance

In response to unscrupulous priests taking advantage of women who confessed sexual sins,
the Council of Trent in the 16th century mandated that a screen hide the identity of the pentent.



Penance

Churches built before 1700 had to add wooden booths called confessionals
to comply with the council's decree.



Confessional

Older churches customarily located confessionals in unused wall space.



Confessional

Later churches often had built-in confessionals,
with either curtains or doors for privacy.



Confessional

Modern churches almost always had built-in confessonals.



Confessional

Even free-standing confessionals could be fairly modern in appearance.



Penance

The crucial moment in the traditional ritual came when the priest
absolved the sins of the penitent and asked for God's blessing.



Bishops in St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

The Catholic bishops at the Second Vatican Council in 1963 called for
a revision of the church's sacramental rites to make them more up to date.



Reconciliation

Penance was revisioned as a sacrament of reconciliation with God,
much like the early monastic practice that had developed into an ecclesastical rite.



Reconciliation

The use of a screen during confession is now optional,
but some people still prefer privacy . . .



Reconciliation

. . . as does this woman availing herself of the sacrament
in an informal confessional in Vietnam.



Reconciliation Room

Reconciliation rooms are provided in most Catholic churches,
but a kneeler and screen are provided for those who want them.



Reconciliation Roome

This is the reconciliation room of a parish in Nebraska.



Reconciliation

Some confessionals have been converted into reconciliaton rooms.



Storage area

Other confessionals have been converted to different uses.



Reconciliation

Catholics today may go to confession less frequently than they did before,
preferring to participate in the sacrament on special occasions.



Reconciliation

These folks in Guatemala are waiting for the priest to arrive.



Reconciliation

These people are going to confession after making a pilgrimage to a shrine in Europe.



Confessional

This is a confessional for visitors to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The words above the door
indicate that the priest can hear confessions in Spanish and Italian.



Reconciliation

Priests interacting with penitents on the occasion of the pope’s 2008 visit to Washington, DC.



Reconciliation

Many parishes hold communal penance services during Advent and Lent.
Notice the chairs that will be used for the individual confession of sins later in the service.



Reconciliation

The 2005 World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany,
drew young people and priests from all over the world.



Reconciliation

Many paricipants took advantage of the opportunity
for face-to-face confession with a priest.



Reconciliation

You might think they are chatting after mass at the monastery,
but since the priest is wearing the stole over his shoulders,
they may be participating in the sacrament of reconciliation.



Reconciliation

Normally, the stole worn for the sacrament is purple, . . .



Reconciliation

. . . but this woman has asked the visiting priest to hear her confession
before he begins the eucharistic celebration at her mission church.



Reconciliation

And this woman is receiving the priest's absolution
during his visit to her in the hospital.



Repentance

Orthodox Christians have never used a confessional for the sacrament,
although a screen is sometimes provided for privacy,
as can be seen in this19th century painting.



Repentance

Sometimes the priest covers the head of the penitent,
as he does in this photo, taken in Romania.



Repentance

The stole is also used for blessing,
as seen in this photo from Ontario, Canada.



Repentance

The sacrament usually takes place in the vicinity of the altar,
while gazing prayerfully at an icon or at the cross, . . .



Repentance

. . . or in the presence of the scriptures.



Repentance

Orthodox priests, like Catholic priests,
are always ready when someone feels the need
to make a good confession.



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please send them to TheSacraments@Gmail.com.


 

Last modified: Thursday, 18 February 2016, 3:14 AM