A title of honour to designate of the Faith who had confessed Christ publicly in time of persecution and had been punished with imprisonment, torture, exile, or labour in the mines, remaining faithful in their confession until the end of their lives

Catholic Encyclopedia. . 2006.

     Catholic_Encyclopedia Confessor
    (1) Etymology and primitive meaning
    The word confessor is derived from the Latin confiteri, to confess, to profess, but it is not found in writers of the classical period, having been first used by the Christians. With them it was a title of honour to designate those brave champions of the Faith who had confessed Christ publicly in time of persecution and had been punished with imprisonment, torture, exile, or labour in the mines, remaining faithful in their confession until the end of their lives. The title thus distinguished them from the martyrs, who were so called because they underwent death for the Faith. The first clear evidence of the distinction just spoken of is found in an epitaph which is recorded by De Rossi (Bullettino di archeologia cristiana, 1864, p. 30): "A Domino coronati sunt beati confessores comites martyrum Aurelius Diogenes confessor et Valeria Felicissima vivi in Deo fecerunt" [The blessed confessors, companions of the martyrs, have been crowned by the Lord. Aurelius Diogenes, confessor, and Valeria Felicissima, put up (this monument) during their lifetime]. Among writers St. Cyprian is the first in whose works it occurs (Ep. xxxxvii): "Is demum confessor illustris et verus est de quo post-modum non erubescit Ecclesia sed gloriatur" (That confessor, indeed, is illustrious and true for whom the Church does not afterwards blush, but of whom she boasts); he shows in the passage that suffering alone for the Faith did not merit the title of confessor unless perseverance to the end had followed. In this meaning the title is of more frequent occurrence in the Christian writers of the fourth century. Sidonius Apollinaris (Carmen, xvii), to quote one instance, writes, "Sed confessorem virtutum signa sequuntur" (But signs of power follow the confessor). A similar use may be verified in Lactantius, "De morte persecut.", xxxv; St. Jerome, Ep. Ixxxii, 7; Prudentius, Peri steph., 55, etc.
    (2) Later meaning
    After the middle of the fourth century we find confessor used to designate those men of remarkable virtue and knowledge who confessed the Faith of Christ before the world by the practice of the most heroic virtue, by their writings and preachings, and in consequence began to be objects of veneration, had chapels (martyria) erected in their honour, which in the previous centuries had been the especial privilege of the martyrs. In the Eastern Church the first confessors who received a public cultus were the abbots St. Anthony and St. Hilarion, also St. Philogonus and St. Athanasius. In the West Pope St. Silvester was so venerated even before St. Martin of Tours, as can be shown from the "Kalendarium" published by Fouteau—a document which is certainly of the time of Pope Liberius (cf. "Praenotata" in the aforesaid "Kalendarium", iv).
    (3) Modern meaning
    Since the time when the Roman pontiffs reserved to themselves definite decision in causes of canonization and beatification, the title of confessor (pontiff, non-pontiff, doctor) belongs only to those men who have distinguished themselves by heroic virtue which God has approved by Miracles, and who have been solemnly adjudged this title by the Church and proposed by her to the faithful as objects of their veneration. (See MARTYRS; PERSECUTIONS; BEATIFICATION AND CANONIZATION. For the office of confessor in the Sacrament of Penance see PENANCE, SACRAMENT OF.)
    Transcribed by Donald J. Boon

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII. — New York: Robert Appleton Company. . 1910.

Catholic encyclopedia.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Confessor — Con*fess or (?; 277), n. [OF. confessor, F. confesseur, fr. L. & LL. confessor.] 1. One who confesses; one who acknowledges a fault, or the truth of a charge, at the risk of suffering; specifically, one who confesses himself a follower of Christ… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • confessor — late O.E., one who avows his religion, especially in the face of danger, but does not suffer martyrdom, from L. confessor, agent noun from confiteri (see CONFESS (Cf. confess)). Meaning one who hears confessions is from mid 14c.; this properly… …   Etymology dictionary

  • confessor — |ô| s. m. 1. Sacerdote que ouve confissões. 2. Aquele que confessa a sua fé, no tempo das perseguições. 3. Mártir.   ‣ Etimologia: latim tardio confessor, oris …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • Confessor — (lat.), 1) Bekenner; 2) in der alten Kirche Ehrenname derer, die ihren Glauben öffentlich vor den heidnischen Tribunalen bekannten, deshalb wohl auch eingekerkert u. gemartert, aber nicht hingerichtet wurden. Sie standen bei den Gläubigen in… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Confessor — (lat., »Bekenner«), Ehrenbenennung für diejenigen Christen, die während der Christenverfolgungen ihren Glauben standhaft bekannt hatten, aber mit dem Leben davongekommen waren …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Confessor — (lat., »Bekenner«); in der alten Kirche Ehrenname für solche Christen, die in Verfolgungen ihren Glauben standhaft bekannt hatten, aber, im Gegensatz zu den Märtyrern, dem Tode entgangen waren …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • confessor — index penitent Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • CONFESSOR — apud Ambrosium, l. 2. ad Imperator. Gratianum, Paulinum, Ep. 28. sub fin. etc. qui martyriô vitam pro Christo, quem palam confessus erat, finiit. Apud alios, qui Christum palam coram fidei hostibus confessus, cruciatus quidem tormentaque varia… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • confessor — ► NOUN 1) a priest who hears confessions. 2) a person who makes a confession …   English terms dictionary

  • confessor — [kən fes′ər] n. 1. a person who confesses 2. a) a Christian who suffered for his or her faith b) R.C.Ch. a male saint who was not a martyr 3. a priest authorized to hear confessions …   English World dictionary

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