Tuesday, March 22, 2022
The Most and Least Common Catholic Parish Names in the United States
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With the increase in parish closures in some dioceses, like the Archdiocese of Chicago, older parishes are regulated to profane use and sold. Other times, parishes merge and while keeping each church open, choose a new parish name. And as time goes on, it is not surprising that new parish names tend to ignore more ancient and forgotten saints - like the many saints who were removed from the General Calendar in 1969.

St. Giles for instance used to be a common name for churches in Europe. That is no longer the case. And the same may be said for many ancient Roman saints. Take for instance the restoration of the Institute of Christ the King in Chicago. Their national headquarters was originally built in 1927 and named for St. Clara. In 1990 it was renamed for St. Galasius shortly before it was closed and subsequently deeded to the Shrine of Christ the King who have renamed it. As for St. Galasius who reigned as Pope from 492 - 496, no parishes in America remain dedicated to him.

After analyzing the more than 13,500 parishes listed in the United States Catholic Directory, I found some interesting statistics:

  • Parishes dedicated to Our Lady, either under one of her titles, one aspect of her life (e.g. her Assumption, Nativity, etc), or under St. Mary, are the most popular parishes. These account for approximately 25.8% of American Catholic parishes
  • Some unique Marian titled parishes include Our Lady of the Plains (1 parish), Our Lady of the Prarie (1 parish), and Our Lady of the Pines (2 parishes)
  • Certain feastdays in the life of Our Lord or Our Lady are more popular than others for names. Examples of various names include Annunciation (26 parishes), Assumption (73 parishes), the Blessed Sacrament (86 parishes), Christ the King (121 parishes), Corpus Christi (67 parishes), Epiphany (20 parishes), and the Holy Rosary (75 parishes).
  • The Holy Trinity (or the Blessed Trinity) is the name of approximately 137 parishes
  • Some unusual parish names include Christ our Light (5 such parishes), Christ of the Desert (1 parish), and Christ on the Mountain (1 parish).
  • There is only one parish named for the Five Holy Martyrs, one parish in honor of the Five Wounds, one parish in honor of the forty martyrs, and one parish named after the Fourteen Holy Helpers.
  • All Saints is the name of 77 parishes, but All Souls is the name of only 6 parishes.
  • When it comes to saints, St. Joseph is one of the most popular after the Blessed Virgin Mary and that shows. There are approximately 777 parishes named after him, amounting to over 5% of all American Parishes. 
  • St. Patrick is also popular with 346 parishes.
  • There are a number of saints who have only a few parishes in America despite their importance. One example is St. Polycarp, who despite being kept on the Universal Calendar, has only 3 parishes named after him. St. Louis Bertrand also has only 3 parishes named after him. By contrast, both St. Gaspar Del Bufalo and St. Eloi, very obscure saints, have 2 parishes named after them.
Some of the least common parish names are in honor of the following saints who have just one parish named after them:

  • St. Caspar
  • St. Colette
  • St. Cronan
  • St. Dunstan 
  • St. Egbert
  • St. Eustachius
  • St. Flannen
  • St. Frederic
  • St. Jarlath
  • St. Pancratius
  • St. Petronille
  • St. Philip Bonitus
  • St. Symphorosa
  • St. Terrence
For those of us who do like reading about the lives of the saints, and who have done so for a while, I think it would be worthwhile to seek out the biographies of some of these more obscure saints. While not as popular anymore, their lives are still useful for our edification and hopefully, we can learn from them and invoke their aid. Even though they are not as popular as St. Joseph or St. Patrick, they do still nevertheless see God now face to face. 

For the full 100 page report, including graphs and charts, please contact me. The full report will be available free of charge to my Patreons.

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