Wikipedia:Naming conventions (clergy)

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This page contains guidance on how to title articles about members of the Christian clergy (popes, cardinals, bishops, etc.), as well as saints.

For links to pages with guidance concerning other religions, see the Other religions section below. For general guidance on how to title biographical articles, see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (people), and for those with royal or noble titles, Wikipedia:Naming conventions (royalty and nobility). For the use of names of clergy and saints in article text, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biographies.

While most clerical names are clear, unambiguous and known, some names associated with clergy of some faiths make this difficult. In those religions which have hierarchies, the higher the level within that hierarchy, the greater the likelihood that the person's first name may have ceased to be used publicly, being replaced by a title. Others replace their own name completely with a new one. In some cases it may be difficult to discover what the first name actually was, particularly when dealing with senior clergy from many centuries ago.


For popes, whether Catholic, Coptic, or otherwise, use the format "Pope {papal name} {ordinal if more than one} of {episcopal see}". Popes of Rome should not be linked with their episcopal sees; Rome is understood. For popes who are also saints, see Saints below.

Some early popes are better known to a wide range of readers by an epithet or cognomen than by name and number; when this is so, Wikipedia may title the article by the well-known name. Which name is to be used should be decided by consensus, after consultation of a variety of reliable English-language sources.


For patriarchs, whether the Ecumenical Patriarch, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria, or otherwise, use the format "{episcopal name} {ordinal if more than one} of {episcopal see}". Do not use a patriarch's personal name; e.g., use Patriarch Nikon, not Nikita Minov. However, if there is already a well established name in English for a particular patriarch, use that format instead. For example, use John Chrysostom as the main title of article, with Patriarch John I of Constantinople and John I of Constantinople as redirects.


In the titles of articles, cardinals generally go by their full name (both first name and surname) alone, without the title "Cardinal", as "Ascanio Sforza", not "Cardinal Ascanio Sforza", nor "Ascanio Cardinal Sforza". Exceptions are cardinals who are identifiable only by the cardinalitial title (as in the case of a hypothetical Cardinal John Smith), those best known by the title "Cardinal" followed by a surname (as Cardinal Richelieu), and those of the period before the introduction of surnames. For many of the latter, however, their place of origin will serve the same function as a surname.

Western bishops[edit]

For bishops (including archbishops) in the Western world, do not use their episcopal title in the article name unless necessary for disambiguation. For article names where there is both a forename and a surname, used also by other articles, inserting (bishop) afterward is common, for example William Atwater (bishop) or George Douglas (bishop). If disambiguation is still necessary, use a form such as William Turner (bishop of Salford) (rather than William Turner, Bishop of Salford) – using the subject's current or most recent see. Where the bishop concerned held office as an archbishop, avoid disambiguation by (archbishop), since that is only part of a job title – instead use (bishop) (the order) or the full title e.g. (archbishop of York). Where this is not useful, for instance when men of the same name occupy the same bishopric, death dates can be used, as with Alexander de Kininmund (died 1380) and Alexander de Kininmund (died 1344), both bishops and both bishops of Aberdeen. Note that the lower-case in "bishop" does not apply to use of an episcopal title ("Bishop of London") in article text, where the capital "B" is standard in British English and very common in American English.

For Anglican bishops the titular name which substitutes the episcopal seat for the last name is to be avoided (e.g. use Rowan Williams, not "Rowan Cantuar").

Where only a forename is available, it is not the business of Wikipedia to invent surnames. In some cases the person is referred to as "{name} of {place}", as with Augustine of Canterbury or Clement of Dunblane, and this form can then be used as the article title. If no such form is in use, it may be necessary to disambiguate using the episcopal title, as with Gerard (archbishop of York). In the era before the widespread use of surnames in western Europe (say, before 1200), it is common to encounter more than one bishop with the same name of the same diocese. In these cases using Roman numerals is an acceptable additional method of disambiguation, as in Ælfsige II (bishop of Winchester).

When these suggestions are still insufficient for a clear disambiguation, see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (people) for further suggestions.

Eastern Orthodox bishops[edit]

For Orthodox bishops (including metropolitans and archbishops), the form {name} of {place} is often used, as with Anthony of Sourozh and Gabriel of Comane. In other cases name and surname are used, as in Kallistos Ware.

Syriac bishops[edit]

For eastern bishops of Syriac (Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic) traditions the title "Mar" is not used in the article name unless necessary for disambiguation or for conformance with actual usage. Thus Varkey Vithayathil is used, not "Mar Varkey Vithayathil" or forms such as "Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil". However Mar Thoma I, Mar Thoma II, etc. are used, because these men are never referred to as simply "Thoma I" etc.


Saints go by their most common English name, minus the word "Saint", if such a title is available and the saint is the primary topic for that name. If the base name (for example, "Timothy") requires disambiguation due to lack of primary topic for the saint, natural disambiguation has been preferred at Wikipedia. This leads to titles like Saint Timothy and Matthew the Apostle. As the word "Saint" can lead to controversy (depending on who considers whom to be a saint) and possible non-neutrality, other forms of natural disambiguation are typically preferred, all other things being equal. If the word "saint" is included in an article name, the standard formula is to keep it unabbreviated except when referring to a name with typical abbreviation (such as the city of St. Louis, United States).

For example, we use Joan of Arc (recognizable, natural, concise, and unambiguous) but Saint Monica. (Disambiguation is necessary because Monica is a disambiguation page; editors have preferred "Saint Monica" over other possible titles, such as Monica of Hippo.) The word "Saint" should never be omitted if it is the only way of referring to the title in a recognizable way. Patrick of Ireland is merely a redirect to Saint Patrick for this reason. "Saint" should never under any circumstance be shortened to "St." in article titles about the person in question, though redirects should be created from such titles. (See also List of saints.)

Articles on popes who are also saints are titled according to the guidance in Popes above, with any necessary redirects from the forms with "Saint". For example, Pope Pius X, with redirects from Pope Saint Pius X and other forms; but Saint Peter rather than the less recognizable Pope Peter.

Name of a saint as part of an article title[edit]

Cathedral and church building names, unless they individually use something different (e.g. Divi Blasii), often follow the convention of "{Church building} of Saint {X}", as in Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran. Other formulas exist, however. For example, "Saint" may be written as St (British English) or St. (American English), hence St Paul's Cathedral not Saint Paul's Cathedral, St. Peter's Basilica not Saint Peter's Basilica, etc., if overwhelming sources indicate this as WP:COMMONNAME other than instances merely replicating printing press text minimalism.

Cities and other entities follow common English-language usage in reliable sources – see St. Louis but Saint Petersburg.

Catholic Church[edit]

Latter Day Saint movement (Mormonism)[edit]

Other religions[edit]

For guidance on naming articles about people associated with other religions, see the appropriate religion- or country-specific convention or guideline pages, noting that general principles already on this page are not restated there:

Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Chinese)
Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Japan-related articles
Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Hebrew)
List of rabbis for examples of article titles for Jewish clergy
Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Korean)
Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Islam-related articles
Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Indic)
Wikipedia:Naming conventions (ancient Romans). Note that neither "pontifex" nor "pontifex maximus" nor any other priestly function (like the prophesying function of a "Sibyl", the worshipping function of a "Maenad" or "Korybante", etc.) is used in the titles of articles on individual ancient Romans, Greeks, etc., except in rare cases of parenthetical disambiguation, such as Gaius Papirius (Pontifex Maximus).
  • For others, see the navigation box at the top of this page.

See also[edit]