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2012 | 60 | 2 | 249-256

Article title

Dyspozycje pogrzebowe duchowieństwa płockiego w XVII i XVIII wieku

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In the last wills of the clergymen of the Płock diocese in the 17th and 18th c. funeral dispositions are usually quite general. The issue was rarely elaborated on, which was also characteristic of the testaments of other social classes. The dispositions were usually limited to a few sentences, with formulaic expressions applied. The common opening formula was ‘My sinful body…’, which led to specifying the place of burial, and sometimes the details of the ceremony. Sometimes it was specified what sum the executors were to spend on the funeral and on the post-funeral dinner. Such dispositions are quite similar to dispositions known from the last wills of nobles or burghers. It should be stressed that a disposition was not identical with its execution, which was dependent on the executors’ capabilities. Clergymen often mentioned that they had no money that could cover the cost of the funeral, therefore they bequeathed some livestock (e.g. a cow or an ox) for that purpose. Then the executors had to sell the livestock or to pay for the funeral with their own money. In the basis of many testaments analysed it is possible to construct a prototypical picture of a clergyman’s funeral in the diocese. The executors usually invited priests from the deanery in which the dead priest had his benefice. The grave and the church were specially prepared, which follows indirectly from records of remuneration for masons and sacristans. On the day before the ceremony first masses were said, on the day of the funeral a mass for the dead was celebrated in the presence of the invited clergy. Masses could also be said in other churches. As priests usually wanted to be buried next to their parish churches the body rarely had to be transported. It can be assumed that the corpse was usually dressed in a chasuble or wrapped in a piece of linen and placed in a coffin. The coffin was placed on a catafalque, with candles lit around. After the funeral the guests were invited to dinner. Canons were buried with more ceremony. Their funeral were attended by more priests, the funeral masses was sung and they were often accompanied by bells ringing Parish priests usually chose to be buried in their parish churches, in front of the main altar, motivating such dispositions by asking the parish community to pray for their dead shepherd. Undoubtedly, then, this place was considered most appropriate to bury a parish priest. Sometimes priests chose to be buried in monastery churches or in family graves. A funeral, which in the anthropological sense, according to van Gennep, is one of the rites of passage, in the social circle in question seems to have been reduced to a convention. It is difficult to conclude at this stage of research whether this also concerned the eschatological aspect of the funeral, as death is the first of final things. The testaments suggest that the layer of rites, gestures and symbols concealed the human fear of God, who has ‘lynx’s eyes’, as it was put by Jean Delumeau.








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  • Ośrodek Historii Kultury Materialnej, Instytut Archeologii i Etnologii PAN, Al. Solidarności 105, 00-140 Warszawa


Document Type

Publication order reference


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