Wednesday, October 12, 2011

On the "Churching" of Women

I heard of this practice the other day so I "googled" it and saw that there is quite a bit of information on it (see

Churching is a blessing by a priest that is bestowed upon women who have just given birth. It was usually done forty days after the birth, that period of time given to the mother to rest in preparation for returning to Church and participation in the sacraments.

I was surprised to find out that my own mother had been churched after the births of my five brothers and sisters and myself in the 1950's and 60's. The daughter of Irish immigrants, the churching ritual was practiced mostly in the UK and Ireland and was continued in this country for many years. However, it is no longer practiced in mainstream Catholic Churches like it once was. 

According to Church laws, any woman who died within that 40 day time period following the birth, gave birth to a stillborn baby, was unmarried, or was otherwise not churched for whatever reason was seen in the eyes of the Church as unclean and therefore could be denied burial in consecrated grounds. For that reason, many of them are buried in the Cillini.


  1. As a pagan: I am frequently amazed by the attitude and rules laid down against the followers of the Christian Church and presume that it is only the fear factor that keeps them within the fold?

  2. As a completely lapsed Catholic, I am certainly no fan of the Catholic church; however, I believe that when you post something as inflammatory as this, you should check your facts. You are making a number of claims in this post, some of which are incorrect, and you cite no sources for these claims. For example, the rule of churching after forty days applied to women in the Church of Ireland. A Catholic woman was churched as soon as she was physically able to leave her home. As for what you claim in the last paragraph, what source did you use for this information? The history of this rite is an important one, and it should be presented as such.

    Ashling Butler

  3. > Churching is still an important aspect of religious ritual associated with childbirth in Ireland today. While some aspects are not adhered to by modern Catholic mums, the older generation will still encourage new mothers to ‘Get churches as soon as possible’. The practice related to the social and religious view of pollution, often the mother was seen as polluted by the pagan child she carried and until she was churched she was seen as outside the family of the church and not socially acceptable. Mothers here in Ireland who died in childbirth were often buried in CillinĂ­ if they remained un-churched.
    > Toni