Kissing Bishop's Ring

I wasn’t quite sure where to post this, but this seemed to be appropriate.

Is kissing the Bishop’s ring supposed to be done? I have never kissed a ring, but it seems so informal to walk up and shake his hand.

Anyway, if I am supposed to do this, how do I do it? What knee do I get on and what hand is his ring on?

Also, when do I do this? I assume that if I see him across the room I shouldn’t run up to him and kiss his ring.

You don’t kiss a person’s ring unless you are anti-American enough to believe in royal status. However if you believe in royalty the gesture may be appropriate.
The royal person extends the right hand palm downward. The plebeian supports the extended hand with his right hand and bowing, kisses the ring.


This seems to be optional and I’m not sure all bishops are comfortable with it.

Our bishop was at church for confirmation a few weeks ago. Everyone shook his hand with one exception and that was an elderly priest who kissed his ring.

I don’t see a problem with shaking the bishop’s hand. Customs change and in our society a handshake is the normal way of greeting people.

I highly resent this remark; “anti-American” is only an appropriate appellation for this practice if you believe that Catholicism is anti-American. By kissing a prelate’s ring, you are in no way signifying any sort of political belief, but expressing respect for his office as a successor of the Apostles.



I kiss the Bishop’s ring in the same way that I kiss a priest’s hand. Jesus HIMSELF deigns to transform ordinary bread and wine into his own most Holy Body and Blood through the hands of priests and bishops. Should not those hands be reverenced in some way? Kissing is entirely appropriate. Jesus HIMSELF works through the hands of a Bishop to create priests and deacons. Should not those hands receive a special reverence?

Unfortunately, reverence and respect are lost in American culture, and our culture is all the poorer for it.

I guess that you will have to call me an anti-American because I think that it is an honor and duty to kiss the Bishop’s ring.

Perhaps I should amplify my response from above.
A bishop’s signet ring is a device for signing documents by impressing the bishop’s emblem, coat of arms, or other unique device into melted sealing wax on a document.
If you would feel comfortable going to Washington, DC and entering your Senator’s office and asking to kiss his signature machine, then by all means continue the practice of kissing its precursor on the bishop’s hand. Seems an odd practice when placed in perspective.



Does the Bishop ring has only that meaning to you?

When the Senators will get there through ordination and because of the Holy Spirit then I will have no big issues with kissing their signature machines.

Perspective changes when the vanishing points change.

Except that my Senator is not a sucessor to the Apostles and I was never told by Christ that if I hear my Senator, I hear Christ Himself.

Perhaps you should consider that it is a sign of respect toward the authority of Christ embodied in the teaching office of the Apostles, and not an individual person.

Your analogy of the Vicar of Christ on Earth to a US Senator is appalling…

And so you know, the Pope’s ring has powerful symbolism that goes far beyond it’s former use a wax stamp…

Our bishop is upstairs in our church right now ceelbrating the first of two Confirmation liturgies. No one kissed his ring. In fact the only time I ever saw anyone kiss any of our bishops rings 9past bishops and auxiliaries) were when there were Polish nuns attending a diocesan mass. They kissed his ring. I think a lot has to do with local custom. I never saw anyone ever kiss a priest’s hand except a seminarian kissed one of the newly ordained hands a few years ago during the first blessing.

Far be it from me to compare one person to another. I am only comparing the ancient signet ring with a modern auto-pen or signature machine.
Maybe I should have asked “Would you kiss the bishop’s signature machine?”


By the way, no one else has given instructions on the format of ring-kissing.
I will add that one kisses the ring only if it is offered in the manner in which it was described above. If the hand is not extended palm downward, and signet ring facing you, don’t attempt to kiss it.


Do you consider the role of signet to be the ONLY function of the bishop’s ring?

It is a wonderful custom and the way to do it is on you left knee. The right knee is for God and the left, for God’s workers. It is just a quick movement, and if you watched the pope in DC, you would have seen many, many people doing this to him. It is a sign of respect and honor. It does come from the days of kings and queens, but the Catholic Church is a Hierarchy, so the Pope is emperor, and the cardinals kings, and the bishops lords. :p;) But laughing aside, it is a sign of great respect and reverence towards the men who have given their lives to the Church, and who the Church has raised above us in authority.

You get an indulgence if you kiss the Bishop’s ring. It should be an amethyst ring as that is the tradition.

A few years ago, the Bishop of our Diocese was in our parish. At the end of the Mass my Dad went up to him and asked if he could kiss his ring. He didn’t have the amethyst ring but a gold ring and the Bishop had no knowledge of getting an indulgence (partial) from kissing it.

Lots of people say left knee, but actually nothing is mandated so you can do right.

Also, when do I do this? I assume that if I see him across the room I shouldn’t run up to him and kiss his ring.

Why ever not? :wink:
i suppose if he comes to you and extends his hand, then you would kiss the ring. Or when he comes out to you, you could put out your hand for his hand

You also don’t *have *to genuflect.- the document Pontificales Ritus no. 25 says a genuflection is replaced by a bow. I’ve read arguments that this applies only within Mass, not outside, but in any case, you could also just bow and kiss the ring.

I doubt many bishops come toward you with the palm downward. What I do with visiting priests who aren’t used to having their hands kissed is (1) take the hand like for a handshake (2) turn the hand so its palm downward (3) kiss the hand. I guess it would work with bishops as well.

I doubt many bishops come toward you with the palm downward. What I do with visiting priests who aren’t used to having their hands kissed is (1) take the hand like for a handshake (2) turn the hand (3) kiss the hand. I guess it would work with bishops as well.

This is what I was told to do, and is how we greet the Bishop of Charlotte when he visits us here at Belmont Abbey College:

When he comes to greet you, he will extend his hand. Instead of shaking his hand, simply kiss the ring on his hand while bowing slightly. Just make sure you are at a comfortable distance, because attempting to do this too far away or to close will be awkward, you will look silly, and if I know you, I will make fun of you :smiley: .

And maybe his ring is a signet ring, and maybe its function is to imprint seals, but that is only because of the duty which the function serves: the Bishop’s office in service to Christ as a successor to the Apostles. His ring also signifies that office, and it is out of respect for that office that I kiss Bishops’ rings. Anti-American? So what. Some things are bigger and better than America, and thank God, the Catholic Church is one of them. Everything done outside of American social norms can’t be anti-American…some used to say that Catholicism itself was un-American…

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit