Kissing Bishop's ring

Sometimes, when I meet the Bishop and he extends his hand, I try to kiss his ring, but miss and accidentally kiss his hand or finger. He is always gracious about it and never seems to mind or notice. I wonder, is it something I need to be really careful about in the future, or is giving him a light kiss on his hand (close to the ring) good enough, and I don’t need to worry about it?

I wouldn’t worry about it. Either shake his hand, or try for the ring, but if you miss and don’t kiss the ring it’s not a big deal. You said yourself he doesn’t seem to mind.


Not a big deal. The Ring kiss thing in the Latin Church came from the practice of venerating the hands of all priests and bishops. In the East we still kiss priests/bishops hands.

It seems to me that the last several bishops I’ve seen at several dioceses around here just expect a handshake.

Out of curiosity, where do you live? The only reason I ask is because I rarely see American Bishop extend their hands for the kiss (or at least if they do, I’ve never noticed it before)

And the ring kiss thing seems to have vanished along with the amethyst. :shrug:

Well, in theory at least. :wink:

I’ve never ever seen a Bishop or an Archbishop expect anyone to kiss his ring.
And there have been several since I have been working for the church.

I’mm curious too…where does the OP live? (not too specific…like what country)

I don’t know about the present bishop but the last one we had didn’t want people to kiss his ring.

I have mostly lived in the South (USA), and my experience is that the Bishop usually extends his hand as if for a handshake (because many people just shake his hand with a bow), but if you take his hand very lightly, he will raise it up and turn it palm down, so it is easier to kiss the ring. (It worked even with a visiting Bishop from Africa). I see a lot of people (probably about a third) kiss, but only very few get on their knee (that is very unusual and so I don’t). But regardless of what people do, the bishop always smiles at everyone and says something along the lines of “God bless you”, even if I mess up and miss the ring. :slight_smile:

In my Syriac Church, when greeting a priest or bishop, it’s customary a the same time as kissing his hand to state “Glory to Jesus Christ”, the cleric replies “Glory Forever”.

Byzantine’s seem to also state “Master/Reverend father Bless”, whereas he replies, “May the Lord bless you”

Normally I simply take their hand and bow. If it was still the norm I would gladly genuflect and kiss the ring. When I met Cardinal Ouellet 8 or 9 years ago, I did indeed do a full left knee genuflection and kissed his ring. (He was Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada at the time).

Can someone please elaborate on the practice of kissing the Bishop’s ring?

Kissing a Bishop’s ring (or any high clergy’s ring) is the traditional way we show our respect and affection towards the Catholic Church that they represent.

You definitely don’t need to worry about it… If it does bother you, I would just go with a firm hand shake instead…:slight_smile:

Kissing a Bishop’s ring (or any high clergy’s ring) is **A **traditional way we show our respect and affection towards the Catholic Church that they represent

fixed that

I do not understand the correction, but OK.

To say “a way” implies one of several. To say “the way” implies that such is the only way.

I see… So what are other traditional ways? I know that kissing the ring is optional and many people just want to shake hands when meeting the Bishop, and that is fine. But if a person does want to show special respect and affection, what would be other ways to do it? I thought kissing the ring was an established custom.

Yes it is. It is the traditional way of greeting a bishop and showing your respect, not specifically to him personally, but to his office, to the Church. I believe it also signifies submission to the Church, is an acknowledgement of the office of Bishop as successor to the Apostles, and recognises the continuity of the Church through time. In my opinion, it is a lovely gesture, full of symbolism.

Well, I know what kissing the ring is.

I was more interested in when it started, etc. Its history and practice.

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