Request for Question Clarification by
05 Dec 2005 10:54 PST
while in modern French, the respectful address "Père" (Father) for a
priest is followed by his surname, this used to be different in the
Middle Ages. In medieval France, the name a person had recieved at
baptism was considered the principal name. The additional last name
was only used to individualize a person, since the number of available
baptismal names was limited. Neither were these last names necessarily
hereditary, nor unalterable. Heritability of fixed last names evolved
very slowly, and it became not fully common before 1539, when king
François I issued the decree of Villers-Cotterêts that ordered his
subjects to adopt fixed family names.
Since the last name was not considered a person's principal name, but
only an additional differentiator that could even change, your priest
would have been known as "Père Jean" (or, in Flemish, Vader Jan).
As for the question whether the church would support more than one
priest: Certainly, yes. Churches in medieval towns, especially such of
a certain importance, usually had one or several auxililary priests.
After all, the religious ceremonies were numerous and longsome, and
often several ceremonies took place simultaneously. An important town
church (especially one displaying relics and thus attracting pilgrims)
would surely have more than only one priest to conduct all the
services, rites and ceremonies.
Is that what you needed to know?