Traditionally, a chaplain is a minister in a specialized setting such as a priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

, pastor
The word pastor usually refers to an ordained leader of a Christian congregation. When used as an ecclesiastical styling or title, this role may be abbreviated to "Pr." or often "Ps"....

, rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

, or imam
An imam is an Islamic leadership position, often the worship leader of a mosque and the Muslim community. Similar to spiritual leaders, the imam is the one who leads Islamic worship services. More often, the community turns to the mosque imam if they have a religious question...

 or lay
In religious organizations, the laity comprises all people who are not in the clergy. A person who is a member of a religious order who is not ordained legitimate clergy is considered as a member of the laity, even though they are members of a religious order .In the past in Christian cultures, the...

 representative of a religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

  attached to a secular institution such as a hospital
A hospital is a health care institution providing patient treatment by specialized staff and equipment. Hospitals often, but not always, provide for inpatient care or longer-term patient stays....

, prison
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

, military unit, police department, university
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

, or private chapel
A chapel is a building used by Christians as a place of fellowship and worship. It may be part of a larger structure or complex, such as a church, college, hospital, palace, prison or funeral home, located on board a military or commercial ship, or it may be an entirely free-standing building,...

. Though originally the word "chaplain" referred to representatives of the Christian faith, it is now applied to men and women of other religions or philosophical traditions–such as in the case of the humanist
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

 chaplains serving with military forces in the Netherlands and Belgium. In recent years many lay individuals have received professional training in chaplaincy and are now appointed as chaplains in schools, hospitals, universities, prisons and elsewhere to work alongside or instead of official members of the clergy.


A chaplain provides pastoral (spiritual) and emotional support for service personnel, including the conduct of religious services at sea or in the field. Military chaplains have a long history; the first English
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 military-oriented chaplains, for instance, were priests on board proto-naval vessels during the 8th century. Land based chaplains appeared during the reign of King Edward I
Edward I of England
Edward I , also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England from 1272 to 1307. The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved early in the political intrigues of his father's reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons...

. The current form of military chaplain dates from the era of the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...


Chaplains are nominated, appointed, or commissioned in different ways in different countries. A military chaplain can be an army-trained soldier with additional theological
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 training or a priest nominated to the army by religious authorities. In the United Kingdom the Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Defence is the United Kingdom government department responsible for implementation of government defence policy and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces....

 employs chaplains but their authority comes from their sending church. Royal Navy chaplains undertake a 16 week bespoke
Bespoke is a term employed in a variety of applications to mean an item custom-made to the buyer's specification...

 induction and training course including a short course at Britannia Royal Naval College and specialist fleet time at sea alongside a more experienced chaplain. Naval Chaplains called to service with the Royal Marines undertake a grueling 5 month long Commando Course, and if successful wear the commandos' Green Beret. British Army chaplains undertake seven weeks training at The Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre Amport House
Amport House
Amport House, currently the British Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre , is a manor house in the village of Amport, near Andover, Hampshire....

 and The Royal Military Academy
Sandhurst. Royal Air Force chaplains must complete 12 weeks Specialist Entrant course at the RAF College Cranwell followed by a Chaplains' Induction Course at Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre Amport House
Amport House
Amport House, currently the British Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre , is a manor house in the village of Amport, near Andover, Hampshire....

 of a further 2 weeks. In the United States military, chaplains must be endorsed by their religious affiliation in order to serve in any facet of the military.

Military Chaplains are normally accorded officer status, although Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone , officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea to the north and east, Liberia to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and southwest. Sierra Leone covers a total area of and has an estimated population between 5.4 and 6.4...

 had a Naval Lance Corporal chaplain in 2001. In most navies, their badges and insignia do not differentiate their levels of responsibility and status. By contrast, in Air Forces and Armies, they typically carry ranks and are differentiated by crosses or other equivalent religious insignia. However, United States military chaplains Association and every branch carry both rank and Chaplain Corps insignia.

Though the Geneva Conventions
Geneva Conventions
The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties, and three additional protocols, that establish the standards of international law for the humanitarian treatment of the victims of war...

 do not state whether chaplains may bear arms, they specify (Protocol I, 8 June 1977, Art 43.2) that chaplains are noncombatants
Non-combatant is a term in the law of war describing civilians not taking a direct part in hostilities, as well as persons such as medical personnel and military chaplains who are regular soldiers but are protected because of their function as well as soldiers who are hors de combat ; that is, sick,...

. In recent years both the UK and US have required chaplains, but not medical personnel, to be unarmed. Other nations, notably Norway, Denmark and Sweden, make it an issue of individual conscience. Captured chaplains are not considered Prisoners of War (Third Convention, 12 August 1949, Chapter IV Art 33) and must be returned to their home nation unless retained to minister to prisoners of war.
Inevitably, a significant number of serving chaplains have died in action. The U.S. Army
and Marines lost 100 chaplains killed in action during WWII: a casualty rate greater "than any other branch of the services except the infantry and the Army Air Corps" (Crosby, 1994, pxxiii). Many have
been decorated for bravery in action (five have won Britain's highest award for gallantry, the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

). The Chaplain's Medal for Heroism
Chaplain's Medal for Heroism
The Chaplain's Medal for Heroism is a decoration of the United States Congress which was authorized by an act of Congress on July 14, 1960. Also known as the Chaplain's Medal of Honor and the Four Chaplains' Medal, the decoration commemorates the actions of the Four Chaplains who gave their lives...

 is a special U.S. military decoration
Awards and decorations of the United States military
Awards and decorations of the United States Military are military decorations which recognize service and personal accomplishments while a member of the United States armed forces...

 given to military chaplains who have been killed in the line of duty, although it has to date only been awarded to the famous Four Chaplains
Four Chaplains
The Four Chaplains, also sometimes referred to as the "Immortal Chaplains," were four United States Army chaplains who gave their lives to save other civilian and military personnel during the sinking of the troop ship USAT Dorchester during World War II. They helped other soldiers board lifeboats...

, all of whom died in the USAT Dorchester
USAT Dorchester
USAT Dorchester was a United States Army Transport ship that was sunk by a torpedo from a German U-boat on February 3, 1943, during World War II...

 sinking in 1943 after giving up their lifejackets to others.

The United States European Command
United States European Command
The United States European Command is one of ten Unified Combatant Commands of the United States military, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. Its area of focus covers and 51 countries and territories, including Europe, Russia, Iceland, Greenland, and Israel...

 has co-sponsored an annual International Military Chiefs of Chaplains Conference every year since 1991.

At times, the existence of military chaplains has been challenged in countries that have a separation of Church and State
Separation of church and state
The concept of the separation of church and state refers to the distance in the relationship between organized religion and the nation state....



The State has the twofold responsibility about crime and punishment: to discourage behavior that is harmful to human rights and the fundamental norms of civil life, and to repair, through the penal system, the disorder created by criminal activity. Judicial and penal institutions play a fundamental role in protecting citizens and safeguarding the common good. By their very nature these institutions must contribute to the rehabilitation of offenders. So, prisons are a reality of any society. But, quite often, prison causes more problems than it solves.

The manifold complexity of prison chaplaincy was explained by Dr. /Measuring_Chaplaincy.htm Measuring Prison Chaplaincy]. Dr. Vance Drum wrote and presented a paper at the American Correctional Association on the nature of the professional prison
Generally speaking, prisoners are often persons excluded, aborted from society. Prisoners easily can be overwhelmed by feelings of isolation, shame and rejection that threaten to shatter their hopes and aspirations for the future. Within this contex

Rabbi Philip R. Alstat
Philip R. Alstat
Philip Reis Alstat was a well-known American Conservative rabbi, teacher, chaplain, speaker and writer. Born in Kaunas , Lithuania, he came to the United States in 1898, studying at City College of New York , Columbia University , and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America , where he received...

 (1891–1976), who—in addition to work as a chaplain in New York hospitals and senior citizen facilities—served for three decades as the Jewish chaplain for "The Tombs
The Tombs
"The Tombs" is the colloquial name for the Manhattan Detention Complex, a jail in Lower Manhattan at 125 White Street, as well as the popular name of a series of preceding downtown jails, the first of which was built in 1838 in the Egyptian Revival style of architecture.The nickname has been used...

", the Manhattan Detention Facility, once described his service as follows: "My goals are the same as those of the prison authorities--to make better human beings. The only difference is that their means are discipline, security, and iron bars.
Mine are the spiritual ministrations that operate with the mind and the heart."
The Africa Commandant of the Mission for Africa Chaplain corps (Apostle Dr T.L Ambel)
The mission for Africa Chaplain corps Oyo state commandant Rev J.K Afolabi,The mission for Africa chaplain corps Deputy Commandant Oyo State, Rev. T.K Okeleye
The mission for Africa chaplain corps Kogi state commandant Apostle keddy Balogun
International commandant, Clinton, Mississippi USA Apostle Dr E.L Taylor


Some nations, including the United States, have chaplains appointed to work with parliamentary bodies, such as the Chaplain of the United States Senate
Chaplain of the United States Senate
The Chaplain of the United States Senate opens each session of the United States Senate with a prayer, and provides and coordinates religious programs and pastoral care support for Senators, their staffs, and their families. The Chaplain is appointed by a majority vote of the members of the Senate...

, and the Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives
Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives
The election of William Linn as Chaplain of the House on May 1, 1789, continued the tradition established by the Continental Congresses of each day's proceedings opening with a prayer by a chaplain. The early Chaplains alternated duties with their Senate counterparts on a weekly basis, covering the...

. In addition to opening proceedings with prayer, these chaplains provide pastoral counseling to congressional members, their staffs, and their families; coordinate the scheduling of guest chaplains, who offer opening prayers; arrange and sometimes conduct marriages, memorial services, and funeral services for congress, staff, and their families; and conduct or coordinate religious services, study groups, prayer meetings, holiday programs, and religious education programs, as well.

Law Enforcement

Law Enforcement Chaplains serve in local, county, state and federal agencies and provide a variety of services within the law enforcement community. They should not be confused with Prison Chaplains
Ukraine prison ministry
After the fall of the Soviet Union, the independent Ukrainian country underwent tremendous stress when it shifted from a centrally planned economy to certain kind of a free market system. Those changes, being led by the post-communist oligarchy, caused increasing number of needy and homeless people...

, whose primary ministry is to those who are incarcerated either awaiting trial or after conviction. The role of the Law Enforcement Chaplain deals primarily with Law Enforcement personnel and agencies. The chaplain responds to these unique needs and challenges with religious guidance, reassuring and trustworthy presence, resources and counseling services. The Law Enforcement chaplain offers support to Law Enforcement Officers, Administrators, Support Staff, Victims and their families, and occasionally even the families of accused or convicted offenders.

Fire Department

Chaplains working with fire department provide the same kind of support to firefighters as do chaplains working with law enforcement, and sometimes face even greater danger, working with the wounded in often very dangerous surroundings.

At the scene of the September 11 attacks on New York's World Trade Center, for example, Franciscan Friar fire chaplain, Fr. Mychal F. Judge, lost his life when he re-entered one of the World Trade Center buildings, shortly after administering last rites to a wounded firefighter.


Many hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospices employ chaplains to assist with the pastoral and emotional needs of patients, families and staff. Chaplains are often employed at senior citizen facilities and retirement homes as well.

In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, health care chaplains who are board certified have completed a minimum of four units of Clinical Pastoral Education training through the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education or The College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy and may be certified by one of the following organizations:
The Association of Professional Chaplains, The National Association of Catholic Chaplains, The National Association of Jewish Chaplains, or The College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy. Certification typically requires a Masters of Divinity degree (or its equivalent), faith group ordination or commissioning, faith group endorsement, and four units (1600 hours) of Clinical Pastoral Education (the Military Chaplains Association of the United States of America does require more, but they are a dod2088 501c-3 military support group founded in 1954 by Military Chaplains).

In Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Health Care Chaplains may be certified by the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care.

In England, Health Care Chaplains are employed by their local NHS Trust
NHS Trust
A National Health Service trust provides services on behalf of the National Health Service in England and NHS Wales.The trusts are not trusts in the legal sense but are in effect public sector corporations. Each trust is headed by a board consisting of executive and non-executive directors, and is...

 or by charities associated with hospice
Hospice is a type of care and a philosophy of care which focuses on the palliation of a terminally ill patient's symptoms.In the United States and Canada:*Gentiva Health Services, national provider of hospice and home health services...

. The majority work part-time, combining their role with another post, either in a local Church or another chaplaincy. The professional body
Professional body
A professional association is usually a nonprofit organization seeking to further a particular profession, the interests of individuals engaged in that profession, and the public interest.The roles of these professional associations have been variously defined: "A group of people in a...

 in England is the College of Health Care Chaplains
College of Health Care Chaplains
The College of Health Care Chaplains is one of the three UK national professional associations for chaplains working in health care, including the NHS. The college was formed in 1992 by the fusion of the Hospital Chaplains' Fellowship and the National Association of Whole Time Hospital Chaplains....

. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, the bodies are the Scottish Association of Chaplains in Healthcare (SACH) and the Northern Ireland Healthcare Chaplains Association. Membership of the College of Health Care Chaplains is not compulsory but may be advantageous as it carries with it membership of a Trade Union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

. Chaplains working in a palliative care
Palliative care
Palliative care is a specialized area of healthcare that focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients...

 setting may also choose to join the Association of Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplains
Association of Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplains
The Association of Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplains is a UK professional body, existing specifically for chaplains working in a Hospice and/or Palliative Care setting...



Some businesses, large or small, employ chaplains for their staff and/or clientele. According to The Economist (August 25, 2007, p64) there are 4,000 corporate chaplains in the U.S. alone, with the majority being employees of specialist chaplaincy companies such as Marketplace Chaplains USA or Corporate Chaplains of America. According to the Marketplace Chaplains USA, turnover at Taco Bell outlets in central Texas dropped by a third after they started employing chaplains. Workplace Chaplain organizations, such as Marketplace Chaplains Europe and Capellania Empresarial in Paraguay have been established outside the US.


A sports chaplain provides pastoral care for the sports person and the broader sports community including the coach
Coach (sport)
In sports, a coach is an individual involved in the direction, instruction and training of the operations of a sports team or of individual sportspeople.-Staff:...

, administrator
Academic administration
An academic administration is a branch of university or college employees responsible for the maintenance and supervision of the institution and separate from the faculty or academics, although some personnel may have joint responsibilities...

s and their families.

Chaplains to sports communities have existed since the middle of the 20th century and have significantly grown in the past 20 years. The United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 have well established Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 sports chaplaincy ministries
Christian ministry
In Christianity, ministry is an activity carried out by Christians to express or spread their faith. 2003's Encyclopedia of Christianity defines it as "carrying forth Christ's mission in the world", indicating that it is "conferred on each Christian in baptism." It is performed by all Christians...


Sports Chaplains consist of people from many different walks of life. Most commonly, the chaplains are ministers or full time Christian workers but occasionally, chaplaincy work is done without charge or any financial remuneration. Often, sports chaplains to a particular sport are former participants of that sport. This helps the chaplain to not only provide spiritual support and guidance to a player, but gives them the ability to empathize and relate to some of the challenges facing the participant with whom they are ministering.


A domestic chaplain was a chaplain attached to a noble
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

The household is "the basic residential unit in which economic production, consumption, inheritance, child rearing, and shelter are organized and carried out"; [the household] "may or may not be synonymous with family"....

 in order to grant the family a degree of self-sufficiency in religion. The chaplain was freed from any obligation to reside in a particular place so could travel with the family, internationally if necessary, and minister to their spiritual needs. Further, the family could appoint a chaplain who reflected their own doctrinal views. Domestic chaplains performed family christenings, funerals and weddings and were able to conduct services in the family's private chapel, excusing the nobility from attending public worship.

In feudal times most laymen, and for centuries even most noblemen, were poorly educated and the chaplain would also be an important source of scholarship
A scholarship is an award of financial aid for a student to further education. Scholarships are awarded on various criteria usually reflecting the values and purposes of the donor or founder of the award.-Types:...

 in the household, tutoring children and providing counsel to the family on matters broader than religion. Before the advent of the legal profession
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

, modern bureaucracy
A bureaucracy is an organization of non-elected officials of a governmental or organization who implement the rules, laws, and functions of their institution, and are occasionally characterized by officialism and red tape.-Weberian bureaucracy:...

 and civil service
Civil service
The term civil service has two distinct meanings:* A branch of governmental service in which individuals are employed on the basis of professional merit as proven by competitive examinations....

, the literate clergy were often employed as secretarial
A secretary, or administrative assistant, is a person whose work consists of supporting management, including executives, using a variety of project management, communication & organizational skills. These functions may be entirely carried out to assist one other employee or may be for the benefit...

 staff, as in a chancery
Chancellor is the title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the Cancellarii of Roman courts of justice—ushers who sat at the cancelli or lattice work screens of a basilica or law court, which separated the judge and counsel from the...

. Hence the term clerk, derived from Latin clericus (clergyman). This made them very influential in temporal affairs. There was also a moral impact since they heard the confessions of the elite.

The domestic chaplain was an important part of the life of the peerage
The Peerage is a legal system of largely hereditary titles in the United Kingdom, which constitute the ranks of British nobility and is part of the British honours system...

 in England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 from the reign of Henry VIII to the middle of the 19th century. Up until 1840, Anglican domestic chaplains were regulated by law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 and enjoyed the substantial financial advantage of being able to purchase a license
The verb license or grant licence means to give permission. The noun license or licence refers to that permission as well as to the document recording that permission.A license may be granted by a party to another party as an element of an agreement...

 to hold two benefice
A benefice is a reward received in exchange for services rendered and as a retainer for future services. The term is now almost obsolete.-Church of England:...

s simultaneously while residing in neither.

Many monarchies and major noble
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

 houses had, or still have, several domestic or private chaplains as part of their Ecclesiastical Household
Ecclesiastical Household
The Ecclesiastical Household is a part of the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. Reflecting the different constitutions of the Churches of England and of Scotland, there are separate Ecclesiastical Households in each nation.-England:...

, either following them or attached to a castle or other residence. Queen Elizabeth II has 36 Anglican chaplains, in addition to chaplains extraordinary and honorary chaplains appointed to minister to her. Castles with attached chaplains generally had at least one Chapel Royal
Chapel Royal
A Chapel Royal is a body of priests and singers who serve the spiritual needs of their sovereign wherever they are called upon to do so.-Austria:...

, sometimes as significant as a cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

. A modern example is St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, also the home of the Order of the Garter
Order of the Garter
The Most Noble Order of the Garter, founded in 1348, is the highest order of chivalry, or knighthood, existing in England. The order is dedicated to the image and arms of St...



Chaplains are appointed by many educational institutions, including colleges and universities, sometimes working directly for the institution, and sometimes as representatives of separate organizations that specifically work to support students, such as Hillel College Campus Ministry for Jews, and Newman House, College Campus Ministry, for Catholics. The National Association of College and University Chaplains works to support the efforts of many of these chaplains, helping chaplains minister to the individual faith of students, faculty, and staff, while promoting interreligious understanding. Chaplains often also oversee programs on campus that
foster spiritual, ethical, religious, and political and cultural exchange, and the promotion of service.


Chaplains can also be attached to emergency services agencies, private clubs, television or radio stations, groups such as Boys and Girls Brigade companies and Scout
Scouting, also known as the Scout Movement, is a worldwide youth movement with the stated aim of supporting young people in their physical, mental and spiritual development, that they may play constructive roles in society....

 troops, airports, cruise ships, nightclub
A nightclub is an entertainment venue which usually operates late into the night...

s, private companies, and theaters. The term can also refer to priests attached to Roman Catholic convent
A convent is either a community of priests, religious brothers, religious sisters, or nuns, or the building used by the community, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Anglican Communion...


There is also the position of Chaplain of His Holiness
Chaplain of His Holiness
A Chaplain of His Holiness is a priest to whom the Pope has granted this title. They are addressed as Monsignor and have certain privileges, such as regards ecclesiastical dress....

, a title granted by the Pope to certain priests who become part of the Papal Household and work with the Papal Chapel. Prior to 1968 they were called Supernumerary Privy Chamberlains.


Many musical bands (especially Christian bands) bring a chaplain with them while they are on tour to conduct services if they are not around a church at the moment. There can also be chaplains who minister concert-goers at music festival
Music festival
A music festival is a festival oriented towards music that is sometimes presented with a theme such as musical genre, nationality or locality of musicians, or holiday. They are commonly held outdoors, and are often inclusive of other attractions such as food and merchandise vending machines,...


Chaplains in media

Father Francis Duffy
Francis P. Duffy
Francis Patrick Duffy was an American soldier, Roman Catholic priest and chaplain. As the chaplain for the "Fighting 69th", he became the most highly decorated cleric in the history of the U.S. Army. Duffy Square, the northern half of Times Square, is named after him.-Early life and...

, famed chaplain of the U.S. 69th Infantry Regiment
U.S. 69th Infantry Regiment
The 69th Infantry Regiment is a military unit from New York City, part of the New York Army National Guard. It is known as the Fighting Sixty-Ninth, a name said to have been given to it by Robert E. Lee during the Civil War...

 in World War I was a central character portrayed by Pat O'Brien
Pat O'Brien (actor)
Pat O’Brien was an American film actor with more than one hundred screen credits.-Early life:O’Brien was born William Joseph Patrick O’Brien to an Irish-American Catholic family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He served as an altar boy at Gesu Church while growing up near 13th and Clybourn streets...

 in the 1940 Warner Brothers Movie The Fighting 69th.

Father Barry was a waterfront priest played by Karl Malden
Karl Malden
Karl Malden was an American actor. In a career that spanned more than seven decades, he performed in such classic films as A Streetcar Named Desire, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, On the Waterfront and One-Eyed Jacks...

, who was shamed into fomenting violence against the union/mob in the ultraclassic movie "On the Waterfront
On the Waterfront
On the Waterfront is a 1954 American drama film about union violence and corruption among longshoremen. The film was directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg. It stars Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint, Lee J. Cobb and Karl Malden. The soundtrack score was composed by Leonard...

", directed by Elia Kazan
Elia Kazan
Elia Kazan was an American director and actor, described by the New York Times as "one of the most honored and influential directors in Broadway and Hollywood history". Born in Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, to Greek parents originally from Kayseri in Anatolia, the family emigrated...

 and starring Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando, Jr. was an American movie star and political activist. "Unchallenged as the most important actor in modern American Cinema" according to the St...

, Rod Steiger
Rod Steiger
Rodney Stephen "Rod" Steiger was an Academy Award-winning American actor known for his performances in such films as On the Waterfront, The Big Knife, Oklahoma!, The Harder They Fall, Across the Bridge, The Pawnbroker, Doctor Zhivago, In the Heat of the Night, and Waterloo as well as the...

 and Eve Marie Saint.

Chaplains have appeared as characters in several works of fiction about historical and imagined militaries. Father Mulcahy, a character in the M*A*S*H novels, film
MASH (film)
MASH is a 1970 American satirical dark comedy film directed by Robert Altman and written by Ring Lardner, Jr., based on Richard Hooker's novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors. It is the only feature film in the M*A*S*H franchise...

, and TV series, is a well known fictional chaplain.

In addition, Chaplains have been featured in mass media channels, such as the popular comic strip Doonesbury
Doonesbury is a comic strip by American cartoonist Garry Trudeau, that chronicles the adventures and lives of an array of characters of various ages, professions, and backgrounds, from the President of the United States to the title character, Michael Doonesbury, who has progressed from a college...

, authored by Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

-winning author Garry Trudeau
Garry Trudeau
Garretson Beekman "Garry" Trudeau is an American cartoonist, best known for the Doonesbury comic strip.-Background and education:...

. The Rev. Scot Sloan is a character in Doonesbury inspired by real people: Stanford's Dean for Religious Life, Scotty McLennan
Scotty McLennan
The Reverend William L. McLennan, Jr. — better known as "Scotty McLennan" — was born on November 21, 1948, son of William L. McLennan and Alice Polk Warner. He is an ordained minister, lawyer, professor, published author, public speaker and senior administrator at Stanford University...

, along with his mentor, former Yale
RapidMiner, formerly YALE , is an environment for machine learning, data mining, text mining, predictive analytics, and business analytics. It is used for research, education, training, rapid prototyping, application development, and industrial applications...

 Chaplain William Sloane Coffin
William Sloane Coffin
William Sloane Coffin, Jr. was an American liberal Christian clergyman and long-time peace activist. He was ordained in the Presbyterian church and later received ministerial standing in the United Church of Christ....


The Chaplain is also a key figure in Albert Camus' novel "L'Etranger"
The Stranger (novel)
The Stranger or The Outsider is a novel by Albert Camus published in 1942. Its theme and outlook are often cited as examples of existentialism, though Camus did not consider himself an existentialist; in fact, its content explores various philosophical schools of thought, including absurdism, as...

 ("The Stranger," sometimes called, "The Outsider").

The profession of military chaplaincy is reflected in several major works of world literature, such as in the Herman Melville
Herman Melville
Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. He is best known for his novel Moby-Dick and the posthumous novella Billy Budd....

 novella Billy Budd, Jaroslav Hasek
Jaroslav Hašek
Jaroslav Hašek was a Czech humorist, satirist, writer and socialist anarchist best known for his novel The Good Soldier Švejk, an unfinished collection of farcical incidents about a soldier in World War I and a satire on the ineptitude of authority figures, which has been translated into sixty...

's novel The Good Soldier Švejk, and Joseph Heller
Joseph Heller
Joseph Heller was a US satirical novelist, short story writer, and playwright. His best known work is Catch-22, a novel about US servicemen during World War II...

's novel Catch-22.

Jewish chaplains have been featured as main characters in books such as Herbert Tarr's The Conversion of Chaplain Cohen (which also includes an excellent portrayal of the U.S. Air Force Chaplain School experience), and Chaim Potok's The Book of Lights.

In the brutal dystopian future of Warhammer 40,000
Warhammer 40,000
Warhammer 40,000 is a tabletop miniature wargame produced by Games Workshop, set in a dystopian science fantasy universe. Warhammer 40,000 was created by Rick Priestley in 1987 as the futuristic companion to Warhammer Fantasy Battle, sharing many game mechanics...

, Chaplains are Space Marine
Space marine
The space marine, an archetype of science fiction, is a soldier that operates in outer space or on alien worlds. Historical marines fulfill amphibious roles: ship defence, landing parties, and general high-mobility deployments...

 warrior priests. They are typically the most pious and zealous warriors in a Space Marine chapter and always fight at the forefront of an engagement.

Chaplains serve as combat soldiers in the Mobile Infantry
Mobile Infantry (Starship Troopers)
The Mobile Infantry is a fictional military force in Robert A. Heinlein's novel Starship Troopers and in the movies Starship Troopers, released in 1997, the 2004 sequel, Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation, the 2008 film Starship Troopers 3: Marauder and the TV series Roughnecks: Starship...

 from Robert A. Heinlein
Robert A. Heinlein
Robert Anson Heinlein was an American science fiction writer. Often called the "dean of science fiction writers", he was one of the most influential and controversial authors of the genre. He set a standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of...

's Starship Troopers
Starship Troopers
Starship Troopers is a military science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, first published as a serial in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and published hardcover in December, 1959.The first-person narrative is about a young soldier from the Philippines named Juan "Johnnie" Rico and his...


The life of Dr. Lonnie Pepper, a fictional corporate chaplain, is detailed in a novel written by Mark Cress called The Third Awakening.

In the television series V (2009 TV series)
V (2009 TV series)
V is an American science fiction television series that ran for two seasons on ABC, from November 3, 2009 to March 15, 2011. A remake of the 1983 miniseries created by Kenneth Johnson, the new series chronicles the arrival on Earth of a technologically advanced alien species which ostensibly comes...

, one of the main characters, Father Jack is mentioned to have served as a military chaplain before the series.

See also

  • Almoner
    An almoner is a chaplain or church officer who originally was in charge of distributing cash to the deserving poor.Historically, almoners were Christian religious functionaries whose duty was to distribute alms to the poor. Monasteries were required to spend one tenth of their income in charity to...

  • Minister
    Minister of religion
    In Christian churches, a minister is someone who is authorized by a church or religious organization to perform functions such as teaching of beliefs; leading services such as weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community...

  • Priest
    A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

  • Ukraine prison ministry
    Ukraine prison ministry
    After the fall of the Soviet Union, the independent Ukrainian country underwent tremendous stress when it shifted from a centrally planned economy to certain kind of a free market system. Those changes, being led by the post-communist oligarchy, caused increasing number of needy and homeless people...

  • United States military chaplain symbols
    United States military chaplain symbols
    Religious symbolism in the United States military includes the use of religious symbols for military chaplain insignia, uniforms, emblems, flags, and chapels; symbolic gestures, actions, and words used in military rituals and ceremonies; and religious symbols or designations used in areas such as...

Further reading

  • Paul Alexander, (2008), Peace to War: Shifting Allegiances in the Assemblies of God. Telford, PA: Cascadia Publishing/Herald Press. This book contains a scholarly analysis of the impact of Pentecostal military chaplaincy during the 20th century.
  • Bergen, Doris. L., (ed), 2004. The Sword of the Lord: Military Chaplains from the First to the Twenty-First Century. University of Notre Dame Press ISBN 0-268-02176-7
  • Nay, Robert "The Operational, Social, Religious Influences Upon The Army Chaplain Field Manual, 1926-1952"
  • Norman, James (2004) At the Heart of Education: School Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care. Dublin: Veritas Publications. ISBN 1-85390-752-9
  • Paget, Naomi & McCormack, Janet (2006). The Work of the Chaplain. Valley Forge: Judson Press. ISBN 0817014995
  • Smith, John C., Chaplain (International Chaplains Association)
  • VandeCreek, Larry & Lucas, Art (2001). The Discipline for Pastoral Care Giving: Foundations for Outcome Oriented Chaplaincy. Binghamton: The Haworth Press. ISBN 0-7890-1345-2
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