Why we kiss the hand of a priest

You may have noticed it sometimes: The priest’s hand is kissed during a Mass ceremony or by one of the faithful when greeting him.

Origin

The reason why the hand of a priest is kissed (for example during the liturgy), is because the hands of bishops and priests are consecrated.

This makes the hands the ultimate symbol for the priesthood. By kissing their hand, we render praise to God for the sacraments Christ has entrusted to the Church and her consecrated servants, the priests.

Outside the liturgy

In many countries it was traditional to kiss the consecrated hand of a priest even outside the liturgy. This tradition is still practiced in Latin America and certain parts of Eastern Europe.

What about bishops?

Bishops generally do not get kissed on the hand, but on their episcopal ring. To find out more why that is, read our other article: Why we kiss the ring of a Bishop.

Semper Excelsius is a website for the defense of the Catholic faith through instruction and informative articles. Its focus is on explaining the rich history and traditions of the holy Roman Catholic Church, while defending her teachings against false assumptions and doctrinal errors.

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