Necrology (from Gr. νεκρός, dead, and λόγος, discourse, or enumeration) is the name given in the Roman Catholic Church to a book anciently kept in churches and monasteries, wherein were registered the names of benefactors of such establishments, the time of their death, and the days of their commemoration; as also the deaths of the priors, abbots, religious canons, etc. This record was also called Calendar and Obituary. The name of Necrology was anciently given sometimes to what is now designated generally as Martyrology (q.v.). When the diptychs fell into desuetude, necrologies, obituaries, books of the dead, books of annals or anniversaries, and books of life took their place as records in cathedrals and collegiate churches and minsters of the names of the deceased. The Benedictines adopted them at the beginning of the 6th century. When an abbot or distinguished monk died, a messenger, carrying a brief or roll, a kind of encyclical letter, rode to the various associated abbeys or churches to apprise them of his decease, and left a schedule containing his own name and that of the dead, and the date of his arrival. The new name was then inserted in the several obituaries. These were read after the martyrology at prime, but in a monastery after the rule. The names were recited on their several anniversaries, and in the case of a benefactor the De profundis and a special prayer were sung. The abbot was commemorated by the words, "The deposition of lord abbot N." All others had the simple affix "obiit," i.e., he died. First were read out the names of abbots, then monks, provosts, precentors, and in succession those of sacristans, bishops, priests, sovereigns, and soldiers. Saints were also included; and for convenience a single volume generally comprised the monastic rule, the martyrology, and obituary. The gifts of benefactors were often recited; but sometimes only a general commemoration of all brethren and familiars of the order was made, followed by the words, "Requiescat in pace" — may he rest in peace — uttered by the president, and closed by an "amen" chanted by the whole chapter. Cowell says that at the prayer of the prothesis the Greeks had their names inserted in the catalogue, and deposited a present in money, which formed a considerable portion of a country priest's income. See Walcott, Sacred Archceology, pages 396, 397; Martigny, Dictionnaire des Antiquites Chretiennes, pages 432, 433; Martene, De Antiq. Monach. ritib. volume 1, part 1, chapter 5.

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