n Journal for Contemporary History - The development of military chaplaincy, with special reference to South Africa (up to 1966)

Volume 34, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-2422
  • E-ISSN: 2415-0509



The term ''chaplain'' is derived from the Latin term , and evolved over time to denote different assignments in liturgical, administrative and diplomatic services. During the Middle Ages, one responsibility in this regard was that of ministering to those in the parish who lived inconveniently far from the parish church, and the modern concept of chaplaincy is analogous to this assignment: a ministry to people in unusual circumstances which may preclude normal church services, such as hospital, prison, police or military chaplaincy. A chaplain can therefore be defined as a member of the clergy, or a priest, who is ordained by his / her denomination to minister to a specific community. Today, non-ordained people are also trained in chaplaincy and appointed at institutions, hospitals and prisons to assist or replace ordained chaplains. It should be kept in mind that the modern chaplain does not become an inherent part of the community to which he / she is ministering. In the case of military chaplaincy, the chaplain does not become an active combatant. This in itself is an anomaly, because the chaplain is also a paid military official.

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