Things you have nitpicked recently

I have a nitpicky disposition, at least for things that don’t matter, as I’m sure many of us do. Of late I have at least managed to teach myself not to communicate this out loud, mais bon.

My particular bêtes noires are referring to any big church as a cathedral (only the seats of dioceses are) and referring to the UK as England or calling The Queen “the Queen of England” (the last queen of England was Queen Anne).

Today, I picked two nits that surprised even me with their banality:

  1. On a poster for the film Bon Cop Bad Cop, the cop from Quebec is wearing a badge that says Sécurité du Québec. The Quebec provincial police force is called Sûreté du Québec, not Sécurité.

  2. On a map of Longueuil, the locks on the St. Lawrence Seaway are identified with a little icon of a lock with a little sailboat in full sail on either side. Vessels may not transit Seaway locks under sail.

Clearly we are kindred spirits. There’s a new apartment complex here in Sydney that has been built on top of the old Scots church. It’s being advertised as an “historic cathedral redevelopment”. Everytime I walk past I feel the urge to go in and tell the sales rep that the sign is incorrect, that the building has never been a cathedral, that the Presbyterians are not an episcopally-organised church etc. It wouldn’t do any good of course. The rep would just raise his eyes and think: “what a nutter”.

OK youse smarty-pantses: to enlighten the likes of me, what is the difference between a Cathedral and a Bloody Big Church then?


A cathedral is the church in which the bishop of a diocese has his throne, the symbol of his authority over the diocese. The Latin word for throne is *cathedra * - hence cathedral. It’s the presence of the throne, not the size of the church, that makes a church a cathedral (St Patrick’s or St Paul’s in Melbourne). A big church without a throne is simply a big church - Our Lady of Victories at Camberwell is pretty large, but it’s not a cathedral. And then there are the small cathedrals - the cathedral for the Anglican diocese of the Murray in Murray Bridge is pretty tiny, but it still ranks as a cathedral because that’s where the bishop’s throne is.

Thankyew. :smiley:

I have always known that St. Pats and St. Pauls were cathedrals, but being so ignorant of both catholicism and anglicanism never really understood why they got the big kahuna accolades whilst some of the other decent sized churches (like St. Ignats in Richmond) missed out.

Fighting ignorance on a Saturday arvo. Well done. :smiley:

While we’re at it, a basilica is a Catholic church that has been granted that honour by the Pope, usually due to some sort of historical or architectural distinctiveness. There are two kinds: major basilicas - there are only five, all in Rome - and minor basilicas, which are all the rest of them.

In Montreal, for example, there are four basilicas: St. Joseph’s Oratory, Notre Dame Basilica, St. Patrick’s Basilica, and Mary Queen of the World Cathedral - more properly termed the Cathedral-Basilica of Mary Queen of the World and St. James the Great. There are a number of cathedrals, one for each episcopal denomination represented, of which the best known are Mary Queen of the World and Christ Church Cathedral (Anglican).

Then you have your co-cathedrals; in a diocese that for some reason requires it, a co-cathedral might be set up to share the bishop’s seat with the first cathedral. For example, the diocese of Saint-Jean of Quebec was set up with its seat in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu; later, it was thought that a cathedral was required in the booming city of Longueuil, so a church was so designated, becoming the Co-Cathedral of Saint-Antoine-de-Padoue, with the diocese being renamed Saint-Jean–Longueuil.

In a discussion about Fight Club, somebody referred to the narrator as “Jack”, even though that’s not his name. I was Jack’s raging bile duct.

And then there’s the pro-cathedral - when a diocese names a church as the seat of the bishop on an interim basis, planning to build a larger one when they get more established. I believe it was common on the Prairies during the early years of settlement, when the first churches were perforce small, possibly just wood framed buildings.

I was in an on-line discussion concerning the residency requirement to enroll in public schools. Some folk were building a home, but had never lived in town, and were upset at being asked to pay tuition. (Don’t ask - long story).
Some guy got a little snotty about the wording of one of my posts, and said, in essence, "Of course we should expect everyone to comply with such a pithy regulation."
I took the bait, and agreed to make it personal. Said, if he was going to criticize people’s grammar , he should be sure not to misuse words like pithy (unless he meant “pissy” and lisped).
He came back with pithy means “important”, and besides, he was using the word sarcastically as most folk do.
I stupidly did not immediately drop it, and tried to explain/clarify my understanding of the word’s definition/usage.
And then other folk started chiming in to agree with the other guy.
Way to undercut any points I wanted to make in the original discussion.