Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Boy Bishop

Boy Bishop. During the middle ages, both in England and on the Continent, it was customary on December 6, the festival of St. Nicolas, the great patron saint of children, for one of the choristers in cathedral and collegiate churches to be elected bishop by the rest. He then performed most of the usual episcopal functions, holding visitations, preaching sermons, and sometimes even leading mass. If he died during his episcopate, which, however, always terminated on the Innocents' day ensuing, December 28, he was buried with episcopal honours. Archbishop Peckham in 1279 limited the term of office to 24 hours, the election taking place on St. John the Evangelist's day, December 27, and the practice was attacked by various ecclesiastical councils. It was abolished in 1541 by Henry VIII., but restored by Mary in 1556, and John Stubbs, a chorister of Gloucester cathedral, who preached his sermon on Innocents' day, 1558, was probably the last English boy bishop. The Eton Montem (q.v.) has been traced to the practice, which is said to exist now in the College of the Propaganda at Rome.