A titular see is an episcopal see of a former diocese that no longer functions, sometimes called a “dead” or “suppressed” diocese.
The term is used to signify a diocese that no longer functionally exists, often because the diocese once flourished but the territory no longer does.
Since all bishops are connected to a particular diocese, auxiliary bishops are named to a titular see while they function as an assistant to an ordinary bishop of an established diocese.
Bishop James Massa has been appointed auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn and titular bishop of Bardstown, Ky.
Bardstown was established on April 8, 1808, along with the dioceses of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, out of the territory of the Baltimore Diocese, the first diocese in the U.S.
When founded, Bardstown included most of Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. Today, there are 44 dioceses in the area that made up the original diocese.
The historic Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral, the former cathedral of the Diocese of Bardstown, is a parish church in the Diocese of Louisville.
The Diocese of Bardstown grew to include 23 parishes and 36 priests. It was suppressed in 1841 and transferred to the Diocese of Louisville.
An American history enthusiast, Bishop Massa was “grateful” to receive such a historic see.
“It is very interesting because it was one of the four original dioceses that came out of Baltimore, the first diocese of the United States,” he said.
The pastor of the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral has already been in touch with Bishop Massa, who hopes to visit one day.
“There’s a kind of spiritual bond that a titular bishop has with his see. We pray for all those that lived there,” he said.
Bishop Mroziewski has been appointed auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn and titular bishop of Walla Walla, Wash.
In 1846, Pope Gregory XVI established an ecclesiastical region in the Oregon territory and split it into three dioceses, Oregon City, Vancouver Island and Walla Walla.
The Whitman Massacre of 1847 and the Cayuse War which followed increased tensions in the area between Christians and the native population. As a result, by 1850, Walla Walla was abandoned and its territory was administered from Oregon City.
In 1850, Pope Pius IX created the Diocese of Nesqually out of the defunct Walla Walla See. The seat of the diocese was eventually moved to Seattle and was renamed as the Diocese of Seattle in 1907.
Today, Walla Walla County in the state of Washington is part of the Diocese of Spokane, which was established in 1913 by Pope St. Pius X.