Rest in peace

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"Rest in peace" (Latin: Requiescat in pace) is a short epitaph or idiomatic expression wishing eternal rest and peace to someone who has died. The expression typically appears on headstones, often abbreviated as "RIP" or "R.I.P.".


This Lutheran Christian grave reads "Rest in Peace" in the local Cieszyn Silesian Polish dialect.
The epitaph R.I.P. on a headstone in a churchyard of Donostia-San Sebastián

The phrase dormit in pace (English: "he sleeps in peace") was found in the catacombs of the early Christians and indicated that "they died in the peace of the Church, that is, united in Christ."[1][2][3] The acronym R.I.P., meaning "rest in peace", continues to be engraved on the gravestones of Christians from several denominations,[4] especially the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church and the Anglican Church.[5]

In burial services of the Catholic Church according to the Tridentine Rite, which includes the Missa pro Defunctis (Requiem Mass), the phrase appears several times.[6]

In modern ecclesiastical Latin, "requiēscat in pāce" is pronounced [rekwiˈeskat in ˈpatʃe], whereas in classical Latin it would be pronounced [rɛkʷiˈeːskat ɪn ˈpaːkɛ].

To satisfy a vogue for rhyming couplets on tombstones, the phrase has been parsed ungrammatically as:[7]

A similar phrase in found in the book of Isaiah, 57:2:

This verse has been found inscribed in Hebrew on gravestones dating from the 1st century BC, in the graveyard of Bet Shearim. It speaks of the righteous person who died because he could not stand the evil surrounding him. A recapture of these words, read as "come and rest in peace," has been transferred to the ancient Talmudic prayers, in a mixture of Hebrew and Aramaic of the 3rd century AD. It is used to this day in traditional Jewish ceremonies.[8]


Although commonly associated with Christianity, the phrase is also used in Judaism. This ancient Latin inscription from 688/689 AD begins with a Latin version of the phrase. There is a menorah in the upper left corner and the Hebrew calendar date is in the lower right.

The phrase in English was not found on tombstones before the eighth century.[9][10] It became ubiquitous on the tombs of Christians in the 18th century,[5] and for High Church Anglicans, as well as Roman Catholics in particular, it was a prayerful request that their soul should find peace in the afterlife.[4] When the phrase became conventional, the absence of a reference to the soul led people to suppose that it was the physical body that was enjoined to lie peacefully in the grave.[11] This is associated with the Christian doctrine of the particular judgment; that is, that the soul is parted from the body upon death, but that the soul and body will be reunited on Judgment Day.[12]

Other variations include "Requiescat in pace et in amore" for "May she rest in peace and love", and “In pace requiescat et in amore”. The word order is variable because Latin syntactical relationships are indicated by the inflexional endings, not by word order. If “Rest in peace” is used in an imperative mood, it would be “Requiesce in pace” (acronym R.I.P.) in the second person singular, or “Requiescite in pace” in the second person plural.[13] In the common phrase "Requiescat in pace" the "-scat" ending is appropriate because this is a "hortatory subjunctive": "May he/she rest in peace."

In art[edit]

Linguistic analogues[edit]

Phrases in other languages:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Yaggy, Levi W.; Haines, Thomas Louis (1886). Museum of Antiquity: A Description of Ancient Life--the Employments, Amusements, Customs and Habits, the Cities, Places, Monuments and Tombs, the Literature and Fine Arts of 3,000 Years Ago. Law, King & Law. p. 885. 
  2. ^ Tuker, Mildred Anna Rosalie; Malleson, Hope (1900). "Introduction to the Catacombs". Handbook to Christian and Ecclesiastical Rome: The Christian monuments of Rome. A. and C. Black. p. 411. Dormit, he sleeps, as an expression for death is proper to Christianity. Dormitio, in somno pacis, dormivit are therefore very frequently found. These and the expression Dormierit in Domino (may he sleep in the Lord) are to be seen especially in loculi of the II. and II. centuries, and occur in S. Agnese. 
  3. ^ Leahy, Brendan (2012). His Mass and Ours: Meditations on Living Eucharistically. New City Press. p. 53. ISBN 9781565484481. Signs such as "RIP" (Rest in Peace) on the tombs of the early Christians didn't just mean they died "peacefully" but that they died in the peace of the Church, that is, united in Christ in the Church and not apart from it. 
  4. ^ a b Mytum, H. C. (31 December 2003). "Christian Denominations". Mortuary Monuments and Burial Grounds of the Historic Period. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 139. ISBN 9780306480768. 
  5. ^ a b Tarling, Nicholas (16 May 2014). Choral Masterpieces: Major and Minor. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 87. ISBN 9781442234536. 
  6. ^ Holy See (1961), Graduale Romanum, 1961 Edition by the Benedictines of the Solesmes Monastry, Desclée, p. 94*-112* 
  7. ^ Francis Edward Paget (1843), A tract upon tomb-stones, p. 18 
  8. ^ El male rachamim
  9. ^ The Church of England magazine (Church Pastoral-aid Society), 1842: 208 
  10. ^ Robert Jefferson Breckinridge, Andrew Boyd Cross, The Baltimore literary and religious magazine 3: 206 |url= missing title (help)  |chapter= ignored (help)
  11. ^ Joshua Scodel (1991), The English poetic epitaph, Cornell University Press, p. 269, ISBN 978-0-8014-2482-3 
  12. ^ Karl Siegfried Guthke (2003), Epitaph culture in the West, p. 336 
  13. ^ Expert: Maria - 7/31/2009 (2009-07-31). "Experts on Latin phrase". Retrieved 2014-04-17.