In this photo Colin Christie, St. Paul's verger, leads the recessional during a service of the Christmas season. His distinctive uniform is rigorously traditional, dating back centuries. But there is much more to his duties and love of the church.
Colin keeps us historically accurate. There is a wealth of information here Vergers Guild of America
St. Paul's thanks Colin for his service, his expertise, and his wonderful knowledge of church tradition. We cherish his presence at our high services.
The Office of the Verger has its roots in the early days of the Church of England's history. Historically Vergers were responsible for the order and upkeep of the house of worship, including the care of the church buildings, its furnishings, and sacred relics, preparations for liturgy, conduct of the laity ( those sometimes unruly parishioners), and grave-digging responsibilities.
Although there is no definitive historical examination of the Office of Verger, evidence from Rochester, Lincoln, Exeter and Salisbury Cathedrals points to the existence of Vergers even in the twelfth century.
During the service itself, a verger's main duty is ceremonially to precede the religious participants as they move about the church; he or she does not typically take any speaking part in the service itself.
It could be argued that a verger's main pride during a service lies in his or her inconspicuousness; vergers often play a very prominent role "behind the scenes" — helping to plan the logistical details of service.
The office's title comes from the ceremonial rod which a verger carries, a virge (from the Latin virga, branch, staff or rod.). The Maces of State used in the House of Lords and the House of Commons of the British Parliament are examples of another modern use of the medieval virge. In former times, a verger might have needed to use his virge to keep back animals or an overenthusiastic crowd from the personage he was escorting or even to discipline unruly choristers.