A diaconia was originally an establishment built near a church building, for the care of the poor and distribution of the church's charity in medieval Rome or Naples (the successor to the Roman corn supply system, often standing on the very sites of its stationes annonae). Examples included the sites of San Vito, Santi Alessio e Bonifacio, and Sant'Agatha[1] in Rome, San Gennaro in Naples (headed by a deacon named John in the end of the ninth and the beginning of the tenth century.[2]

The word has now come to mean the titular church of a Cardinal Deacon.

An alternate spelling, diakonia, is a Christian theological term from Greek which encompasses the call to serve the poor and oppressed. The terms deaconess and diaconate also come from the same root, which refers to the emphasis on service within those vocations.


  1. Letters of Pope Gregory, IV, 19; P.L., LXXVII, 688

This article incorporates text from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913, a publication now in the public domain.


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