Rest in peace
The phrase "rest in peace" (RIP), from the Latin requiescat in pace (Classical Latin: [rekʷiˈeːskat in ˈpaːke], Ecclesiastical Latin: [rekwiˈeskat in ˈpatʃe]), is sometimes used in traditional Christian services and prayers, such as in the Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and Methodist, denominations, to wish the soul of a decedent eternal rest and peace.
It became ubiquitous on headstones in the 18th century, and is widely used today when mentioning someone's death, regardless of religion.
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." The abbreviation R.I.P., meaning Requiescat in pace, "Rest in peace", continues to be engraved on the gravestones of Christians, especially in the Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican denominations.
To satisfy a vogue for rhyming couplets on tombstones, the phrase has been parsed ungrammatically as:
cat in pace
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. In the common phrase "Requiescat in pace" the "-at" ending is appropriate because the verb is a third-person singular present active subjunctive used in a hortative sense: "May he/she rest in peace."
The phrase was first found on tombstones some time before the fifth century. It became ubiquitous on the tombs of Christians in the 18th century, and for High Church Anglicans, Methodists, as well as Roman Catholics in particular, it was a prayerful request that their soul should find peace in the afterlife. 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. 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.
In 2017, members of the Orange Order in Northern Ireland called on Protestants to stop using the phrase "RIP" or "Rest in Peace". Wallace Thompson, the secretary of the Evangelical Protestant Society, said on a BBC Radio Ulster programme that he would encourage Protestants to refrain from using the term "RIP". Thompson said that he regards "RIP" as a prayer for the dead, which he believes contradicts biblical doctrine. In the same radio programme, Presbyterian Ken Newell disagreed that people are praying for the dead when they use the phrase.
Excerpt from gravestone in Święciechowa, showing R.I.P
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Signs such as "RIP" (Rest in Peace) on the tombs of the early Christians did not 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.
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The redeemed do not need our prayers, and the lost cannot benefit from them once they have passed from us. We would be better to pray more for them while they are alive.