- Latin: sacer, sacred; legere, to purloin
The violation or irreverent treatment of sacred persons, places, or things. To be a sacrilege, this violation or irreverent treatment must touch that formality in the object by which it is sacred. Sacrilege is a sin opposed to the virtue of religion, and as such is a grave sin in grave matter. The definition suggests the threefold division of sacrilege; viz., personal, an irreverent treatment of sacred persons, such as the violent laying of hands on clerics or religious; local, a violation of a sacred place, such as committing certain crimes, as homicide in a church; real, a violation of sacred things, such as the unworthy reception of a sacrament of the living, or simony.