In the early church the term was applied to one who had suffered in times of persecution for confessing the faith, but without actually being martyred. Later the word was loosely applied to those who had not suffered so, but were markedly holy men, and still later to those pronounced so by the pope. Edward the Confessor was so named by Pope Alexander III ninety-five years after his death. “Confessor” denotes also the priest who hears confessions (usually private) in the Roman Catholic Church.