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c.1300, sekesteyn, "person in charge of the sacred objects of a church," from Old French segrestien, from Medieval Latin sacristanus (see sacristan). Sense of "custodian of a church" first recorded 1580s. Fem. forms sextress, sextrice are recorded 15c., but the usual form is sextoness (early 15c.).
church custodian charged with keeping the church and parish buildings prepared for meetings, caring for church equipment, and performing related minor duties such as ringing the bell and digging graves. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with "sacristan," denoting a church officer who is specifically in charge of the sacristy and its sacred utensils and vestments but who also may perform the duties of sexton.