1. BLESSING AND LAYING THE CORNER-STONE OF A CHURCH*

*This blessing is reserved to the Ordinary or to a priest delegated by him. The rite given here is revised in accordance with the new Pontifical of 1962.

1. The blessing and laying of the corner-stone of a church may take place on any day and at any hour.

2. The foundations of the church should be evident or at least delineated.

3. A wooden cross of convenient size should be fixed on the spot where the main altar is to be.

4. The following things are prepared for the sacred action:

(a) the corner-stone which should be quadrangular, and mortar and tools for fixing it in the foundations; a mason should be at hand to set the stone in the foundations;

(b) a vessel of ordinary holy water and an aspersory made of hyssop if available

(c) two torches for the acolytes and the processional cross;

(d) amice, alb, cincture, and a white stole and cope; a gold- embroidered mitre and crozier (if a bishop is to preside); an amice, alb and cincture for the deacon and subdeacon, as well as a white stole for the deacon;

(e) an ornamented faldstool set on a carpet before the wooden cross;

(f) provision should be made that the foundations of the church are so ordered that the ministrants can easily walk around them.

5. The pastor or others concerned should see to it that the faithful, for whose use the church will be erected, are imbued with proper devotion for their church, and they should not only be given a timely announcement of the blessing and laying of the corner-stone, but should also be properly instructed on the rites and their signification. Lastly the faithful should be encouraged to lend their free and spontaneous support to the building of the church and to its ornamentation.

Part I

Blessing the Site for the Church

6. At the proper time the bishop (or the delegated priest) goes to the place where the church is to be built and vests with the assistance of the deacon and subdeacon in the aforementioned vestments.

7. Preceded by the acolytes with lighted torches, the cross- bearer, and the clergy, he goes with his ministers to the cross erected on the spot where the altar is to be (a bishop wears the mitre and carries the crozier but removes them when he comes to the place for the blessing). He then sings the following with all present making the responses (for the music see the music supplement):

Celebrant: God, come to my rescue.

All: Lord, make haste to help me.

C: Glory be to the Father, etc.

All: As it was in the beginning, etc.

8. He then sprinkles the spot where the cross stands without saying anything (a bishop wears the mitre); after which, preceded by crossbearer, acolytes, and clergy, he walks around the foundations sprinkling them with holy water without saying anything. He starts behind the cross and then encircles the foundations clockwise. During this time the choir sings the following (for the music see the music supplement):

C: Ant. Lord Jesus Christ, * raise up the sign of salvation in this place; and forbid entry here to the avenging angel.

Psalm 47

During this psalm the choir, if necessary (i.e., depending on the time element), repeats the antiphon after every two verses:

C: Great is the Lord and wholly to be praised * in the city of our God.

All: His holy mountain, fairest of heights, * is the joy of all the earth;

C: Mount Sion, “the recesses of the North,” * is the city of the great King.

All: God is with her castles; renowned is He as a stronghold.

C: For lo! the kings assemble, * they come on together;

All: They also see, and at once are stunned, * terrified, routed;

C: Quaking seizes them there; * anguish, like a woman’s in labor,

All: As though a wind from the east * were shattering ships of Tharsis.

C: As we had heard, so have we seen * in the city of the Lord of hosts,

All: In the city of our God; * God makes it firm forever.

C: O God, we ponder your kindness * within your temple.

All: As your name, O God, so also your praise * reaches to the ends of the earth.

C: Of justice your right hand is full; * let Mount Sion be glad,

All: Let the cities of Juda rejoice, * because of your judgments.

C: Go about Sion, make the round; * count her towers.

All: Consider her ramparts, * examine her castles,

C: That you may tell a future generation * that such is God,

All: Our God forever and ever; * He will guide us.

The usual doxology is omitted, but the above antiphon is repeated. If necessary the verses of the psalm may be repeated until the sprinkling of the foundations is finished; but if it is finished earlier the psalm is broken off and the antiphon repeated as a conclusion.

9. After this the celebrant, standing before the cross and facing the site for the church that is to be built, hands over the aspersory and with hands folded sings the following in the ferial tone (a bishop removes the mitre):

C: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.

Almighty and merciful God, who conferred on your priests above all others so great a grace, that whatever they do worthily and exactly in your name, is regarded as being done by you; we pray that in your kindness you may be present wherever we are present and may bless whatever we bless. And at our lowly coming, through the merits of your saints, may demons flee and the angel of peace be at hand; through Christ our Lord. All: Amen.

Part II

Blessing of the Corner-stone

10. The celebrant goes to the place where the corner-stone is located. and standing there with hands joined blesses the stone, singing the following in the ferial tone. A bishop uses the mitre and crozier as he walks to the place, but gives them up before he begins the blessing.

C: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

All: Who made heaven and earth.

C: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who are the corner- stone hewn from the mountain-side not by the hand of man, and the foundation which cannot be moved; make firm this stone which is to be laid in your name. You who are the beginning and the end, be likewise, we pray, the beginning, the increase, and the end of this work, which is fittingly begun for your praise and glory. We ask this of you who live and reign forever and ever.

All: Amen.

He sprinkles the stone with holy water without saying anything.

11. According to local custom the document concerning the blessing of the corner-stone and the beginning of the church may be read; after which the bishop as well as the others, clergy and laity (who should also be invited), may add their signatures. The document is then sealed within the stone which is later to be laid in the foundations. After the reading of the document a popular hymn may be sung.

Part III

Laying of the Corner-stone

12. The celebrant places his hand on the corner-stone as it is lowered into place, saying (a bishop wears the mitre and holds the crozier):

In the faith of Jesus Christ, we lay this corner-stone on this foundation; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. May the true faith flourish here, along with fear of God and brotherly love. May this place finally be devoted to prayer, to the adoration and praise of the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.

All: Amen.

13. The assisting mason fixes the stone in place with mortar; after which the celebrant sprinkles it with holy water without saying anything, and then returns to the place where the cross is (a bishop takes the faldstool). In the meantime the choir sings the following (for the music see the music supplement):

C: Ant.: May the Lord build us a dwelling, * and keep a watch over the city.

Psalm 126

C: Unless the Lord build the house, * they labor in vain who build it.

All: Unless the Lord guard the city, * in vain does the guard keep vigil.

C: It is vain for you to rise early, * or put off your rest.

All: You that eat hard-earned bread, * for He gives to His beloved in sleep.

C: See, sons are a gift from the Lord; * the fruit of the womb is a reward.

All: Like arrows in the hand of a warrior * are the sons of one’s youth.

C: Happy the man whose quiver is filled with them; * they shall not be put to shame when they contend with enemies at the gate.

The usual doxology is not said, but the above antiphon is repeated.

14. When the psalm and antiphon are finished, the celebrant, standing before the cross with hands joined and facing the site where the church is to be built, sings the following in the ferial tone (a bishop removes the mitre):

C: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

In this oration the name of the saint in whose name and honor the church is founded is mentioned at the letter N. However, the words “by the prayers and merits of blessed N.” are omitted if the church is erected in honor of some mystery.

Let us pray.

Lord God, whom the heavens and the earth cannot contain, but who condescended to have a dwelling-place here on earth where your name may constantly be invoked; we entreat you, by the prayers and merits of blessed N., to be present in this place, to cleanse it from all stains by an outpouring of your grace, and to preserve it in its purified state. And as you let the vow of David, your beloved, be fulfilled in the work of Solomon, his son, so may you graciously fulfill our desires in this work; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

C: The Lord be with you. All: May He also be with you. Deacon: Let us bless the Lord. All: Thanks be to God.

If a bishop presides he gives the solemn blessing, grants the indulgences, and having removed his vestments departs in peace.