2. BLESSING OF A NEW CHURCH OR A PUBLIC ORATORY*

* 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. Every church that is to be solemnly blessed must have a title. It may be named in honor of the Holy Trinity; or our Lord Jesus Christ with mention of a mystery of His life or an appellation already introduced into the sacred liturgy; of the Holy Spirit; or the blessed Virgin Mary and also with mention of a mystery or an appellation already used in the sacred liturgy; or the holy angels; or after a saint inscribed in the Roman Martyrology, but not a blessed. The local Ordinary should never allow unusual titles, those savoring of novelty, or in general those foreign to the approved tradition of the Church. In case of doubt one should have recourse to the Congregation of Sacred Rites.

2. The blessing of churches, although it may lawfully take place on almost any day, is more fittingly done on Sundays or feast days. But it is prohibited on the vigil and feast of Christmas, on the feasts of Epiphany, Ascension, and Corpus Christi, on the days beginning with Palm Sunday until Easter inclusive, on Pentecost, and on All Souls. The blessing of a church should ordinarily take place in the morning, unless the good of a notable part of the faithful urges that it be done in the afternoon.

3. The water for the sprinkling of the church, as well as the altar linens and other appurtenances for the altar and church, may be blessed before this sacred rite, by the bishop or by another priest delegated by him, using the forms given in their proper place. The following things are to be prepared for the blessing of a church:

(a) a vessel of ordinary holy water and an aspersory made of hyssop if available; the fonts for holy water should be empty and well cleaned;

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

(c) altar-linens and vessels and ornaments for the altar and church;

(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, one in front of the main door of the church, another in the sanctuary; if two are not available the one is carried to the sanctuary at the proper time; all this, of course, only if a bishop is presiding;

(f) the interior of the church should be empty and the altars bare;

(g) provision should be made that the ministrants can easily walk around the exterior of the church;

(h) it should also be provided that the celebrant and his ministers, after they have entered the church, have ready access from the altar to the main door; also that they can walk around the side aisles, in order to carry out the prescribed rites properly.

4. The pastor or others concerned should see to it that the faithful for whom the church was built, should not only be given a timely announcement of the solemn blessing, but should also be properly instructed on the rites and their signification. Lastly the faithful should be imbued with proper devotion for their church, so that also in future they will lend, as far as they can, their free and spontaneous support to its proper ornamentation and upkeep.

5. The doors of the church should be closed, and no one should remain inside. At the proper time the bishop (or the delegated priest) goes to the sacristy, where he vests with the assistance of the deacon and subdeacon in the aforementioned vestments. If a bishop presides he wears the gold-embroidered mitre and carries the crozier in his left hand.

6. Then, preceded by the acolytes with lighted torches, the crossbearer, and the clergy, he goes with his ministers to the doors of the church to be blessed. Arriving there (a bishop removes the mitre and the crozier) he 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.

7. After this the celebrant (a bishop wears the mitre), preceded by cross-bearer, acolytes, clergy, and the people, walks around the outside of the church sprinkling the walls with holy water. He starts at the right of the church. During this time the choir sings the following (for the music see the music supplement):

C: Ant.: The Lord’s dwelling is well founded on a firm rock.

Psalm 86

During this psalm the choir, if the time element requires it, repeats the antiphon after every two verses:

C: The Lord loves His foundation * upon the holy mountain;

All: The gates of Sion * more than any dwelling of Jacob.

C: Glorious things are said of you, * O city of God.

All: I tell of Egypt and Babylon * among those that know the Lord;

C: Of Philistia, Tyre, Ethiopia: * “This man was born there.”

All: And of Sion they shall say: * “One and all were born in her;

C: And He who has established her * is the Most High Lord.”

All: They shall note, when the peoples are enrolled: * “This man was born there.”

C: And all shall sing in their festive dance: * “My home is within you.”

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 walls is finished; but if it is finished earlier the psalm is broken off and the antiphon repeated as a conclusion.

8. After this the celebrant, standing before and facing the door of the church, 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 everlasting God, who are wholly present and wholly active in every place under your dominion; hearken to our humble prayers, and be the protector of this dwelling as you are its founder. Let no vileness of hostile powers prevail here, but by the working of the Holy Spirit may a faultless service always be rendered to you in this place, and a holy liberty abound; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

9. Led by the cross-bearer the celebrant, along with the clergy and people, go in procession into the church; a bishop wears the mitre and carries the crozier. The chanters begin the Litany of the Saints, the invocations of which are not doubled. In the litany there is a threefold invocation of the saint in whose honor the church is blessed. When the celebrant arrives at the altar (a bishop kneels at the faldstool), all kneel in their place and make the responses. When the invocation “That you grant eternal rest to all the faithful departed R. We beg you to hear us” has been said, the celebrant rises (a bishop takes the crozier in his left hand), and facing the nave of the church sings in the same tone:

C: That you graciously visit this place.

All: We beg you to hear us.

C: That you appoint your angels to guard it.

All: We beg you to hear us.

Then raising up his right hand he makes the sign of the cross over the church, saying:

C: That you bless + this church for the honor of your name and that of St. N.

All: We beg you to hear us.

After this he kneels again (a bishop kneels at the faldstool), and the chanters resume the litany to the end.

10. At the end of the litany the celebrant rises (a bishop removes the mitre), and standing with hands joined and facing the altar sings the following in the ferial tone:

Let us pray.

O Lord our God, manifest your glory to your saints, and show yourself present in this sanctuary built in your honor; and as you work great marvels in the children you have adopted, may your praises ever resound among the people who belong to you; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

11. Then the celebrant walks around the interior of the church sprinkling its walls with holy water, using an aspersory made of hyssop. Leaving the main altar he begins at the gospel side and completes the circuit. In the meantime the choir sings the following antiphon and psalm (for the music see the music supplement):

C: Ant.: This is the house of the Lord built with a compact unity; * it is well founded upon a firm rock.

Psalm 121

During this psalm the choir, if the time element requires it, repeats the antiphon after every two verses:

C: I rejoiced because they said to me, * “We will go up to the house of the Lord.” And now we have set foot * within our gates, O Jerusalem;

C: Jerusalem, built as a city * with compact unity.

All: To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, * according to the decree for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord.

C: In it are set up judgment seats, * seats for the house of David.

All: Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. * May those who love you prosper;

C: May peace be within your walls, * prosperity in your buildings.

All: Because of my relatives and friends * I will pray for your good.

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

12. Next the celebrant (a bishop retains the mitre) sprinkles with holy water the floor of the church, first in the middle from the altar to the main door, and then in the transept, from one wall to the other, starting on the gospel side. In the meantime the choir sings the following antiphon and psalm (for the music see the music supplement):

C: Ant.: This is none other * than the house of God and the gate of heaven.

Psalm 83

During this psalm the choir, if the time element requires it, repeats the antiphon after every two verses:

C: How lovely is your dwelling place, * O Lord of hosts!

All: My soul yearns and pines * for the courts of the Lord.

C: My heart and my flesh * cry out for the living God.

All: Even the sparrow finds a home, * and the swallow a nest in which she puts her young.

All: Your altars, O Lord of hosts, * my King and my God.

C: Happy they who dwell in your house. * Continually they praise you.

All: Happy the men whose strength you are; * their hearts are set upon the pilgrimage;

C: When they pass through the arid valley, * they make a spring of it; the early rain clothes it with generous growth.

All: They go from strength to strength; * they shall see the God of gods in Sion.

C: O Lord of hosts, hear my prayer; * hearken, O God of Jacob.

All: O God, behold our shield, * and look upon the face of your anointed.

C: I had rather one day in your courts * than a thousand elsewhere;

All: I had rather lie at the threshold of the house of my God * than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

C: For a sun and a shield is the Lord God; * grace and glory He bestows;

All: The Lord withholds no good thing * from those who walk in sincerity.

C: O Lord of hosts, * happy the men who trust in you.

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

13. After the sprinkling of the floor the celebrant returns to the altar and facing the nave of the church and with hands joined 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.

God, who sanctify the places dedicated to your name, pour out your grace on this house of prayer, so that all +who here invoke you may experience the help of your mercy; 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.

14. Then the celebrant (a bishop wears the mitre and carries the crozier) goes with his ministers to the sacristy, where, having removed the cope, he vests for the celebration of Mass. A bishop, however, may depute another priest to offer the Mass. In the meantime the clergy or ministers prepare the altar for the celebration of Mass. While this is happening the choir and the people sing the following (for the music see the music supplement):

C: Ant.: Confirm, O God, * the work you have begun in us from your heavenly sanctuary, the new Jerusalem, alleluia, alleluia (omit the alleluias after Sept.).

Psalm 95

During the singing of this psalm the above antiphon is repeated after every two verses:

C: Sing to the Lord a new song; * sing to the Lord, all you lands.

All: Sing to the Lord; bless His name; * announce His salvation, day after day.

C: Tell His glory among the nations; * among all peoples, His wondrous deeds.

All: For great is the Lord and highly to be praised; * awesome is He, beyond all gods.

C: For all the gods of the nations are things of nought, * but the Lord made the heavens.

All: Splendor and majesty go before Him; * praise and grandeur are in His sanctuary.

C: Give to the Lord, you families of nations, give to the Lord glory and praise; * give to the Lord the glory due His name.

All: Bring gifts, and enter His courts; * worship the Lord in holy attire.

C: Tremble before Him, all the earth; * say among the nations: the Lord is King.

All: He has made the world firm, not to be moved; * He governs the peoples with equity.

C: Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice; let the sea and what fills it resound; * let the plains be joyful and all that is in them.

All: Then shall all the trees of the forest exult before the Lord, for He comes; * for He comes to rule the earth.

C: He shall rule the world with justice * and the peoples with His constancy.

The usual doxology is omitted, but the above antiphon is repeated.

15. Mass is said as a votive of the II class, of the mystery or saint in whose honor the church was dedicated.

16. As the celebrant approaches the altar the introit antiphon is sung with its psalm as the length of time requires.

17. When the celebrant comes to the altar and has made the reverence, he omits the psalm and confiteor and at once ascends the altar saying the usual prayers and then kissing the altar at the middle.

18. At the end of Mass the bishop gives the solemn blessing and announces the indulgences. The last Gospel is omitted, and all return to the sacristy.