De Ecclesiae Dedicatione seu Consecratione

After recitation of the Seven Penitential Psalms with the antiphon Ne reminiscaris, Domine  in the place where the holy relics, which will be placed in the altars, are kept the assistants don vestments (the bishop puts on a white cope and a mitre simplex). Everyone moves to the front door of the consecrated church and while kneeling (the bishop kneels at a faldstool) they sing the Litany of the Saints, which is preceded by the antiphon Adesto Deus unus and a prayer.

The consecration of the church in Dąbrówka Mała by bishop Bromboszcz.

After the Litany, the bishop blesses water and salt in the usual manner; the blessing ends with a beautiful prayer, the beginning of which is: Deus, invictae virtutis auctor, et insuperabilis imperii rex ac semper magnificus triumphator…

Primate of Poland, Card. August Hlond during a blessing of water.

After sprinkling himself and the faithful, to the accompaniment of sang responsories, the bishop moves around the church three times (two times clockwise and the third time counterclockwise) sprinkling the highest, next the lowest and at the third time the middle section of the walls (and possibly surrounding cemetery), saying at the same time: In nomine Pa+tris, et Fi+lii, et Spiritus + Sancti. After each turn, the bishop stands in front of the church door, which he hits with the crosier, after which a short dialogue with a deacon closed in the church follows. After the third dialogue, the bishop makes the sign of the cross with the crosier above the treshold of the church, opens the door and goes inside together with levites, choir and necessary altar servers. The door is closed again.

The blessing of the outer wall of a church in Wendover (Canada) by Fr. Alexander Vachon, the archbishop of Ottawa.

The mentioned dialogue is as follows:

Bishop: Attollite portas, principes, vestras, et elevamini portae aeternales, et introibit Rex gloriae.
Deacon: Quis est iste rex gloriae?
Bishop: Dominus fortis, et potens: Dominus potens in praelio, at the third time: Dominus virtutum ipse est Rex gloriaeThen all the other faithful say three times: Aperite. Having entered the church the bishop says: Pax huic domui, to which the deacon responds: In introitu vestro, the others add: Amen.

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Attollite portas, principes, vestras…

After singing two antiphons by the choir, the bishop, without a mitre, kneels at the faldstool for Veni Creator Spiritus, rising after the first strophe. At the same time an altar server sprinkles ash in the shape of a cross on the entire length of the church or sprinkles 23 and 24 ash spots at equal intervals (like in the picture). Then the bishop puts on a mitre and kneels again for the time of singing the Litany of the Saints, during which patron saint/saints of the church, saints whose altars will be consecrated, and those whose holy relics will be placed in these altars are mentioned twice.

The consecration of Saint George’s cathedral in Southwark.

Before the end of the Litany the bishop, standing with the crosier in his hand and singing in the tone of the Litany, blesses the church and the altars repeatedly:

Bishop: Ut locum istum visitare digneris.
All: Te rogamus, audi nos.
Bishop: Ut in eo Angelorum custodiam deputare digneris.
All: Te rogamus, audi nos.

Then he sings three times: Ut ecclesiam, et altare hoc, ad honorem tuum, et nomen sancti N. consecranda bene+dicere digneris. The second time, after benedicere, he adds: et sancti+ficare, and the third time he adds to the previous calls: et conse+crare, everyone responds: Te rogamus, audi nos. The bishop, having handed over the crosier, kneels again and the choir finishes singing the Litany.

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The consecration of the Westminster cathedral.

After two prayers, sung by the bishop standing without the mitre, the choir intones an antiphon, after which they sing the Canticle of Zachary. At the same time the bishop, using the crosier, draws on ash letters of the Greek alphabet and subsequently of  the Latin one. Then, before the main altar, the bishop sings alternately with the choir Deus, in adjutorium… on which call he kneels without the mitre. Just after the call he rises to his feet and sings Gloria Patri…. That he repeats three times, each time raising his voice a little.

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Bishop Freundorfer drawing the letters of alphabet during the consecration of Saint Joseph’s church in Nördlingen.

Standing in the same place, during proper prayers, the bishop prepares Gregorian Water: a mixture of exorcised water and salt and blessed ash and wine. Then he heads for the entrance portal, on top and bottom of which he makes the sign of the cross with the crosier. After a prayer he returns to the high altar and having put on the mitre he recites a prayer. After having finished the prayer he take the mitre off, wets the thumb of his right hand in the Gregorian Water and draws five crosses on the altar stone: in the middle and in the corners, each time saying: Sancti+ficetur hoc altare, in honorem Dei omnipotentis, et gloriosae Virginis Mariae, atque omnium sanctorum, et ad nomen ac memoriam sancti N.  In nomine Pa+tris, et Fi+lii, et Spiritus + Sancti. Pax tibi. He does the same at the other altars. At the same time the choir sings the antiphon Introibo ad altare Dei with the psalm 42.

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Sanctificetur hoc altare…

After a prayer the bishop puts on the mitre, intones Asperges me and he moves around the first altar, to the accompaniment of three sung verses from the psalm 50, sprinkles it with Gregorian Water using a hyssop. Then he sprinkles next altars. He returns before the first altar and intones an antiphon again. The choir sings three subsequent verses of the psalm and bishop sprinkles all altars again. The action is repeated seven times altogether. Then, with the singing of antiphons and psalms the bishop sprinkles the walls of the church, walking around it three times: two times clockwise and the last time counterclockwise. Each time he sprinkles higher sections of the walls. Later on, during the singing of antiphons, he sprinkles the floor walking the length and breadth of the church in the shape of a cross. Then he stands in the middle of the church and after intoning an antiphon he sprinkles the floor with holy water to the east, west, north and south.

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Haec est domus Domini firmiter aedificata: bene fundata est super firmam petram.

Standing in the middle of the church without the mitre, the bishop faces the door and sings two prayers and a preface which conclusion he reads out. Then, standing in the mitre before the main altar, he  prepares mortar (cement) using Gregorian Water and, with his head already uncovered, he blesses it. The rest of the blessed water is spilled around the base of every altar. The bishop goes with clergy in a procession to the place where the holy relics are kept and after saying without the mitre Aufer a nobis, Domine, cunctas iniquitates nostras… he goes inside with the mitre put on. The choir sings antiphons with the psalm 94 either responsory about the patron saint of the church. After saying a prayer with his head uncovered and placing incense in the censer by the bishop in the mitre the procession is formed, which returns before the consecrated church during the singing of antiphons. The choir stays there, whereas the bishop, preceded by a cross with candles and a thurifer censing holy relics carried by priests, moves around the church together with people walking behind and shouting Kyrie eleison.

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The consecration of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa church in Warsaw. Under the baldachin Card. Kakowski

After circling the church the bishop sits on a faldstool before the entrance and reads a short sermon and the archdeacon reads two decrees of the Council of Trent about financial issues, after which the bishop optionally shortly addresses the founder of the church. After a responsory sang by the choir the bishop rises to his feet, faces the door of the church and, with his head uncovered, says a prayer. Then he puts the mitre on and having wetted his thumb in Chrism he anoints the door of the church in the form of the cross.

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Ambulate Sancti Dei, ingredimini in civitatem Domini, aedificata est enim vobis Ecclesia nova, ubi populus adorare debet majestatem Domini.

While the antiphons are sung everyone goes inside. Having reached the first altar and having sung an antiphon and two psalms the bishop, with his head uncovered, says a prayer. Then he puts the mitre on and anoints four corners of the sepulcrum (grave) with Chrism. Having taken the mitre off, during the chant of the antiphon Sub altare Dei, sedes accepistis Sancti Dei, he places the sealed relics in the altar, which then he censes.

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Conse+cretur, et sancti+ficetur hoc sepulcrum. In nomine Pa+tris, et Fi+lii, et Spiritus + Sancti. Pax huic domui.

The bishop puts on the mitre and during the words of a prayer he anoints with Chrism the middle of the stone, which will close the sepulcrum, from below in a form of a cross. Then, using the mortar, he puts it in its place. When the choir finishes singing antiphons a prayer begins, after which the stone is fixed permanently with the blessed cement. Whereupon the bishop anoints it with Chrism saying: Signe+tur, et sancti+ficetur hoc altare.  In nomine Pa+tris, et Fi+lii, et Spiritus + Sancti.  Pax tibi. The same actions are repeated at the other altars.

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Corpora Sanctorum in pace sepulta sunt: et vivent nomina eorum in aeternum.

Having returned before the main altar, the bishop put incense in the censer and, having blessed it, he intones a chant. Subsequently, in the mitre, he censes altars by turns from all the sides. Then, standing before the main altar with his head uncovered, he says a prayer and, having put the mitre on, he sits down. At that time altar servers wipe altar stones with canvas. Whereupon the bishop censes the altar stones, making the sign of the cross with the censer above each one in the middle and in the corners. He returns again to the first altar, fills up the censer and passes it to the priests wearing surplices who continually cense every altar (except the moment when the bishop himself does it). After the intonation of the responsory Dirigatur oratio mea the bishop censes the altars one after another walking around them three times clockwise.

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Dirigatur oratio mea sicut incensum in conspectu tuo, Domine. Elevatio manuum mearum sacrificium vespertinum.

After returning before the first altar the bishop intones the antiphon Erexit Jacob lapidem in titulum fundens oleum desuper, whereupon the choir sings the psalm 83. At the same time the bishop in the mitre anoints the altar stone with oil of the Catechumens in the middle and in the corners. He does the same at the other altars. Having returned before the main altar, he place incense in the censer, like before, with which one of the priests was continually censing the altar, he intones a responsory and moves around the altar clockwise, censing it. He does the same at the other altars. Then, before the main altar, without the mitre, he says a prayer, after which he repeats all aforementioned actions twice: only antiphons, psalms and prayers change; the third time, however, he uses Chrism for anointing and, when incensing altars, he moves around them counterclockwise.

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Sancti+ficetur et conse+cretur lapis iste. In nomine Pa+tris, et Fi+lii, et Spiritus + Sancti, in honorem Dei, et gloriosae Virginis Mariae, atque omnium Sanctorum, ad nomen, et memoriam sancti N. Pax tibi.

The bishop, standing before the main altar, intones an antiphon and, when the choir sings the psalm 45, he puts on the mitre and pours the oil of the Catechumens and Chrism on the altar and rubs the whole altar stone with them, at that time not saying anything. He does the same action at the other altars. Having returned before the high altar he intones another antiphon and the choir sings the psalm 86. When the psalm is finished the bishop says a prayer.

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Apostolic Nuncio, abp Roncalli during the consecration of an altar.

Next antiphon, the psalm 147 and two responsories follow, during which the bishop anoints twelve crosses on the walls of the church (starting from the right side of the altar) with Chrism. After anointing a cross the bishop immediately censes it with three swings of the thurible.

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Sancti+ficetur et conse+cretur hoc templum. In nomine Pa+tris, et Fi+lii, et Spiritus + Sancti, in honorem Dei, et gloriosae Virginis Mariae, atque omnium Sanctorum, ad nomen, et memoriam sancti N. Pax tibi.

Having returned before the main altar, the bishop censes its altar stone, intoning before the antiphon Aedificavit Moyses. Next, he says a prayer after which, with his head uncovered, he blesses incense burning in a vessel on the altar, whereupon he sprinkles it with holy water and, having put the mitre on, he composes five crosses of five incense grains, on which he puts five small candles: in the middle and in the corners of the altar. Then, he ignites them, doing the same at the other altars. He returns before the high altar and, having taken the mitre off, he kneels before it intoning (Alleluia.) Veni, Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium: et tui amoris in eis ignem accende. Whereupon he rises to his feet and the choir sings two antiphons after which two prayers follow; during the second one the residues of burned crosses are collected with a wooden shovel which are then thrown into sacrarium.

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Cardinal Ruffini during the consecration of an altar

The bishop, standing without the mitre before the steps of the main altar, says a prayer after which a preface follows during which he blesses the church and the altars repeatedly, finishing it with a read conclusion. Next, he intones an antiphon, the choir sings the psalm 67 and the bishop, having put the mitre on, draws the sign of the cross on the fronts of the altars with Chrism, not saying anything at that time. Having returned before the high altar, without the mitre, he says a prayer and, having put it on again, similarly anoints the juncture of the altar stone and the altar base in its four corners, saying: In nomine Pa+tris, et Fi+lii, et Spiritus + Sancti. All respond Amen. He does the same at the other altars. He returns before the first altar, without the mitre he says a prayer, after which a subdeacon wipes altar stones with linen towels, while the bishop sits in front of the altar with the mitre on, wipes his hands with bread an washes them.

The annointing of the juncture of the stone and the base of an altar.

A subdeacon or an acolyte brings before the bishop, standing without the mitre, tablecloths, vessels and other ornaments of the church which he blesses during the prayer and then sprinkles with holy water. Next, the altars are covered with tablecloths (the first one, waxed from the bottom, is called chrismale); also a cross and other altar items are placed on them. At the same time antiphons, responsory and the psalm 62 are sung. After the psalm the bishop, with his head uncovered, ascends the steps of the main altar, gives his reverence to the cross and intones the antiphon Omnis terra during which he makes the sign of the cross above the altar stone with a censer, doing likewise at the other altars. The whole rite is repeated two more times. Having returned after that before the high altar, the bishop says two prayers and after Benedicamus Domino, he proceeds to the sacristy where he prepares for a Mass.

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Card. Micara during the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar during the Mass celebrated after the consecration of Saint Barbara’s church in Rome.

[English translation by Artur]