Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Compendium of the 1961 Revision of the Pontificale Romanum - Part 2.2: The Dedication of a Church (1961, Part 1)

For a description of this part of the ceremony in the Pontifical of Clement VIII, click here.
As in the Pontifical of Clement VIII, the evening before the dedication, the relics which are to be placed in the altar are brought to a nearby chapel or sacristy, if one is available; otherwise a tent is set up for this purpose. The bishop seals them in their reliquary, after which the clergy present sing (or recite) Matins of Several Martyrs in honor of the Saints; this is no longer considered a votive office, but displaces the office of the day for those who recite it. Lauds is no longer mentioned in the rubrics, since the anticipation of Lauds the evening before is prohibited by the 1960 rubrics.

The following morning, the bishop goes to the chapel or tent, and dresses; the liturgical color is now violet instead of white. The antiphon Ne reminiscaris and the Penitential Psalms are no longer said. The bishop intones the first antiphon of Matins of the Holy Trinity, which is completed by the choir, and then says the prayer Actiones nostras. (These were formerly said before the door of the church.)

The bishop now comes to the door of the church, and sings, as at the beginning of the Hours, “Oh God, come to my assistance”; those who are present respond “Lord, make haste to help me” and “Glory be,” but Alleluia is not said. These are not part of the previous version of the rite.

He then blesses water. In the 1595 version, the water is blessed at this point with the regular blessing found in the Rituale, and commonly used for the Asperges and the holy water kept in fonts near the door. Later, another much more complicated blessing of water is done, in which wine and ashes are also blessed and mixed with water, in addition to the usual salt; this is commonly referred to as “Gregorian water”, and is used inside the church for the sprinkling of the walls and the altar. In the revised version, Gregorian water is blessed at the beginning and used throughout the ceremony. It may also be blessed before the ceremony, and the blessing may be delegated by the bishop to a simple priest. (The blessing of Gregorian water will be described later in a separate pair of articles.)

Once the Gregorian water is made, the bishop proceeds immediately to the sprinkling of the walls of the church on the outside, starting from the right, and making a single complete circuit. He no longer says, “In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” as he does this; the rubrics make no mention of the cemetery, which in the previous version is also sprinkled if it is next to the church building. The antiphon Asperges me and the sprinkling of the people are omitted.

While he does this, the choir sings the fourth antiphon of Lauds of the Dedication of a Church, “The house of the Lord is well founded upon a mighty rock”, and with it Psalm 86 Fundamenta ejus, (sung at Matins of the same Office, but with a different antiphon.) The antiphon is repeated after every two verses; “Gloria Patri” is not sung at the end. The three responsories which formerly accompanied this part of the rite are suppressed.

When the bishop has returned to the doors of the church, he says the following prayer; formerly introduced by the penitential formula “Oremus – Flectamus genua – Levate”, it is now introduced by “Dominus vobiscum. Oremus.” (This seems to be in conflict with the change of vestments from festal white to penitential violet.) The prayer itself and its conclusion are unchanged.
Almighty and everlasting God, who in every place of Thy dominion art wholly present, and workest all works, be present to our supplications, and be the protector of this house, of which Thou art the founder; here let no malice of the opposing power prevail, but by the work and might of the Holy Spirit, may there ever be shown to Thee here pure service, and free devotion. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
The two other circuits and aspersions of the walls, the chants which accompanied them, and the prayers which followed them are all suppressed. The ritual of knocking on the church’s door with the crook and reciting the dialogue from the end of Psalm 23 was formerly done three times, one at the end of each circuit of the walls; it now perforce done only once. The bishop approaches and knocks with his crook three times, saying “Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of Glory shall enter in.” A deacon stationed inside the church answers, “Who is this king of glory?”, to which the bishop replies, and all the clergy present with him, “The Lord of hosts, He is the king of glory!” “Open, ye!” is then said only once by all, including the faithful. The door is opened, and the bishop makes the sign of the Cross on the lintel, saying, “Behold the sign of the Cross, let all phantoms (i.e. demons) flee.” (This cross was formerly made on the door itself, before it was opened.)

As the bishop enters with the deacon and subdeacon, he says “Peace be to this house”, to which the other deacon already in the church replies, “At thy entrance”, and all the clergy and people answer, “Amen.” All now enter the church, where previous only those who participates in the ceremony (major and minor ministers, cantors etc.) entered. The bishop and servers process to a faldstool placed in the middle of the church; the two antiphons formerly sung at this point are suppressed.

A deacon opens the door of the church for the Bishop Bruskewitz to enter, during the Dedication of the chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe seminary in Denton, Nebraska. Photo © 2010 Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Petri -

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: