DEDICATION of CHURCHES

I. Roman ritual – II. Gallican ritual – III. RomanoGermanic ritual – IV. Eastern rites. The dedication of churches dedicatio, consecratio ecclesiae cannot be explained without apologetic and theological recourse to the dedication of the Jewish temple at Jerusalem Num 7; 1 Kgs 8; Ezra 6. We know nothing of rites of dedication during the first three centuries; texts giving information on such rites are from a later period, and project onto the past the customs of their own time. Eusebius of Caesarea says nothing of them in his passages relating the inauguration of the church of Tyre in 314 HE 10,3-4 and of the Anastasis of Jerusalem or rather, the founding of the Basilica of the the Holy Cross in Jerusalem in 335 vita Const. 4,43-47; he speaks only of a particularly solemn Mass, with preaching by some of the bishops present.

The consecration of a church was everywhere a right reserved to bishops, and we have some homilies given on such occasions: of Gaudentius Tract. 17, Pseudo-Maximinus Sermo 87: CCL 23, 355-357, Augustine Sermones 336-338 and Pseudo-Hilary Dedic. eccl.; CPL 467. Consecration had no relation to the church’s name, which could depend on a variety of factors M. Jost, Die Patrozinien der Kirchen Roms w¤hrend des ersten Jahrtausends: Hagiographica 8 2001 1-34. An inscription often records the dedication, with anniversaries celebrated from the 4th c. DACL 4, 398-404. Between 350- 400 a new element appeared in addition to a Mass: relics were deposited in newly built churches, first at Constantinople Apostoleion and then in N Italy Ambr., Ep. 22,1-2.

I. Roman ritual. Still in the 6th c. the first celebration of the Eucharist was the rite of consecration of the building Vigil., Epist. ad Profut.: PL 84, 832; Liber Diurnus 9-10; Sacramentarium Gelasianum, n. 703-714; Sacramentarium Veronense, n. 130-133, even if other rites did exist, such as the deposition of relics Greg. the Great, Dial. 3,30, aspersion with holy water Greg. the Great, Ep. 11,56; Bede, HE 1,30 and the erection of the cross; these latter rites were enacted esp. when a pagan temple was converted into a Christian church S. Heid, Vexillum Crucis. Das Kreuz als Religions-, Missions- und Imperialsymbol in der fr¼hen Kirche: RivAC 78 2002 191-259. Only representative relics brandea were placed in the altar, or the altar was built over a martyr’s existing tomb, as, e.g., at St. Peter’s or St. Paul’s at the time of Gregory the Great. The Gregorianum Hadrianum n. 815-822 describes the papal rite in the mid-8th c. a very simple rite, probably that of Gregory: arrival of the relics, aspersion of the building with holy water, deposition of the relics in the altar, dressing of the altar, celebration of Mass. The 8th-c. Ordo Romanus 42 agrees with the Roman rite of the 6th-7th c., adding only the anointing of the altar.

II. Gallican ritual. At Rome the central rite was the deposition of the relics, whereas in Gaul it was the consecration of the altar. The earliest Gallican dedication ritual is cited in the Angoulªme Sacramentary, which describes the rite in use until the late 7th c., before Roman influence CPL 1905d. The ritual included a litany, aspersion of the building and altar, blessing, anointing and adorning of the altar, procession and deposition of the relics, Mass Gregory of Tours, Glor. conf. 20. The Gallican rite is more developed in the Missale Francorum n. 56-58. Other rites were added in the Carolingian period, including the Celtic alphabet rite, in the Ordo Romanus 41, and the chants e.g., ps. 24 attested in the Gelasian Sacramentary.

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