Abbot, Blessing of
ABBOT, BLESSING OF
In his own monastery and churches belonging to his monastery an abbot may celebrate the liturgy pontifically. To enjoy this privilege he must be blessed by the bishop of the place where the monastery is located or, in his absence, by a bishop of the abbot's own choice.
Mention of a special blessing for abbots is made in the 6th-century Rule of St. Benedict and also in the writings of St. Gregory the Great (d. 604 a.d.). The nucleus of the present rite was already developed by the 8th century, but throughout the Middle Ages the ceremonial was embellished along the lines of an episcopal consecration.
The blessing takes place at Mass, usually a Pontifical Mass concelebrated by the bishop and the new abbot. Two other abbots assist in the ceremony. The rite begins with the presentation of the abbot, who is examined briefly by the bishop. Then the Mass begins and continues up to the Alleluia Verse or Tract following the Epistle. The abbot prostrates himself before the altar for the chanting of the Litany of the Saints. The bishop then recites two orations and sings the Consecratory Preface, in the course of which he imposes hands on the head of the abbot in blessing. The abbot is given a copy of the Holy Rule of St. Benedict, the crozier, and the ring.
The celebration of Mass is resumed and continues as usual until the Offertory, when the abbot presents the bishop with candles, bread, and wine. Following the last blessing, the abbot is given the miter and gloves and is enthroned by the bishop. During the singing of the Te Deum, the abbot goes through the church blessing the people. At his throne he receives the homage of his monks and then finally imparts his solemn blessing on all.
Bibliography: j. baudot, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie 2.1:723–727. p. radÓ, Enchiridion liturgicum, 2 v. (Rome 1961) 2:1030–32.
[r. k. seasoltz]