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BENEDICTION OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT

Historically, benediction probably developed from the showing of the Host at the various stations of the Corpus Christi procession. The first known example of benediction similar to that common today was at Hildesheim in the 15th century. It was a response to the growing desire on the part of the faithful to look upon the Host, a desire enhanced by the earlier theological disputes over transubstantiation and the exact moment of consecration. Concurrent with the strengthening of this desire was the gradual introduction of an evening service for the faithful centered around the Salve Regina, which had been composed in the 11th century. By 1221 it had been joined to Compline in the Dominican monastery in Bologna. As early as 1250 it was part of a popular evening devotion in France. During the next two or three centuries the two devotions, one to the Blessed Mother, the other to the Blessed Sacrament, were combined, whence benediction is still known in France as Le Salut.

The rite of benediction given in the document Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass (Congregation of Divine Worship, June 21, 1973) is simple; it consists of a Eucharistic hymn or song, incensation (if the sacrament is exposed in a monstrance), a brief period of silence, prayer, a blessing of the people with the monstrance (or ciborium) in the form of a cross (the priest or deacon wearing a humeral veil), reposition of the sacrament, and concluding acclamation (HCWE 97100).

[m. burbach/

n. d. mitchell]

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

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