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BENEDICTION


465


BENEDICTION


Special Congregations. — Duckett, Charters and Records of Cluni (Lewes, England, 1890); Sackdh, Die Ctuniacenser (Halle a. S.. 1892-94); Janauschek, Origines Cisterciensium (Vienna, 1877); Gaillardin, Les Trappisles (Paris. 1844); GuiBERT, Destruction de Grandmonl (Paris. 1877); Salvado, Memorie Sioriche (Rome, 1851); Berengier. La NouveUe- Af ursie (Paris. 1878); Bhullee. Vii- rfc P. .Wuorrf (Paris, 1855), tr. Robot, 1882; Thompson, Life of P. Muard (London, 1886; DE Bhoolie, Mahillon (Paris, 1888) ; In., Monlfaucon (Paris, 1891); HonTiN, Dom Couturier (Angers, 1899); van Caloen, Dom Maur Walter et les origines de la cong. de Beuron (Bruges, 1891); DoLAN, Succisa Virescit in Downside Review. I-IV.

G. CypRi.u^i Alston.

Benediction, Nuptial. See M.\ss, Nuptial.

Benedictional {Benedictionale), a book con- taining a collection of benedictions or blessings in use in the Church. In the ancient sacramentaries, particularly in the Gregorian, various early forms of blessings are found. In some manuscripts these benedictions are interspersed throughout the book, while in others they are given separately. The blessings collected from the Gregorian Sacramentary constitute the so-called Benedictionale. From the very ancient manuscript of the Caesarean Library, Lambecius edited this Benedictionale, believing that he was the first to give it to the public. In this, however, Lambecius erred, since nearly all the blessings contained in this manuscript had been previously published, though under a different order, or arrangement, by Menard (d. 1644). Pa- melius (Liturgicon Ecclesiee Lat., II) also edited a benedictional from two manuscripts of the time of Charlemagne or a little later, formerly in the library of the Queen of Sweden, now in the Vatican. Many discrepancies, neverthele.ss, are to be noted between the work of Pamelius and the original manuscripts from which it is supposed to be drawn. The " Liber Sacraraentorura " of Ratoldus, of the tenth century, likewise contains numerous blessings; but the most complete benedictional is that fotmd in two manuscripts (Nos. 62, 63) of the monastery of St. Theodoric, near Reims, written about 900. From a manuscript in the Abbey of St. Eligius Menard edited a benedictional, while Augelo Rocca has given us one from a manuscript of the Vatican Library. The pontifical of Egbert, Archbishop of York (732-766), published by the Surtees Society in 1853, contains numerous forms of blessings. The blessings in use in the present day are found for the most part in the Missal and in the Ritual.

Pr<r/. in librum Sacram. S. Grei/.. in P. L., LXXVIII, 601 sqq.; (JXXI, 865 sqq.; Sinker in Diet, of Christ. Antiq.

Andrew B. Meeh,\n.

Benediction of Abbots. See Abbot. Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. — One

of the most generally popular of Catholic services is Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, known in France as Satut and in Germany as Segen. It is ordinarily an afternoon or evening devotion and consists in the singing of certain hymns, or litanies, or canticles, before the Ble.ssed Sacrament, which is exposed upon the altar in a monstrance and is sur- rounded with lights. At the end, the priest, his shoulders enveloped in a humeral veil, takes the monstrance into his hands and with it makes the sign of the cross (hence the name Benediction) in silence over the kneeling congregation. Benedic- tion is often employed as a conclusion to other ser- vices, e. g. Vespers, Compline, the Stations of the Cross, etc., but it is also still more generally treated as a rite complete in itself. There is a good deal of diversity of usage in different countries with re- gard to details, but .some of the elements are con- stant. The u.se of incense and wax candles, which even in the poorest churches must not be less than ten in number, the singing of the " Tantum ergo " with its versicle and prayer, and the blessing given with the Blessed Sacrament are obligatory everywhere.


In Rome the principle obtains that the only portion of the service which is to be regarded as strictly liturgical is the singing of the " Tantum ergo " and the giving of the Benediction which immediately follov/s. This idea is emphasized by the fact that in many Roman churches the celebrant, vested in cope and preceded by thurifier, acolytes, etc., only makes his en- try into the sanctuary just before the " Tantum ergo " is begun. Previously to this the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, informally so to speak, by a priest in cotta and stole; and then choir and congregation are left to sing litanies and canticles, or to say prayers and devotions as the occasion may demand, the whole service being of a very popular character.

In English-speaking countries the service generally begins with the entry of the priest and his assistants in procession and with the singing of the " O Salutaris Hostia " as soon as the Blessed Sacrament is taken out of the tabernacle. Indeed in England the singing of the " O Salutaris " is enjoined in the " Ritus servandus", the code of procedure approved by a former synod of the Province of Westminster. On the other hand, the Litany of Our Lady, though usually printed after the " O Salutaris " and very gen- erally sung at Benediction, is nowhere of obligation. It may be added that further solemnity is often given to the service by the presence of deacon and subdeacon in dalmatics. When the bishop of ths diocese officiates he uses mitre and crosier in the pro- cession to the altar, and makes the sign of the cross over the people three times in giving the benediction. On the other hand, a very informal sort of service is permitted, where the means for carrying out a more elaborate rite are not available. The priest, wearing cotta and stole, simply opens the tabernacle door. Prayers and devotions are said or svmg, and then the priest blesses those present with the veiled ciborium before the tabernacle door is again closed. The permission, general or special, of the bishop of the diocese is necessary for services where Bene- diction is given with the monstrance.

History of the Devotion. It is easy to recog- nize in our ordinary Benediction service, the traces of two distinct elements. There is of course in the first place the direct veneration of the Blessed Sacrament, which appears in the exposition, blessing, " Tantum ergo ", etc. But besides this we note the almost invariable presence of what at first sight seems an incongruous element, that of the litany of Loreto, or of popular hymns in honour of Our Lady. Tracing our present service back to its origin we find that these two features are derived from different sources. The idea of exposing the Blessed Sacrament for veneration in a monstrance appears to have been first evolved at the end of the thirteenth or the beginning of the fourteenth century. When the elevation of the Host at Mass was intro- duced in the early years of the thirteenth century, probably as a form of protest against the theological views of Peter the Chanter, the idea by degrees took firm hold of the popular mind that special virtue and merit were attached to the act of looking at the Blessed Sacrament. To such extremes did this pre- possession go, that the seeing of the Host at the moment of the elevation was judged to be the most vital part of attendance at Mass. In certain churches in Spain a screen of black velvet was held up beliind the altar in order that the priest's hands and the Host might be more easily seen from afar; in others strict injunctions were given to the thurifcr that he shoulil on no account allow the smoke of the thurible to obstruct the view of the Host. Futhermore, we read that when men were dying and were unable on account of vomiting or any other cause to receive Holy Viaticum, the Blessed Sacrament was brought to them and held up before them to look at. In- deed, a virtual prohibition of this practice stands