On 12 October, we celebrate the anniversary of the dedication of our abbatial church.
Just as each Christian is consecrated by the sacraments of initiation (baptism, confirmation and the eucharist), so too each church is consecrated by a special rite, the dedication, which makes of it a sacred space for the encounter between God and men. The dedication of a church is comprised of several rites.
The bishop first asperges the walls and the altar. Then the relics of saints are embedded in the altar, signifying thereby the union of the mystical Body of Christ. The bishop then pronounces the great prayer of consecration, followed by the anointing with holy oil of the five crosses on the altar, as well as the altar itself, as well as the twelve crosses on the walls of the church. Insense is then burned on the altar as a sign of the prayer that will henceforth rise up from this place. Lastly, the eucharist is celebrated, for it is this sacrament that truly makes the church a hallowed place devoted to the divine cult.
The dedication of our abbatial church took place on 12 October, probably in 1010, more than 1000 years ago. Each year, we celebrate with solemnity this anniversary on this date and we decorate our church with care and taste so as to convey the festive character of the day. A lit candle is placed before each of the twelve crosses of consecration on the walls of the nave, and under it we hang a garland of autumn Virginia creeper leaves.
The liturgy of the anniversary of the dedication of a church celebrates the presence of God amongst men, using certain biblical themes concerning the Temple of Jerusalem as well as the images of the dream of Jacob (Gn 28, 18-19). The liturgy proposes the image of the physical church built in stone as a springboard to lift our eyes to the Church comprised of us, its living stones, a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem towards which we are making our way. This is the theme of the Gregorian hymn, Urbs Ierusalem, which you may listen to below.
Urbs Jerusalem beata
Nova veniens e cælo
Portæ nitent margaritis
Gloria et honor Deo
Blessed city, Jerusalem,
Young, she comes from heaven
Her doors shine with pearls
Carved and chiselled,
Glory and honor to God