Consecration is the solemn dedication to a special purpose or service, usually religious. The word consecration literally means "association with the sacred". Persons, places, or things can be consecrated, and the term is used in various ways by different groups. A synonym for to consecrate is to sanctify; a distinct antonym is to desecrate.
Roman Catholic Church
"Consecration" is used in the Catholic Church as the setting apart for the service of God of both persons and objects.
Ordination of bishops
The ordination of a new bishop is also called a consecration. While the term "episcopal ordination" is now more common, "consecration" was the preferred term from the Middle Ages through the period including the Second Vatican Council (11 October 1962 – 8 December 1965).
The Vatican II document Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy n. 76 states,
Both the ceremonies and texts of the ordination rites are to be revised. The address given by the bishop at the beginning of each ordination or consecration may be in the mother tongue.
When a bishop is consecrated, the laying of hands may be done by all the bishops present.
The English text of Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, 1997, under the heading "Episcopal ordination—fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders", uses "episcopal consecration" as a synonymous term, using "episcopal ordination" and "episcopal consecration" interchangeably. (CCC nn. 1556–1558)
The Code of Canon Law Latin-English Edition, (1983), under "Title VI—Orders" uses the term sacrae ordinationis minister "minister of sacred ordination" and the term consecratione episcopali "episcopal consecration". (CCL cc. 1012, 1014)
The rite of consecration of virgins can be traced back at least to the fourth century. By the time of the Second Vatican Council, the bestowal of the consecration was limited to cloistered nuns only. The Council directed that this should be revised. Two similar versions were prepared, one for women living in monastic orders, another for consecrated virgins living in the world. An English translation of the rite for those living in the world is available on the web site of the United States Association of Consecrated Virgins.
Churches, altars, and other ritual objects
A more solemn rite exists for what used to be called the "consecration of an altar", either of the altar alone or as the central part of the rite for a church. The rite is now called the dedication. Since it would be contradictory to dedicate to the service of God a mortgage-burdened building, the rite of dedication of a church is carried out only if the building is debt-free. Otherwise, it is only blessed.
A very special act of consecration is that of the bread and wine used in the Eucharist, which according to Catholic belief involves their change into the Body and Blood of Christ, a change referred to as transubstantiation. To consecrate the bread and wine, the priest speaks the Words of Institution.
In the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Eastern Catholic Churches, the term "consecration" can refer to either the Sacred Mystery (Sacrament) of Cheirotonea (Ordination through laying on of hands) of a Bishop, or the sanctification and solemn dedication of a church building. It can also (more rarely) be used to describe the change of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ at the Divine Liturgy. The Chrism used at Chrismation and the Antimension placed on the Holy Table are also said to be consecrated.
Church buildings, chapels and altars are consecrated to the purpose of religious worship, baptismal fonts and vessels are consecrated for the purpose of containing the Eucharistic elements, the bread and wine/the body and blood of Christ.
A person may be consecrated for a specific role within a religious hierarchy, or a person may consecrate his or her life in an act of devotion. In particular, the ordination of a bishop is often called a consecration. In churches that follow the doctrine of apostolic succession (the historical episcopate), the bishops who consecrate a new bishop are known as the consecrators and form an unbroken line of succession back to the Apostles. Those who take the vows of religious life are said to be living a consecrated life.
Among some religious groups there is a service of "deconsecration", to return a formerly consecrated place to secular purpose (for instance, if the building is to be sold or demolished). In the Church of England, an order closing a church may remove the legal effects of consecration.
In most South Indian Hindu temples around the world, Kumbhabhishekam, or the temple's consecration ceremony, is done once every 12 years. It is usually done to purify the temple after a renovation or simply done to renew the purity of the temple. Hindus celebrate this event on the consecration date as the witnessing gives a good soul a thousand "punya", or good karma.
Panch Kalyanaka Pratishtha is a traditional Jain ceremony that consecrates one or more Jain Tirthankara icons with celebration of Panch Kalyanaka (five auspicious events). The ceremony is generally held when new Jain temple is erected or new idols are installed in temples. The consecration must be supervised by a religious authority, an Acharya or a Bhattaraka or a scholar authorized by them.
- "By a margin of 5:1 on the Vatican website, e.g.". Retrieved 31 October 2013.
- See, e.g., the Vatican II decree Christus Dominus on the Pastoral Office of Bishop, which exclusively uses the term "consecration", rather than "ordination", to refer to the act by which a priest becomes a bishop.
- The Sacraments (Liturgical Press, 1987, ISBN 978-0-8146-1365-8), p. 211
- Apostolic Constitution Sponsa Christi – AAS 43 (1951), 16
- Sacrosanctum Concilium Archived February 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., 80
- Caeremoniale Episcoporum. chapters IX-XI
- Roman Missal, Ritual Masses for the Dedication of a Church and an Altar
- Details about Hindu temple consecration ceremony
- Jaini, Padmanabh S. (1998) , The Jaina Path of Purification, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-1578-5
- Service Book of the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic Church, Isabel F. Hapgood (Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, New York) 1975.
- Orthodox Dogmatic Theology: A Concise Exposition, Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky (Tr. Hieromonk Seraphim Rose, Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina CA) 1984.
- The Law of God, Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy (Tr. Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville NY) 1996.
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- Consecration article in Catholic Encyclopedia
- Consecration of an Orthodox Church 6 pages of photos, Serbian Orthodox Church
- Photos of Consecration of Altar and Antimens in the Russian Orthodox Church
- The Sanctification of Holy Chrism by the Ecumenical Patriarchate
- Virginity article in Catholic Encyclopedia discussing Consecration of a Virgin
- Kumbhabhishekam by the Modern International Hindu Agamic Cultural Organisation