Vestment Blessings

The first known written record of Liturgical Vestment Blessings in the Christian Church is found in a Pontifical Ceremonial (Bishop's Book of Ceremonies and Blessings) from 9th century Europe. Certainly the blessing - dedication or setting aside of items for Divine Worship goes back to the Old Testament.

It would seem unlikely that after the thorough and exact instructions given by Almighty God to the Prophet - Lawgiver Moses concerning the articles and manner of Divine Worship would not include dedicatory instructs and prayers, if only extempore on Moses part.

Hence the Church surely kept this practice of vestment blessings, and while the earliest known example of these are from the 9th century, it is irrationality to suggest that the Church had not kept the same example of the Old Testament from an early age.

Distinct Blessings for Distinct Items

It is true that the greater majority of items used for Divine Worship have "distinct" blessings. In the case of Sacred Vestments the Church has strictly commanded and provided vestment blessings for the Amice, Alb, Cincture, Maniple, Stole, and Chasuble.

The Dalmatic, Tunicle, Cope and Surplice may and should also receive a blessing, since they too are used in Divine Worship. The Cassock, since it is historically the ordinary garb of the Clergy, is not usually classified as Vestments.

However the Roman Ritual provides a blessing stating: "A candidate for Sacred Orders who has obtained the permission to wear the Clerical Cassock, may desire to have this garment blessed." It should be noted that in the Western Church, as in the Eastern Churches, the Blessing of Liturgical Vesture has been solely been the right of the Bishop.

But in cases of necessity both the Eastern and Western Churches allow for a Priest to perform the vestment blessings. Of interest, the Benedictory prayers in the Byzantine Church are very similar to those in the Latin Rite, as used for Vatican II.

The Following are the Form of Vestment Blessings in English. These are taken directly from the Roman Ritual, the Imprimatur given in 1945.

The Vestment Blessings

Our help is in the Name of the Lord.
Who made heaven and earth.
The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit.

Let us pray.

O Almighty, everlasting God, Thou didst ordain of old through Moses, Thy servant, that the Sacred Vesture of High-Priest, Priest, and Levite be worn to dignify and beautify the worship of Thee. Wherefore, mercifully hear our supplications, and through our lowly ministry deign to purify, * bless, * and consecrate * these Priestly Vestments (this Priestly Vestment), bestowing thereon Thy consecration, that they (it) be made fitting for the service of Thy Holy Mysteries. Let every Bishop, Priest, or Deacon vested with them (it) be guarded and defended from all assault or temptation of wicked spirits, and help them to celebrate Thy Mysteries reverently and well, thus ever rendering unto Thee a service pleasing and devout. Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.


Let us pray.

O Lord God Almighty, Who didst command Moses, Thy servant, to see to the making of Sacerdotal Vesture for the worship of the former Covenant, and didst inspire him with wisdom to perfect Thy wish; vouchsafe to bless, * sanctify, * and consecrate, * these Vestments (this Vestment) to Thy Holy Service. Clothed with them, may the ministrants of Thine Altar be filled with the sevenfold grace of the Holy Spirit and endowed with the stole of charity, that serving Thee faithfully they may be rewarded finally with a blessed immortality. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord; Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, God, eternally.

Amen.

The Vestments (Vestment) is now sprinkled with holy water or incensed


The following "shorter form" of vestment blessings is taken from the Roman Ritual dated 1964.

Shorter Formula For Blessing of Vestments

Let us pray.

Almighty everlasting God, giver of all good things and bountiful bestower of all graces, we humbly beg You to endow us with the power of Your blessing. May it also please You to bless, * by the work of the Holy Spirit, this (the name of the Vestment is given) made ready for Divine Worship. Kindly let the grace of Your Holy Mysteries descend on all who are to use it, so that they may appear holy, pure, and blameless in Your presence, and may be aided by Your mercy; through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

The Vestments (Vestment) is now sprinkled with holy water or incensed


The Vestment Blessings of the Clerical Cassock

Our help is in the Name of the Lord.

Who made heaven and earth.

The Lord be with you.

And with your spirit.

Let us pray.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who hast condescended to clothe Thyself with our wounded nature, we beg Thee of Thine immeasurable goodness to bless * this garment which ecclesiastical superiors have sanctioned for Clerics, as a token of the innocence and humility which should be theirs. Laying aside the vanity of secular clothing, may these Thy servants (or this Thy servant) wear the Cassock, and in so doing may they (he) likewise put on Thee, and be recognized as men (a man) dedicated to Thy ministry. Who livest and reignest, God, in eternity.

Amen.

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