On the ninth day of November each year the whole Catholic Church celebrates the dedication of the glorious Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour and Sts. John the Baptist and the Evangelist at the Lateran, or more commonly: Saint John Lateran. This is the mother Church of the entire Church (many mistake Saint Peters to be this), which is the heart of Rome and thus is the heart of the entire Church. It is a day reserved for a great outpouring of love for Holy Mother Church and for her head the Holy Father in Rome. All ought to pray with great fervor on this day for propagation of the true Faith by the expansion of the one true Church, and especially one must pray for the Holy Father.
In his unparalleled work The Liturgical Year, the incorrupt Benedictine Dom Gueranger (founder of the Solemn Congregation) takes today’s Feast as an opportunity to discuss to Liturgical Rites of the Dedication of a Church. For most Catholics the dedication of a Church is something they have never experienced, or if they have it has been in the very barren form in the new Rite of the Liturgy. But the Dedication of a Church is one of the amazing events one will ever have the opportunity to witness. That is, of course, if they are able to see the traditional form of the Consecration of an entire Church. The ceremony lasts many hours (depending on the size of the Church and number of altars maybe 5-6 hours) and every moment is steeped in such incredibly rich symbolism one could spend the rest of their life studying this one Rite of the Churches Liturgy and never exhaust the many avenues of discovery.
A few hundred individuals were very blessed to be present for the Consecration of the Saints Peter and Paul Chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska on March 3rd of 2010. The form used was that of 1962 which was but a slightly abbreviated form of what had been used all the way back to the time of the dedication of the Church being celebrated in this Feast. It is an experience that one could never forget and which will, as those who attended have attested, deepen one’s understanding of the Catholic Faith, Liturgy, and the Priesthood so much that one will be a changed person for having witnessed it. What is so wonderful is that thanks to EWTN anyone can witness this event on video!
You can see images of the consecration here.
And here you can support the seminary and watch the entire amazing liturgy by buying it on DVD.
Hymns from the Divine Office for the Feast of the Dedication of Saint Savior
|Matins and Vespers
Caelestis urbs Ierusalem,
Beata pacis visio,
Quae celsa de viventibus
Saxis ad astra tolleris,
Sponsaeque ritu cingeris
Mille angelorum millibus.O sorte nupta prospera,
Dotata Patris gloria,
Respersa Sponsi gratia,
Christo iugata principi,
Caeli corusca civitas.
Hic margaritis emicant,
Scalpri salubris ictibus,
Decus Parenti debitum
|Matins and Vespers
Thou heavenly, new Jerusalem,
Vision of peace in prophet’s dream!
With living stones built up on high,
And rising to yon starry sky;
In bridal pomp thy form is crowned,
With thousand thousand angels round!O bride, betrothed in happy hour,
The Father’s glory is thy dower;
The bridegroom’s grace is shed on thee
Thou queen all fair eternally;
To Christ allied, thy Prince adored,
Bright shining city of the Lord!
Behold with pearls they glittering stand
By many a salutary stroke,
Fair and well pleasing in thy sight,
Alto ex Olympi vertice
Summi Parentis Filius,
Ceu monte desectus lapis
Terras in imas decidens,
Domus supernae, et infimae,
Utrumque iunxit angulum.Sed illa sedes caelitum
Semper resultat laudibus,
Deumque Trinum et Unicum
Iugi canore praedicat:
Illi canentes iungimur
Almae Sionis aemuli.
Haec templa, Rex caelestium,
Hic impetrent fidelium
Decus Parenti debitum
From highest heaven, the Father’s Son,
Descending like that mystic stone
Cut from a mountain without hands,
Came down below, and filled all lands;
Uniting, midway in the sky,
His house on earth, and house on high.That house on high, — it ever rings
With praises of the King of kings;
Forever there, on harps divine,
They hymn th’ eternal One and Trine;
We, here below, the strain prolong,
And faintly echo Sion’s song.
O Lord of lords invisible!
Here may the faithful, day by day,
To God the Father, glory due
The Liturgical Year
Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B.
Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Saviour
In the fourth century of our era, the cessation of persecution seemed to give the world a foretaste of its future entrance into eternal peace. “Glory to the Almighty! Glory to the Redeemer of our souls!” wrote Eusebius at the opening of the tenth and last book of his History. Himself a witness of the triumph, he describes the admirable spectacle everywhere displayed by the dedication of the new sanctuaries. In city after city the Bishops assembled, and crowds flocked together. From nation to nation, the good-will of mutual charity, of common faith, and of recollected joy, so harmonized all hearts, that the unity of Christ’s body was clearly manifested in these multitudes animated by the same inspiration of the Holy Ghost. It was the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies: the living city of the living God, where all, whatever their age or sex, praise together the Author of all good things. How solemn were then the rites of the Church! The complete perfection therein displayed by the Pontiffs, the enthusiasm of the psalmody, the inspired leadings, the celebration of the ineffable Mysteries, formed a divine pageantry. (Euseb. Hist. eccl. x. 1-4.)
Constantine had placed the imperial treasure at the disposal of the Bishops; and he himself stimulated their zeal for what he called in his edicts, the work of the churches. (Ibid. De vita Constantini, ii, 45, 46.) Rome, the place of his victory by the Cross, the capital of the now Christian world, was the first to benefit by the prince’s munificence. In a series of dedications, to the glory of the holy Apostles and Martyrs, Sylvester, the Pontiff of peace, took possession of the eternal city in the name of the true God.
Today is the birthday of the mother and mistress of churches, called “of our Saviour, Aula Dei (God’s palace), the golden Basilica;” it is a new Sinai, (Inscriptio vetus olim in apside majori.) whence the apostolic oracles and so many Councils have made known to the world the law of salvation. No wonder this feast is celebrated by the whole world.
Although the Popes for centuries have ceased to dwell in the Lateran Palace, the Basilica still holds the first rank. It is as true now, as it was in the time of St. Peter Damian, to say that “as our Saviour is the Head of the elect, so the church which bears his name is the head of all churches; those of St. Peter and St. Paul, on its right and left, are the two arms with which this sovereign and universal church embraces the whole earth, saving all those who desire salvation, cherishing and protecting them in its maternal bosom.” (Pete. Dam. Epist. Lib. ii. 1.) And St. Peter Damian applied conjointly to our Saviour and his Basilica the words of the prophet Zacharias: Behold a Man, the Orient is his name: and under him shall he spring up, and shall build a temple to the Lord. Yea, he shall build a temple to the Lord: and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit, and rule upon his throne: and he shall be a priest upon his throne. (Zach. 4:12-13)
It is still at the Lateran Basilica that the Roman Pontiffs take official possession of their See. There each year, in the name of the Pope as Bishop of Rome, the episcopal functions are performed, viz: the blessing of the Holy Oils on Maundy Thursday, and on Holy Saturday the blessing of the Font, solemn Baptism and Confirmation, and the general Ordination. Could the great poet of the age of triumph, Prudentius, return to life in these our days, he might still say: “The Roman people hasten in “eager crowds to the Lateran, whence they return “marked with the sacred sign, with the royal chrism. “And are we yet to doubt that Rome is consecrated “tothee, 0 Christ!” (Prudent. Lib. i. contra Symmachum. 586-588.)
Let us now read the liturgical history of this day.
The rites observed by the Roman Church in consecrating churches and altars were instituted by the blessed Pope Sylvester. For although from apostolic times churches were dedicated to God, and called by some oratories, by others churches; and in them the Christian people assembled on the first day of the week, and were wont there to pray, to hear the word of God, and to receive the Holy Eucharist; yet hitherto they were never so solemnly consecrated, nor was an altar erected in them, anointed with chrism, to represent and signify our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our altar, our victim, and our priest.
But when the emperor Constantino had received health of body and soul by the Sacrament of Baptism, he promulgated a law to the whole world, allowing the Christians to build churches; and he encouraged them in this work by his own example as well as by this edict. Thus, in his Lateran palace he dedicated a church to our Saviour; and founded the adjoining baptistery in honour of St. John Baptist, on the very spot where he himself had been baptized by St. Sylvester and cleansed from his leprosy. The Pontiff consecrated it on the fifth of the Ides of November; and we celebrate the memory thereof on this same day, whereon for the first time a church was publicly dedicated in Rome, and there appeared before the eyes of the Roman people an image of our Saviour depicted on the wall.
Although later on, when consecrating the altar of the Prince of the Apostles, blessed Sylvester decreed that thenceforward all altars should be built of stone; yet the altar of the Lateran Basilica was of wood. This however is not surprising. For, from the time of St. Peter down to Sylvester, persecution prevented the Pontiffs from having any fixed abode; so that they offered the holy Sacrifice either in crypts or cemeteries, or in the houses of the faithful, as necessity compelled them, upon the said wooden altar, which was hollow like a chest. When peace was granted to the Church, Sylvester placed this altar in the first church, the Lateran; and in honour of the Prince of the Apostles, who is said to have offered the holy Sacrifice upon it, and of the other Pontiffs who had used it up to that time, he decreed that no one should celebrate Mass upon it except the Roman Pontiff. This church having been injured and half ruined in consequence of fires, hostile invasions, and earthquakes, was several times repaired by the care of the Popes. After a new restoration Pope Benedict XIII a Dominican, solemnly consecrated it, on the twenty-eighth day of April in the year 1726, and ordered the commemoration thereof to be celebrated on this present day. The great works undertaken by Pius IX, have been happily completed by Leo XIII, to wit: the principal apse, which was threatening to fall through age, has been very much enlarged; the ancient mosaic, already partially restored at different times, has been reconstructed on the old model, and transferred to the new apse, which is handsomely and richly decorated; the roof and woodwork of the transepts have been renewed and ornamented. Moreover a sacristy and a house for the Canons have been added, as well as a portico connecting these buildings with Constantine’s Baptistery. The whole work was completed in the year 1884.
So many details might seem superfluous to the profane. But, just as the Pope is to all of us our first and our own Pastor, so his church of the Lateran is our own church; whatever concerns it cannot, or at least should not, be a matter of indifference to the faithful. Let us take our inspirations regarding it from the following beautiful formulas, given us by the Roman Pontifical in the dedication ceremony. To no church could they be better applied than to this.
Antiphons and Responsories
R. Fundata est domus Domini super verticem montium, et exaltata est super omnes colles, et venient ad eam omnes gentes. * Et dicent: Gloria tibi, Domine.
V. Venientes autem venient cum exsultatione, portantes manipulos suos. * Et dicent.
R. Tu Domine uni verse rum, qui nullam habes indigentiam, voluisti templum tuum fieri in nobis. * Conserva domum istam immaculatam in seternum, Domine.
V. Tu elegisti, Domine, domum istam ad invocandum nomen tuum in ea; ut esset domus orationis, et obsecrationis populo tao. * Conserva.
Ant. Pax seterna ab .ffiterno huic domni. Pax perennis, Verbum Patris, sit pax huic domui. Pacem pius Consolator huic prsestet domui.
Ant. O quam metuendus est locus iste: vere non est hie aliud, nisi domus Dei, et porta coeli.
Ant. Haec est domus Domini firmiter aedificata: bene fundata est supra firmam petram.
Ant. Vidit Jacob scalam, summitas ejus coelos tangebat, et descendentes Angelos, et dixit: Vere locus iste sanctus est.
R. Haec est Jerusalem civitas ilia magna coelestis, ornata tamquam sponsa Agni. * Quoniam tabernaculum facta est. Alleluia.
V. Portse ejus non claudentur per diem, nox enim non erit in ea. * Quoniam.
R. Platese tuse, Jerusalem, sternentur auro mundo, Alleluia, et cantabitur in te canticum lsetitise, Alleluia. * Et per omnes vicos tuos dicetur ab universis, Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. Luce splendida fulgebis: et omnes fines terrse adorabunt te. * Et per omnes.
Ant. Circumdate Sion, et complectimini eam, narrate in turribus ejus,
V. Magnus Dominus et laudabilis nimis, in civitate Dei nostri, in monte sancto ejus.
R. Induit te Dominus tunica jucunditatis, et imposuit tibi coronam. * Et ornavit te ornamentis sanctis.
V. Luce splendida fulgebis, et omnes fines terrse adorabunt coram te. * Et ornavit te.
V. Nationes ex longinquo ad te venient, et munera deferentes adorabunt Dominum; et terram tuam in sanctificatione habebunt, et nomen magnum invocabunt in te. • Et ornavit.
V. Benedicti erunt, qui te sedificaverunt; tu autem laetaberis in filiis tuis, quoniam omnes benedicentur et congregabuntur ad Dominum. * Et ornavit te.
R. The house of the Lord is founded upon the summit of mountains, and raised up above all hills, and all nations shall come to her. * And they shall say: Glory be to thee, O Lord.
V. Coming they shall come with joyfulness, carrying their sheaves. * And they shall say:
R. Thou, O Lord of all things, who hast no need, hast willed that this thy temple should be in the midst of us. * Preserve this house spotless forever, O Lord.
V. Thou, O Lord, hast chosen this house, that thy name may be invoked in it; that it may be a house of prayer and supplication for thy people. * Preserve.
Ant. Peace eternal from the Eternal be to this house! May the unending Peace, the Word of the Father, be peace to this house! Peace may the loving Consoler grant unto this house!
Ant. Oh how awful is this place: truly it is nought else but the house of God, and the gate of heaven.
Ant. This is the house of the Lord, strongly built: it is firmly founded on the solid rock.
Ant. Jacob beheld a ladder, the top whereof touched the heavens; and Angels coming down; and he said: Truly this place is holy.
R. This is Jerusalem, the great and heavenly city, adorned as the Bride of the Lamb. * For she has become the true tabernacle. Alleluia.
V. Her gates shall not be closed by day, and there shall be no night in her. * For she has become.
R. Thy streets, O Jerusalem, shall be paved with pure gold, Alleluia, and there shall be sung in thee the canticle of joy, Alleluia. * And all along thy streets every one shall say: Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. Thou shalt shine with a glorious light; and all the ends of the earth shall worship thee. * And all along.
Ant. Surround Sion and encompass her, tell ye her wonders in her towers,
V. Great is the Lord and exceedingly to be praised, in the city of our God, in his holy mountain.
R. The Lord hath clad thee with a garment of joy, and hath set a crown on thy head. * And he hath adorned thee with holy ornaments.
V. Thou shalt shine with a glorious light, and all the ends of the earth shall worship before thee, * And he hath adorned.
V. Nations from afar shall come to thee, and bringing gifts shall adore the Lord; and they shall esteem thy land as holy, and shall call upon the great name in thee. * And he hath adorned.
V. Blessed shall they be that build thee up; but thou shalt rejoice in thy children, because they shall be all blessed, and shall be gathered together to the Lord. * and he hath adorned.
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui per Filium tuum, angularem scilicet lapidem, duos ex diverso venientes, ex circumcisione et praeputio parietes, duosque greges ovium sub uno eodemque pastore unisti; da famulis tuis per hsec nostrse devotionis officia, indissolubile vinculum charitatis, ut nulla divisione mentium, nullaque perversitatis varietate sequestrentur, quos sub uni us regimine pastoris unus grex continet, uniusque te custode ovilis septa concludunt. Per Dominum.
O Almighty, eternal God, who through thy Son, the Corner-stone, hast joined the two walls coming from opposite directions, to wit, from the circumcision and the uncircumcision, and hast united the two flocks of sheep under the one same pastor; give to thy servants, through these functions of our devotion, the indissoluble bond of charity, so that no division of opinions, no sort of perverse disagreement, may separate those, who are all one flock under the guidance of one shepherd, and are enclosed in one fold under thy protection. Through the same Lord.