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Consecration of the Church of the Hospital of the Innocent Children in Florence: Predella of the altarpiece of the church, Bartolomeo di Giovanni (1488)

Church consecration or church consecration (also: consecration ) is the act of the festive consecration of a church , through which the church interior is given to the parish for liturgical use ; when a cathedral is consecrated , the term cathedral consecration is also popularly used. A consecration takes place when a newly built church as the first house of worship is taken into service, or z. B. after a renovation.

Roman Catholic Church

In the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church , church consecration takes place as part of a solemn Holy Mass , which is celebrated by a bishop . The consecration day of a church is celebrated there every year as a solemn festival; the dedication day of a cathedral is a festival in the churches of the diocese . A worldwide festival for the Roman Catholic Church is the consecration day of the Lateran Basilica on November 9th , since the Lateran Basilica bears the title "Mother and Head of all Churches in the world". The missal contains a separate form for the remembrance of a church's consecration day.

The church interior is consecrated to the Holy Trinity and is usually subordinated to one or more patrons , whose day of remembrance is also celebrated annually in this church as a solemn festival . Further patron saints for churches can be: the most holy trinity itself; Jesus Christ with the mention of one of his liturgically celebrated mysteries of faith or his title; the Holy Spirit ; the Virgin and Mother of God Mary with one of her liturgical titles; the holy angels .


The consecration is preceded by the laying of the foundation stone, the rite of which was formed in the 10th to 13th centuries. The actual consecration begins with the lustration , a solemn cleaning of the church from the outside. At the entry rite, the altar and the interior are sprinkled with Gregorius water . This is followed by the transfer and burial of relics in and under the altar as well as the anointing of the same and the anointing of certain places in the church with chrism . This is followed by the incense offering on the altar, the consecration prefation (the introduction of the prayer ), the renewed anointing, subsequent cleaning and clothing of the altar. At the end of the day, there is the first holy mass offering, offered by the consecrator or another priest.

Since according to ecclesiastical law a church can only be consecrated when there is no more mortgage on it, the time of completion and thus the start of use and the date of church consecration may be far apart.


In the early Christian era, the consecration of the church was celebrated with a solemn first mass, which was celebrated by the local bishop or a representative appointed by him. The consecration of the church building that takes place here is considered sacramental according to Catholic teaching . With the growing martyrs cult , it became common to collect relics and burial them in or under the altar from the 4th century - initially in parishes outside Rome . Since the end of the 8th century, the rite in the Franconian Empire has been consciously expanded theologically based on Old Testament models ( lustration , water consecration, anointing).

The origin of the individual rites is often difficult to determine in detail. This complex rite was not significantly simplified until the liturgical reform in 1977. The first Eucharistic celebration in a church is therefore again the decisive act of consecration. Consecration prayers over the church and altar, anointing and incense of the altar and the walls or the festive lighting of all the lights in the church can illustrate the importance of the church building.

Protestant church

The reformers and, in their wake, the evangelical church rejected the consecration of the church in the sense of a consecratio . When the church is consecrated, they only identify the building as a room for church use in the sense of a dedication . In particular, like the invocation of saints, the Reformation also rejects the placing of churches under their protection (patronage). In many cases, however, older names of the churches remained. New church buildings are sometimes named after the Evangelists or other people from the New Testament (" Pauluskirche "), but more often according to modern people (" Martin Luther Church ", " Paul Gerhardt Church ", " Dietrich Bonhoeffer Church ") Faith content (“ Church of the Resurrection ”, “ Church of the Redeemer ”, “ Church of the Trinity ”, “ Church of Grace ”, “ Church of Christ ”) or events of the Reformation (“ Reformation Church ”, “ Confessional Church ”) . The Protestant church consecration takes place as part of a solemn church service. If available, the congregation bids farewell to the old place of worship and then moves to the new church, where the keys are handed over in front of the church door. Then the altar with crucifix and sacrament implements, baptismal font, pulpit and bells are consecrated.

The parish fair as a folk festival

In the Middle Ages, many people came together for the consecration day or the patronage of a church. After the liturgical celebration there was a market and a folk festival. Even today, the annual fair around the consecration day or the patronage festival takes place in many places .

Regardless of the specific day of remembrance of a particular church, a general parish fair is celebrated in some places ("Allerweltskirchweih") , which usually takes place as a fair in autumn and is also called fair , Kärwa , Kirwa or Kerb . Especially in the southern Bavarian region, the Allerweltskirchweih takes place on the third Sunday in October. This was introduced in 1866 in order to avoid the many and in some cases quite extensive church consecration celebrations in the towns and villages.

See also


  • Bibliographisches Institut & FA Brockhaus AG (Hrsg.): Art. Church consecration. In: Brockhaus . The encyclopedia in twenty-four volumes. 20th edition. Vol. 12 Mannheim 1997, p. 27.
  • Suitbert Benz, Hans-Joachim Schulz , Klaus Beitl: Art. Church consecration. In: Lexicon for Theology and Church . 2nd Edition. Vol. 6. Freiburg 1961, Col. 302-306.
  • Bernard Botte, Heinzgerd Brakmann: Art. Church consecration. In: Real Lexicon for Antiquity and Christianity . Vol. 20. Stuttgart 2004, Col. 1139-1169 (with further literature).
  • Andreas Heinz : Art. Church consecration. In: Religion Past and Present . 4th edition. Vol. 4. Tübingen 2001, Sp. 1380-1381.
  • Erich Hertzsch : Art. Church consecration. In: Religion Past and Present. 3. Edition. Vol. 3. Tübingen 1959, Col. 1623-1624.
  • Reiner Kaczynski , Heinrich JF Reinhardt , Andreas Heinz: Art. Church consecration. In: Lexicon for Theology and Church. 3. Edition. Vol. 6. Freiburg / Basel / Rome / Vienna 1997, Col. 102-105.
  • Aimé-Georges Martimort (Ed.): Handbook of Liturgical Science , Vol. 1: General introduction. The basic elements of the liturgy. The theology of the liturgical celebration . Herder, Freiburg 1963, pp. 195-200: The consecration of the church .
  • Gerd Zimmermann : Art. Patronage. In: Religion Past and Present. 3. Edition. Vol. 5. Tübingen 1961, Col. 159-161.

Catholic and Protestant churches

  • Andreas Heinz: Small symbolism: House of the community - God's house. The church building in the light of the renewed church consecration . In: Wheat Grain. Elements for the celebration of the church liturgy , Vol. 7, Verlag Katholisches Bibelwerk, Stuttgart 1986, pp. 127–135.
  • Friedemann Merkel: Art. Church consecration. In: Evangelisches Kirchenlexikon . International Theological Encyclopedia 3rd Edition. Vol. 2. Göttingen 1989, Col. 1293-1294.
  • Ralf MW Stammberger, Claudia Sticher, Annekatrin Warnke: You are the house of God. Medieval and baroque understanding of the church as reflected in the consecration of the church (= Erudiri sapientia. Vol. 6). Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-05-003780-6 (especially: Peter Wünsche: On the celebration of the western church fair liturgy from the early Middle Ages to the post-Tridentine pontifical of 1596 ).

Eastern Churches

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Preface at the consecration of a church in which no worship service has been celebrated:
    “In truth it is worthy and right to thank you, Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Eternal God, always and everywhere.
    You created the whole world as a temple of your glory, so that your name may be praised in all places.
    And yet you want certain places to be specially dedicated to you where we celebrate the divine mysteries.
    So today we joyfully consecrate this house to you, the exalted God, which was built by human hands.
    In it we already mysteriously see the shadow of the true temple; in it we shine on the image of the heavenly Jerusalem.
    For in the body of your beloved Son, whom the blessed Virgin gave birth, you built the holy temple among us, in which the whole fulness of God dwells.
    But you made the church a holy city, founded on the foundation of the apostles; Christ himself is their exalted cornerstone.
    You build them up from selected stones, from stones that you bring to life through the spirit and join together through love.
    In this holy city you will be everything for all forever, and the light of Christ will shine in it forever.
    Through him your redeemed praise you and unite with the choirs of the angels to sing high songs of your divine glory:
    holy, holy, holy [...] ”(missal for the dioceses of the German-speaking area).
  2. ^ Aimé-Georges Martimort: Structure and laws of the liturgical celebration . In: ders. (Ed.): Handbuch der Liturgiewwissenschaft , Vol. 1. Herder, Freiburg 1963, p. 195.
  3. Erich Hertzsch : Art. Church consecration. In: Religion Past and Present . 3. Edition. Vol. 3. Tübingen 1959, Col. 1624.
  4. ^ Gerd Zimmermann: Art. Patronage. In: Religion Past and Present. 3. Edition. Vol. 5. Tübingen 1961, Col. 159.
  5. ^ Art. Consecration. In: Evangelisches Kirchenlexikon . 3. Edition. Vol. 2. Göttingen 1989, p. 1294.