Consecration is the solemn dedication to a special purpose or service, usually religious. The word "consecration" literally means "to associate 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; an antonym is to desecrate.


Roman Catholic Church

The Consecration of Deodat (1620, Claude Bassot).

"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,[citation needed] "consecration" was the preferred term in the centuries immediately preceding 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)

Religious orders and similar institutions

The life of those who enter religious orders and similar institutes is also described as Consecrated Life.

A rite of consecration of virgins can be traced back at least to the fourth century.[1] By the time of the Second Vatican Council, use of this rite was limited to cloistered nuns.[2] The Council directed that the then existing rite should be revised.[3] 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

Chrism, used as anointing oil, is (usually scented) olive oil consecrated by a bishop.

Objects such as patens and chalices, used for the Sacrament of the Eucharist, also used to be consecrated by a bishop, using chrism.

A more solemn rite exists for the consecration of an altar, either of the altar alone or as the central part of the rite of consecration of a church. Since it would be contradictory to consecrate to the service of God a mortgage-burdened building, the rite of consecration or 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.

Eastern churches

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.

Various Christian churches

The consecration of William Evan Sanders, Episcopal Bishop of Tennessee (1962).

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.

Latter Day Saints

In the nineteenth-century Latter Day Saint tradition, consecration involved the giving of member's worldly possessions to the church. While it might be considered a type of voluntary religious communism, Latter Day Saint consecration does not involve the abolition of private property. It was practiced off and on during the 19th century, but is now extremely rare among Latter Day Saint denominations. The priesthood of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also perform a consecration of oil, for use of blessing the sick. The term 'consecration', as it applies to the Lord's Supper in other Christian churches, is simply called a 'blessing' by the Latter-day Saint priesthood.

See also


  1. ^ The Sacraments (Liturgical Press, 1987, ISBN 0-8146-1365-9, 9780814613658), p. 211
  2. ^ Apostolic Constitution Sponsa Christi - AAS 43 (1951), 16
  3. ^ Sacrosanctum Concilium, 80


  • 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.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Consecration — • An act by which a thing is separated from a common and profane to a sacred use, or by which a person or thing is dedicated to the service and worship of God by prayers, rites, and ceremonies Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006.… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • consécration — [ kɔ̃sekrasjɔ̃ ] n. f. • XIIe; lat. consecratio → consacrer 1 ♦ Action de consacrer, dédicace à la divinité. La consécration d un temple, d un autel. Consécration d une église catholique au culte. ⇒ bénédiction, dédicace. Consécration d un évêque …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • consécration — CONSÉCRATION. subs. fém. Action par laquelle une chose est consacrée. La consécration d une Église, d un calice. [b]f♛/b] On appelle absolument et par excellence, La Consécration, L action par laquelle le Prêtre consacre, quand il célèbre la… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • Consecration — Consécration Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. La consécration de l hostie pour la transsubstantiation est l événement central de la messe. La consécration d un évêque est prévue dans les… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • consecration — Consecration. s. f. Action par laquelle une chose est consacrée. La consecration d une Eglise, d un calice. On appelle absolument & par excellence, La consecration, L action par laquelle le Prestre consacre en celebrant la Messe. Avant la… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Consecration — Con se*cra tion, n. [L. consecratio: cf. F. cons[ e]cration.] The act or ceremony of consecrating; the state of being consecrated; dedication. [1913 Webster] Until the days of your consecration be at an end. Lev. viii. 33. [1913 Webster]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Consecration — Consecration, Einweihung, nennt man in der katholischen Kirche die Einweihung eines Erzbischofes oder Bischofes zu seinem Amte, vermittelst der Einsalbung mit dem heiligen Oele. Ebenso die nach katholischem Lehrbegriffe während der Consecration… …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • Consecration — (v. lat. Consecratio), 1) Weihe, Heiligung; 2) in Rom so v. w. Apotheose, s.d.; daher Consecrationsmünzen, Münzen, worauf apotheosirte Kaiser u. Kaiserinnen dargestellt sind; angezeigt durch Strahlenkrone, Tempel, Altar, Scheiterhaufen, Adler od …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Consecration — Consecration, Heiligung, hieß bei den alten Römern die Handlung, wodurch Bildsäulen, Felder, öffentliche Plätze, Tempel u.s.w. den Göttern geweiht wurden, nicht minder die Verwünschung der Verbrecher, consecratio capitis u. die Apotheose einiger… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • consecration — index adhesion (loyalty), dedication, elevation, remembrance (commemoration) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • consecration — late 14c., from L. consecrationem (nom. consecratio), noun of action from consecrat , pp. stem of consecrare (see CONSECRATE (Cf. consecrate)) …   Etymology dictionary