Blessing of Epiphany Water — It is by the power of the Holy Ghost that the water is blessed.
Modern-day Catholics typically associate Epiphany with the arrival of the magi (wise men) from the east to adore the Christ child. But traditionally, this is one of three “epiphanies” or “theophanies” — manifestations of the divinity of Christ. The other two are Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan and his first public miracle, turning water into wine at the Wedding Feast of Cana.
Once a year, Holy Mother Church blesses Holy Water in a most solemn ceremony of the vigil of the Epiphany on January 5th. Among all the blessings for water found in the Roman Ritual, there is none more powerful and efficacious than the blessing of the Epiphany Water. It is considered to be the most powerful sacramental.
Benedictio Aquae in Vigilia Epiphaniae Domini – According to the Ancient Roman Rite
On December 6, 1890, a New Form of the Blessing of the Waters on the Eve of the Epiphany was approved by the Congregation of Sacred Rites; this was ordered to be printed at Ratisbon on September 17, 1892, and the edition duly appeared at Ratisbon in 1893. It has been thought well to reproduce the music to which certain parts of the service were sung according to the former work. The Latin text of the New Form can be found on the following pages:
Blessing of Epiphany Water According to the New Formblessing-waters-new-rite
“Let them innovate nothing, but keep the traditions.”
— Pope St. Steven I, 3rd century A.D.
In the 1962 Roman Calendar, there is no longer a “Vigil of Epiphany”, and January 5 was recast as a generic Christmas feria. After eliminating the “Vigil of Epiphany” and more than half of the Church’s Vigils, and almost all of the traditional Octaves. Annibale Bugnini, a Freemasonic member, was instrumental in the 1955 reforms of Holy Week promulgated during the papacy of Pius XII.
This post describes the Roman Liturgy of Epiphany Eve as it existed prior to that time. The Solemn Blessing of Water according to the liturgical prescriptions on the Eve of the Epiphany, continue taking place in the traditional Roman Rite at the chapels which are not following the Missal of 1962.
Source: “The Blessing of the waters on the eve of the Epiphany : the Greek, Latin, Syriac, Coptic, and Russian versions : edited or translated from the original texts” (1847-1901), by John Patrick Crichton -Stuart Bute (Author), and Prof. Ernest Alfred Wallis Budge.
Related: Traditional Epiphany Home Blessing: “Chalking the Door”
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