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Traditional Epiphany Home Blessing: “Chalking the Door”

Epiphany Home Blessing
Epiphany Home Blessing
King Herod sends Magi (Wise Men) to visit baby Jesus in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1 – 2:12)

The Feast of the Epiphany has, for centuries, been a traditional time for Christian families to bless their homes. This tradition likely came about because the Three Wise Men visited the home that the Holy Family had established in Bethlehem. The visit from the Wise Men blessed the home of the Holy Family because they came in humility to honor and pay homage to the Christ Child and because they were the first to not only seek Jesus, but also to recognize Him as the Messiah.

From Scripture, we know that whatever God created was good, but with “the Fall”, evil entered the world, corrupting the creation. God the Father sent His Son Jesus to save it by effecting a “new creation”. This is celebrated on the feast of Epiphany, January 6, beginning with the Great Blessing of Water on the Eve of Epiphany (Vigil of Epiphany).

Gather as a family and discuss the ways you can seek and recognize God’s presence in your family and your home throughout the coming year. Consider home blessing as an act of God’s sanctification of all things through Christ’s baptism in the river Jordan and His epiphany (the manifestation of divine reality) to the world. It is customary to invite your priest within a few days following Epiphany to bless your home with Holy water, incense, and chalk.

A priest will go to each room, and sprinkle the Holy water in the four corners, blessing the home with the grace of the Holy Spirit which also protects you from evil spirits. Using blessed chalk, he will mark the main door of the house with the initials of the Magi, the legendary names of the three kings: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, and a code of the current year (2024) connected with crosses: 20 ✞ ✞ ✞ 24.  Another explanation of the initials (C ✞ ✞ B) are the first letters of the blessing: “Christus Mansionem Benedicat” (Latin: “May Christ Bless this house”). The crosses () represent the protection of the Christ. This short liturgy is a way of marking our homes with sacred signs and symbols as we ask God’s blessing upon those who live, work, or visit throughout the coming year.

This Christian custom of chalking the door has a biblical root as the Israelites in the Old Testament marked their doors with the lamb’s blood on the night of the Passover.

“And they shall take of the blood thereof, and put it upon both the side posts, and on the upper door posts of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.” (Exodus 12:7)

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength. And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thy heart: And thou shalt tell them to thy children, and thou shalt meditate upon them sitting in thy house, and walking on thy journey, sleeping and rising. And thou shalt bind them as a sign on thy hand, and they shall be and shall move between thy eyes. And thou shalt write them in the entry, and on the doors of thy house.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-6, 9)

The Epiphanytide practice of household blessing also serves to protect Christian homes from evil spirits until the next Epiphany Day, at which time the custom is repeated.  This rite of blessing the home is led by a priest. If no priest is available, please use the following guide:

Blessing of Homes During Epiphanytide

The priest upon entering the home begins:
℣: Pax huic dómui.
R. Et omnibus habitantibus in ea.
℣: Peace be to this home.
℟: And to all who dwell herein.
Antiphona. Ab Oriénte venérunt Magi
in Béthlehem, adorare Dóminum: et,
apertis thesauris suis, pretiósa munera
obtulerunt, aurum Regi magno, thus
Deo vero, myrrham sepulttúræ ejus.
Antiphon. From the East came the Magi
to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and
opening their treasures, they offered
costly gifts: gold to the great King, incense
to the true God, and myrrh in
symbol of His burial. Alleluia.

Canticum Beatre Mariæ Virginis

Canticle of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Magníficat ánima mea Dóminum.
My soul doth magnify the Lord.
Et exultávit spíritus meus: in Deo salutári meo. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.
Quia respéxit humilitátem ancíllae suae: Because He hath regarded the humility of His slave:
Ecce enim ex hoc beátam me dicent omnes generatiónes. For behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Quia fécit mihi mágna qui pótens est: et sánctum nómen eius. Because He that is mighty hath done great things to me; and holy is His name.
Et misericórdia eius in progénies et progénies timéntibus eum. And His mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear Him.
Fécit poténtiam in bráchio suo: dispérsit supérbos mente cordis sui. He hath shewed might in His arm: He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
Depósuit poténtes de sede: et exaltávit húmiles. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble.
Esuriéntes implévit bonis: et dívites dimísit inánes. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away.
Suscépit Ísrael púerum suum: recordátus misericórdiae suae. He hath received Israel His servant, being mindful of His mercy:
Sicut locútus est ad patres nostros: Ábraham, et sémini eius in saecula. As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.
Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto, Glory be the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost,
Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculórum. Amen. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forever and ever, Amen.
The priest then sprinkles holy water throughout the home and then incenses the home.
Afler he is finished he repeats the antiphon: Ab Oriente venerunt, etc.
He then says, “Pater Noster” and recites the rest secretly utltil…
℣: Et ne nos. indúcas in tentatiónem.
℟: Sed Iibera nos a malo.
℣: Omnes de Saba vénient.
℟: Aurum et thus deferéntes.
℣: Domine, exáudi oratiónem meam.
℟: Et clamor meus ad te véniat.
℣: Dóminus vobiscum.
℟: Et cum spiritu tuo.
℣: And lead us not into temptation.
℟: But deliver us from evil.
℣: Many shall come from Saba.
℟: Bearing gold and incense.
℣: O Lord, hear my prayer.
℟: And let my cry come unto Thee.
℣: The Lord be with you.
℟: And with thy spirit.
Oremus. Let us pray.
Deus qui hodiérna die Unigénitum
tuum géntibus stella duce
revelasti concéde propitius ut qui jam
Te ex fide cognovimus usque ad contemplándam
spéciem tuæ celsitudinis
perducamur. Per eumdem Dóminum
nostrum Jesum Christum, Filium
tuum: Qui tecum vivit et regnat in
unitate Spiritu Sancti Deus per omnia
sæcula sæculórum.
℟: Amen.
O God, Who by the guidance of a
star didst this day reveal thy Sole-Begotten
Son to the Gentiles, grant that
we who know Thee by faith may be
brought to the contemplation of Thy
heavenly majesty. Through the same
Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who
liveth and reigneth with Thee in the
unity of the Holy Ghost, God, forever
and ever.
℟: Amen.
Responsorium. Illuminare, illuminare,
Jerusalem, quia venit lux tua : et
gloria Domini super te orta est, Jesus
Christus ex Maria Virgine.
Responsory. Be enlightened and shine
forth, O Jerusalem: for thy light is
come, and upon thee is risen the glory
of the Lord, Jesus Christ born of Mary Virgin.
℣: Et ambulabunt Gentes in lumine
tuo : et reges in splendóre ortus tui.
℟: Et gloria Domini super te orta est.
℣: Nations shall walk in thy light, and
kings in the brilliance of thy origin.
℟: And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
Oremus. Let us pray.
Bene ✟ die, Domine, Deus omnipotens,
domum istam: ut sit in
ea sanitas, cástitas, victóriæ virtus,
humilitas, bonitas et mansuetudo,
plenitudo legis et gratiarum actio Deo
Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto ; et
hæc benedictio máneat super hanc
domum, et super habitantes in ea.
Per Christum Dóminum nostrum.
℟: Amen.
Bless, ✟ O Lord, almighty God this
home that it be a shelter of health,
chastity, self-conquest, humility, goodness,
mildness, obedience to the commandments,
and thanksgiving to God
the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. May
this blessing remains for all time upon
this dwelling and to all those who live
herein. Through Christ our Lord.
℟: Amen.

The priest then inscribes with blessed chalk the initials of the three kings over the lintel of the doors, denoting the century and year on either side, for example:
20 ✞  C ✞  M ✞  B ✞  24
The following prayer may then be said:

Hear us. O Holy Lord, Father Almighty, Eternal God, and send Thy Holy Angel from Heaven to watch over, cherish, protect, be with, and defend all who live in this house. I call upon Thy saints, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, to protect this family and this home from every harm and danger, and I place the marks of their holy names over the doors of this home to remain there as a constant reminder to us and to all who enter here that this house is truly a house of the Lord.

O God, make the door of this house wide enough to receive all who need charity and companionship, narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride, and strife. Make its threshold smooth enough to be no stumbling block to children, nor to straying feet, but rugged and strong enough to turn back the Tempter’s power.

O God, make the door of this house the gateway to Thy eternal Kingdom, I ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Our Lord,

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“The righteous shall flourish like a palm-tree: and shall spread abroad like a cedar in Libanus.” Psalm 92 :12.

The Roman Ritual is a collection of prayers and blessings of the Latin Rite

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