What is the Epiphany House Blessing?

Enter Catholic homes after Epiphany and you will see chalk markings above most doorways. What is this Epiphany House Blessing that acknowledges Christ and the three wise men?

The word epiphany means “manifestation,” and the Catholic Church celebrates is as the revelation of Christ as the Son of God. It is also the manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah of Israel and to the neighboring pagan nations. (Catechism of the Catholic Church #528)

What is the Epiphany House Blessing?

Epiphany (also known as Twelfth Night, Theophany, or Three Kings Day) marks the occasion of a time-honored Christian tradition of “chalking the doors.”

Priests used to bless homes in this manner, but anyone can do the blessing if they have blessed chalk and epiphany water.

The formula for the blessing is simple. You write the following above the entrance to your home and other doorways with: 20 + C + M + B + 23. 

The letters have two meanings. First, they represent the initials of the Magi — Caspar, Malchior, and Balthazar — who came pay Christ homage after His birth.

They also abbreviate the Latin phrase, Christus mansionem benedicat: “May Christ bless the house.” The “+” signs represent the cross, and the “20” at the beginning and the “23” at the end mark the year.

Why do the Epiphany House Blessing?

The tradition is an outward way to request Christ to bless your home and stay with those who dwell in it thorughout the year.  It also asks His blessing for all those who visit our homes.

Our homes are our domestic Church where we work, rest, play and grow in our spiritual life. The Holy Family dwelled in a home with daily routines like ours. The ‘chalking of the doors,’ reminds us that all our activities inside our home can be blessed from daily prayer to menial household chores such as washing the dishes.

This blessing can be performed simply by just writing the inscription and offering a short prayer, or more elaborately, including songs, prayers, processions, the burning of incense, and the sprinkling of holy water.

The Prayers for the Blessing

Noticing the symbols over our doors help remind us of Christ’s blessings as we go in and out. We know that all who dwell in our homes belong to Christ and all our actions. Like the Magi, we can welcome Christ into our hearts each day.
Below is a prayer to use for the Epiphany Home blessing from the book, The Twelve Days of Christmas, by Elsa Chaney.

On entering the home,

Leader(Priest, if present, or father of the family) : Peace be to this house.
All: And to all who dwell herein.

All: From the east came the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasures they offered precious gifts: gold for the great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial.

All Pray: The Magnificat. During the Magnificat, the room is sprinkled with holy water and incensed. After this is completed,

All: From the east came the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasures they offered precious gifts: gold for the great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial.

Leader: Our Father. . .
And lead us not into temptation

All: But deliver us from evil.
Leader: All they from Saba shall come
All: Bringing gold and frankincense.
Leader: O Lord, hear my prayer.
All: And let my cry come to You.

Leader: Let us pray. O God, who by the guidance of a star didst on this day manifest Thine only-begotten Son to the Gentiles, mercifully grant that we who know Thee by faith may also attain the vision of Thy glorious majesty. Through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

Leader: Be enlightened, be enlightened, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee—Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary.

All: And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light and kings in the splendor of thy rising, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon thee.

Leader: Let us pray.
Bless, + O Lord God almighty, this home, that in it there may be health, purity, the strength of victory, humility, goodness and mercy, the fulfillment of Thy law, the thanksgiving to God the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. And may this blessing remain upon this home and upon all who dwell herein. Through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

After the prayers of the blessing are recited, each room of the home is sprinkled with Epiphany water and incensed. The initials of the Magi are inscribed upon the doors with the blessed chalk. (The initials, C, M, B, can also be interpreted as the Latin phrase “Christus mansionem benedicat” which means “Christ bless this house”.)

Example: 20 + C + M + B + 23

Another possible prayer to say:

Lord God of heaven and earth,
you revealed your only-begotten Son to every nation
by the guidance of a star.
Bless this house
and all who inhabit it.
Fill them (us) with the light of Christ,
that their (our) concern for others may reflect your love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R/. Amen.

The rest of it can be found at the USSCB website.



The post What is the Epiphany House Blessing First appeared on CCJC.

Photo credit: In-house design of J. Lindberg