Churching of Women

Artwork: Lemasle, Louis-Nicolas “Relevailles De La Duchesse De Berry Dans L’église De Vernouillet “, 1788-1876.

About

The churching of women is “a blessing given by the Church to mothers after recovery from childbirth."1

The Rituale Romanum calls this blessing “De Benedictione Mulieris Post Partum,” or “Blessing of a Mother after Childbirth.” More commonly, it is called the Rite of Churching, the Churching of Women, or the Purification of Women. This last title has contributed to long-standing misinterpretation of the blessing. As Father James Jackson explains,

Notice that the rites of “washing” the chalice and ciboria are called ablutions or purification. The word purification is used not in the sense that the sacred vessels are dirty in any way. It is used instead in the same sense as the rite of purification (churching) of women after childbirth. That is, the woman is not dirty after childbirth; the birth is holy - an imitation of God’s creating. So, in order for her to return to daily life, she and her child come into the church to give thanks and be blessed. In the same way, once the vessels have been used for the holy act of the Consecration, they must be blessed before they can be returned to the ordinary.2

The Latin text below is directly from the Rituale Romanum3.

The English text below is from Philip T. Weller’s translation of the Rituale Romanum4, with some of the options and the commentary removed for clarity.

Other versions (some English only, some Latin only, some with both side-by-side) are available here:

As Weller notes in his translation of the Rituale, the Collectio Rituum offers a slightly different version of the churching of women.

De Benedictione Mulieris Post Partum

Si qua puerpera post partum, juxta piam ac laudabilem consuetudinem, ad Ecclesiam venire voluerit, pro incolumitate sua Deo gratias actura, petieritque a Sacerdote benedictionem, ipse superpelliceo et stola alba indutus, cum ministro aspergillum deferente, ad fores Ecclesiae accedat, ubi illam foris ad limina genuflectentem, et candelam accensam in manu tenentem, aqua benedicta aspergat, deinde dicat:

Sacerdos: Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.

R: Qui fecit caelum et terram.

Antiphona. Haec accipiet benedictionem a Domino, et misericordiam a Deo salutdri suo: quia haec est generatio quaerentium Dominum.

Psalmus 23

Domine est terra, et plenitudo ejus: * orbis terrarum, et universi, qui habitant in eo.

Quia ipse super maria fundavit eum: * et super flumina prseparavit eum.

Quis ascendet in montem Domini? * aut quis stabit in loco sancto ejus?

Innocens manibus et mundo corde, * qui non accepit in vano animam suam, nec jurdvit in dolo proximo suo.

Hic accipiet benedictionem a Domino: * et misericordiam a Deo salutari suo.

Haec est generatio quaerentium eum, * quaerentium faciem Dei Jacob.

Attollite portas principes vestras, et elevamini portae aeternales: * et introibit Rex gloriae.

Quis est iste Rex gloriae? * Dominus fortis et potens: Dominus potens in praelio.

Attollite portas principes vestras, et elevamini portaea: * et introibit Rex gloriae.

Quis est iste Rex gloriae? * Dominus virtutum ipse est Rex gloriae.

Gloria Patri.

Et repetitur Antiphona: Haec accipiet benedictionem a Domino, et misericordiam a Deo salutdri suo: quia haec est generatio quaerentium Dominum.

2. Deinde porrigens ad manum mulieris exlremam partem stolae, eam introducit in Ecclesiam, dicens: Ingredere in templum Dei, ad6ra Filium beatae Mariae Virginis, qui tibi foecunditatem tribuit prolis.

3. El ipsa ingressa genuflectit coram Altari, et orat, gratias agens Deo de beneficiis sibi collatis; et Sacerdos dicit:

Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison. Pater noster. secreto.

S: Et ne nos inducas in tentationem.

R: Sed libera nos a malo.

S: Salvam fac ancillam tuam Domine.

R: Deus meus sperantem in te.

S: Mitte ei Domine auxilium de sancto.

R: Et de Sion tuere eam.

S: Nihil proficiat inimicus in ea.

R: Et filius iniquitatis non apponat nocere ei.

S: Domine exaudi orationem meam.

R: Et clamor meus ad te veniat.

S: Dominus vobiscum.

R: Et cum spiritu tuo.

Oremus. Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui per beatae Mariae Virginis partum fidelium parientium dolores in gaudium vertisti: respice propitius super hanc famulam tuam, ad templum sanctum tuum pro gratiarum actione laetam accedentem, et praesta; ut post hanc vitam, ejusdem beatae Mariae meritis, et intercessione, ad aeternae beatitudinis gaudia cum prole sua pervenire mereatur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

R: Amen.

4. Deinde illam aspergit iterum aqua beenedicta in modum crucis, dicens: Pax et benedictio Dei omnipotentis, Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus sancti, descendat super te, et maneat semper.

R: Amen.

Blessing of a Mother after Childbirth (Churching of Women)

1. After giving birth to a child a mother may wish to give thanks to God in church for a safe delivery, and to obtain the Church’s blessing. This has long been a devout and praiseworthy practice. The priest, vested in surplice and white stole (assisted by a server who carries the aspersory), goes to the threshold of the church. The woman kneels there, holding a lighted candle.

The priest sprinkles her with holy water, saying: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

All: Who made heaven and earth.

He then says the following antiphon and Psalm 23:

Antiphon: This woman shall receive a blessing from the Lord and mercy from God, her Savior; for she is one of the people who seek the Lord.

Psalm 23

P: The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; * the world and those who dwell in it.

All: For He founded it upon the seas * and established it upon the rivers.

P: Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord? * or who may stand in His holy place?

All: He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain, * nor swears deceitfully to his neighbor.

P: He shall receive a blessing from the Lord, * a reward from God, his Savior.

All: Such is the race that seeks for Him, * that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.

P: Lift up, O gates, your lintels; reach up, you ancient portals, * that the king of glory may come in!

All: “Who is this king of glory?” * “The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle."

P: Lift up, O gates, your lintels; reach up, you ancient portals, * that the king of glory may come in!

All: “Who is this king of glory?” * “The Lord of hosts; He is the king of glory."

P: Glory be to the Father.

All: As it was in the beginning.

After Psalm 23 the above antiphon is repeated: This woman shall receive a blessing from the Lord and mercy from God, her Savior; for she is one of the people who seek the Lord.

2. Then the priest places the end of the stole hanging from his left shoulder in the hand of the woman and leads her into the church, saying: Come into God’s house. Adore the Son of the blessed Virgin Mary, and thank God who has given you the grace of motherhood.

3. The woman kneels before the altar, giving thanks to God for the benefits He has bestowed on her. The priest continues:

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Our Father (the rest inaudibly until:)

P: And lead us not into temptation.

All: But deliver us from evil.

P: Save your servant.

All: Who trusts in you, my God.

P: Lord, send her aid from your holy place.

All: And watch over her from Sion.

P: Let the enemy have no power over her.

All: And the son of iniquity be powerless to harm her.

P: Lord, heed my prayer.

All: And let my cry be heard by you.

P: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray. Almighty everlasting God, who by means of the blessed Virgin Mary’s childbearing has given every Christian mother joy, even in her pains of bringing forth her child; look kindly on this servant of yours who has come in gladness to your holy dwelling to offer her thanks. And grant that after this life, through the merits and prayers of that same blessed Mary, she and her child may be deemed worthy of attaining the happiness of everlasting life; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

4. The priest again sprinkles her with holy water, saying: May the peace and blessing of almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, come upon you and remain with you forever.

All: Amen.

5. The blessing of a woman after childbirth ought to be given by the pastor, if he is requested to do so. But any priest may impart it in any church or public oratory, in which case he should notify the superior.

Sources


  1. Schulte, Augustin Joseph. “Churching of Women.” In Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03761a.htm. ↩︎

  2. Jackson, J. W. Nothing Superfluous. Redbrush, 2016. https://books.google.com/books?id=dBnZtAEACAAJ. ↩︎

  3. Catholic Church. Rituale Romanum Pauli V Pontificis Maximi Jussu Editum Et a Benedicto Xiv Auctum Et Castigatum. Cui Novissima Accedit Benedictiorum Et Instructionum Appendix. 1903. https://archive.org/details/ritualeromanum00cath/mode/2up. ↩︎

  4. Weller, Philip T. Roman Ritual. The Bruce Publishing Company, 1964. https://sensusfidelium.us/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Roman-Rite.pdf. ↩︎

  5. “Churching of Women,” Fish Eaters, https://www.fisheaters.com/churchingofwomen.html. ↩︎

  6. Windsor Latin Mass Community. “The Churching of Women.” Tridentine Community News (February 22 2015). http://www.windsorlatinmass.org/wtnews/150222.pdf. ↩︎