Vigil of Epiphany: Special Blessing of Water

Wonderful customs come with the Feast of the Epiphany.  Epiphany is 6 January, by the way.

On Epiphany we can bless gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Bring all your spare, unblessed myrrh to your priest… and gold.  Bring lots of spare gold to your priest, or to me if your priest isn’t around.  We use, by the way, pure frankincense in our censer.  We have plenty of frankincense, so you don’t have to bring any of that.

On Epiphany there is a blessing for homes.  There is also the famous blessing of chalk which can be used then to mark the lintel of the house.

On the Vigil of Epiphany there is a special blessing for Epiphany Water.  Here is a photo from a couple years ago, of yours truly blessing Epiphany Water.

I should be blessing a lot more tomorrow, as it turns out.

The Rite is very cool.  It begins with the Litany of Saints, with a couple special petitions about the blessing of the water to follow. Satan and the demons are then driven from the place with a mighty prayer.

This is NOT a prayer for lay people to recite. Period. Understand? Just don’t.

Exorcism against Satan and the apostate angels [In Latin, of course. The “+” is where the celebrant makes the Sign of the Cross.]

In the name of our Lord Jesus + Christ and by His power, we cast you out, every unclean spirit, every devilish power, every assault of the infernal adversary, every legion, every diabolical group and sect; begone and stay far from the Church of God, from all who are made in the image of God and redeemed by the precious blood of the divine + Lamb. Never again dare, you cunning serpent, to deceive the human race, to persecute the Church of God, nor to strike the chosen of God and to sift them as + wheat. For it is the Most High God who commands you, + He to whom you heretofore in your great pride considered yourself equal; He who desires that all men might be saved and come to the knowledge of truth. God the Father + commands you. God the Son + commands you. God the Holy + Spirit commands you. The majesty of Christ, the eternal Word of God made flesh + commands you; He who for the salvation of our race, the race that was lost through your envy, humbled Himself and became obedient even unto death; He who built His Church upon a solid rock, and proclaimed that the gates of hell should never prevail against her, and that He would remain with her all days, even to the end of the world. The sacred mystery of the cross + commands you, as well as the power of all the mysteries of Christian faith. The exalted Virgin Mary, Mother of God + commands you, who in her lowliness crushed your proud head from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception. The faith of the holy apostles Peter and Paul and the other apostles + commands you. The blood of the martyrs and the devout intercession of all holy men and women commands you.

Therefore, accursed dragon and every diabolical legion, we adjure you by the living + God, by the true + God, by the holy + God, by the God who so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but shall have life everlasting; cease your deception of the human race and your giving them to drink of the poison of everlasting damnation; desist from harming the Church and fettering her freedom. Begone Satan, you father and teacher of lies and enemy of mankind. Give place to Christ in whom you found none of your works; give place to the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church, which Christ Himself purchased with His blood. May you be brought low under God’s mighty hand. May you tremble and flee as we call upon the holy and awesome name of Jesus, before whom hell quakes, and to whom the virtues, powers, and dominations are subject; whom the cherubim and seraphim praise with unwearied voices, saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts!

The salt and water are exorcised, blessed, blended.

At the end of the rite the Te Deum is sung.  Spiffy.

Epiphany and its Vigil.  Very ancient and very cool feast.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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15 Responses to Vigil of Epiphany: Special Blessing of Water

  1. Hans says:

    When you say it’s not a prayer for lay people to recite, do you mean that it is a prayer for priests, per se? [Of course.]

  2. majuscule says:

    I hope to get to the Blessing of Epiphany Water tomorrow.

    Last year was my first time. The exorcism prayer in Latin is very powerful.

  3. We use the blessed chalk every year over all our entry doors. We even ask blessings on the out buildings and the tornado shelter.

    Catholic Prayer: Blessing of the Home on Epiphany
    http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/prayers/view.cfm?id=49

  4. JesusFreak84 says:

    In the East, we have the “Great Jordan water blessing,” but Father usually does it on the Sunday after Theophany. That’s what’s in my holy water bottle right now ^_^

  5. Gregorius says:

    Quick question: can we drink this Epiphany water, as in the Eastern Tradition, or is this to be treated as any other holy water in the Latin Rites?

  6. msc says:

    Alas, alas, alas–nothing like that where I live. It sounds like a wonderful ritual.

  7. APX says:

    We did this publicly the first time last year and people brought gallons upon gallons upon gallons of water for blessing. I’m not exaggerating. We had people bringing in 5 gallon jugs. I recall one family even bringing in a wheeler of multiple 5 gallon jugs.

    Father admonished us not to bring in multiple small bottles this year since he has to place blessed salt in every one. We’ll see if everyone heeds his instructions this year.

  8. Ellen says:

    When my father died, the woman my son is dating brought some real frankincense from a church in Syria for Father to use at the funeral. Her family is from Syria and according to legend, the Virgin Mary visited that church during her time on earth. The frankincense smelled wonderful, and we were so touched by her gift.

  9. ChesterFrank says:

    People in the liberal Northeast wont see any of that!

  10. billy15 says:

    “Quick question: can we drink this Epiphany water, as in the Eastern Tradition, or is this to be treated as any other holy water in the Latin Rites?”

    I was hoping to get the same answer to this question. I had no idea there was such a thing as Epiphany Water until I saw this post this afternoon, and then, when I went to the Vigil for the Feast of the Theophany at my local Byzantine (Ruthenian) Catholic Church, I was surprised to see this “Great Blessing of Water” as they called it. How powerful this liturgy and blessing was! Obviously, their prayer was very different from the Latin above.

    But to add to Gregorius’ question: In the Byzantine prayer over the water, the Holy Spirit is invoked to descend over the water. Father said after the blessing to all of us, that as the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, in a similar way, the water he just prayed over (he made it a point that it wasn’t simply blessed since the invocation of the Holy Spirit was involved) truly becomes the same water that was used at Christ’s Baptism in the River Jordan. Does this also happen in the Latin Rite?

    I’m also curious to know if Fr. Z totally soaks his congregation in the Epiphany Water… because I was DRENCHED with the Theophany Water, probably because he used a very large basil leaf!

    [No, I didn’t drench, but I did sprinkle. Re: basil… it comes from the Greek word for “king”, so in the Eastern Churches basil is blessed. Very cool.]

  11. tz2026 says:

    One thing struck me about your warning label on that prayer – So few have a proper view of the Devil. Some don’t even think about him, but the danger is real.
    It is one thing to be in town and realize there are Lions just outside in the wilderness, it is another to try to directly confront one or even put bait out to get one’s attention. And Lions are mere beasts, not a superinteligent, spirit being bent on the destruction of all that is true, good, and beautiful.

    [A good analogy.]

  12. Hans says:

    [Of course.]

    I wondered; one thing we didn’t cover during formation as well as sometimes would seem useful is the boundary between blessings we as deacons may give and those reserved to a priest, etc.

  13. dans0622 says:

    Can chalk be blessed on any day or only on Jan. 6? I have never heard of “Epiphany chalk” but I never heard of “Epiphany water” until a few years ago…

  14. Pingback: The Chalking of the Doors: An Epiphany Tradition Explained - OnePeterFive

  15. gaudete says:

    I had so wanted to get Epiphany water and thus had asked at the FSSP parish SS. Trinità dei Pellegrini in Rome – locus of tradition and traditional Rome pilgrimages, where else could one expect to find it – and the answer left me in disbelief: “We didn’t do it. The rite takes so long.”
    I feel like a lost sheep – the Reverend Fathers refrain from helping the faithful to Epiphany water because that would cause too much work? Really? I’m just sad. Anybody knowing another source in Rome, please step forward!