I am not making this up: Blessing of … Purses

Recently there was held – and this is not a belated April Fool’s Day joke – a “Blessing of Purses”.

Needless to say, this is not in any of the official books of Holy Catholic Church.





I dunno…

I have any of you seen this before?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Timothy Mulligan says:

    I think I might have seen this on Monty Python once.

  2. jasoncpetty says:

    “Ecumenical group of pastors,” lol.

    The other day as I was leaving for work, my two-year old hands me my briefcase and says, “Dada, here, your purse!” Kids.

  3. Scott W. says:

    Yeah, the “Ecumenical group of pastors” gets the spidey-sense tingling. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have much of a problem with it as I once I had a priest from Ghana bless my bass guitar. I thought he was just going to put his hands on it and say a quick blessing as every priest I had bless one of my rosaries or scapulars, but he broke out the holy water and did a whole intricate blessing ritual. Now demons flee when I play giving new meaning to the word “power chord”. Ok, just kidding on that last part. :)

  4. Fortiter Pugnem says:


  5. kab63 says:

    Most women faithfully carry their purses up to Communion. Blessing the things is a logical extension.

  6. heway says:

    Looks like a community event held in a catholic church and presided over by community clergy…..
    Maybe a good idea. An 80 yo friend had her purse pulled off her arm upon leaving a grocery store. She was thrown to the ground and suffered a fractured shoulder. My purse is so full of blest articles, it should not need extra blessing!

  7. It doesn’t actually seem all that far-fetched to me. Back when I was a teenager, my first car was a hand-me down from uncle, a ancient Chevy S10 pick-up with over 400,000 miles on it. The first Sunday I drove it to church (to show it off, of course!) and the priest said he could probably find a blessing for it somewhere in the manuals.

    Lo and behold, out we went. Wearing a stole and with aspergillum in hand, he proceeded to bless the truck. It went on to serve me (and my brother after I went to college) for 7 years before finally biting the dust. I think the blessing certainly helped to keep it going (and the big rig-quality oil my uncle insisted I put in the engine, which he had rebuilt himself around 200,000 miles).

    [There is nothing unusual about blessing vehicles, and there is a blessing (has been for a long time) in the Rituale Romanum.]

  8. mike cliffson says:

    the “ecumenical” team(so happy to pray with them outside an abortion mill, but a mixed blessing?) and this case aside,
    a)I have read that sometime after VII the number of standardform blessings was added to and refined (and dumbed down?) to about three hundred and something, including a church’c mikes n stuff
    b) A priest can bless ANYthing for good human use(ie, not condoms)
    That so?

    [There certainly is a Benedictio ad omnia available for use. But there are also questions of propriety, as you suggest.]

  9. Tina in Ashburn says:

    I think maybe they missed out on this one. My purse needs an exorcism. When I go shopping the devil seems to take over and spend all my money.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  10. disco says:

    I’ve heard of including a shiny new penny for luck when you give a purse as a gift, but that’s about it. This sort of event sounds like it was born in the mind of a ‘pastoral associate’ who often wears pant suits and may or may not have been a nun and definitely has a subscription to the fishwrap.

  11. Mark of the Vine says:

    This isn’t so far fetched. Here in Portugal there is a tradition of blessing college students’ “folder ” (I don’t know how I should translate it) every year. It is generally done by bishops.


  12. Ryan M says:

    I think one of the bigger questions about this event (ignoring the details of the event for now) is whether or not this constitutes a legitimate development in the liturgical character of the faith.

    As you have mentioned, there are plenty of other items that are routinely blessed. If there are new items that aren’t adequately covered by the current blessings (I don’t know the answer to this), then it seems reasonable to develop a blessing for them–I doubt anyone has ever been harmed because too many things were blessed. Whether or not a group blessing is done, and how exactly the blessing works, seem to be secondary issues to this question.

    I say you run with it. We (Fr. Z and your faithful readership) can play around with the wordings of the blessings, both English for those like me and Latin for the rest, and send it off to, say, the CDWDS or someone. This could be the first prayer composed by a blog to be formally approved for use by the church! We should definitely include the use of holy water, maybe even holy salt (to sprinkle inside the purse, or to place in one of the 8,000 compartments they all seem to have). Anyone got an idea what mode of chant we should use for the blessing?

  13. afanco says:

    This is my vicariate! The vicariate is pretty diverse, being home also to a TLM community since 2004 (St. Josaphat), and a couple parishes with Ordinary Form Latin masses.

    I ask that you please do not get up in arms over this blessing. This is done in good faith in an area that has been especially hit hard by economic woes. I don’t know the pastor very well, but he seems like a good priest.


  14. Suz. from Oklah. says:

    This really should be in an official book of blessings. I have frequent nightmares that my purse is stolen. Lately, every time I have another nightmare about it being stolen, I believe I’m awake and say to myself, “Well, this time it has really happened. My nightmare has come true.” If my purse actually gets stolen, I might think it’s a dream.
    I think I need a purse blessing!

  15. LaudemGloriae says:

    I am a woman who carries a modest yet stylish purse. However, I do not like the idea of a public blessing of purses. A purse is more often than not an accessory designed for vanity and to haul about one’s attachments (guilty as charged). In some ways I even find the idea insulting, demeaning, as if a woman’s purse were so essential to our lives. I mean, will we be blessing cosmetics next? I realize one might say the same about cars and homes, but the purse does not fulfill a noble purpose such as sheltering a family or transporting precious souls on dangerous freeways. Will the blessed purse later need to be burnt when its service is completed?

  16. Philangelus says:

    Scott W, that was full of win.

    It did make me giggle, but really, women carry all their stuff around in something, and it’s not just for vanity. Lots of things get blessed, so if it makes people feel better to feel that God has blessed them on their daily travels, I say go for it.

  17. Elizabeth D says:

    Afanco, do you know if it was made clear that there is a distinction between Catholic priest blessing, vs a protestant minister or other lay person (other than a parent blessing their child)?

  18. Random Friar says:

    I have my own proposal:

    Let us pray.
    We beseech Thee O Lord, to bless + and open up the purse of thy servants, for the benefit of the poor and Holy Mother Church, that all those who hold these purses may not be righteously smitten as Ananias and Sapphira the miserly were, but that they may be, as the Egyptians were after the Ten Plagues, eager to bestow on Your people their treasures.
    Per Christum Dominum.

  19. Supertradmum says:

    False Gospel of Prosperty nonsense

  20. Supertradmum says:


  21. profcarlos says:

    The closest I’ve seen was a sign that used to be pasted all over the Old See church in Rio de Janeiro, 20 years ago, stating “do not leave your purse when you go to communion, or IT WILL BE STOLEN”. In a good metaphor for the last couple of decades, nevertheless, the church has been restored ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/profcarlos/6926100370/in/set-72157627736422707/lightbox/ ) and now the TLM is celebrated there every Sunday at 9:00 AM. The signs, thanks be to God, had vanished. I don’t know about the thieves, though… :)

  22. Mom of 3 says:

    I’ve been disenfranchised! I haven’t owned a purse in years — just a ladies’ style wallet that fits in my kids’ diaper bag. When will there be a blessing for that?


  23. afanco says:

    Elizabeth, I was not there, so I do not know, but I think charity demands that we do not rush to assume impropriety.

  24. Bea says:

    When I go up to communion I pray I will find it (my purse) when I get back.
    A lot of women carry it with them up to communion but I find that distracting and cumbersome.
    (too much weight from “things” not $$/good things, though, epiphany holy water, rosary, missal,holy medals, etc.) hmmm on second thought, maybe it would be a good thing for a thief to take it.
    Worrying about it being still there is also distracting, so I leave it in the care of my guardian angel, Mary or whoever I happen to think of at the time and just trust that it will still be there when I get back. Then I go up without being distracted by worrying.
    I don’t think a blessing will deter thieves.
    I don’t think a blessing will increase my income.
    So just what was the purpose of the blessing in the first place?????

  25. asophist says:

    An “Ecumenical Group of Pastors” is exactly the kind of group that shouldn’t ever gather in a Catholic church. This is a synchronistic event if ever there was one. What do non-Catholic (and non-Orthodox) clergy have the power to bless? Nothing. So why mislead the faithful into thinking these laymen pretending to be clergy have any right to try this? When will our parishes come to their senses? And how did they get this way in the first place? [end of rant]

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  27. pj_houston says:

    The invite should say: “We would be humored by your attendance at this event.”

  28. eulogos says:

    Asophist-do you mean syncretist? Because it certainly did occur all at the same time, no doubt about that.

    Since the non Catholic ecclesial communities can be the means of grace for those in them, I imagine that God does call men to lead them and preach to them, and that when these men ask God to bless their people, He probably does so.

    In support of the “since” clause above I submit this:
    “The brethren divided from us also use many liturgical actions of the Christian religion. These most certainly can truly engender a life of grace in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community. These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation.

    It follows that the separated Churches(23) and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.” (Unitatis Redintegratio, the Decree on Ecumenism.)

    It is iffy though, for these men to be in a Catholic church performing any part of the role of a priest. Not because I think there is any specific harm in a Protestant minister asking God to bless a purse, whatever that means to him, but because of the effect of giving the impression that they are “just the same” as Catholic priests, to those who cannot make fine distinctions.

    Susan Peterson

  29. Kathleen10 says:

    It immediately reminded me of the more recent evangelical or protestant movement that emphasizes prosperity over more “mundane” christian elements. The Gospel of Prosperity.
    More influence of the southern protestant church. Maybe this is why we all sing “Go Tell It on the Mountain” more than we do “Panis Angelicus”.

    Please Afanco, don’t worry. No one will make a fuss over this I’m sure. You spoke for your parish, and good intentions count for something. Have no fear. :)

  30. AnAmericanMother says:

    I’m lovin’ it! That was the first thing I thought of. The second thing I thought of was the “prosperity gospel”.
    With that said, I did once have my minivan blessed because we were running over squirrels constantly (and I do mean constantly – sometimes two in one day) and the kids in the carpool were having the vapors (except for my son, now the U.S. Marine, who kept exclaiming, “Cool!” from the back seat).
    We never did run over another one after that, although I traded the heap in not too much later (never buy the first model year of ANYTHING.)

  31. At first I thought this was really daft then saw it was in Detroit. Detroit needs all the prayers and blessings it can get.

  32. xgenerationcatholic says:

    Who knows. Could bring pursaholics into church. Maybe we need a blessing of shoes next?

  33. Supertradmum says:

    As to bringing your purse or handbag, as they say here, to Communion, one must do that is most, if not all European Churches, sadly. The only time I do not do this is if I can sit in the front rows, which are usually held by choirs or the regulars, who have claimed those pews for generations. How about a blessing for purses so that the cell phones are automatically shut off? Every Mass I have been to this week has been interrupted by a cell phone jingle. And, why do little old ladies have reggae or acid rock or Bollywood wafting out of their handbags? A mystery to me….Sound-proof purses?

  34. GOR says:

    Given the size of certain ladies’ purses, what did they use for the blessing – a garden hose?

    —-GOR ducks for cover…:)

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