Desecrated church reconcilied in Missouri

There are sacred places, things and persons.  Mistreatment of a sacred place, thing or person is the sin of sacrilege.

By blessings and consecrations, places, things and persons are taken from the secular, temporal, profane realm and given to the sacred.

Sometimes sacred places, such as churches or cemeteries, are mistreated to the point of being desecrated.   These churches must then be put back into sacred order before they can be used again.  As we read in the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church:

Can. 1211 Sacred places are violated by gravely injurious actions done in them with scandal to the faithful, actions which, in the judgment of the local ordinary, are so grave and contrary to the holiness of the place that it is not permitted to carry on worship in them until the damage is repaired by a penitential rite according to the norm of the liturgical books.

In the older, traditional way of doing things, a church or cemetery could be “reconciled” after profanation by a bishop or a priest with (at least) presumed permission.  You can see the traditional rite HERE.  I especially like this prayer:

Almighty and merciful God, who conferred on your priests above all others this great grace, that whatever they do worthily and exactly in your name, is regarded as being done by you; we pray that in your kindness you may be present wherever we are present and may bless + whatever we bless. And at our lowly coming, through the merits of your saints, may demons flee and the angel of peace be at hand; through Christ our Lord.

I just read a story of the “reconciliation” of a desecrated church in Missouri.  HERE  The Bishop of Jefferson City, Most Rev. John R. Gaydos, carried out the rite.

“Christ restored completely what Satan had taken from us,” Fr. Peckman, pastor of St. Clement Parish, said. “It was as if the sun was breaking over the horizon to let us know that the Light of Christ conquers the darkest sorrow the devil can inflict.”

The Devil hates sacred places, things and persons.  His agents will attack them constantly.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. clarinetist04 says:

    Imagine if this had happened to a mosque. There would be riots in the streets and people left for dead. “You will know them by their fruits.” Prayers for the community and the perp, who seems to have her head back on straight after surrendering to the police.

  2. wolfeken says:

    I remember John Cardinal O’Connor doing this in front of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral following a murder on the steps. A very different New York City than today.

    This is a good distinction between the presence of the devil, requiring an exorcism, and evil committed solely by man, requiring the above action.

    Does anyone know if there is a similar ritual/prayer for a secular place? For instance, at a home where murder, sodomy or other serious and publicly known mortal sin/crime happened?

  3. wolfeken:

    There are blessings for places in the older Ritual. Also, there is a rite of exorcism for places which priests can perform only with the permission of the local bishop.

  4. Ralph says:

    A parish I once attended in my hometown was attacked on several occasions by self avowed satanists. Mostly breaking and entering with vandalism. But once they disrupted Mass and turned over a podium. I wonder if the pastor at the time reconciled the buildings afterword? Hopefully so.

    It has always been a comfort to me how much the satanists and such hate the Church. It just confirms to me that the Catholic Church is true.

  5. Gerard Plourde says:

    The news story in the link indicates that the perpetrator was identified and arrested. It appears there may be mental health issues involved. The parish is praying for her.

  6. Aquinas Gal says:

    The priest from this parish is wonderful; I know him through his Facebook postings. He said they were doing some things in the parish, like spiritual warfare, that he thinks riled up the devil to go after it.

  7. jhayes says:

    When a man shot himself to death inside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, three years ago after placing a letter on the altar, I was surprised that one of the auxiliary bishops celebrated a Mass of reparation the same afternoon so that they could re-open the church for a planned service that same night. The Mass of the Body and Blood of Christ was private, with only a few officials present. One of the Cathedral priests explaind that the issue was not that the man had killed himself, but that blood had been spilled in the sanctuary.

    Sorry, I coudn’t find an English-language article.

    Lorsque les portes de la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris ont rouvert mardi 21 mai au soir, pour la Veillée pour la vie, le cardinal André Vingt-Trois, archevêque de Paris, a précisé que l’édifice avait été « purifié » « par la célébration de l’eucharistie du Corps et du Sang du Christ ».

    Un peu plus tôt dans l’après-midi, Dominique Venner, historien d’extrême droite, s’était suicidé dans le chœur de la cathédrale.

    Quand le chœur d’une église est profané, soit qu’un sacrilège soit commis sur le Saint Sacrement, soit que le sang y coule, le droit canon stipule qu’il faut faire un acte de réparation. Une cérémonie qui est détaillée dans le cérémonial des évêques, puisque cette cérémonie doit être présidée par un évêque.

    « Mgr Beau a célébré la messe votive pour le corps et le sang du Christ », raconte Mgr Jacquin. Au début de la messe, alors que l’autel était dépouillé de ses nappes et les cierges éteints, il a aspergé l’ensemble du chœur avec de l’eau bénite, en particulier l’endroit où Dominique Venner s’est donné la mort. « Après la lecture de la parole de Dieu, une petite procession a eu lieu pour vêtir l’autel, avant que la messe se poursuive normalement », poursuit le recteur de la cathédrale.

    « Ce n’est pas parce qu’il s’est suicidé que cela a constitué une profanation mais parce que le sang a coulé dans le chœur, précise Mgr Jacquin. Cela aurait été un geste criminel, il y aurait aussi eu profanation, même si le suicide la renforce car il porte atteinte à Dieu directement. »


  8. Ellen says:

    Back in the mid 70s, someone went into our church (which up until then had always been open) and trashed the place and worst of all, they stole the tabernacle. Our pastor was shocked to his soul and so was everyone in the parish. We had a vigil, the church was reconciled and we found a new tabernacle that exactly matched the old one. Our church has been closed and locked ever since. We have a small adoration chapel that is accessed through a keypad.

  9. AvantiBev says:

    Just 2 comments:

    First of all there have been plenty of “liturgies” in the past 45 years from which I have walked out because I believed they were as close to desecration of the church or chapel and Christ’s Body and Blood as to warm Satan’s heart. Not smeared feces but smelling to high Heaven just the same.

    Secondly, on a more general level, I am so tired of laity, clergy, journalists, government leaders pronouncing an action and its bad actor as “sick” rather than EVIL. I leave the diagnosis of a true mental illness to the professionals but I refuse to characterize evil as something which can merely be corrected with some sessions and meds from a psychiatrist. [Robert Spencer at has a great video on the amazing outbreak of mental illness across Europe as authorities scramble to blame machete attacks, truck attacks, beheadings, shootings, torture on spontaneous mental illness rather than the Religion of Peace.]

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