Can Laypeople Bless Religious Articles?

Dear Catholic Exchange:

Is it canonically possible for a layperson to "bless" a religious article, i.e., a rosary, a Miraculous Medal, etc. in the home and is there an approved "book of blessings" available?

In Christ,

Ben Nasca
Santa Ana, CA


Dear Ben,

Peace in Christ!

Sacramentals derive from the baptismal priesthood: every baptized person is called to be a "blessing" and to bless. Hence, lay people may preside at certain blessings; the more a blessing concerns ecclesial and sacramental life, the more is its administration reserved to the ordained ministry (bishops, priests, or deacons). (CCC no.1669)

The "Book of Blessings" is published by Congregation for Divine Worship and promulgated into law with apostolic authority (i.e., "the Vatican says so" — see Decree). It says that lay persons "may celebrate certain blessings, as indicated in the respective orders of blessings" (no.18). Examples of blessings that may be administered by lay people are the orders for the blessing of a family (no. 44), blessing of children (no.136), blessing of sons and daughters (176), blessing of engaged couples — (no.197), blessing of parents before childbirth (no.217), and so on. Some of these orders stipulate that when a priest or deacon is present, the ministry of the blessing more fittingly belongs to him (no. 176).

The Order for the Blessing of Rosaries stipulates that a priest or deacon may bless rosaries (no.1465).

United in the Faith,

Eric Stoutz
Information Specialist
Catholics United for the Faith
827 North Fourth Street
Steubenville, OH 43952
800-MY-FAITH (800-693-2484)

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