Tuesday, 7 December 2010


I mentioned in an earlier post about the practice of Epiphany Chalk which takes place, obviously enough, on the 6th January.

This is a great Catholic custom and I am covering it now in order to allow priests who have not invoked it before, to prepare and accustom themselves with this simple ceremony which results in the blessed chalk being  handed over to their parishioners for completion of the blessing on their own thresholds. The details below are courtesy of Vultus Christi.

Epiphany Blessing of Chalk and of Homes

Epiphany Inscription Over the Doorway of the Home
20 + C + M + B + 11

The letters have two meanings. They are the initials of the traditional names of the Three Magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. They also abbreviate the Latin words “Christus mansionem benedicat.” “May Christ bless the house.” The letters recall the day on which the inscription is made, as well as the purpose of blessing.
The crosses represent the protection of the Precious Blood of Christ, whom we invoke, and the holiness of the Three Magi sanctified by their adoration of the Infant Christ. The inscription is made above the front door, so that all who enter and depart this year may enjoy God’s blessing. The month of January still bears the name of the Roman god Janus, the doorkeeper of heaven and protector of the beginning and end of things. This blessing “christens” the ancient Roman observance of the first month. The inscription is made of chalk, a product of clay, which recalls the human nature taken by the Adorable and Eternal Word of God in the womb of the Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
To bless your home this Epiphany, read the Prologue of Saint John’s Gospel, followed by the Our Father, and the Collect of the Epiphany; then write the inscription for this year above your front door with blessed chalk.
I will bless chalk at the end of Holy Mass on the Epiphany, after the Postcommunion and before the Dismissal, using the traditional text as translated by Father Weller:
Blessing of Chalk
V. Our help is the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with your spirit.
Let us pray.
Bless, O Lord God, this creature chalk
to render it helpful to your people.
Grant that they who use it in faith
and with it inscribe upon the doors of their homes
the names of your saints, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar,
may through their merits and intercession
enjoy health of body and protection of soul.
Through Christ our Lord.
And the chalk is sprinkled with Holy Water.

I first witnessed this as practiced by FSSP priests in various parishes in the Melbourne Diocese in Australia; it is a great custom and I hope priests will introduce it in 2011.


  1. Lovely post..the custom is followed at my childrens school..

  2. Hi Richard

    What a very nice custom. I have never heard of it before but I would love to see it introduced in parishes everywhere. I know that in some countries it is the traditin to bless homes on Epiphany but the blessed chalk, etc, is new to me. Thank you for this very interesting post.

    God bless you.

  3. I never heard of this before. (I was baptized on Epiphany - nearly 59 years ago!)

  4. In Poland this ceremony is standard and known as Kolęda, the Old Słowenic word for Christmas. You are warned when the priest will be coming, accompanied by two altar boys. You must prepare a table with a white cloth, two candles, a bowl of Holy Water and a sprinkling brush. Your front door is unlocked.

    The three walk in, follow you to the table, sing a Christmas carol, kneeling. The priest blesses you and the house, gives you a prayer card, writes your name in the parish register, has a quick chat, and departs, with your gift.

    Very quick. He or you chalks the door frame.