CONSECRATION, an act by which mate rial things and persons are dedicated to sacred uses and sacred ministries. Celebrations of rites of ccmsecration are traced back to the earliest historic periods of Assyrian, Chaldatc, Egyptian and Hebraic civilizations. The word Consecration is also used in the Roman Cath olic ritual and liturgy to signify the act of Transubstantiation (q.v.) by which the bread and wine are in the Mass changed into the body and blood of Christ. In the Roman Pontificate or ritual for episcopal functions there is a form for consecration of a bishop, consecration of a church, consecration of the sacred vessels used in the liturg.y of the Church. In the consecration of a bishop—ordinarily performed by the metropolitan and two other bishops—the consecrating bishops impose hands on the bishop-elect and the metropolitan delivers to hitn the pastoral staff and the ring, emblems of his office, and anoints him with chrism, the sacramental mixture of olive oil and balsam, pronouncing the formula of words by which is expressed the commission of authority to rule the Church committed to his charge.
The consecration of a church is a very elab orate ceremony, requiring several hours to com plete it: there. is chanting of the office of Matins and Lauds by the clergy; there are pro cessions of clergy, headed by the consecrating bishop and other bishops who may be present, around the walls outside and thrice around the interior, with continuous chanting of psalms; there is anointing of the doors, of the walls, of the high altar; and a number of other rites. The consecration of the vessels destined for the service of the altar is also an episcopal function: it is a rite that has descended from high Christian antiquity: in this rite also chrism is employed.