Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Churching of Women (After Childbirth)

Six days after Baby von Sonnen was born, we had the "Churching of Women" for mother.

A rite of blessing and thanksgiving in memory of the compliance of the Holy Virgin Mary with the Jewish Law of Purification after childbirth.  

Many thanks to family and friends for being present.  Thanks, Andy!  As well as to the celebrant, Padre Paolo.  My dad remarked: "Grandma used to have this done at the Assumption after her babies were born."

The celebrant needs only the ritual, stole, and holy water.  We provided the beeswax candle with ribbon.  I encourage young Catholic mothers to ask for this blessing in church after childbirth.  If the priest says no, then find one who will.  It is a fitting little tradition.  

We were received at the entrance to church.   Psalm 23 was prayed.  Then the priest introduced the mother into the church, giving the end of his stole into her hand and saying: "Enter into the temple of God, adore the Son of the blessed Virgin Mary, who giveth thee fruitfulness of offspring."  We then processed to the altar where mother knelt for the invocation, prayer, and blessing: "Almighty, everlasting God, who, through the delivery of the Blessed Virgin Mary, hast turned into joy the pains of the faithful in childbirth: look mercifully upon this Thine handmaid, coming in gladness to Thy holy temple to offer up her thanks: and grant that after this life, by the merits and intercession of the same Blessed Mary, she may deserve, together with her offspring, to attain to the joys of everlasting happiness.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen."

Read about this hallowed and forgotten rite here:


  1. The Churching of Women is another beautiful tradition that deserves to be restored and popularized. I remember as an altar boy fifty years ago, women would stop us as we came out of the sacristy and say;"Please tell Father I'd like to be Churched." It was a very important sacramental for these new mothers. Thank you for continuing the tradition in your own family, and for posting about it.
    Bro. Augustine,ofm,Conv.

  2. It is sad that so much has been thrown to the dustbin but the reason for the Churching of Women and the reason why women once upon a time needed to request it was the general understanding that a woman is unclean after childbirth and not allowed to enter the church until a certain time period (40 days) after the birth of her child, at the end of which these prayers were read over her and she resumed church attendance. It is simply the Judaic usage that the BVM submitted to even though the birth of Christ was miraculous and did not incur impurity to Her. In the Orthodox Church it is still common for mothers not to attend the baptisms of their children if the baptism takes place before the Churching Prayers are read. I expect that the reason why the Churching Prayers fell by the wayside is the whole feminist thing that looks on such things as male persecution.