In this line see Innocent III, c. Proposuisti [X 3.40.4], title De
consecratione ecclesiae vel altaris. In this line, c. 1, Ad haec,
Alexander III says that, if the altar stone is removed, the altar, but not
the church itself, is reconsecrated.
At 09:27 AM 2/12/2001 -0500, you wrote:
>At 08:41 AM 02/12/2001 +0000, Rob Durk wrote:
> >One thing on which I think most authorities would be
> >agreed is that bloodshed in a church constitutes
> >'pollutio'. In which case a good place to look for
> >reconsecration information would be in the times
> >following the murder of Thomas a Becket. I suspect the
> >reconsecration of Canterbury Cathedral cannot have
> >passed off without note.
>As some of the list members know, the subject of churches
>desecrated by bloodshed is one area I've researched in the
>past. In fact, the murder of Becket ended up becoming the
>topic of a debated question in late 12th century canon law
>precisely because bloodshed in a church was not universally
>regarded as polluting.
>To make a long argument short: canonists prior to the late
>12th century generally regarded blood as a polluting
>substance, and hence regarded any act that shed blood as
>requiring a rededication/reconciliation. Violent acts that
>did not actually shed blood, however, did not pollute a
>church. Canonists after Huguccio (whose _Summa_ can be
>dated to c. 1190) concentrated more on the intent of the
>violent acts, and in effect reversed the consensus of
>previous generations: for them, any violent act polluted a
>church, but blood shed "innocently" (by a natural
>nosebleed, for example) did not.
>Becket's murder presented an additional problem. Becket
>was recognized as a saint. Saint's blood was holy -- a
>relic -- and could even be used to dedicate a church in the
>first place. So the question arose: did Becket's blood
>pollute Canterbury Cathedral, and was a reconciliation
>necessary? Canonists before Huguccio said no: Becket's
>blood was not a polluting substance. Canonists from
>Huguccio onward said yes: it was not the blood but the act
>of violence that polluted the church. Incidentally, Pope
>Alexander III did order his legates to reconcile the
>One additional point: "rededication/reconsecration" vs.
>"reconciliation." The former is a repetition of the entire
>dedication ceremony; the latter refers essentially to a
>blessing with holy water. The former implies that a church
>has completely lost its sacred character; the latter
>implies that the church is defiled, but still sacred.
>Canonists began to make a distinction between the two in
>the middle of the 12th century. Rededication was used only
>in extreme cases, generally when the actual fabric of the
>church was damaged. Reconciliation was used for other
>varieties of pollution, such as bloodshed and sexual
>pollution, which is whole other problem in itself.
>Stephen A. Allen
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