Consecration of a Bishop

An act which confers fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, and so the fullness of the priesthood, and impresses on the soul the episcopal character. By it the bishop, from Divine institution, receives the Divine power to confer the Sacraments of Holy Orders and Confirmation, and, from ecclesiastical law, has the right to the episcopal insignia and is the minister of consecrations and benedictions reserved to the episcopal order. Also from Divine institution, by consecration the bishop is radically qualified to rule a diocese, assigned to him by the pope.

Episcopal election and consecration are reserved to the Roman pontiff. When the consecration takes place outside of Rome, the bishop-elect is notified of his election by means of an Apostolic letter and is authorized to select the prelates for his consecration, i.e., a bishop consecrator, and two assistant bishops, called co-consecrators. Usually the consecration day is a Sunday or the feast of an Apostle, though by dispensation of the Holy See another feast-day may be chosen. Before the consecration the bishop-elect makes an act of faith and takes an oath of loyalty to the Holy See. The ceremony takes place at Mass, and both bishop-elect and consecrator concelebrate. The principal parts of the ceremony are

1) The imposition of hands: while the open book of the Gospels is held on the shoulders of the elect, the consecrator and co-consecrators each impose hands on the head of the bishop-elect saying, “Receive the Holy Ghost.”

2) The anointing: the consecrator anoints the head of the bishop-elect with holy chrism in the form of a cross as he says, “May thy head be anointed and consecrated by heavenly blessing in the pontifical order”; He also anoints the hands of the bishop-elect.

3) The blessing and bestowal of the episcopal insignia, the crosier, ring, miter, and gloves.

4) The enthronement: vested in full pontificals, the new bishop is enthroned and then, as the Te Deum is intoned, he passes through the church, accompanied by the consecrators, and blesses the people.