Golden Legend – Dedication of the Temple of the Church

The dedication of the church is solemnly hallowed among the other feasts of the church, and because that it is double church or temple, that is to wit, material and spiritual. And therefore it is to be seen shortly of the dedication of this double temple. As to the dedication of the temple material. three things be to be considered. First, wherefore it is hallowed or dedicate. Secondly, how it is hallowed. Thirdly, by whom it is hallowed. And because that two things be in the church that be hallowed, that is the altar and the temple, therefore it is first to be seen how the altar is hallowed. The altar is first hallowed for three things. First, to make sacrifice to God, as it is said, Genesis viii.: Noah edified first an altar to our Lord, and took of all the birds and of all the beasts of the the thought, and the song of the voice to the preaching of the word of God: but in this, what profiteth the sweetness of the voice without the sweetness of the heart? She breaketh the voice, but the will keepeth the concordance of the voice, and of good manners, so that by ensample he accord him to his neighbour, and by his good will he accord him to God, and by obedience to his master; and this is the treble manner of music, which is reported to the treble difference of the office of the church. For the office of the church is made in psalms, in lessons, and in song. The first manner of music is made by touching of fingers, as in the psaltery and semblable instruments: the second is the song as of the voice; and that appertaineth to the lessons. And thereof saith the Psalmist Sing ye to him in deporting your voice. The third, that is by blowing, appertaineth to the song of a trumpet and hereof saith David: Praise ye him in the sound of the trumpet.

The temple or the church is hallowed for five reasons. The first is, because that the devil and all his power be put out, whereof Saint Gregory recounteth in his dialogue, that as a church of the heretic Arians was yielded to good christian men, and they hallowed it, and had brought in relics of SS. Fabian and Sebastian, and of Saint Agatha, all the people were there assembled, and they heard suddenly a hog cry, and run hither and thither among their feet, seeking the doors of the church, and he might not be seen of no man, whereof the people had great marvel. But our Lord showed to them that it was the foul spirit that dwelled tofore in that place: and that night was a great noise upon the covering of the church, like as they had run upon it, and the second night yet a greater noise, and the third night was so fearful and so horrible a great noise, as that the church should have been thrown down unto the foundament, and then the wicked spirits departed and came no more there. The hideous sound signified that for certain the fiend issued by constraint the which he had long holden. Secondly, it is hallowed because that they that flee to the church should be safe; whereof some churches, after the dedication, be privileged of princes, that they that be culpable and flee to the church that they may be safe. Whereof the canon saith: The church defendeth the culpables from blood that they ne loose life ne member. And therefore Joab fled to the tabernacle and took the altar. Thirdly, it is hallowed because that the orisons be enhanced there. And it is signified in the book of Kings, the viii. chapter, when the temple was dedicated, Solomon said: Whosoever shall pray in this place thou shalt hear him, Lord in heaven, and when thou hast heard him thou shalt be to him debonair. And we worship God in the churches towards the east for three reasons, after that Damascene saith in the fourth book, the fifth chapter. First, because that we show that we require our peace. Secondly, that we behold Jesu Christ crucified. Thirdly, that we show that we abide him a judge to come. And also he saith: God planted paradise in the house of the east from the which he exiled man because he brake his commandments; and made him to dwell tofore paradise toward the occident, ere he went any other part, and therefore we look now in the church toward the orient. And our Lord crucified beheld toward the occident, and thus look we worshipping him toward the orient. He was borne on high, and so worship him the apostles, and so shall he come as they saw him going to heaven. And so worship we him towards the orient, in abiding till he come. Fourthly, the church is hallowed because that there louings and prayings be given to God, and this is done at the seven times or hours canonical at matins, at prime, at tierce, and so at the others. And howbeit that God is to be praised in all the hours of the day, but because our infirmity sufficeth not thereto, it is ordained that at these hours we praise God specially, because that these hours in some things be more privileged than the others; for at midnight when matins be sung Jesu Christ was born, and also was taken and despised of the Jews; and at the same hour he depoiled hell. Taking midnight largely, that is to say afore day, he arose from death to life, and he appeared at the hour of prime, and it is said that he shall come into the doom at midnight. Whereof Saint Jerome saith: I ween that those things that the apostles have said shall be before day. For the day of the vigil of Easter, before midnight it behoveth not to leave matins, for the people abide the coming of Jesu Christ. And when this time shall come, men ought to have surety that all men make feast that day. And we sing at that hour praisings because that we give him thankings for his nativity, for his taking, and of the deliverance of the holy apostles, so that we may busily abide his coming. And the lauds be adjousted to the matins because that the morrowtide he drowned the Egyptians in the sea, and created the world and arose. And at this hour let us give thankings to God that we be not drowned in the sea of this world with the Egyptians, and that we render louings to God for our creation and for his resurrection. At the hour of prime Jesu Christ came into the temple and the people assembled there to him, as Luke saith, the xxi. chapter. He was at that hour presented to Pilate, and at this hour, after he was risen, he appeared first to the women. And this is the first hour of the day, and therefore let us render our thankings to God and praising, because that we may follow Jesu Christ, that we may yield to him the first fruit of all our works. At the hour of tierce Jesu Christ was crucified in the tongues of the Jews, and was bound to a stake and beaten tofore Pilate. And as it is said, the stake or pillar that he was bound to, showeth yet his blood. And this same hour was the Holy Ghost sent to the apostles. In the sixth hour he was nailed to the cross, and darknesses were throughout all the world, so that the sun bewept the death of his Lord, and covered him with black in such wise that he gave no light to them that crucified his Lord. And at this hour was he at dinner the day of his Ascension with his disciples. At the hour of nones Jesu Christ gave up his spirit, and the knight pierced his side, and the company of the apostles had a custom for to assemble then for to pray, and Jesu Christ ascended that hour into heaven. And for these honours praise we our Lord at all hours. At evensong time Jesu Christ made the sacrament of his body and of his blood together; he washed the feet of his apostles and disciples; he was taken down off the cross and borne to the sepulchre; he manifested and showed himself unto his disciples in habit of a pilgrim, and for these things the church giveth thanks to God at this hour. At compline Jesu Christ sweat water and blood, his monument was delivered to be kept and there he rested. And when he was risen, he showed himself and declared peace to his apostles. And of these things give we louings and thanks to God. And hereof saith Saint Bernard how we ought to render and give thankings to God: My brethren, saith he, when ye sacrifice to God with praisings and thankings, join your mind to your words, and thy talent to thy wit, and gladness to thy talent, and demurety to thy gladness, and humility to thy demurety, and to humility free will.

Fifthly, the church is hallowed for to administer there the sacraments of the church. Like as on the table of God, in which the sacraments be communicated and administered; and some sacraments be administered and given to them that enter, as baptism, and some be given to them that issue out as is the last unction or annealing. And some be given to the abiders and dwellers as is order. And some fight and fall, to them is given penance. Some other contrarien, and to them is given hardiness of courage for to enforce them, and that is by confirmation. And to other is given meat for to sustain them, and this is for to receive the sacred body of Jesu Christ. And sometime is taken away the letting, that they fall not into sin, and that is by conjunction of marriage. Secondly, it is to wit how she is hallowed. And it ought first to be known of the altar, and after of the church. And many things appertain to the hallowing of the altar. And first be made on the four corners of the altar four crosses of holy water, and environed about seven times, and seven times arrosed and besprent with the holy water stick or sprinkler. After, the incense is burnt on the altar, and after, it is anointed with chrism and then it is covered with black cloth, and this representeth them that go to the altar. For they ought first to have charity in four manners, that is, they love God, and themselves, their friends and their enemies. And this signifieth the four crosses on the four corners of the altar. And of these four corners is said in Genesis the xxviii. chapter: Thou shalt stretch to the orient, to the occident, to the north and to the south. Or by the four crosses that be made in the four corners be signified that Jesu Christ saved by the cross the four parts of the world, or for this, that they signify that we ought to bear the cross of Jesu Christ in four manners, that is, in the heart by thought; in the mouth by confession; in the body by mortification; and in the visage by continual impression. Secondly, to have care and owe to watch: and this signifieth the environing or going about the altar. For they sing then: The waits of the city have found me. For they ought have cure and watch upon them that be to them committed. And for this cause putteth Gilbert the negligence of prelates among the things disordinate. These be foul things and much perilous, that is to wit, a blind archer, a halting messenger, a prelate negligent, a doctor not conning, and a dumb crier, this be a perilous fellowship.

Or by the seven goings about of the altar be signified seven considerations that we ought to have unto the seven virtues of the humility of Jesu Christ, and to go oft about them. The first virtue is that he that was rich be made poor. The second, that he was put in the rack or in the crib. The third, that he was subject to his parents. The fourth, that he inclined his head under the power of his servant. The fifth, that he sustained the disciple, thief and traitor. The sixth, that before a felonous judge he held his peace and spake not. The seventh, that he prayed piteously for them that crucified him.

Thirdly, they ought to have mind of the passion of Jesu Christ, and that is signified by the sprinkling and casting of the water, which signified seven effusions of the blood of Jesu Christ. The first, was in the circumcision. The second, was in the orison. The third, when he was beaten at the pillar. The fourth, when he was crowned with thorns. The fifth, in piercing his hands. The sixth, in nailing his feet, and the seventh, in opening of his side. And these arrosements or sprinkling of blood were made with the sprinkle of humility, and of charity without estimation. And the altar is environed seven times for to signify that the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost be given in the baptism; or by the seven goings about be signified the seven comings of Jesu Christ. The first, was from heaven into the belly of his mother. The second, from the belly into the crib. The third, from the crib into the world. The fourth, from the world unto the gallows of the cross. The fifth, from the cross unto the sepulchre. The sixth, from the sepulchre to hell. The seventh, from hell when he arose and ascended unto heaven.

Fourthly, they should have ardent prayer, amorous and devout, and this is signified by the incense which is burnt upon the altar, and then it hath virtue to ascend by the lightness of the fume, and to comfort by his quality, and to conjoin by the gum, and to confirm by that it is aromatous or well smelling. And all in like wise is the orison or prayer which ascendeth to the mind of God; it comforteth the soul as to the sin past in asking medicine; it estraineth as to that which is to come for to beware thereof; it confirmeth as to that is present in getting defence and keeping. Or it may be said that devout orison is signified by the incense, that it appertaineth that it ascend to God. And hereof saith Ecclesiasticus: Orison of humility giveth to God sweet savour when it issueth out of a heart inflamed. And the apostle saith much incense is given to him.

Fifthly, they ought to have resplendor or brightness of conscience and the odour of good renown. And this is signified by the chrism or cream; they ought to have a pure conscience so that they might say with the apostle: Our glory is the witness of our conscience and also is good renown. Whereof the apostle to Timothy: It behoveth that he have good witness of them that be without; and Chrysostom saith that the clerks ought not to have no filth, ne in word, ne in deed, ne in thought, ne in opinion, for they be the virtue and beauty of the church, and if they be evil they make foul all the church.

Sixthly, they ought to have cleanness of good work; which is signified by the white clothes and clean of which the altar is covered. The usage of coverture and of vestments were found for to cover, for to chauffe, and keep warm, and for to array ordinately. And the good works cover the nakedness of the soul, whereof the apostle saith: Clothe thee with white vesture that the confusion of thy nakedness appear not. They array the soul with honesty, whereof the apostle saith to the Romans: Clothe you with vestments of light, they enchauffe and inflame us in charity. Where of it is said: Be not thy vestments hot, for it availeth little to him that goeth to the altar if he have sovereign dignity and a life defamed. It should be an horrible thing to see him in a high seat and a low life; sovereign degree and low estate; a sad visage and light in works; full of words and nothing of deed; noble of authority and fleeing courage.

Secondly, it ought to be seen how the church is sacred and hallowed. And to that appertain many things, for the bishop goeth all about three times, and at every time that he cometh to the gate or door he knocketh with his cross, saying: Princes open your gates. And the church is washed within and without with holy water, and a cross of ashes is made on the pavement, and of sand a travers, the angle from the orient unto that which is against the occident. And the A B C is written within of letters of Greek and of Latin. Crosses be made on the walls of the church, and they be anointed with cream. And it is to wit that the three first goings about signify three goings about that Jesu Christ made for the hallowing of his church. The first was when he came from heaven into the world. The second was when he descended from the world into hell. The third was when he came again from hell and ascended into heaven. Or the three goings about show that the church is hallowed in the honour of the Trinity, or for to signify the three estates of them that be to be saved of the church, that be virgins, continent, and married folk; which be signified in the disposition of the church material. Like as Hugo de Sancto Victore showeth, for he saith: That the sanctuary signifieth the order of virgins, the choir or quire signifieth the continent, and the body signifieth the order of them that be married. For the sanctuary is straiter than the choir or quire, and the quire straiter than the body, for the order of virgins is more worthy than the continents, and the order of the continents is more worthy than they that be married. The second knocking at the door signifieth the treble right that Jesu Christ hath in the church, wherefore it ought to be opened to him. For it is his by creation, and sweet by redemption and by promise of glorifying. And of this threefold right saith Anselm: Certainly, Lord, for so much as thou hast made me, I owe myself all to thee; because thou redeemest me, I owe myself all to thee; because thou hast promised to me so great things, I owe myself unto thy love; and because thou art greater than I, for whom thou gavest thyself, and to whom thou promiseth thyself, I owe to thee more than myself. And this that the bishop crieth thrice: Open your gates, etc., signifieth the treble power that he hash, in heaven. in the world, and in hell. And this that the church is thrice washed within and without signifieth three causes. The first is for to put out the devil, and therefore is said in the blessing of the water, that it be blessed to chase away all the power of the enemy, the fiend with his angels cursed and shrewd. And thou oughtest to know that this holy water is made of four things, that is, of water, of salt, of wine, and of ashes, which things put out the devil and chaseth him away. By the water is signified the effusion of tears; by the wine is signified spiritual gladness; and by the salt is showed mure discretion, and by the ashes is profound humility. Secondly, it is dedicate for to make herself clean from all earthly things which were corrupt by sin, and therefore because it should be clean from all ordure it is washed with holy water, so that it be clean and pure. And this was signified in the old law, that all should be cleansed by water. Thirdly, it is hallowed for to take away all malediction, for the earth at the beginning was cursed with his fruit because man was deceived by fruit, and the water was not cursed. And therefore it is said that our Lord ate fish, but it is not found that ever he ate any flesh by name save the paschal lamb, and that was in ensample for to accomplish the commandment of the law. And because that all malediction and cursings should be taken away, is the church washed with holy water. Fourthly, the A B C is written in the pavement in Latin and in Greek, and this signifieth the communion of that one and of that other people. Or it signifieth that one and that other testament, or the articles of our faith. For the scripture of the letters, Greek and Latin, that were made on the table of the cross, representeth the assemble of the faith made by Jesu Christ on the cross and therefore is this cross laid and made transverse from the angle of the orient unto the angle of the occident, for to signify that it that was first on the right side was made the left side, and that which was at the head was made at the end, and thus to the contrary. And it representeth the scripture of that one and that other testament which was accomplished by Jesu Christ on the cross, for he said when he died: All is accomplished. And the cross is made transverse because that the one was changed into that other, for all the law is in a roll. Thirdly, the crosses be painted in the church, and that is for three causes. The first is to fear the devils, for when they see the sign of the cross there, by which they have been put out, they be afeard and dare not enter, for they doubt and dread much the sign of the cross. And hereof saith Chrysostom: In what place they see the sign of the cross they shall flee, for they dread the staff of which they have been hurt. Thirdly, it representeth the articles of the faith. For the pavement of the church is the foundament of our faith, the letters that be within written be articles of our faith, by the which the rude people and new be introduced, and they of the one and other people which ought repute them for ashes and for powder, after this that Abraham saith in Genesis: I shall speake to my Lord as I were ashes and powder. Secondly, for to show the sign of the victory of Jesu Christ, for these crosses be signs and banners of Jesu Christ and of his victory, and therefore be there painted the crosses for to show that the place is divine, subject to God. And also it is of custom to emperors and to other princes, that when a town or city is taken or yielded, for to set up within the banners and the ensigns of the lords, to signify that it is subject to them. Thirdly, for to represent the apostles it is used for to set up twelve lights before the cross, for to represent the twelve apostles, which by the faith of God crucified they illumined all the world, and anointed with cream in baptism, for oil signifieth cleanness of conscience, and balm signifieth the odour of good life. And it is to know that the church or the temple was, as it is said, assailed by three persons, by Jeroboam, by Nebuchadnezzar, and by Antiochus. For as it is read in the book of Kings: Jeroboam did do make two calves gilt and did do set that one in Judæa, and that other in Bethel, which is said the house of God. And thus did he by covetousness, and therefore it is signified that the covetousness of clerks maketh much foul the house of God, the which avarice reigneth much in them, whereof Saint Jerome saith, that from the least unto the greatest they follow all avarice. And Saint Bernard saith the same: Who wilt thou give me of these provosts that entend not more to empty the purse of his subjects than to take away from them their sins? The calves be their nephews and their sons, which they set in Bethel, the house of God. And the church is assailed by Jeroboam after this that it is said: The Church is assailed when it is edified and builded of the avarice of the usurers and thieves.

Whereof is read that an usurer had founded a church, and then he prayed the bishop for to dedicate and hallow it. And as the bishop and his clerks made the office of the dedication he saw the devil which was in a chair by the altar in the habit of a bishop, and he said to the bishop, Why hallowest thou my church? Cease ye, for the right thereof appertaineth to me, because it is made of usury and of ravin. And then the bishop and his clerks were sore afraid and fled, and anon the devil destroyed the church with great storm and great noise. Nebuzar-adan as is read in the xxv. chapter of the book of Kings that he burnt the house of God for he was prince of the cooks, and signifieth them that serve to gluttony and to luxury, and make of their belly their god. And after this that the apostle saith, that their belly is their god. And Hugh of Saint Victore showeth how their belly is their god, and saith: Men were wont to make temples to the gods, and dress altars, ordain ministers for to serve them, to sacrifice beasts and to burn incense. But now the belly and the kitchen is the temple, the table is the altar, the cooks be ministers, the beasts sacrificed be the flesh sodden and roasted, the incense is the odour of the savour. The king Antiochus was the most proud man and the most covetous, and assailed the church of God, as it is read in the Maccabees. And by him be signified pride and covetise, which covet not to profit but to serve themselves, and they defoul much the church of God. Of which covetousness and pride Saint Bernard saith: They go worshipfully of the goods of our Lord, and yet they give him no worship, they go every day as goliards in habit shining, and royal apparel, they bear gold on their bridles, on their saddles and on their spurs; their harness shines more than the altars. And thus as the house of God was dishonoured by these three, right so was it dedicated by other three. And Moses made the first dedication, and Solomon the second, and the third Judas Maccabeus. By the which is signified that we ought to have in the dedication of the church the humility that was in Moses, the wisdom and discretion that was in Solomon, and the very confession of faith that was in Judas Maccabeus. And after it appertaineth to see of the dedication of the temple spiritual, which temple we be, that is to wit, the assembly of good christian men.

And this temple is made of living stones, as Saint Peter saith: Let us edify whilst the stones be quick, it is said of stones polished; whereof is sung: the jointures been made of polished stones; it is made of square stones four cornered, that is to say of spiritual stones that have four squares, that is to wit, faith, hope, charity and good works, which be all equal as Saint Gregory saith: As long as thou believest thou hast hope, and lovest as much as thou believest, and hopest and lovest to work in them.

In this temple the altar is the heart, and upon this altar three things ought to be offered to God. The first thing is the fire of love perdurable, like as the apostle saith, the fire of dilection shall be perdurable and shall never fail at the altar of the heart. The second thing is the incense of orison and prayer well smelling, as it is said in Paralipomenon, Aaron and Phineas, burnt incense upon the altar of sacrifices, that is to say where were burnt the things precious and well smelling. The third thing is sacrifice of righteousness, and this is the offering of penance in sacrifice of perfect love, and in calves of mortifying of the flesh, and hereof saith David: Thou shalt accept the sacrifice of righteousness, the oblations and holocausts. This temple spiritual that we be, is of God in the manner as the temple material. For first the sovereign bishop when he findeth the door of the heart shut, he goeth about three times, when he bringeth to our mind the sin of the mouth, of the heart. and of the work. And of this treble going about saith he, as to the first I have gone about the city, that is to wit of the heart. And the second saith Isaiah: Take thy harp, and as to the third: The common woman is forgotten. Secondly, he smiteth three times the door of the heart, which is closed, to the end that it should be opened to him. And he smiteth by the stroke of benefice, of counsel and of playing. Of this treble stroke it is said in the Proverbs: I have stretched out my hand, etc. As to the evil and as to the benefits given he saith: Thou despisest all my counsel, and as to counsel inspired, thou despisest my counsellors, and to the blaming, that is for the plaies to thee given. Or this treble going about is done when he moveth us to reasonable knowledge of sins, and to sorrow for them, to avenge and blame ourselves for sin. Thirdly, he arroseth or watereth the temple spiritual three times with water, and so oft it ought to be watered or besprinkled. And this watering signifieth three manners of shedding of tears. For as Saint Gregory saith: The thought of an holy man should be confused in sorrow, in considering where he was, where he shall be, and where he is. Or he was said in sin; or he shall be in judgment; or he is in maleurte; and there is where is no joy. When he sheddeth then his tears of the heart, considering that he was in sin, and shall be in judgment for to give a reckoning for sin, then is this temple watered once of water; and when he is contrite to weep for his unhappiness and maleurte where he is, the temple is watered the second time. And when he weepeth for the joy where he is not, he arroseth or watereth the temple the third time. And thou oughtest to know that wine, salt, and ashes be meddled with this water. For with the other sacraments we ought to have wine of spiritual gladness, salt of ripe wisdom, and ashes of deep humility. Or by wine with water is understood the humility of Jesu Christ, that he had in taking flesh human. The wine with water is the word human; and by the salt is understood the holiness of his life which is savour to all of his religion. By the ashes is understood his passion. And of these three things we ought to water our heart, the which be, the blessing of his incarnation by which we be called to humility, the ensample of his conversation by the which we be conformed to holiness, and the mystery of his passion by the which we be moved to charity. Fourthly, in this temple of the heart spiritual is written the A B C, or the scripture spiritual. And this scripture is treble, that is to wit the evils of things, the witnesses of divine benefits, and the accusation of his proper trespasses. And of these three things saith the apostle to the Romans: The people that have law do naturally the things that be of the law. They that have no law make law to themselves. They that show the work of the law written in their heart, that is the first, the witness of their conscience is the second, and he that thinketh to accuse himself is the third. Fifthly, the cross ought to be painted in this church, that is to understand that it ought to have the sharpnesses of penance. And these sharpnesses ought to be anointed and have light of the fire, for they be not only to be suffered in patience, but with good will and by charity. And hereof saith Saint Bernard: He that is threatened and menaced with the dread of Jesu Christ he beareth the cross in patience; he that profiteth in hope beareth it gladly and with good will, but he that is perfect in charity embraceth it ardently, and much people see our crosses that see not our anointings. And he that shall have all these things in him shall be the temple of God to his honour, and shall be plainly worthy that God inhabit and dwell in him by grace, so that he may dwell in God by glory, the which he give us that liveth and reigneth God in heaven, world without end. Amen.