CONSECRATION

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CONSECRATION ; the action by which a thing, animal or person is destined for the service of God or of the deities of paganism. It is opposed to profanation and sacrilege. With the Romans, consecratio at first signified only dedication; but under the emperors, it denoted deification (dno9iwot?). (See Apotheosis.) The Greek and Roman Catholic churches practise the consecration of things and persons, and ground the usage on numerous passages in the Old Testament and several in the New. That God commanded consecration in the Old Testament is undeniable. (For the consecration of priests, see Priest.) In a narrower sense, the word consecration is particularly used for the act of the priest who celebrates the mass, by which he is considered as changing the bread and wine into the real body and blood of Christ. There was formerly a warm contest between the Greek and Roman Catholic churches on this subject; the former maintaining that, in the consecration of the elements, it was necessary not only to use the words of Christ, but to invoke the Holy Spirit; while the latter denied that any such invocation was required. At present, the Greeks themselves are divided on this point. The Protestants do not consider consecration so important as the two Catholic sects do. (See the articles Sacrament and Transubstantuttion) The consecration of the pope is a ceremony which takes place immediately after his election.