Blessing, APOSTOLIC, the solemn blessing (urbi et orbi) which, before 1870, the Holy Father himself gave from the loggias of the following churches: of St. Peter’s, on Maundy Thursday and Easter; of the Lateran, on Ascension Day; and of Santa Maria Maggiore, on the feast of the Assumption of the B. V. M. The popes very often delegated to others the power to give this blessing in answer to petitions from princes, at the close of missions, and on such occasions. This power was restricted by Clement XIII, September 3, 1762, to patriarchs, primates, archbishops, and bishops, who petition the Apostolic See for it; they can give the Apostolic blessing on Easter Sunday and on some other feasts. Prelates who have the use of the pontificalia and jurisdiction over a certain territory can give it only once a year. A certain formula is prescribed. The superiors of certain religious orders, especially the Franciscans, can give it twice a year in the churches of their own order; they must use a formula and ask permission of the ordinary (August 30, 1763). The faculty is occasionally granted to particular priests, regular or secular, to give the Apostolic blessing upon return from Rome, at the close of missions or retreats; in this case no solemn rite is required. The Apostolic blessing is a sacramental with which is granted a plenary indulgence (under the usual conditions), but no absolution from ecclesiastical censures. During a jubilee this blessing cannot be given. A special feature of this blessing is the Apostolic benediction in articulo mortis. This blessing is given to those who are in danger of death by priests who possess the required faculty. A formula is prescribed by Benedict XIV; to gain the indulgence it is necessary to receive the sacraments, to invoke the name of Jesus, and to be resigned to the will of God. In missionary countries the bishops can subdelegate every priest to grant this indulgence (April 5, 1772). It is not suspended by a jubilee.
FREDERICK G. HOLWECK