(1.) in the Romish Church, an ecclesiastical ceremony, whereby a thing is rendered sacred or venerable. It differs from consecration, in which unction is used. The Romanists consecrate the chalice and bless the pyx. Superstition in the Romish Church has introduced benedictions for almost every thing. There are forms of benediction for wax candles, for boughs, for ashes, for church vessels and ornaments, for flags and ensigns, arms, first-fruits, houses, ships, paschal eggs, hair-cloth of penitents, churchyards, etc. In general, these benedictions are performed by aspersions of holy water, signs of the cross, and forms of prayer, according to the nature of the ceremony. The forms of benediction are found in the Roman Pontifical and in the Missal. The beatic benediction (benedictio beatica) is the viaticum given to dying persons. For the history and forms of Romanist benediction, see Boissonnet, Dict. des Ceremonies, 1, 246 sq.; Migne, Liturgie Catholique, p. 149 sq.
(2.) In the Protestant Churches, the blessing of the people by the minister during divine service and at its close. In the Church of England it is given at the end of the communion service as well as at the conclusion of worship. The minister does not pretend to impart any blessing, but in effect prays that the'" peace of God" may keep the "hearts and minds" of the people. Christ says to his Church, "My peace I give unto you" (Joh 14:27): the officiating minister, the Church's organ, proclaims the gift in general, and prays that it may descend upon the particular part of Christ's Church then and there assembled. The benediction most used, at the close of worship, in Protestant churches, is taken chiefly from Scripture; the first part of it from Php 4:7, and the latter part being a paraphrase upon Nu 6:24-25, viz.: "The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your heart and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, — the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be amongst you and remain with you always. Amen." The great Christian benediction is the apostolical one: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all" (2Co 13:14). In the ancient Church, short benedictions, such as "Blessed be God," "Blessed be the name of the Lord" (never the Ave Maria, q.v.), were often used before sermon. After the Lord's Prayer, in the Eucharist, the benediction, "The peace of God be with you all," was pronounced. See Bingham, Orig. Eccles. bk. 14, ch. 4, § 16; bk. 15, ch. 3, § 29; Coleman, Primitive Church, ch. 14; Bibliotheca Sacra, 1862, p. 707.