Encaenia (ἐγκαίνια).

1. When heathen temples were converted to Christian use, they were purified by a solemn dedication, called Encaenia, and by the sign of the cross; they also received new and appropriate names (Riddle, Antiq. 6:2).

2. At a later period encaenia denoted festivals kept in memory of the dedication of churches. In the church of Jerusalem, built by Constantine to the honor of our Savior, it was customary to observe an anniversary festival which lasted eight days, during which divine service was performed. The practice was soon adopted by other churches. In England the first Saxon bishops allowed the people liberty on the annual feasts of the dedication of their churches, to build themselves booths round the church, and to entertain themselves with eating and drinking. In German such a feast is called Kirchzweiho, church-consecration, whence the English name CHURCHWAKE. The ceremonies and solemnities instituted at Oxford in honor of founders and benefactors of colleges are called encaenia. — Bingham, Orig. Ecclesiastes book 20, chapter 8, § 1. SEE DEDICATION.

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