Midnight blessing by Archbishop Vigneron

Abp. Vigneron will confer rare Apostolic Blessing at Christmas Eve midnight Mass

Detroit — Archbishop Allen Vigneron will impart an Apostolic Blessing at the conclusion of the Christmas Eve midnight Mass at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

As detailed in “Ceremonial of Bishops,” a liturgical book for the unique ministry of bishops, there is a required form for the imparting of an Apostolic Blessing, which is given at the end of Mass in place of the usual final blessing, and which a bishop may confer up to three times a year in his own diocese.

The authority to impart the blessing is, in part, a sign of Archbishop Vigneron’s union with the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.

Receiving the Apostolic Blessing also provides the possibility of obtaining a plenary indulgence for those who have met the required conditions:

  • Have complete detachment from sin.
  • Have received sacramental confession.
  • Have received Holy Communion.
  • Have prayed for the intention of the Holy Father.

It is appropriate that the Apostolic Blessing should come at Christmas, said archdiocesan Chancellor Micheal Trueman, calling it “fitting that we be reminded of the freedom that was born in the Divine Child, that Christ came to give us life and give it to the full!”

Trueman said that, for those who make the pilgrimage to the cathedral on Christmas Eve, “the Apostolic Blessing will provide yet another celebratory component to the feast of the Lord’s Nativity.”

“The possibility of obtaining the plenary indulgence is a refreshing reminder and realization that He so desires us to experience that same you in His mother’s heart on that blessed night,” Trueman added.

A plenary indulgence remits the temporal punishment that would otherwise still be due for the commission of sins, even though those sins have been forgiven and no longer impair a person’s eternal salvation.

Although sins may be completely forgiven, once and for all, through the sacrament of reconciliation, “By its very nature, every sin inevitably causes suffering for the one who has committed it. Every sinful act creates disorder within the soul of the human person,” according to “Indulgences and Our Spiritual Life,” a 2007 publication of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Therefore, even after receiving forgiveness for one’s sins, a person “may still have an obligation to undergo a process of purification and to restore these disrupted relationships,” the publication continues.

The painful process that brings this reconciliation and purification can take place either in this life or in Purgatory, it adds.

“Through an indulgence, God grants that through the prayer of the Church the temporal penalty for sin due to someone be reduced (as in the case of a partial indulgence) or be eliminated (as in the case of a plenary indulgence),” the publications says.

The bishop must first, in his introduction to the penitential rite of the Mass, advise the faithful that a papal blessing with plenary indulgence will be bestowed.

There are special prayers in the penitential rite of the Mass. During the general intercessions, prayer for the Church and for the special intention of the Roman Pontiff must be included.

Then, after the prayer after Communion, the bishop puts on his miter and the deacon announces that bishop will give the blessing.

The bishop then pronounces the formulary for the solemn blessing found in the Sacramentary, and — taking his pastoral staff — concludes the blessing, saying, “Through the intercession of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, may almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” making the sign of the cross three times.


The Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament is at 9844 Woodward Ave. in the Boston-Edison area of Detroit’s North End. Lighting and guarded parking is provided. The telephone number is (313) 865-6300.