The Blessing of Basil Leaf in Honour of the Holy Cross

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The aromatic herb, basil (Ocimum basilicum) has long been associated with the Holy Cross. Etymologically, it is related to basileios, the Greek word for king. According to a pious legend, the Empress Saint Helena found the location of the True Cross by digging for it under a colony of basil. Basil plants were reputed to have sprung up at the foot of the Cross where fell the Precious Blood of Christ and the tears of the Mother of Sorrows. A sprig of basil was said to have been found growing from the wood of the True Cross. Also, from the practice in some areas of strewing branches of basil before church communion rails, it came to be known as Holy Communion Plant.

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.

Let us pray.

Almighty and merciful God,
deign, we beseech you, to bless
your creature, this aromatic basil leaf. +
Even as it delights our senses,
may it recall for us the triumph of Christ, our Crucified King
and the power of His Precious Blood
to purify and preserve us from evil
so that, planted beneath His Cross,
we may flourish to your glory
and spread abroad the fragrance of His sacrifice.
Who is Lord forever and ever.

R. Amen.

The bouquets of basil leaf are sprinkled with Holy Water.


Wow, I had no idea. Where do you find stuff like this? I grow tons of basil. There is always more than I can use. We are having a pesto making factory every night and the freezer will be filled for the winter. Basil is my favorite herb and I am delighted that it has such a connection. My DRE is going to love this. She hates Basil.

I'm a great believer in establishing as many connections as possible between the liturgy and the rest of life. It is marvelous when basil grown in the garden is blessed in the sanctuary and then finds its place in the kitchen and in the pharmacy, dried between the pages of a Bible, and hanging in upside–down dried bouquets in a kitchen. Given that, by virtue of this blessing, it becomes a sacramental, there are folks who make a kind of "tea" of it and drink it.
When I was a lad, the famous Father Philip T. Weller served for a time in my home parish. Father Weller was the translator of the entire Roman Ritual with blessings for everything imaginable in it. He had an incredible sense of the sacred liturgy and sang the priest's parts of the Mass with such beauty and piety. Last I heard he was still alive and living in a nursing home in Wisconsin.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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