Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

Catholic Prayer: Roman Ritual: Blessing of a Bonfire on the Vigil of the Birthday of St. John the Baptist


Prayer Categories (1)


Linked Activities (5)


Feasts (2)


Seasons (1)


This is taken from the 1964 version of the Roman Ritual. The Directory on Popular Piety mentions this blessing.

The blessing of a bonfire may seem somewhat extraordinary. Nevertheless, the ceremony is one of the most ancient blessings, just as the cult of the Baptist is very ancient in Catholic hagiolatry. For centuries people of Christian countries have kept a solemn vigil for the festival of John the Baptist's birth. In the darkness of the night preceding the feast, a bonfire would flare up before the church edifice, in the market-place, on hill, in valley. John gave testimony of the true light which shineth in the darkness. He was the light-bearer before Christ, although he proclaimed in utter humility and self-abnegation: "he must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). But the Master also spoke in highest praise of His Precursor: "I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist" (Luke 7:28). Attuned to the mind of the Master, early Christians quickly cultivated with enthusiasm a special veneration of this saint — their enthusiasm and love enkindling within them a justifiable conviviality at the approach of his day. The custom of the St. John bonfires, indicative of a people with burning and childlike faith, continues in some places to this day.


P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.

P: The Lord be with you.
All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.
Lord God, almighty Father, the light that never fails and the source of all light, sanctify + this new fire, and grant that after the darkness of this life we may come unsullied to you who are light eternal; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

The fire is sprinkled with holy water; after which the clergy and the people sing the following Hymn: Ut queant laxis

1. Ut queant laxis resonáre fibris
Mira gestórum fámuli tuórum,
Solve pollúti lábii reátum, Sancte Joánnes. 2. Núntius celso véniens Olýmpo
Te patri magnum fore nascitúrum,
Nomen, et vitae sériem geréndae
Ordinae promit. 3. Ille promíssi dúbius supérni,
Pérdidit promptae módulos loquélae:
Sed reformásti genitus perémptae
Organa vocis.

4. Ventris obstrúso récubans cubíli
Sénseras Regem thálamo manéntem:
Hinc parens nati méritis utérque Abdita pandit.

5. Sit decus Patri, genitaéque Proli
et tibi, compare utriúsque virtus,
Spíritus semper, Deus unus, omni
Témporis aevo.

1. O for your spirit, holy John, to chasten
Lips sin-polluted, fettered tongues to loosen;
So by your children might your deeds of wonder
Meetly be chanted.

2. Lo! a swift herald, from the skies descending,
Bears to your father promise of your greatness;
How he shall name you, what your future story,
Duly revealing.

3. Scarcely believing message so transcendent,
Him for a season power of speech forsaketh,
Till, at your wondrous birth, again returneth,
Voice to the voiceless.

4. You, in your mother's womb all darkly cradled,
Knew your great Monarch, biding in His chamber,
Whence the two parents, through their offspring's merits,
Mysteries uttered.

5. Praise to the Father, to the Son begotten,
And to the Spirit, equal power possessing,
One God whose glory, through the lapse of ages,
Ever resounding.

P: There was a man sent from God.
All: Whose name was John.

Let us pray. God, who by reason of the birth of blessed John have made this day praiseworthy, give your people the grace of spiritual joy, and keep the hearts of your faithful fixed on the way that leads to everlasting salvation; through Christ our Lord. All: Amen.

Prayer Source: Roman Ritual, The, Complete Edition by Philip T. Weller, S.T.D., The Bruce Publishing Company, Milwaukee, WI, 1964