The earliest recorded instance of the dedication of a Christian church is that of the cathedral at Tyre in 314. For the solemn consecration of permanent churches, an elaborate ritual developed, consisting of six main parts, followed by the Eucharist. According to the 1977 RC Ordo the dedication takes place within the framework of the Mass and includes anointing the altar and walls of the church with chrism by a bishop. For temporary churches a simpler ceremony of blessing by a priest is provided. Although dedication is intended to be permanent, where a church cannot be used for worship the diocesan bishop may allow it to be used for a secular but not unbecoming purpose.
The Feast of the Dedication is the annual celebration of the day of the dedication of the church. A feast of the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is described by Egeria. In the C of E, CW provides that ‘when the date of dedication is unknown, the Dedication Festival may be observed on the first Sunday in October, or on the last Sunday after Trinity, or on a suitable date chosen locally’.