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Benediction

practice christian god gesture

From the Latin benedictio (“blessing”), a benediction is a blessing performed by members of the clergy through spoken *prayer and gesture. Benedictions are pronounced by priests and bishops at various points in the liturgy and during other ritual occasions. The practice ultimately derives from Jewish customs, adapted by the early Christian church, of giving thanks to and asking blessings from *God. The Greek term for acts of blessing is eucharistia (“to give thanks”). As developed in Christian practice, the traditional hand gesture required (and as illustrated in art) involves the raising of the arm and extension of three fingers (symbolizing the *Trinity); the fingers and their position diverge slightly in western and Byzantine practice. Gestures of benediction appear frequently in medieval art, performed by *saints, *angels, clerics, *Christ, and *God the Father. In early Christian and medieval examples, often simply the hand of God making a gesture of benediction will appear in the heavens during important events. A Benedictional is a book which contains blessings spoken by bishops.

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