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Abbatial Blessing of Abbot Mark Cooper, O.S.B.

September 10, 2012

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Saint Anselm College celebrated the Mass and Abbatial Blessing of Abbot Mark CooperIt was a joyous day on the hilltop on Monday, September 10 as the college and monastic community celebrated the blessing of the fifth abbot of Saint Anselm Abbey, The Right Reverend Mark Arthur Cooper, O.S.B.

In a special Mass, the abbatial blessing was conferred by The Most Reverend Joseph John Gerry, O.S.B., Bishop Emeritus of Portland, Maine, in the presence of The Most Reverend Peter Anthony Libasci, D.D., Bishop of Manchester, N.H.

The blessing of an abbot is a rare though not unique event in the life of a monastery and the local church. The blessing of Abbot Mark Cooper will be but the fifth blessing in the history of Saint Anselm College, the first since 1986. Abbot Mark was elected on June 4, and has had the full authority of an abbot since he was elected and confirmed that morning. Read about Abbot Mark's election.

The ritual for the blessing of the abbot will not confer any new authority upon him. Rather it is an opportunity for the monastic community and its new abbot to gather with the diocesan bishop, who is the head of the local church, and the faithful of the wider community and pray for God's blessing.

Local Bishop, the Most Reverend Peter Libasci presideed but Bishop Joseph Gerry, O.S.B., former abbot of Saint Anselm Abbey, and uncle of the new abbot, was the principal celebrant. Before the blessing was conferred by Bishop Joseph, the bishop ascertained that the new abbot had been duly elected. Calling upon the help of various saints in the litany, the bishop then imparted the blessing.

Abbot Mark received a copy of the Rule of Saint Benedict, a signet ring, a miter, and a staff. The rule and the staff are the most ancient signs of the abbot's authority, but the church has for centuries permitted abbots to use the pontifical insignia of a ring and a miter. Following the blessing and the presentation of the pontifical insignia, Abbot Mark received the kiss of peace from the bishops and abbots present, as well as the members of the monastic community.


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