Today, one of my parishes celebrated its 125th anniversary. [More to come this week on its being named a place of pilgrimage for the coming year, indulgences, etc.!!]
As part of our beautiful ceremony, our Bishop imparted the Apostolic Blessing. I provide the text of this beautiful blessing below. Bishops have the privilege, by law, of offering this blessing on solemn occasions three times per year in their diocese. In order to be sure that the Bishop could offer it on our occasion, we requested and received the faculty from the Apostolic Penitentiary for him to do so (i.e., in case he already used up his three times!). This blessing is given in the name of the Pope, and has a plenary indulgence attached to it, under the usual conditions.
Here is the text. First, there is a different conclusion for the Penitential Rite (i.e., after the Confiteor or “I Confess”) at the beginning of Mass:
The bishop says the absolution, using the special form for Masses at which the Apostolic Blessing is imparted:
May blessed Mary, ever virgin,
the holy apostles Peter and Paul,
and all the saints
assist you with their merits and prayers.
May the almighty and merciful Lord forgive you
and free you from all your sins.
May he help you persevere in fruitful penance,
good example, and sincere charity,
and lead you to everlasting life.
The people answer:
Then, at the conclusion of the Mass, after the closing prayer, and in place of the usual blessing, the following is said (involving also the deacon):
The deacon next announces the Apostolic Blessing with the following words:
The Most Reverend Father, NAME, by the grace of God and the Apostolic See, Bishop of this holy Church of DIOCESE, will give the Apostolic Blessing with a Plenary Indulgence in the name of the Roman Pontiff, to all present who are truly penitent and have confessed their sins and received Holy Communion.
Pray to God for our Holy Father, Pope NAME, for our Bishop, NAME, and for holy Mother Church and strive, by holiness of life, to walk in full communion with it.
Facing the people, the bishop extends his hands and sings or says:
The Lord be with you.
The people answer:
And with your spirit.
The deacon invites all present:
Bow down for the blessing.
Then the bishop sings or says a solemn blessing over the people from the Roman Missal, concluding with the Apostolic Blessing:
Through the intercession
of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul
may almighty God bless you,
+ the Father, + and the Son, and + the Holy Spirit.
The people acclaim:
Mass then concludes with the usual dismissal.
The blessing is very beautiful, and moving, as one expects a blessing given in the name of the Pope to be, knowing the great spiritual benefit attached to it by the Church.
Read about plenary indulgences at this page.
I have the impression that few Bishops take advantage of the privilege of imparting the Apostolic Blessing on three solemn occasions per year. Do you recall any times when your bishop used it at an event you attended?
Source for the above liturgical texts: Ceremonial of Bishops