Can. 1205 Sacred places are those which are assigned to divine worship or to the burial
of the faithful by the dedication or blessing which the liturgical books prescribe for
Can. 1206 The dedication of a place belongs to the diocesan Bishop and to those
equivalent to him in law. For a dedication in their own territory they can depute any
Bishop or, in exceptional cases, a priest.
Can. 1207 Sacred places are blessed by the Ordinary, but the blessing of churches is
reserved to the diocesan Bishop. Both may, however, delegate another priest for the
Can. 1208 A document is to be drawn up to record the dedication or blessing of a
church, or the blessing of a cemetery. One copy is to be kept in the diocesan curia, the
other in the archive of the church.
Can. 1209 The dedication or the blessing of a place is sufficiently established even by
a single unexceptionable witness, provided no one is harmed thereby.
Can. 1210 In a sacred place only those things are to be permitted which serve to
exercise or promote worship, piety and religion. Anything out of harmony with the holiness
of the place is forbidden. The Ordinary may however, for individual cases, permit other
uses, provided they are not contrary to the sacred character of the place.
Can. 1211 Sacred places are desecrated by acts done in them which are gravely injurious
and give scandal to the faithful when, in the judgement of the local Ordinary, these acts
are so serious and so contrary to the sacred character of the place that worship may not
be held there until the harm is repaired by means of the penitential rite which is
prescribed in the liturgical books.
Can. 1212 Sacred places lose their dedication or blessing if they have been in great
measure destroyed, or if they have been permanently made over to secular usage, whether by
decree of the competent Ordinary or simply in fact.
Can. 1213 Ecclesiastical authority freely exercises its powers and functions in sacred
Can. 1214 The term church means a sacred building intended for divine worship, to which
the faithful have right of access for the exercise, especially the public exercise, of
Can. 1215 ß1 No church is to be built without the express and written consent of the
ß2 The diocesan Bishop is not to give his consent until he has consulted the council
of priests and the rectors of neighbouring churches, and then decides that the new church
can serve the good of souls and that the necessary means will be available to build the
church and to provide for divine worship.
ß3 Even though they have received the diocesan Bishop's consent to establish a new
house in a diocese or city, religious institutes must obtain the same Bishop's permission
before they may build a church in a specific and determined place.
Can. 1216 In the building and restoration of churches the advice of experts is to be
used, and the principles and norms of liturgy and of sacred art are to be observed.
Can. 1217 ß1 As soon as possible after completion of the building the new church is to
be dedicated or at least blessed, following the laws of the sacred liturgy.
ß2 Churches, especially cathedrals and parish churches, are to be dedicated by a
Can. 1218 Each church is to have its own title. Once the church has been dedicated this
title cannot be changed.
Can. 1219 All acts of divine worship may be carried out in a church which has been
lawfully dedicated or blessed, without prejudice to parochial rights.
Can. 1220 ß1 Those responsible are to ensure that there is in churches such
cleanliness and ornamentation as befits the house of God, and that anything which is
discordant with the sacred character of the place is excluded.
ß2 Ordinary concern for preservation and appropriate means of security are to be
employed to safeguard sacred and precious goods.
Can. 1221 Entry to a church at the hours of sacred functions is to be open and free of
Can. 1222 ß1 If a church cannot in any way be used for divine worship and there is no
possibility of its being restored, the diocesan Bishop may allow it to be used for some
secular but not unbecoming purpose.
ß2 Where other grave reasons suggest that a particular church should no longer be used
for divine worship, the diocesan Bishop may allow it to be used for a secular but not
unbecoming purpose. Before doing so, he must consult the council of priests; he must also
have the consent of those who could lawfully claim rights over that church, and be sure
that the good of souls would not be harmed by the transfer.
Can. 1223 An oratory means a place which, by permission of the Ordinary, is set aside
for divine worship, for the convenience of some community or group of the faithful who
assemble there, to which however other members of the faithful may, with the consent of
the competent Superior, have access.
Can. 1224 ß1 The Ordinary is not to give the permission required for setting up an
oratory unless he has first, personally or through another, inspected the place destined
for the oratory and found it to be becomingly arranged.
ß2 Once this permission has been given, the oratory cannot be converted to a secular
usage without the authority of the same Ordinary.
Can. 1225 All sacred services may be celebrated in a lawfully constituted oratory,
apart from those which are excluded by the law, by a provision of the local Ordinary, or
by liturgical laws.
Can. 1226 The term private chapel means a place which, by permission of the local
Ordinary, is set aside for divine worship, for the convenience of one or more individuals.
Can. 1227 Bishops can set up for their own use a private chapel which enjoys the same
rights as an oratory.
Can. 1228 Without prejudice to the provision of Can. 1227, the permission of the local
Ordinary is required for the celebration of Mass and of other sacred functions in any
Can. 1229 It is appropriate that oratories and private chapels be blessed according to
the rite prescribed in the liturgical books. They must, however, be reserved for divine
worship only and be freed from all domestic use.
Can. 1230 The term shrine means a church or other sacred place which, with the approval
of the local Ordinary, is by reason of special devotion frequented by the faithful as
Can. 1231 For a shrine to be described as national, the approval of the Episcopal
Conference is necessary. For it to be described as international, the approval of the Holy
See is required.
Can. 1232 ß1 The local Ordinary is competent to approve the statutes of a diocesan
shrine; the Episcopal Conference, those of a national shrine; the Holy See alone, those of
an international shrine.
ß2 The statutes of a shrine are to determine principally its purpose, the authority of
the rector, and the ownership and administration of its property.
Can. 1233 Certain privileges may be granted to shrines when the local circumstances,
the number of pilgrims and especially the good of the faithful would seem to make this
Can. 1234 ß1 At shrines the means of salvation are to be more abundantly made
available to the faithful: by sedulous proclamation of the word of God, by suitable
encouragement of liturgical life, especially by the celebration of the Eucharist and
penance, and by the fostering of approved forms of popular devotion.
ß2 In shrines or in places adjacent to them, votive offerings of popular art and
devotion are to be displayed and carefully safeguarded.
Can. 1235 ß1 The altar or table on which the eucharistic Sacrifice is celebrated is
termed fixed if it is so constructed that it is attached to the floor and therefore cannot
be moved; it is termed movable, if it can be removed.
ß2 It is proper that in every church there should be a fixed altar. In other places
which are intended for the celebration of sacred functions, the altar may be either fixed
Can. 1236 ß1 In accordance with the traditional practice of the Church, the table of a
fixed altar is to be of stone, indeed of a single natural stone. However, even some other
worthy and solid material may be used, if the Episcopal Conference so judges. The support
or the base can be made from any material.
ß2 A movable altar can be made of any solid material which is suitable for liturgical
Can. 1237 ß1 Fixed altars are to be dedicated, movable ones either dedicated or
blessed, according to the rites prescribed in the liturgical books.
ß2 The ancient tradition of placing relics of Martyrs or of other Saints within a
fixed altar is to be retained, in accordance with the rites prescribed in the liturgical
Can. 1238 ß1 An altar loses its dedication or blessing in accordance with Can. 1212.
ß2 Altars, whether fixed or movable, do not lose their dedication or blessing as a
result of a church or other sacred place being made over to secular usage.
Can. 1239 ß1 An altar, whether fixed or movable, is to be reserved for divine worship
alone, to the exclusion of any secular usage.
ß2 No corpse is to be buried beneath an altar; otherwise, it is not lawful to
celebrate Mass at that altar.
Can. 1240 ß1 Where possible, the Church is to have its own cemeteries, or at least an
area in public cemeteries which is duly blessed and reserved for the deceased faithful.
ß2 If, however, this is not possible, then individual graves are to be blessed in due
form on each occasion.
Can. 1241 ß1 Parishes and religious institutes may each have their own cemetery.
ß2 Other juridical persons or families may each have their own special cemetery or
burial place which, if the local Ordinary judges accordingly, is to be blessed.
Can. 1242 Bodies are not to be buried in churches, unless it is a question of the Roman
Pontiff or of Cardinals or, in their proper Churches, of diocesan Bishops even retired.
Can. 1243 Appropriate norms are to be enacted by particular law for the management of
cemeteries, especially in what concerns the protection and the fostering of their sacred
Can. 1244 ß1 Only the supreme ecclesiastical authority can establish, transfer or
suppress holydays or days of penance which are applicable to the universal Church, without
prejudice to the provisions of Can. 1246 ß2.
ß2 Diocesan Bishops can proclaim special holydays or days of penance for their own
dioceses or territories, but only for individual occasions.
Can. 1245 Without prejudice to the right of diocesan Bishops as in Can. 87, a parish
priest, in individual cases, for a just reason and in accordance with the prescriptions of
the diocesan Bishop, can give a dispensation from the obligation of observing a holyday or
day of penance, or commute the obligation into some other pious works. The Superior of a
pontifical clerical religious institute or society of apostolic life has the same power in
respect of his own subjects and of those who reside day and night in a house of the
institute or society.
Can. 1246 ß1 The Lord's Day, on which the paschal mystery is celebrated, is by
apostolic tradition to be observed in the universal Church as the primary holyday of
obligation. In the same way the following holydays are to be observed: the Nativity of Our
Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension of Christ, the feast of the Body and Blood
of Christ, the feast of Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption,
the feast of St Joseph, the feast of the Apostles SS Peter and Paul, and the feast of All
ß2 However, the Episcopal Conference may, with the prior approval of the Apostolic
See, suppress certain holydays of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday.
Can. 1247 On Sundays and other holydays of obligation, the faithful are obliged to
assist at Mass. They are also to abstain from such work or business that would inhibit the
worship to be given to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, or the due relaxation of
mind and body.
Can. 1248 ß1 The obligation of assisting at Mass is satisfied wherever Mass is
celebrated in a catholic rite either on a holyday itself or on the evening of the previous
ß2 If it is impossible to assist at a eucharistic celebration, either because no
sacred minister is available or for some other grave reason, the faithful are strongly
recommended to take part in a liturgy of the Word, if there be such in the parish church
or some other sacred place, which is celebrated in accordance with the provisions laid
down by the diocesan Bishop; or to spend an appropriate time in prayer, whether personally
or as a family or, as occasion presents, in a group of families.
Can. 1249 All Christ's faithful are obliged by divine law, each in his or her own way,
to do penance. However, so that all may be joined together in a certain common practice of
penance, days of penance are prescribed. On these days the faithful are in a special
manner to devote themselves to prayer, to engage in works of piety and charity, and to
deny themselves, by fulfilling their obligations more faithfully and especially by
observing the fast and abstinence which the following canons prescribe.
Can. 1250 The days and times of penance for the universal Church are each Friday of the
whole year and the season of Lent.
Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal
Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday.
Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Can. 1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year.
The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of
their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by
reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the
true meaning of penance.
Can. 1253 The Episcopal Conference can determine more particular ways in which fasting
and abstinence are to be observed. In place of abstinence or fasting it can substitute, in
whole or in part, other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of