CONSECRATION, the total dedication of persons and things to the exclusive service of God. In Judaism, temples, priests, vessels, and other objects were set apart in solemn ceremonies for sacred purposes. After their exodus from Egypt, the Israelites consecrated all first-born male children to the service of God, and later redeemed them (Ex. 13; Nm. 13), and all first-born male beasts were offered as
sacrifice. The tabernacle and its instruments and vessels were also sanctified (Nm. 7), as was the first temple (1 Kgs. 7, 8), the second
temple (Ezr. 6), and the wall of Jerusalem (Neh. 12).
Churches have always been consecrated as places of Christian worship. In Egypt, as a result of the successive waves of persecution
that restricted Christian worship to private houses and hiding places, the first church since Saint Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria was built
by Pope THEONAS (282-300), the sixteenth pope of Alexandria and patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary by the name of The Church of the Mother of God.
The Coptic church follows established rites for the consecration of patriarchs, bishops, priests, and deacons, and of churches, altars,
baptismal fonts, liturgical vessels, vestments, and icons. Ceremonies of consecration can be conducted only by bishops.
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