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The Custom of Chalking Doors

There is a Catholic small-“t” tradition of chalking doors wherein a priest or head of the family marks the doors with chalk using the following formula. First two digits of the year + “C” + “M” + “B” + last two digits of the year. For example: 20 + C + M + B + 20

This practice is usually done during the feast of the Epiphany, which coincided the visit of the Magi. In that context, the letters represent the first letters of the small-“t” traditional names of the three wise men: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. On a more spiritual level, the plus signs, are actually crosses, and the letters abbreviate the Latin prayer, “Christus Mansionem Benedicat” (Christ, bless this house.) Together with the numbers, it is an inscription requesting Christ to bless the marked house, and all who dwell within, throughout the year. It reminds us of the original Passover where houses marked with blood of the lamb were kept safe from the last plague.

If this is something you’d like to do this Epiphany, the head of families can mark the door and pray:

May all who come to our home this year rejoice to find Christ living among us; and may we seek and serve, in everyone we meet, that same Jesus who is your incarnate Word, now and forever. Amen.

God of heaven and earth, you revealed your only-begotten One to every nation by the guidance of a star. Bless this house and all who inhabit it. Fill us with the light of Christ, that our concern for others may reflect your love. We ask this through Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Loving God, bless this household. May we be blessed with health, goodness of heart, gentleness, and abiding in your will. We ask this through Christ our Saviour. Amen.


Learn more about Mary in the book A Sky Full of Stars, where each title of the Litany is explained to understand Mary. Readers in the Philippines may get the paperback version here. Those in the USA can get the Kindle or paperback version here. Those in other countries can check the closest country where it is available here.

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Posted by Joby Provido

Joby finished Theology courses from the University of Notre Dame. He is a contributing writer at www.catholic365.com, and teaches in the De La Salle College of St. Benilde where he engages students in conversations about religion, pop-culture, and food.

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