Epiphany Chalk

Source: SSPX Ireland

Within the octave of the feast of the Epiphany, Christians have been chalking in inscriptions above their entrances with the letters "C" "M" and "B" and bookended by the current year. What is the meaning of this custom?

The letters have two meanings. They are the initials of the traditional names of the Three Magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. They also abbreviate the Latin words “Christus mansionem benedicat.” “May Christ bless the house.” The letters recall the day on which the inscription is made, as well as the purpose of blessing.

The crosses represent the protection of the Precious Blood of Christ, whom we invoke, and the holiness of the Three Magi sanctified by their adoration of the Infant Christ. The inscription is made above the front door, so that all who enter and depart this year may enjoy God’s blessing. The month of January still bears the name of the Roman god Janus, the doorkeeper of heaven and protector of the beginning and end of things. This blessing “christens” the ancient Roman observance of the first month. The inscription is made of chalk, a product of clay, which recalls the human nature taken by the Adorable and Eternal Word of God in the womb of the Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

To bless your home this Epiphany, read the Prologue of St. John’s Gospel (i.e.,the Last Gospel used at Mass), followed by the Our Father, and the Collect of the Epiphany; then write the inscription for this year above your front door with blessed chalk.

The lintel of the main door of the house (and other doors if desired) is marked by a senior member of the household (usually the father) in the following way:

20 + C + M + B + 17