Unique Catholic Blessings of local Churches?
- La benedizione deglie serpe
In Aragona in southern Sicily on June 29, the Feast of St. Paul, they used to have a blessing for snakes. This benediction is no longer in use, but it reflects devotion to St. Paul as he was bitten by a viper while at Malta. This ritual was done away with just a few years ago.
If you find yourself in Aragona in southern Sicily on June 29, the feast of St. Paul. (If you decide to visit the church however, you no longer have to fear the ritual called La benedizione deglie serpe, whereby residents presented snakes to the priest for benediction. The ritual was done away with a few years ago. - Source
- Blessing of the Sword and Hat by the reigning pope on Christmas Eve
The tradition of distributing blessed swords and hats by the popes is not as old as that of another papal gift, the golden rose, but it does date back at least as far back as the 14th century. The earliest recipient of a pontifical sword and hat who is known for certain was Fortiguerra Fortiguerri, a gonfaloniere of the Republic of Lucca, who received it from Pope Urban VI in 1386.
Popes used to bless the sword and the hat on every Christmas Eve. The blessing took place just before the matins in a simple ceremony conducted by the pope either in one of the private chapels of the papal palace or in the sacristy of St. Peter's Basilica. The pope, vested in an alb, amice, cincture and white stole, blessed both items held before him by a kneeling chamberlain by reciting a short prayer, the earliest form of which is attributed to Sixtus IV (r. 1471–1481). Then, the pope sprinkled the sword and hat with holy water and incensed them thrice before putting on a cappa, a long train of crimson silk, and proceeding to the basilica.
If the person whom the pope intended to award with the blessed sword and hat was present, he was invested with them immediately. Dressed in a surplice over his secular robes, the recipient was brought before the pope, who addressed him with Sixtus IV's brief Solent Romani pontifices, explaining the symbolism of the gift. It ended with the following words:
"[...] we appoint you, holy prince, as another sword of the Holy See, which has, we declare by this fine gift, a most devout son in you, and also by this hat we declare that you are a fortification and bulwark to protect the holy Roman Church against the enemies of the Faith. Therefore, may your hand remain firm against the enemies of the Holy See and of the name of Christ, and may your right hand be lifted up, intrepid warrior, as you remove them from the earth, and may your head be protected against them by the Holy Spirit, symbolized by the pearly dove, in those things deemed worthy by the Son of God, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Amen."
Blessed sword and hat
The last gift of a pope awarding a blessed sword and hat was in 1823 by Pope Leo XII to Louis Antoine, duke of Angoulême.