Media covering the installation of Archbishop Timothy Dolan as the new Archbishop of New York are captivated by the custom which will have the new leader knock on the door of St. Patrick’s Cathedral to announce his arrival at the Vespers welcome ceremony April 14.
No one, however, seems sure of the origins of the rite. It’s not part of the official liturgical rite for the installation of a bishop, but lots of people recall its being done before.
Research finds that knocking three times was part of the old rite for the consecration of a church. That rite called for the bishop to knock on the door three times with the base of his crozier as a sign of taking claim of the church. At the cathedral, home of the bishop’s (cathedra) chair, the prelate is laying claim to the church from which he leads his diocese.
News reports say the knock in 2002 at Milwaukee’s Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist was loud and clear when Archbishop Dolan took the helm there. The strong, heavy doors of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, will really call for a hearty oomph for the sound is to be heard inside.