I Shall Make Jerusalem of Precious Stones: A Sermon for All Saints

We herewith offer our readers a translation of Honorius Augustodunensis’ sermon on the upcoming feast of All Saints, as it appears in his Speculum Ecclesiae. Please find the text below, or


The heavens shall confess thy wonders, O Lord: and thy truth in the church of the saints.1 The heavens daily display God’s wonders, lighting the earth through the sun, moon, and stars. The assembly of the saints praises his truth when the congregation of the just gives thanks for all things, made through Christ, who is the Truth. The heavens shall confess God’s wonders when, along with the stars and every creature, they are changed in incomparable splendour. Then shall the assembly of the saints praise God’s truth since the generation of the righteous shall be blessed2 by Christ in the Last Judgment. The heavens declare God’s wonders because the angels, in whom God dwells, unendingly jubilate God’s mighty deeds. His truth the assembly of saints confesses, because the gathering of the blessed in the Heavenly Jerusalem raises a perpetual hymn to Christ’s good works. And so, my best beloved, as we celebrate today the Solemnity of All Saints, let the hearts and mouths of this congregation sing together with the angels Christ, God’s truth, and let us magnify his saints with worthy laudations, so that aided by their merits we may rejoice eternally in the joy of the Lord.

In the first place let us magnify the Lord our Lofty God in the voice of exultation and jubilation,3 because in his majesty he built the whole world, which the angelic symphony, whose praise is sweet to the assembly of the saints,4 jubilates without end. Let us devoutly call to mind the Trinity’s unity, and humbly adore the Unity’s trinity, by which the worshipful angels are elevated, and lowly man is raised up to heavenly things. Again today we must praise the Holy of Holies in his Hallows, whose holiness sanctifies the faithful people, rewards them with eternal life, and blesses them with glory everlasting.

Next let us praise the Glorious and Ever-virgin Mary, Mother of God with our highest praises, for she restored a fallen world to life, she is the Queen of Heaven honoured by all the angels, she the Mistress of the World venerated by all the saints. On this day let us jubilate a sweet harmony to Mary as the gate of life, who opened the way to us to eternal life.

Next we must glorify the awesome nine-fold ranks of blessed spirits, who have been imprinted with the stamp of God’s likeness, and who enjoy the full and happy glory of supreme blessedness. These are worthy to look always upon the face of the Father, and because the sun and moon marvel at his beauty, they gaze into him unceasingly. Three of them, to wit Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael designate the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost in their names. The others express the Holy Trinity in their three by threefold number. If we give worship to them by joining their praises through noble living, we shall surely be made equal to them in true life, joining their hymn to the Lord with all the saints.

Then in hymns today it is meet to praise the humans who are the angels’ fellow citizens,5 those who are already friends of the angels in the heavens, who praise the Great God along with them, as we aver. Of their number let the files of patriarchs be mentioned first in our praises, them from whose seed sprung Christ the glory of all the saints and the joy and happiness of the angels. They prefigured Christ and his Church in types and acted out, as it were, the mysteries of the Church with their very lives and works. For Adam is created from the clean earth, and from his side the woman is formed; in this he is a type of Christ, who is conceived of a chaste maiden, from whose side the Church is built. The other twelve chief patriarchs foreshadow the Apostolic Senate. By them, to wit through Seth, Enoch, Noe, Melchisedech, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Job, Samuel, and David, who are mentioned by name,6 the faithful before the Law were propped up as it were on sturdy columns.

Thereafter we must recall the prophets and loudly herald their names, for they foretold Christ’s mysteries as present realities, and in their own passions glorified Christ’s coming Passion for the sake of the world. Among whom Elias and Eliseus foretoken Christ, the former by raising the dead, the latter by entering heaven still living. Four outstanding prophets, namely Isaias, Jeremias, Ezechiel, and Daniel, prefigure the four evangelists by filling the four corners of the world with their reams of writings. The other twelve, to wit Osee, Joel, Amos, Abdias, Jonas, Micheas, Nahum, Habacuc, Sophonias, Aggeus, Zacharias, and Malachias, expressed the twelve apostles when in their writings and example they instructed the people under the Law with a view toward eternal life. John the Baptist, the greatest among them that are born of women,7 shone brightest among the prophets, when anticipating the true Sun like the Day-star he heralded the everlasting Day. He was worthy to point out the Lamb of the Father who would take away the sins of the world, and to plunge him under the waters whose coming the choir of prophets prophesied of old.

Now, dearly beloved, let us with a sweet melody resound the preachers of the new grace, the heralds of eternal life, judges of the world, and princes of the churches: I speak of the apostles and evangelists. Let us celebrate with utmost devotion those who were worthy to see the Word, coëternal with the Father,8 incarnate for our sake, with their own eyes, to touch him with their hands, hear him with their ears,9 learn from his own mouth the secrets of the Father, see him who was God himself, climb up to the Father’s throne, and speak all manner of tongues through the Holy Ghost, who adorned the Church, Christ’s bride, as it were with jewels and necklaces by their miracles and writings, washed her with their own blood, placed her upon the skiff of the Holy Rood and like strong sailors brought her in through the billows of this world to the harbour of life and like Thereafter the four evangelists drove her like a chariot with their teaching from the four corners of the world to the heavenly palace. Among them Peter was crucified for Christ in Italy, Andrew condemned to the gibbet in Achæa, John was plunged into a cauldron of burning oil in Rome, James was slain by the sword in Judæa, Thomas was pierced with a spear in India, Bartholomew was flayed and beheaded in western India, Philip was stoned to death while crucified in Asia, James was killed with a lance in Jerusalem after being flung down from the Temple, Simon and Jude were put to death in Persia, Matthew was dispatched to the stars by the sword in Ethiopia and Matthias in Judæa by the blade. Paul withal, who toiled more than all of them,10 did not hesitate to stick his neck out for Christ in Rome.

They, friends of the Great God, these supreme emperors and glorious senators, now proudly triumph in the angelic court. By their verdict, those who imitate and truly praise them are assigned to revel in the lot of the just.

After them we must praise the choir of martyrs, by whose entreaties the world seated in wickedness11 shall be saved. These worthy soldiers of the eternal King shed their blood fighting for their donative,12 and, having obtained victory over their enemies, have merited a triumph in the heavens wearing a green garland crown. Of their ranks, their standard-bearer Stephen was stoned, his attendant Laurence was roasted alive, George was butchered on the wheel, Maurice was pierced by the sword, and today13 Cæsarius was cast into the sea. Others suffered various torments, some stabbed by the blade, others suffocated by the noose, the flames, or the waves, others torn apart by wild beasts, others killed by hunger, by scourges, or the precipice. They were all in divers ways made a mockery to the world,14 but now clothed with white robes in sight of the Lamb15and bearing palms they have merited to become messmates with the angels. Let us give them praises that we might someday be made worthy to march alongside them under the Lamb through praise.

Thence let us extol the Church’s lamps, namely the confessors, illustrious painters of God’s house. Let us proclaim with befitting praise the merits of those who watered the entire Church with the streams of Scripture and adorned her with extraordinary miracles and good examples. Among them Martin, Nicholas, Remigius, Ulrich,16 and many others shone with glorious miracles as lights to the world. Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, Gregory, and many others watered God’s garden like the four rivers of paradise with their copious writings, and gladdened the city of God with the streamof their preaching. Because they watchfully awaited our Lord’s return from the wedding,17 they have merited to be placed over all his goods in the joy of the Lord.18

To theirs we join praises for the band of monks and hermits, who crucified their flesh with the vices and concupiscences,19 and therefore as joint heirs with Christ20 have already received a hundredfold.21 The world detested their way of life, and recoiling in horror from them, spewed them out like a filthy refuse. And they enlightened the world with their life and deeds and withdrew from it with their whole heart and soul. Fleeing the company of men, they dwelt together with beasts in solitude and so were worthy to enjoy the sight and conversation of the angels. Among them Benedict shone foremost with wondrous miracles and prodigies like with a volcanic radiance, and leading the way before us with his marvellous teaching, he nobly proffered light g to those hastening on the way to eternal life. Among their college Anthony, Pachomius, Hilarion, Macharius, and numberless others shone like stars in the dark night of this world by their miracles and examples of holy life, and dragged many who imitated them from the shipwreck of this age to the true light. Since they were once held in derision and in reproach, their life was thought madness, and their end extinction, lo! they are now reckoned among the sons of God.22

Next it is meet that we turn our melodies to the sparkling white virgins and sound their praises with loud voices. They vanquished the world and their sex, spurned fleshly allurements and earthly pomps, contemned the threats and bribes of tyrants, and by divers torments attained the embrace of their Bridegroom they had yearned for so long. And so now they follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth23andsing a new song no one else can sing. Among them Thecla was exposed to the beasts and tortured with fire, Agatha had her breasts severed and was rolled upon burning sherds, Agnes was thrust into the flames and then stabbed in the throat, Cæcilia was put in a boiling bath and then slain by the sword, Margaret was torn apart by sundry torments, and Lucy was put into a bonfire and killed by the blade. Other numberless virgins were tortured and, meeting similar fates, went forth to Christ the Son of the Virgin. Others still joined them through pious meditation and thus reached his Virgin Mother. Because they met their coming Bridegroom with lighted lamps,24 they shall go with him to the wedding. To their praises we join the widows, who for Christ’s sake did not remarry. Among them Felicity offered herself as a living sacrifice with her seven sons, Symphorosa gave herself up as a victim for Christ with as many sons, and Theodota merited to be immolated for Christ with her three sons, as did Sophia with her three daughters. Thus many others attained the kingdom of heaven by being afflicted with divers torments. Others still zealously keeping continence with pious works now rejoice with the prudent virgins.

Let us now loose our tongues to ring out for the married and render due honour to those by whose procreation the world is repaired and who serve Christ daily in his members. Among them Hadrian suffered death for Christ at the exhortation of his wife, Marcellian and Mark forsook their wives at the instigation of Sebastian and offered themselves up to the judge, and Eustace underwent death today with his wife and sons.25 Yet numberless others obtained incomparable riches26 for their good works.

With them let us praise the penitents who zealously follow the examples of those who redeemed their sins with alms27and covered their past trespasses with later good works. Among them he who was deceived by the beauty of a nun but got back the letter he had handed to the devil through Basil; Theophilus, who became an apostate through ambition, but as a penitent got back through God’s mother the contract he had made with the devil through God’s mother; Mary of Egypt, Pelagia, Thaïs,28 and the hermit’s sister,29 once living in the squalor of prostitution, through penance became Christ’s passionate lovers. And many others without number were granted the gift of life when they did penance.

Let us conclude by adding to our praises all the faithful people, and try to be one of their number, who cleaved to the Church through faith as limbs to a body and through good works now have reached Christ the Head. Among them many soldiers shed their own blood regularly fighting in defence of Mother Church, many farmers wear out their bodies in the effort to feed her, numerous women are steadfast in chastity, and so many children flourish by honouring their parents. Since the impious taunted them as they travailed in the Lord’s vineyard, now they revel in God’s praise in their rest.

All of them adorned God’s garden like so many flowers, and transpired the odour of eternal life in their words and deeds. Hence when Isaac blessed Jacob, he said these words: Behold the smell of my son is as the smell of a plentiful field, which the Lord hath blessed.30Isaac blessed Jacob because Christ assigned a blessing to the faithful. The plentiful fieldis the whole world imbued with the odour of the saints. The divers flowers are the divers manners of life of the just. Among them the patriarchs blossomed in faith like daffodils, the prophets gleamed in hope like hyacinths, the apostles excelled in charity like branches of the true Vine sprouting the flower of the grape,31 the martyrs flushed like roses in their long-suffering, the confessors shone like crocuses in their wisdom, the virgins glimmered like lilies in their chastity, the monks sported the royal purple of humility like violets, and the married and other believers expressed by other flowers were radiant in their virtues. All of them rejoicing feast in the sight of God and are delighted in gladness.32 They no longer hunger or thirst,33 but abound in all manner of delights as their reward, and shall yet have a double joy when they shall in both body and soul see the King of glory in his beauty.34 Then, forsooth, they shall shine as the sun35 and be peers of the angels.36

If you wish, you can stop here. But if possible, add the following:

The Lord promises this happy union of angels and men in the prophetic words: Behold I shall make Jerusalem of precious stones.37 Jerusalem, which means vision of peace, is the joint dwelling of angels and men who behold Christ the true Peace face to face in the Father. It shall be made of precious stones because Jerusalem shall be built as a city38 out of the elect in their precious virtues. I will lay its stones in order.39 Jerusalem’s stones shall be laid in order when the elect are sorted into the angelic orders for their merits. Its walls of emeralds. Jerusalem’s emerald walls are the nine orders of angels, who continually flourish in their vision of God and glisten with everlasting glory. Its foundations of sapphires. The foundations of the Church were the patriarchs who founded her by prefiguring heavenly deeds, and hence shone like the sapphire in its heavenly colour. Its bulwarks of jasper. The prophets are the bulwarks of the Church, since their writings are safe defences against the demons and heretics. They were like verdant jaspers, when they lived a beautiful springtime through their faith. Its doors of graven stones. The doors are the apostles, through whose doctrine we enter the Church and at whose verdict we shall be admitted into glory. They are built of graven stones, because the apostle’s good examples, as it were sculpted in their writings and deeds, are represented to the faithful. All its borders of desirable stones. All the borders of the church are every people, every tongue, every nation, every station, every condition, every age, and every sex. They are made of desirable stones, because those suitable for God’s edifice are chosen from all of them. All thy children shall be taught of the Lord. All the Church’s children shall be taught by the Lord when they see all things in God in that future life. Nothing shall be hidden from them when they look upon God, in whom all things are contained. Great shall be the peace of thy children. In that place the Church’s children shall possess a great peace, since a torrent of peace from every sort of glory shall overflow upon them. Thou shalt be founded in justice. This city shall be founded in justice, since it shall be set in Christ, who shall justly remunerate the merits of each. I will make peace thy visitation.40 When Our Lord visits us here below, we are chastised for our sins; there, however, our visitation shall be an increase of peace. And thy overseers justice. When our ecclesiastical superiors here below justly evaluate our deeds, they rightly subject us to punishments; there, however, we shall be given justice when Christ who is Justice shall be given to us as our reward. Iniquity shall no more be heard in thy land, since there everlasting righteousness shall reign. There shall be no wasting nor destruction in thy borders, since there sweet consolation and charity abound. Salvation shall possess thy walls, and praise thy gates, since the angels and the saints admitted there by the apostles shall joyfully delight in their eternal salvation. Thou shalt no more have the sun for thy light by day, nor the brightness of the moon by night, but the Lord shall be unto thee for an everlasting light, and thy God for thy eternal glory. Thy sun shall go down no more, and thy moon shall not decrease, since the Lord shall be fixed as an everlasting light for you. And thy people shall be all just, they shall inherit the land for ever, where they shall have secure happiness and joy. The voice of weeping shall no more be heard in thee, nor shall the voice of crying be thine any longer, but rather the voice of salvation and exultation41 and the voice of songs of joy and delectation. Yea verily, the saints’ organs constantly resound in this city, and the company of angels jubilate a sweet never-ending hymn with delightful melody. This city is itself called The Lord, because there God shall be the same in all the elect. The angels remained in this glory through charity, and all the saints attain it through faith and good works. Neither of these can exist without the other; together they carry man to eternal life. For without faith it is impossible to please God,42 and faith without works is said to be dead.43 The Law was given to the people of God in two tablets, since man is saved by faith and works. In one tablet were contained three commandments relating to God, expressing the Trinitarian faith. In the other were promulgated seven commandments relating to one’s neighbour which taught good works.

We also read that Jacob married two sisters, and did service for seven years for each. He begot seven children from one and only two from the other. Jacob represents the faithful people who attain the inheritance of eternal life through two lives, namely the active and the contemplative. Lia, in sooth, is life in the world. She bore seven children as she strove to perform the seven works of the Gospel, to wit by feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, harbouring strangers, visiting the sick, and consoling the imprisoned and all in affliction. Jacob served seven years for this wife when the devout Jewish people strove to fulfil the seven precepts of the Law, namely to honour father and mother, to kill no one by hand or tongue, not to commit adultery, not to steal, not to give false testimony, not to desire another’s property, and not to take his wife or anything belonging to him. Rachel, now, is the spiritual life. She bore two sons when she continually endeavoured to read, pray, hear God’s word, or preach unto others.44 Israel laboured for her for seven years when the faithful people eagerly suffer the yoke of the seven evangelical works of mercy; when they strive to be poor in spirit, meek, mournful, thirsty for justice, merciful, pure in heart, and peacemakers.45

And that they might merit to flourish in these works, they are imbued with the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, and they pray to attain them by the seven petitions of the Lord’s prayer. For through the spirit of fear they are voluntarily poor that they might be able to be freed from evil and seize the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven. By the spirit of piety they are meek lest they be led into temptation and that they might be held worthy to possess the land of the living. By the spirit of knowledge they mourn for their neighbour’s infelicities and forgive those who trespass against them so their own trespasses might be absolved and they might be consoled by having their sadness turned into joy. By the spirit of fortitude they are afflicted with a hunger and thirst for justice, and hence they shall be nourished with the daily or supersubstantial bread. By the spirit of counsel they try to be merciful so that God’s will might be done on earth with men as it is in heaven with the angels, and so that they themselves might attain Christ, who is Mercy. By the spirit of understanding they are pure of heart so that God’s kingdom might come to them and they might see God face to face as he is. By the spirit of wisdom they are peacemakers so that the Father’s name might be hallowed in them, and they themselves might be called sons of God. And since in each of these things they suffer persecution for justice’s sake, they are allotted the kingdom of heaven as their birthright in the highest blessedness with the angels. And since men reproach and curse them, and lyingly say every evil of them for God’s name,46 they shall be blessed, since they shall have a rich reward in joy and exultation.

You must also know, my brethren, why this solemnity was instituted. There was in Rome an ancient temple called the Pantheon in honour of all the gods, nay, of all the demons. In May, Pope Boniface cleansed it of every idolatrous filth and dedicated it in honour of Mary, Mother of God, and all Martyrs. Originally the feast only commemorated Blessed Mary and the martyrs, but as time passed and the Christian religion grew, a solemnity for confessors was also instituted. Thus a certain Pope Gregory ordered a festivity in honour of all saints celebrated on this day, so that whatever human fragility neglected in the celebrations of the saints throughout the year could be absolved today by their merits.

And so, dearly beloved, ask for the merits and suffrages of all the saints today by praying to the Lord, and seek his face always47 by living well, and you shall find rest for your souls48 in everlasting glory. Invoke all saints in word and heart, commend yourselves to them with vows and praises, so that Christ, Saint of all saints, might absolve you of whatever you did against the Christian religion throughout the year by their intercession. And since the same Christ, King of glory, came to be made wonderful in all his saints,49 and made one commonweal of angels and men, by this union may you merit to reign together in the most illustrious palace of his kingdom, and to sing a never-ending Alleluia with all the choirs of angels and saints in the nuptial feast of the Bridegroom and bride, which eye hath not seen &c.50


NOTES:

1 Psalm 88:3

2 Psalm 111:2

3 Psalm 41:5

4 Psalm 149

5 Cf. Ephesians 2:19

6 He may be referring to a local Litany of the Saints that included these twelve names.

7 Matthew 1:11, Luke 7:28

8 Cf. John 1.

9 Cf. 1 John 1:1-3

10 1 Corinthians 15:10

11 1 John 5:19

12 In ancient Rome, a largesse given by the emperor to each soldier of the army, at his accession or majority, or other extraordinary occasion.

13 November 1 was also the feast of St. Cæsarius of Terracina.

14 1 Corinthians 4:9.

15 Apocalypse 7:19.

16 St. Ulrich, bishop of Augsburg (893 – 973). These four saints appear together in many German diocesan litanies. In place of Ulrich, other MSS read St. Rupert of Salzburg (660 -710), a bishop and abbot who was active in Regensburg and the area of Salzburg, where he is buried. Both were highly venerated in South Germany.

17 Cf. Matthew 25:21.

18 Matthew 24:47.

19 Galatians 5:24.

20 Romans 8:17.

21 Matthew 19:29.

22 Wisdom 5:3-5.

23 Apocalypse 14:4.

24 Cf. Matthew 25:1-13.

25 St. Eustace was commemorated on 1 November in Regensburg.

26 Cantus index 007141b.

27 Daniel 4:24.

28 St. Thais (4th century), an Alexandrian courtesan who repented and joined the nuns of the Egyptian desert.

29 From a story found in the Apophthegmata Patrum and notably represented in Hrotsvit’s play Abraham.

30 Genesis 27:27.

31 Cf. John 15.

32 Psalm 67:4.

33 Apocalypse 7:16.

34 Isaiah 33:17.

35 Matthew 13:43.

36 Cf. Luke 20:36.

37 Cf. Isaiah 54:11-12.

38 Psalm 121:3.

39 Isaiah 54:11.

40 Isaias 60:17.

41 Psalm 117:15.

42 Hebrews 11:6.

43 James 2:20.

44 In the context of the Gregorian Reform, Honorius argued that monks should maintain a pastoral and preaching rôle.

45 Cf. Matthew 5.

46 Matthew 5:11.

47 Psalm 104:4.

48 Matthew 11:29.

49 2 Thessalonians 1:10.

50 1 Cor 2:9. Honorius ends all sermons in this collection with an evocation of eternal glory, culminating invariably in this verse from St. Paul.

REPOST: The Greek Sequence of St Dionysius

Dionysius 7
Yves de Saint-Denis, Life and Martyrdom of St. Denis and His Companions Source: gallica.bnf.fr. Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Français 2090, fol. 107v.

As we saw on Friday, for centuries the Abbey of St-Denys used to celebrate the Octave Day of its patron with a Mass where all the sung portions were in Greek. The translation of the sequence Gaude prole Grecia, attributed to both King Robert the Pious and Adam of St-Victor, is especially remarkable for its successful effort to preserve the metrical structure needed to fit the text to the melody.

prose
Click here for the full sequence.

Beginning with the new Parisian missal promulgated by the Lord Archsbishop François de Harlay in 1684, the neo-Gallican liturgical books that festered in France during the Enlightenment Age altered this sequence to expunge any connection between St Dionysius the Areopagite and St Dionysius of Paris. The Abbey of St-Denys, however, remained firm in defending the Greek origins of its patron, and sung the original text until the Revolution.

 

Dionysius 3
Unknown Artist
Martyrdom of Saint Dionysius the Areopagite
fresco, Church of Saint Michael, Vithkuq (Albania), 1712
Ἑλλὰς, ἐν τέκνῳ χαῖρε·
Γαλλία περίσσευε
Ἐν πατρὶ Διονύσῳ.
Gaude prole Grecia,
Glorietur Gallia
Patre Dionysio.
Rejoice, O Greece, in thy progeny;
Glory, O Gaul
In thy father Dionysius.
Ἀγαλλιάσθω πλέον
Παρίσιος, εὐσχήμων
Ὁσίου τῷ θανάτῳ.
Exultet uberius
Felici Parisius
Illustris martyrio.
Exalt richly,
Lustrous Paris,
In the happy martyrdom.
Χαρὰν μέιζονα χαίρῃ
Εὐδάιμων συνουσίη
Μαρτύρων παρουσίᾳ.
Speciali gaudio
Gaude felix contio
Martyrum presentia.
With a special joy,
Rejoice, O happy assembly
In the presence of the martyrs.
Ἐφ’ ὧν συνηγορίῃ
Πᾶσα καυχᾶται χώρη,
Ἀρχῆς ἐστιν οὐσία.
Quorum patrocinio
Tota gaudet regio,
Regni stat potentia.
Of whose patronage
The whole realm rejoiceth,
And on whom its power is founded.
Πρὸς γονῆα κείμε νοι
Στρατιῶται δόκιμοι
Μνήμης λάχον ἄξια.
Iuxta Patrem positi,
Bellatores incliti
Digni sunt memoria.
Placed at the Father’s side,
These famous warriors,
Are worthy of remembrance.
Ἀλλὰ τουτονὶ πάντως
Σέβεται διηνεκῶς
Βασιλὶς Ἐκκλησία.
Sed illum precipue
Recolit assidue
Regalis ecclesia.
But him especially
Recalleth with devotion
The royal church.
Ἀπὸ τ’ Ἀρχιερέως
Πεμφθεὶς εὶς Γαλατίαν,
Ἀπίστου τοῦ ἔθνεος
Οὐ φοβεῖται μανίαν.
Hic a summo presule
Directus ad Galliam,
Non gentis incredule
Veretur insaniam.
He, by the supreme Bishop
Directed to Gaul,
Never feared the madness
Of an infidel race.
Ὁ Γάλλων Ἀπόστολος
Ἦλθεν εἰς Λουτηκίαν
Ἣν κατέσχε δόλιος
Ἐχθρὸς ὡς τὴν ἰδίαν.
Gallorum apostolus,
Venerat Lutetiam,
Quam tenebat subdolus
Hostis velut propriam.
The apostle of the Gauls
Came to Paris,
Whom the treacherous
Enemy held as his own.
Τὸν τοῦ Χριστοῦ ναὸν κτίζει,
Ἅπασιν εὐαγγελίζει,
Τοῖς σημείοις φανερός.
Hic constructo Christi templo,
Verbo docet et exemplo,
Coruscat miraculis.
Having built a temple to Christ,
He teacheth by word and deed,
He glittereth with miracles.
Ὄχλος πιστεῖ, πλάνη φεύγει,
Πίστις αὔξει, καὶ αὐγάζει
Τ’ οὔνομ’ Ἀρχιερέως.
Turba credit, error cedit,
Fides crescit, et clarescit
Nomen tanti presulis.
The multitude believeth, error recedeth,
Faith groweth, and gloweth
The name of such a great prelate.
Πυθόμενος δὲ μαίνεται
Δομίτιος, καὶ πέμπεται
Ἄφρονα Σισίννιον.
His auditis fit insanus
Immitis Domicianus,
Mittitque Sisinnium:
Hearing this, cruel
Domitian rages,
And sends Sisinnius.
Ὃς ἕλκει ποιμένα ψυχῶν,
Ζωῇ, τέρασιν ἔνδοξον,
Εἰς τὸ δεσμοτήριον.
Qui pastorem animarum,
Fide, vita, signis clarum
Trahat ad supplicium.
Who that pastor of souls,
So bright in faith, life, and miracles,
draggeth off to torture.
Πρεσβύτερος πάσχει δίκας,
Φυλακὴν, δεσμὰ, μάστιγας,
Καταστὴν, στρῶμα σιδηρὸν,
Νικᾷ καῦσον ἔμπυρον.
Infliguntur seni pene,
Flagra, carcer et catene;
Catastam, lectum ferreum,
Et estum vincit igneum.
Punishments are inflicted on the old man,
Scourges, prison, and chains;
He conquereth scaffold, rack,
And scorching flames.
Εὐχῇ δαμάζει θηρία,
Σταυρὸν ἔτλη, καὶ τὰ πῦρα,
Μετὰ πληγὰς ἐς σκοτεινὸν
Ἄγεται τὸ σπήλαιον.
Prece domat feras truces,
Sedat rogum, perfert cruces:
Per clavos et patibulum
Translatus ad ergastulum.
By prayer he tameth wild beasts,
Douseth pyres, and beareth crosses:
After nails and beams, he is
Transferred to hard labour.
Πρεσβυτέρου λειτουργοῦντος,
Τοῦ ὄχλου περιεστῶτος,
Χριστὸς ἦλθε, περιόντος
Οὐρανίης στρατίας.
Seniore celebrante
Missam, turba circumstante,
Christus adest, comitante
Celesti militia.
As the old man celebrateth mass,
As the multitude crowdeth around him,
Christ is present,
Attended by the heavenly host.
Ἄρτῳ ζωῆς δεδεσμένον
Ἐβόσκησε τὸν ἅγιον,
Δόξης κοινωνησόμενον
Ἐν πόλῳ ἀϊδίας.
Specu clausum carcerali
Consolatur, et uitali
Pane cibat, immortali
Coronandum gloria.
He consoleth him
Imprisoned in a dungeon,
Feedeth him with life-giving bread,
To crown him with life everlasting.
Ἴεται μαχησόμενος,
Ὑπὸ τὸ ξίφος ἄφοβος,
Ὁ μὲν παίων, ὁ δὲ νικῶν
Στεφανοῦται μαχάρᾳ.
Prodit Martyr conflicturus,
Sub securi stat securus:
Ferit lictor, sicque uictor
Consummatur gladio.
The martyr goeth forth to battle,
Under the falling axe he standeth fearless,
The lictor striketh, and thus the champion
is finished off by the sword.
Αὐτὸ νεκρὸν ἀνέστησε,
Κολοβὸς κεφαλὴν ᾖρε,
Ὅυ φερόντα προσήγαγε
Αγγέλων συνουσία.
Se cadaver mox erexit,
Truncus truncum caput vexit,
Quo ferentem huc direxit
Angelorum legio.
Anon the corpse ariseth,
Beheaded, he taketh his stricken head,
And bearing, goeth forth
Guided by a host of angels.
Ὅσιον τὸ πάθημα
Ὑμνῶμεν εἰς αἱῶνα.
Tam praeclara passio
Repleat nos gaudio.
Let such a glorious passion
Fill us with joy.
Ἀμήν. Ἀλληλούια.Amen. Alleluia.Amen. Alleluia.

Bidding Prayers from Mediæval Regensburg


When adoption of the Roman rite north of the Alps during the Carolingian period displaced the general intercessions that had been an ancient feature of the Gallican rite, it seems that various attempts were made to remedy their absence. In places, such as Milan, the people sang a vestigial Kyrie eleison before or even during the Creed.

By the 12th century, in Germany, the void had been filled by Leis or Credo-songs, often elaborate vernacular hymns with a refrain Kyrie eleison, sung during the Credo.

In France, however, a new ritual, called the prône (Latin pronaüm), developed out of a combination of the sermon and several additional elements that appeared in no particular order: an instruction on Christian doctrine, often on the Our Father and Creed as per Charlemagne’s orders, pious prayers and examinations of conscience, memorials of the dead, bidding prayers, announcements, and, by the 17th century, the vernacular repetition of the Epistle and Gospel. Templates for the prône appear in many ritual books and homilaries beginning in the Middle Ages, and collections of these intercessory prayers are some of the oldest monuments in the German language. In England too the bidding prayers were said in the vernacular on Sundays and feasts. These prayers concluded with song.

A whole architecture developed to house this miniature recapitulation of the Liturgy of the Catechumens. During the Middle Ages the prône was delivered from the rood loft (jubé in French), where the readings of the Epistle and Gospel also took place. In the Baroque era, when many rood screens were destroyed, elaborate preacher’s pulpits were erected with a bank of chairs facing it on the opposite side of the nave to seat the ministers. This “compromise” that the prône represented—a vernacular para-liturgy within the Latin whole—proved fruitful and longevitous. Because of its evocation of the most primitive early Christian arrangement of readings around a central choir, Louis Bouyer calls this era the golden age of Latin liturgy.

A view of the rood loft (jubé) of the church of Ste Madeleine in Troyes

Honorius Augustodunensis, likely writing in Regensburg, includes an early example of a prône in his sermon collection Speculum Ecclesiae, in the middle of the Christmas sermons. He says it is to be used “on the highest feasts.” Though written in Latin as a preaching guide for clerics, its text would have been delivered in the vernacular by the preacher who used it.

It is a remarkable hybrid of several elements:

I. A catechesis on the Our Father and Creed 
II. An examination of conscience followed by a general absolution
III. Bidding prayers
IV. A concluding exhortation and Kyrie eleison

The catechesis takes the form of a guided lesson. First the audience is asked to recite the Our Father, word by word, perhaps in order to memorize it; indeed he calls the Our Father “your prayer.” A line-by-line allegorical and numerological exposition of the prayer follows. His word choice may indicate a call-and-response technique, wherein the preacher invites the crowd to shout out (clamatis, dicitis, uociferamini) each successive line of the prayer before explaining it. His “ladder”’ analogy is at once homely and yet almost bold in its invitation to the laity to practice Christian perfection and contemplation. The seven petitions of the Our Father lead him into a discussion of the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, also based on the metaphor of the ladder 

This is followed by a paraphrase of the Apostles’ Creed. Although not a line-by-line exegesis like that of the Our Father, he does insist that the people should know it by heart, and use it to combat demons and temptations.

The examination of conscience is quite thorough. More than one sensitive copyist tried to scratch out one article referring to the sin of bestiality! His advice to seek out confession and penance suggests the coëxistence, in the early 12th century, of both public and private modes of penance, with grave public sins requiring a public 40-day penance and absolution. He seems to assume frequent confession, and communion more than once a year.

Having taught the faith and absolved their sins, the preacher leads the people in a set of bidding prayers that closely resemble the penitential preces of the Divine Office, the Great Intercessions of Good Friday, and Greek litanies. The response “Amen” is indicated; whether it was to be said by the preacher or people is unclear. 

The prône ends with the celebrant stirring up the crowd to raise the joyful cry Eia, and join their voices in a loud refrain of Kyrieleison.

The instruction gives the laity a wealth of material to meditate and pray on during the silent canon.

Honorius thus gives us a glimpse into the lively interior of a high Romanesque church. Inside we see a clergy who zealously and skillfully impart the doctrine of perfection, and a receptive and enthusiastic people who delight in allegory and loud, even rowdy acclamations of faith.

The prône continued to be said in French and German churches well into the 19th century, conserving the same general structure as found in Honorius’ example.

The text has been established based on the following MSS, and subdivided by the editors with Roman numerals.

A: Admont, Benediktinerstift, cod. 131
SG: St. Gall, Stiftsbibl. 1075
G: Göttweig, Benediktinerstift, Cod. 104
L: Lilienfeld, Stiftsarchiv und Stiftsbibliothek, HS 140

Read the English translation below or


I. On the Faith

A. On the Pater noster

On the Pater noster I

Say each word of the Pater noster with them from beginning to end. Then add:

Dearly beloved, God himself composed this prayer, and taught us to climb it like a ladder up to the joys of heaven. The sides of this ladder are the contemplative and active lives, into which the supreme Wisdom inserted seven rungs of petitions.

On the first rung you stand and cry out to heaven: Pater noster. Take heed, brethren, of what you say. You call God your Father. God did not wish that we call him Lord but Father, that you might consider that you are all brethren in him, and so love each other as brethren, and as a reward for this love, become heirs of his kingdom. If God is your Father, then you are brethren in Jesus Christ who is the Son of God. And if, like sons, you do deeds that please your Father, you shall doubtlessly receive your inheritance from God along with Jesus. 

Then you say: qui es in celis. Although God is everywhere, nevertheless he dwells more intimately in the saints, who are called “heaven,” since his grace enlightens them more brightly. These words admonish you to pray that you yourselves might become heavens, wherein God may be pleased to dwell.

Thereafter you say: Sanctificetur nomen tuum. God’s name was always hallowed. You ask that the name “our Father” be so hallowed in yourselves that through your good works you might be worthy to be called his sons. For you are called Christians after Christ, and you beg that you might become one body in Christ, so that you might secure hallowdom with him in his kingdom.

Whence, standing on the second rung, you say: Adueniat regnum tuum. That is, may God be pleased to reign in you through grace, and make you worthy of his kingdom.

Then you brace your foot on the third rung and say: Fiat uoluntas tua sicut in celo et in terra. That is, just as he is well pleased in heaven in the angels who never sinned, thus may he also be pleased on earth, and make us equal to the angels as he promised. “Heaven” is also understood to mean the just, and “earth” sinners. You therefore ask God that, just as he is well-disposed toward the just, thus may be pleased in you after turning you away from evil to justice. These three steps pertain to God; the following four pertain to the world. In these three steps you ask for heavenly things; in the four for temporal things.

Hence you climb to the fourth rung and cry out: Panem nostrum cottidianum da nobis hodie. Daily bread is human victual. Hence you ask God that, avoiding sin, you might daily obtain from him that temporal substance without which fragile humanity cannot survive. “Bread” also means Christ’s body. And so you pray that you might be ever worthy of his body, and that you might worthily receive it, if not by your own mouth, at least by the mouth of priests. “Bread” also refers to spiritual doctrine, without which the soul can no more live than a body without bodily nourishment. Therefore you ask God to dole it to you daily, lest human fragility perish by hunger for the divine word on its way to the fatherland.  

Laying hold the fifth rung you say: Dimitte nobis debita nostra sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris. If you forgive those who sin against you, God shall forgive what you sin against him. If you do not pardon, neither shall God pardon you, and you curse yourselves with these words, since you ask God not to pardon you. But if you keep silent, you fail to say the Lord’s prayer, and so the Lord shall not hearken to you.

Poised on the sixth rung you exclaim: Et ne nos inducas in temptationem. God tempts no one, since he sees into the hearts of all. Each man is tempted by the devil, but no one is tempted save with God’s permission. And it is good for man to be tempted, if he be not overcome by consenting to sin. For when he vanquishes concupiscence, he shall receive the crown of life. And so you ask God never to permit you to be tempted by the devil such that you are overcome by sin through consent and delectation, and if you should consent, that you might soon regain your wits.

On the seventh rung you cry out: Sed libera nos a malo, that is from hell and all things that lead us to its devouring maw.

Best beloved, by this prayer, the world is reconciled to God, and our body is joined to our soul. For the prayer has seven petitions, divided into three and four parts. Three signifies the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and four the world, constituted of four elements, namely earth, water, air, and fire. Three refers to the soul, four to the body. The soul is irascibile, because it is outraged by evil. It is concupiscible, because it takes delight in good things. It is rational, because it discerns good from evil. And the body is composed of the four elements just mentioned. Man, therefore, who is a “little world,” is joined to God through this prayer.

On the Pater noster II

You must note, dearly beloved, that you begin this prayer from the summit of heaven, that is from God the Father, when you say Pater noster, and descend unto the depths of hell, when you conclude it saying libera nos a malo. The Son of God teaches us to begin this prayer from the Father because he descended from the highest heaven,[1] that is from the Father, to the world for our sake. Because, forsooth, we lay engulfed in the depths of sin, we must ascend this ladder in this order up to heaven. 

Pater noster, libera nos a malo, that is, from this place wherein we lie in the depths of hell. Ne nos inducas in temptationem, that is, do not allow us to commit a sin whereby we would rightly fall into hell. Domitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris, that is, disentangle us from that which leads to torment. Panem nostrum cottidianum da nobis hodie, that is, feed us with thy doctrine whereby we might know and be able to do good and avoid evil. These four petitions pertain to the active life; the three that follow to the contemplative life. The active life is loving your neighbours and serving Christ by giving alms to the poor and the wretched. You must pass thence to the contemplative life. The contemplative life is to trample on worldly matters for the love of God, to pray sedulously, often to take part in the divine services, and to gladly hearken to all godly things. Once in the contemplative life, you must seek the third heaven with Paul.[2] The first heaven means the Holy Ghost, the second the Son, and the third the Father. The three following verses refer to these things. 

Fiat uoluntas tua sicut in celo et in terra. That is, grant us to do thy will in the Holy Ghost, that you might make us like unto the angels in heaven. Adueniat regnum tuum. That is, make us fulfill what thy Son taught us, that we might be worthy to rejoice in thy Son’s kingdom. Coming then to the summit of the highest heaven, we cry out with a loud voice: Pater noster qui es celis, sanctificetur nomen tuum. That is, thou who madest the heavens through thy Son in the Holy Ghost, make us thy sons in faith and works, that thou mayest dwell in us and we might reign in thee. 

On the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost

The Prophet foresaw this ladder in the form of the Holy Ghost, dearly beloved, foretelling that through it Christ would come down to earth and we go up to heaven. The spirit of wisdom, quoth he, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness and the spirit of the fear of the Lord shall rest over him.[3] Behold, the Prophet began with wisdom, since he saw that Christ would come down to us from the highest heaven. He ended with fear, for he foreknew that through fear we would go from hell up to heaven. We therefore stand on the rung of fear, when we avoid sin for fear of hell. We pause on the rung of godliness, when we grow used to doing good. We set our foot on the rung of knowledge, when we pay God and man their dues. We plant our step on the rung of fortitude, when we do not deviate from the truth either in ease or hardships. We go up to the rung of counsel, if we strive to counsel others to do the good which we ourselves do not fear to do. We lay hold of the rung of understanding, if we turn our minds to seek heavenly and spiritual things. We finally ascend to the rung of wisdom, if, spurning worldly matters, we savour only the heavenly which are of God.[4] The sides of these latter are the two precepts of charity. No one can reach heaven unless he chooses to climb this ladder.

B. On the Creed

You have just said your prayer, dearly beloved: now your faith too you must say after me. A fish cannot live out of the water; and likewise no one can be saved without faith.

I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth and every creature. And I believe in his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and I believe in the Holy Ghost. I believe that these three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—are one true deity, which had no beginning and shall always be without end. I believe that the same Son of God was conceived of the Holy Ghost and born of the Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin. I believe that for our need he was seized, bound, mocked, scourged, crucified, and so died in his humanity, but not in his divinity. I believe that he was buried. I believe that his rational soul and the power of his divinity went down to hell and thence took up those who had done his will. 

I believe that he rose again from the dead on the third day, and after his resurrection ate and drank with his disciples to prove he had truly risen, and then on the fortieth day he went up to heaven as his disciples watched, and sits there now at the right hand of God the Father almighty, eternal and all-powerful as him. I believe that he shall come again to judge the living and the dead, each according to his works and according to his mercy. I believe in the holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, I believe in the communion of saints, I believe in the forgiveness of all sins for which I have done penance, confessed, and did not again repeat. I believe that with this same body wherein I appear today I must die, I must rise again, I must render to God an account of everything I have ever done, whether good or evil, and I shall then receive my dues according to how I shall be found in my last, and I believe in life everlasting. Amen.

Dearly beloved, by this faith shall we be saved. You must all know it, repeat it often, and teach it to the infants whom you raised from the baptismal fonts. This is your ensign of battle. When you wage war on the devil and the vices, they shall be struck with fear and flee from you in terror when they hear this sign. When you reach the top of the ladder of which we have spoken before and cry out this sign in heaven, it shall be recognized and forthwith shall the entry to heaven be opened to you to join your companions the angels and the saints.

II. General Confession and Absolution 

Brethren, I believe that you frequently confess to your priests, as is your duty. But since there are many sins which perhaps you do not recall, you must now say your confession after me, that you might receive absolution for them. Now say thus:

I renounce the devil and all his works, and all his pomps, and I confess to God almighty, and to Blessed Mary, and Saint Michael, and all God’s angels, and Saint John the Baptist, and all God’s prophets, and Saint Peter, and all God’s apostles, and Saint Stephen, and all God’s martyrs, and Saint Martin, and all God’s confessors, and Saint Margaret, and all God’s virgins, and to (saints so-and-so) and all saints, and to you, priest, and all my fellow Christians who see and hear me today, all my sins which I have ever committed from the moment I was first able to sin until this moment, in whatever way I have done them, knowingly or unknowingly, freely or under duress, sleeping or waking, alone or with another, which I can now recall or cannot remember. 

I confess to God that I never fulfilled the promise that was made for me in baptism as I rightly should and well could have. As soon as I reached the age when I could sin, I turned from God and his commandments, and denied God through evil deeds, and willingly bound myself anew to the devil’s ownership, which I had previously renounced, through all manner of filth, and hitherto I have served him with complete dedication.

I did not go to God’s holy houses as sedulously as I should, and when I did go, I did not do so with the discipline and intention as I rightly should have. Whatever I heard there from God, I either mocked or did not believe, or scorned to do. I did not set aside work or honour Sundays and other holy days as I rightly should have. I did not fast or honour holy Lent, the Ember days, and the other fasting days, and those days enjoined upon me by the priest for my sins as I rightly should have. I did not receive the Lord’s Body as frequently as I should have, and when I did receive it, I did not do so as worthily as I rightly should have. My father, my mother, and my master I did not love, or honour, or serve I should have. I did not love all my fellow Christians, or keep my troth as I rightly should have. I was not obedient to my bishop, my priest, and other doctors of God when they taught me what is right as I rightly should have been. Holy nights, nights of fasts, and other illicit times I did not observe with my wife as I rightly should have. 

Every vow I have ever made to God I have entirely neglected. I have hated everything good and those who did or spoke good. I have done and loved everything that is evil, and consented with and loved all evil-doers. I have sinned by committing and recommending murder. I have sinned much in fornications, adulteries, incests, bestiality, and I have besmirched my body and my wretched soul with every pollution and filthiness with which man can besmirch himself and with all who chose to consent with me. I have sinned in perjuries, thefts, plunders, lies, false testimonies, detractions, contentions, revels, drunkenness, sorceries, deceits, and all sins which man can sin. I have sinned more than any man in words, deeds, thoughts, and will. 

I confess this to God and (to so-and-so) and all the saints, and I beg God’s clemency that he might give me time and respite for me to make amends and obtain his grace. And I beg Blessed Mary and all God’s saints that they might vouchsafe to intercede for and help me with God’s mercy, so that he might give me pardon for all my sins, and henceforth preserve me from sin, and lead me into their company after this life. And I would promise God that I shall henceforth avoid sin so far as I am able in my weakness, and as far as he may vouchsafe to strengthen me by his mercy. I would today forgive all who have sinned against me, that God himself might also forgive my countless sins. 

My dearly beloved, in accordance with this confession and promise you have made, I wish to say these words, and ask God to make them effectual:

May the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost grant you pardon and absolution from all your sins by the intercession of all his saints, and keep you henceforth from sin and all evil, and lead you after this life into the company of all his saints. Amen.

Brethren, this absolution is only valid for those sins you have confessed to priests or committed in ignorance. For those who have committed grave sins for which a Lenten penance[5] is imposed, such as homicide and adultery, and not done penance after, this confession is not valid. So I urge you, if you have committed public sins, to do public penance; and if private sins, confess to your priests before receiving the Lord’s Body,[6] because anyone who receives it unworthily, shall be guilty of our Lord’s death with Judas. And if we give his body to such a man, we would be like one who gives a sword to a madman that he might thrust it through his own heart.

III. Intercessions

Dearly beloved, God has willed you to gather here today for the divine service; and so you must not stand here idle. Pray rather for yourselves and the entire holy Church,[7] that almighty God deign to give her peace, unite her, govern her, and guard her from every evil, and that when Christ her Bridegroom, who has handfasted her by his blood, shall come with the whole host of heaven to lead his Bride the Church from this Babylonian captivity into his Father’s city, all of you may accompany her into the heavenly Jerusalem. Amen.

For the Pope

Then you must pour out prayers for the Apostolic Lord, who is the head of the Church and from whom must issue all the Church’s judgements, that God almighty might ensure he worthily presides over the Church’s doctrine, manners, and life, and that he might attain everlasting joy with her in the last. Amen. 

For the Bishop and Clerics

Thereafter you must beseech God for our bishop, and for all priests, and for all who are in holy orders, who must be the mirror of the Church, that God almighty might send his Spirit into them to inspire them to fulfill in works what they preach in words and might attain eternal life with them on the last day. Amen.

For the King

After this it behoves you to pray for our king, whom God willed to hold his place on earth, that gracious God might lend him his help so to rule and defend the Church that, after this temporal kingdom, he might receive the eternal crown of the Kingdom from the King of heaven. Amen.

For Judges

Then it is meet that you should pray for all dukes and counts and all the Church’s judges, that, since it is written that he who does not have mercy shall be judged without mercy, almighty God might dispose them to deal mercifully with their subjects, such that they might be worthy to obtain mercy from God the judge of mercy.

For Religious

Then it is appropriate that you beg God’s clemency for all who have renounced the world, for monks, for nuns, for anchorites, for hermits, and for all who have made a vow to God, that our loving God might grant them so to fulfill their purpose that they might be worthy to obtain the reward promised them after this life. Amen. 

For Travelers

Then you must beseech God for travelers, or for those who are on their way to Jerusalem or Rome or Saint James in Compostella or other holy places, that God might receive their vows and return them safely and peacefully to their friends.

For Sailors

Thereafter it behoves you to entreat God’s mercy for those who sail for the Church’s needs, that God might protect them from every storm and grant them a prosperous journey and return them safely to their relatives and friends.

For the Infirm

Then you must pray for the infirm, who cannot come to church today, that God may restore their health and strength and, once they have made satisfaction for their sins in this life, welcome them into the eternal. Amen.

For Those in Tribulation

Next I urge you to beg God for those who are on pilgrimage, for captives, those in chains, prisoners, or anyone hard pressed, that our merciful God might assist each in his need and in his mercy deliver them from evils and grant them all good things.

For All Christians

Then you must pray fervently for the whole Christian people, that God may guard them from every evil and all the enemies of soul and body, and lead them to everlasting peace. Amen.

For the Dead

Now, dearly beloved, it behoves you to pray for those most in need of your prayers, namely for the dead, who can do no good or evil now, for like someone on fire rejoices if water is poured on him, so they shall rejoice when you pray or give alms for them. 

Let each of you pray first for his father, for his mother, for his spouse, for his sons, for his brothers, for his sisters, for his relatives, for his friends, and then for all who bequeathed their inheritance to you, or did you some good, or commended themselves to your prayers, and for all whose bodies rest here, and for all the faithful departed, that almighty God, who willed his Son to die for them, might vouchsafe to absolve them from all punishments and pains today by your prayers and place them in the eternal delight of paradise. Amen

Brethren, scripture sayeth: He who asks on another’s behalf saves himself. I ask you therefore to pray for my wretched person, who need your prayers more than all other men, that the Merciful might deign to receive the Church’s sacrifice from my hands today, and to make me an acceptable sacrifice for himself, and that I might make satisfaction for all my sins in this life, and after death rejoice with you in the glory above. Amen.

IV. Concluding Exhortation

Now, dearly beloved, lift up your hearts and hands toward God, that he may mercifully vouchsafe to answer all these prayers, so that later, in the company of the angels you may celebrate this feast forever in that land of glory that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him.[8]

Eia! Now shout your prayers up to heaven, and sing God’s praise: Kyrie eleison!


[1] Cf. Psalm 18:7

[2] 2 Corinthians 12

[3] Isaias 11:2.

[4] cf. Colossians 3:2

[5] The carena or carrina (from quadragesima, Lent), was a public penance assigned for grave sins.

[6] Honorius’s instruction seems to imply the coexistence of both public and private forms of penance, for different types of sins.

[7] Oremus, dilectissimi nobis, pro Ecclesia sancta Dei: ut eam Deus et Dominus noster pacificare, adunare et custodire dignetur toto orbe terrarum

[8] 1 Corinthians 2:9

A Greek Salve

Esse velim Grecus, cum sim vix, domna, Latinus.

Ekkehart IV, Casus S. Galli 4

For the Octave of the Assumption, and in the spirit of St Gall’s ellenici fratres who (likely) set the ordinary of the Mass into Greek, here’s a setting of the Salve Regina into the Hellenic tongue. First in “proper” Greek, then in the Latin transcription the ellenici fratres might have used.

Nothing More Befitting, More Apt, More Worthy: Honorius on the Readings of the Assumption

The selection of Luke 10:38-42the story of Martha and Mary—as the Gospel pericope for the feast of Our Lady’s Assumption, though ancient and œcumenical, may seem incongruous. Indeed, alas, it fell victim to Pope Pius XII’s hammer in 1950.

Honorius Augustodunensis’ commentary on the readings of the Assumption is one of the earliest Latin attempts to justify the choice of this Gospel. He demonstrates that it is in fact exceedingly well-chosen, however inapposite it might seem to those who lack understanding.

The Seal of Our Lady was one of Honorius’ earlier works, likely written for an English audience soon after his fantastically popular catechism, the Elucidarius. Its treatment of the Epistle and Gospel of the Mass are translated here; he subsequently comments on the traditional Matins readings, taken from the Canticle of Canticles.

Read the English below or


The Seal of Our Lady

The brethren to the solitary.

The disciples’ band, to their master most grand, who art of books a supply: mayest thou in Sion behold God most high

The whole community of brethren gives thanks to thy diligence, which didst unveil so many of the Spirit of Wisdom’s secrets to them in thine Elucidarius. All of us therefore beg thee with one voice again to undergo new travail, and of thy charity disclose to us why the Gospel Intravit Jesus in quoddam castellum[1] and the Canticle of Canticles[2] are read on the Blessed Virgin Mary’s feast, when they seem to pertain to her in no wise whatever.

The solitary’s reply.

Since I have resolved, in exchange for the denarius, to bear the burden and heat of the day in our Lord’s vineyard, I do not wish to waste the soil like the barren fig tree, but like the fruitful olive to add something lovely to God’s house,[3] that one day I might merit an abode there. Therefore, since your community warmly received the little book I sent, I will do my best to unlock, with the key of David, the difficulties that give you pause. Let this book be issued to the glory of God’s Son and his Mother, and be given the name The Seal of Our Lady. May he whose wisdom surpasseth all understanding[4] give me clear discernment.

Here beginneth the Seal of Our Lady

You say you marvel that the Gospel Intravit Jesus and the Canticle should be recited on the Blessed Virgin Mary’s feast, when, as it appears to simple minds, neither speaks of her in the least. First, then, regarding the Gospel know that nothing in the whole course of Scripture can be found more befitting, more apt, more worthy to be read on her hallowed solemnity. 

On the Gospel.

And so we read: Jesus entered into a certain borough. In a borough there is a high tower with battlements against the enemy, as well as a wall without, which is the protection of the burghers within. This borough was the chapel of the Holy Ghost, to wit the glorious Virgin Mary Mother of God, who was defended on all sides by a steadfast guard of angels. There is a high tower in her, namely her humility, reaching up to the heights of heaven. Hence it is written: He hath regarded the humility of his handmaid. The external wall, moreover, was her chastity, which supplied an internal fortification for the other virtues. The Lord entered this borough, when he united human nature to himself in the Virgin’s womb.  

And a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary Martha represents the active life, and Mary the contemplative life, both of which Mary ever-virgin carefully cultivated in Christ. 

The Active Life.

She performed  all the works of mercy toward him when she served him through the ministries of the active life. When he was exiled from his father’s kingdom for our sake and a stranger in this world, she took him into the inn of her womb, an inn wonderfully adorned with the gemstones of virtue. With her own paps she fed him when he hungered; over her knees she consoled him when he cried. When he was ill she warmed him with baths; when he was naked she wrapped him with swaddling-clothes. When he wailed she bound him with swaddling-bands; she planted sweet kisses upon him when he laughed. She was exceedingly solicitous in much serving as she fled from the face of Herod into Egypt and then returned. She was much troubled about many things, seeking safety in any place whatever in order to hide him, and a refuge to conceal him. When the sister complained that she was left alone to work, it meant this: Mary—seeing Christ seized by the impious, cruelly dragged away, bound, buffeted, beaten, mocked, condemned with felons, ruthlessly crucified on the gibbet of the cross—would have willingly given her life to deliver him, if it were possible. But since she knew that the Godhead inhabited his body,[5] in a way she anxiously complained in her soul that it did not come to his aid, but scorned him like a criminal and exposed him to so many evils as if he were so much rubbish.

The Contemplative Life.

Sitting at the Lord’s feet, she thirsted for his words in heart and ear, for she kept these things to ponder[6] through the work of the contemplative life, and ever meditating on spiritual things she yearned for heavenly things. Verily, the Fount of wisdom and knowledge himself made his abode within her,[7] and hence all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge[8] were hidden within her. Now, Martha’s labour having been taken away, she enjoys that life not in sign, but the true Mary is satisfied with the one thing necessary, the joy of eternal sweetness, wherein ever clasped in her Son’s embraces she feasts forever on the sight of his divinity along with the angels. Today she gloriously crossed over into this glory, where her son exalted her as queen of heaven over all the orders of angels. Today, that best part that she chose in this life she received double from the Lord’s hand. It shall never be taken away from her; rather when the fullness of joy is granted to the saints, it shall be increased a hundredfold.

On the Epistle.

Why we read about the praise of wisdom on her day, the cause we may easily say. Christ is God’s wisdom, whose character speaks here. He, we are to understand, sought rest in all nations, but solely in the inheritance of the Lord, i.e. in the Church, did he find a place to dwell. Rejoicing she adds: He that made me rested in my tabernacle. The Church’s and God’s tabernacle is Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, as is written: He hath set his tabernacle in the sun.[9] The Son of God coming as a man rested in it, and from it he came out as a bridegroom from his bride chamber.[10]

Let thy dwelling be in Jacob, and thy inheritance in Israel, and take root in my elect. The order of apostles is Jacob, i.e. the overthrower of vices, also called Israel, i.e. “seeing God.” God’s maiden dwelt in this Jacob, and inherited God’s kingdom with this Israel, and in these very elect she put forth her roots of chastity and humility.  

In the Church.

So was I established in Sion. Sion means watchtower and is the Church, in which the Mother of God is established as a column by writings and sermons, upon whose praiseworthy life the entire Church leans for support.

In Heaven.

And in the holy city likewise I rested. The holy city is the heavenly fatherland, enlightened with everlasting brightness. There the perpetual Virgin rests with the angels and saints, outshining all others with her crown crown of glory and honour. Hence it is written: In Jerusalem was my power. Sion is the present Church, and Jerusalem the heavenly fatherland. Mary is called the queen of heaven, and so not without cause is her power declared to be in Jerusalem. And since here she took root, by the example of sanctity, in an honourable people, that is in the people of believers, so her inheritance shall be in the portion of her God, that is, in her Son’s divinity. And this in the full assembly of the saints, that is, she shall receive praise and glory from all when the number of the elect shall be complete.

The Cedar of the Jews.

I was exalted like a cedar in Libanus. Libanus is a mountain in the promised land, wherein are cedars, and from whose foot flows the Jordan. Libanus means “made white,” and is the Jewish people, made white by the worship of God and by Holy Writ. Therein the glorious Virgin was exalted like a cedar, that is, with the odor and ornament of sanctity, surpassing the merits of all, from whose womb he gushed as from Mount Jordan, who consecrated the fount of baptism.

Cypress of Christians.

As a cypress-tree on mount Sion. A cypress-tree once cut does not regrow, and so in ancient times it was carried before funeral processions. Thus the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God was a cypress-tree in Sion, that is, in the true watchtower, namely the Church. Her regard for the world’s delights never regrew once it had dried up with respect to vices and concupiscences, and so in sermons she is held up as an example before all Christians who seek to mortify themselves for Christ.

Rose of Martyrs

As a rose plant in Jericho:. Jericho means moon, i.e. the Church, wherein the rose signifies the martyrs. The Holy Theotokos’s passion so sublimely surpasses their own as a rose excels other flowers in redness. For when she saw God’s Son, that most innocent fruit of her womb, tortured so on the Cross, she experienced a suffering in her soul far exceeding that of all the martyrs. Hence she was more than a martyr, for they suffered in body, but she in soul, as it was said: Thy own soul a sword shall pierce.[11]

Olive-tree of Virgins

As a fair olive tree in the fields. Oil signifies mercy. A field is untilled earth, and refers to virgins, who have not been furrowed by the plowshare of a man’s embrace. Our chaste Christotokos is the most comely among them, like a lovely olive-tree in the plains. The Oil of gladness and mercy flowed from her, healed us of our infirmity, and anointed us for the heavenly realm of glory.

Plane-tree of Spouses

As a plane tree by the water in the streets. The waters are the people strolling through the streets, which is to say in the secular state, namely those who shine in married life. The Renowned Virgin was exalted among them like the plane-tree when in her fertility she bore her noble Offspring.

Cinnamon of the Innocent and Penitent

Like cinnamon. Cinnamon means without blemish, and symbolizes the innocent, for whom the Virgin was as the fragrance of cinnamon when she brought forth from her immaculate womb him who would grant us innocence. It is a fragrant, ash-colored tree, and so signifies penitents, for whom, again, the Glorious One was cinnamon when she poured out Christ as the medicine of eternal life.

Balm of Kings and Priests

I gave a sweet smell like aromatical balm. Balm has a sweet fragrance. It is used to anoint the heads of Christians, as well as priests and God’s temples. The Virgin gave a fragrance like unto precious balm when she bore Christ, the sweet fragrance of every soul, into the world: he who anoints us for his kingdom with chrism and, as Priest and King,[12] once we have become his temples, ordains us kings and priests.

Myrrh of those who Renounce the World.

Like the best myrrh. The bodies of the dead were embalmed with myrrh. For all those who renounce the world and die with Christ, the oft-mentioned and ever-more to be mentioned Mary is myrrh, and the best myrrh at that, since she crucified her flesh to the world’s temptations and afflicted herself with fasts and vigils. She inhaled the sweet odor when she bore Christ, odor of the angels, who as the best myrrh of all offered himself in death for us to God the Father[13] as a sweet odor, so that if we make ourselves dead to the vices he shall make us sharers in his divinity. Now, with the help of her of whom we speak, joined with your intercessory prayers, we turn our quill to the Canticles, and shall explain why they are read as referring to her.

Salvador Dalí, Asunción corpuscularia lapislazulina (1952)

[1] Luke 10:38-42.

[2] Canticle of Canticles 1:1-16 is read at Mattins.

[3] Luke 13:6-9

[4] Philippians 4:7

[5] Colossians 2:9.

[6] Luke 2:19.

[7] John 14:23.

[8] Colossians 2:3.

[9] Ps. 18:6.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Luke 2:35.

[12] Rex et sacerdos was the sacral title of the Byzantine and Holy Roman emperors, having its origin in Melchisedech.

[13] Cf. Ephesians 5:2.