Music for the Maundy

maundyTo-day we offer our readers this booklet containing the music for the Mandatum as it was celebrated before Pius XII’s reforms of Holy Week, according to the musical norms followed by the Antiphonale monasticum. The latter, published in 1934, reflected the advances that Gregorian chant scholarship had made since the publication of the Graduale romanum in 1908 and the Antiphonale romanum in 1912 (this explains the differing melodies of the same antiphons in the Roman and monastic uses).

Unhappily, a full official version of the Graduale reflecting these developments has never been produced, even after the promulgation of Sacrosanctum Concilium, which in article 117 states that “the typical edition of the books of Gregorian chant is to be completed; and a more critical edition is to be prepared of those books already published since the restoration by St. Pius X” [1]. Two privately-produced editions—the Liber gradualis and the Graduale novum—are in the course of being published, although it is regrettable that they are designed for use in the Novus Ordo Missae rather than the traditional Mass (even if it is easy enough to adapt them).

[1] Compleatur editio typica librorum cantus gregoriani; immo paretur editio magis critica librorum iam editorum post instaurationem sancti Pii X.

The History of the Folded Chasuble (Part 2)

We continue with the second part of Henri de Villiers’s article “Les chasubles pliés: Histoire et liturgie”, originally published in French on the website of the Schola Sainte Cécile. This translation is also being published simultaneously on New Liturgical Movement, with our thanks to M. de Villiers once again for his generous permission to reproduce his work.

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF FOLDED CHASUBLES? The generalized practice of cutting off the front part of the folded chasuble, which is certainly convenient, must have contributed to it being perceived as a vestment distinct from the celebrant’s chasuble, which was certainly not so in the beginning. Paradoxically, this might have contributed to disaffection with its use. In 1914, the Jesuit Braun [14] deplored the disappearance of folded chasubles throughout Germany. France was hardly better off at this time; although the published ceremonials continue to describe the use of folded chasubles, it is quite rare to find examples or even photographs of them in the 20th century). Their use seems to have endured more in Italy, in the Iberian Peninsula, and in the British Isles.

Already suppressed for the Paschal Vigil in the new experimental liturgies of 1951 and 1952, folded chasubles were entirely banished from Holy Week with the 1955 reforms, and violet and black dalmatics and tunicles put in their place; folded chasubles were still to be used during the rest of Lent and other penitential seasons. This anomaly ceased with the publication of the new code of rubrics in 1960, which stated at the end of the general rubrics that “folded chasubles and broad stoles are no longer used” [15].

Msgr Léon Gromier, the Papal Master of Ceremonies, remarked during his famous conference on the reforms of Holy Week:

Folded chasubles are one of the oldest characteristics of the Roman Rite; they go back to the time when all the clergy wore chasubles, and were retained for a most austere penance. Abandoning them makes a lie of the paintings in the catacombs. It is an immense loss, an outrage to history. They wrongly give this explanation to justify their misdeed: that folded chasubles are difficult to find. But the exact contrary is the case: one finds violet chasubles everywhere that can be folded, whereas violet dalmatics are much less widespread [16]. Besides, one always has the option of ministering in an alb.

We may add that it was a curious move to suppress folded chasubles at the same moment when a return to the ancient, more ample form of the chasuble was being promoted everywhere.

On the other hand, the usage of folded chasubles was never interrupted among the Anglo-Catholics (and perhaps its usage will be gradually restored by the various new ordinariates erected to receive these communities into the bosom of the Catholic Church). In addition, amidst the renaissance of liturgical studies among traditional Catholic communities one observes a growing number of people who are restoring the ancient use.

IN THE OTHER WESTERN RITES. The use of the folded chasuble is not limited to the Roman Rite. It is found, with variations, in the following liturgies:

1) The Ambrosian Rite: Folded chasubles are used during Advent, Lent, and the Major and Minor Litanies (i.e. Rogation Days, which take place on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday after the Ascension in this rite, and during which ashes are imposed) and other fasting days throughout the year. As in the Roman rite, the subdeacon takes off his folded chasuble to chant the Epistle. The deacon rolls his up crosswise in the Roman way from the Gospel to the end of Communion. During Sundays of Lent, the deacon chants the very ancient litanies after the Ingressa at the beginning of the Mass; to do this, since it pertains to his proper ministry, he also rolls his chasuble crosswise. The liturgical colours differ from the Roman custom: dark violet during Advent and the Sundays of Lent, but the ferias of Lent are in black. The Major Litanies are in dark violet and the Minor are in black. During an exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on a day of penance, folded chasubles are obligatory, even in small churches. One notable difference with the Roman use is that during all of Holy Week (which begins on the eve of Palm Sunday, in Traditione Symboli) is celebrated in red and the dalmatic and tunicle are employed.

2) The Rite of Braga: The use is identical to the Roman rite, except for the procession of Palms when the dalmatic and tunicle are used.

3) The Rite of Lyon: very interestingly, folded chasubles are not used until after the first Sunday of Lent, a relic of the time prior to St Gregory the Great when the first day of the Lenten Fast was the Monday following this Sunday. The deacon takes off his chasuble before chanting the Gospel but does not roll it over his shoulders (so he does the same as the subdeacon at the Epistle). Folded chasubles are not used on Good Friday.

4) The Rite of Paris: Chasubles are not folded but rolled over the shoulders (the ceremonials speak of transversed chasubles: planetis tranversis super humeros). They are not used during Sundays of Advent (which are celebrated in white in Paris); rather the dalmatic and tunicle are used instead. Folded chasubles are nonetheless used during ferial Masses of Advent in bigger churches with many clerics; smaller churches are dispensed. Transversed chasubles are used for the first time on Ash Wednesday, then on Sundays of Lent, and on Good Friday; the vestments are black each time. On ferias of Lent, on the other hand, the deacon and subdeacon serve only in alb, stole, and maniple, without chasubles, even in the cathedral. Ember Days in September are celebrated with red transversed chasubles since these days belong to the Time after Pentecost, which is red in Paris.

5) The Premonstratensians: This rite has the interesting peculiarity that the use of folded chasubles begins on Septuagesima.

6) The Cistercians, Dominicans, and Carmelites: These three rites shares similar uses; during penitential seasons, the deacon and subdeacon serve in alb, stole, and maniple, as in smaller churches in the Roman rite. Note that in the Dominican rite, the dalmatic and tunicle are not used during ferial Masses throughout the year.

7) The Carthusians: This rite is very pared down and does not employ the dalmatic and tunicle at all during the year. During Mass, the deacon only puts on the stole to sing the Gospel. Folded chasubles are therefore not used at all.

AND IN THE EAST?– Based on the evidence from ancient artistic representations, the Byzantine East used the chasuble since at least the 5th century; and it is called φαιλόνιον in Greek (phelonion, similar to the Latin pælonia).

Théophile d'Alexandrie - miniature sur papyrus du Vème siècle.
Theophilus of Alexandria. Miniature on papyrus, 5th century.

By an interesting development similar to the one that happened in the West, the front part of the phelonion is cut in such a way as to facilitate the gestures of the celebrant.

Icône représentant saint Jean de Novgorod - le phélonion est tenu replié sur les bras.
Icon representing St John of Novgorod: the phelonion is held folded over the arms.
Prêtre byzantin portant le phélonion. La partie avant du vêtement est désormais coupée pour faciliter les gestes liturgiques.
A Byzantine priest wearing the phelonion. The front part of the vestment is cut to facilitate liturgical gestures.

Certain Spanish folded chasubles have a shape very similar to that of modern-day Byzantine phelonia cut in the front.

Chasubles pliées d'origine espagnole, assez proche de l'actuelle coupe byzantine.
Spanish-style folded chasubles, very similar to the current Byzantine cut.

We nevertheless do not find any evidence that deacons and subdeacons ever wore chasubles in the East; both used dalmatics [17]. Yet, in the Russian use, during the ordination of a cantor or lector, the bishop puts a short phelonion over his shoulders, which is likely the Eastern equivalent of the Western folded chasuble.

Ordination d'un lecteur dans l'usage russe.
Ordination of a lector in the Russian use.

The short phelonion is then taken off once the lector has chanted an Epistle.

Le lecteur byzantin nouvellement ordonné & revêtu du petit phélonion chante l'épître
A newly-ordained Byzantine lector wearing the short phelonion sings the Epistle.

During the ordination of a non-monastic subdeacon, the candidate presents himself before the bishop wearing a short phelonion. This vestment is not used outside these two ordinations [18], but it might well be the remnant of a more ancient custom where the chasuble was worn by the minor clergy.

Phélonion et petit phélonion russes.
Russian phelonion and short phelonion.

The other Eastern rites do not, in general, use the chasuble, even for the celebrant, who usually dons a cope. The Armenians, however, do have an equivalent of the Russian short phelonion [19], a short cape that covers the shoulders of minor clerics in this rite and which is most often attached to the alb in our days:

Messe dans le rit arménien - cathédrale arménienne catholique Sainte-Croix de Paris.
Mass in the Armenian Rite (Armenian Catholic Cathedral of Sainte-Croix in Paris).
Ordinations de diacres arméniens.
Ordination of Armenian deacons.

CONCLUSION. Mons. Bugnini’s enthusiastic efforts to suppress folded chasubles (he notes with disdain that no one will miss them) [20] gives rise to a larger question that naturally emerges when one studies the liturgical reforms of 1951-1969. These reforms were presented to the faithful at that time as a welcome return to the liturgy of ancient Christianity, finally purified from the dross of the High Middle Ages and the Baroque era. But if that is the case, how are we to explain the contemptuous suppression of this truly ancient element of the Roman Rite, the folded chasuble, a precious custom that unites us to the prayer and practice of our forefathers in the faith going back to the first centuries? Alas, this particular example is far from unique, and it only highlights the abandonment of numerous ancient elements of the liturgy in favor of the purely imaginative constructs that took place during these reforms. More globally, one might ask about the nature of the liturgical reform of 1951-1969: does it constitute a continuous organic development of the liturgy of the Church or a radical rupture with the centuries-long praxis of the Roman Rite?

It is interesting to consider how in different parts of the world, traditional communities are starting to take up the use of folded chasubles. We are certain that these communities perceive that they form a part of the symbolic richness that the tradition has bequeathed to us and of which we have been unjustly deprived.

Chasuble pliée - Rome.
Folded chasuble, Rome.
Mercredi des Cendres.
Ash Wednesday.
Good Friday, London.
Stolon noir du Vendredi Saint. Londres.
Black broad stole on Good Friday, London.
Passion selon saint Matthieu - messe pontificale des Rameaux - Rome.
The Passion according to St Matthew. Pontifical Mass on Palm Sunday, Rome.
Second dimanche de Carême 2016 - collégiale Saint-Just de Lyon.
Second Sunday of Lent 2016, collegiate church of Saint-Just in Lyon.
Second dimanche de Carême 2016 - collégiale Saint-Just de Lyon.
Second Sunday of Lent 2016, collegiate church of Saint-Just in Lyon.
A l'aspersion - second dimanche de Carême 2016 - Société Saint-Hugues de Cluny - Connecticut.
The Asperges, Second Sunday of Lent, Society of St Hugh of Cluny, Connecticut.
Notez la chasuble transversale roulée - second dimanche de Carême 2016 - Société Saint-Hugues de Cluny - Connecticut.
Note the transversed chasuble that is actually rolled, Second Sunday of Lent, Society of St Hugh of Cluny, Connecticut.
Distribution des cierges de la Chandeleur 2016 - Institut du Christ-Roi - Gricigliano.
Distribution of candles in Candlemas 2016, Institute of Christ the King, Gricigliano.


14. G. Braun, Die liturgischen Paramente, 1914, p. 98.
15. Rubrica generales XIX, n. 137: Planetae plicatae et stola latior amplius non adhibentur.
16. Indeed, strictly speaking violet dalmatics and tunicles are only used on the three Sundays of Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima.
17. Which very often retains structures much more ancient than the Greek usage.
18. The lector-cantor ordinarily uses a type of tunic for his office, the sticharion—στιχάριον. Certain parishes have tried to restore a more frequent use of the short phelonion.
19. According to R. Pilkington, I riti orientali, Turin, L.I.C.E. —Berruti, p. 31.
20. Cf. A. Bugnini—C. Braga, Ordo Hebdomadae Sanctae instauratus commentarium. Bibliotheca Ephemerides Liturgicae Sectio Historica 25, Roma, Edizioni Liturgiche, 1956, p. 56, n. 28.

The History of the Folded Chasuble (Part 1)

We are much obliged to Henri de Villiers and the Schola Sainte Cécile for permission to publish this translation of “Les chasubles pliés: Histoire et liturgie.” Also published today on the New Liturgical Movement, which has previously posted other articles on folded chasubles here, here, and here and on the short phelonion here.

Folded chasubles are the vestments used by the deacon and subdeacon during penitential seasons instead of the dalmatic and tunicle. Their use dates back to the earliest years of the Church, when all the clergy used the chasuble.

HISTORY. The chasuble was originally a civil garment used already by the Etruscans, and became widespread in the Roman Empire beginning in the first century of our era, to the point that it became an elegant article of clothing in common use. It was a round garment with a hole in its centre to pass the head through, and covered the upper body down to the knees. It is known under different names, the principal ones being: pænula, the most common name in ancient Rome; casula, literally “little house” because it was a sort of little tent (this term has resulted in the English “chasuble”); planeta, the term later used by the Roman liturgical books, whereas the rest of Western Europe has always preferred to use casula; and amphibalus, mainly employed by the Fathers of the Church of Gaul.

Etruscan pænula (particularly rolled up over the arms), 4th century B. C.

The chasuble then tended, at the start of our era, to replace the old toga, which was too heavy and less practical, to the point where Roman orators began to insist on using them instead of togas when pleading cases, in order to have more freedom in for oratorical gestures [1]. Under the Emperor Trajan (98-117), the tribunes of the people wore chasubles, and Commodus (180-192) ordered that those assisting public spectacles should do so in a chasuble and no longer in a toga. The chasuble became the senatorial vestment in 382.

Christians naturally used this garment [2] and at the start of the 3rd century Tertullian chastised the faithful who took off their chasubles during liturgical prayers for reasons that he labelled superstitious [3]. As the chasuble became a vestment of honour for high officers of the Empire, Christians sought to give their own tribunes and senators—bishops, priests, and deacons—a similar mark of honour.

In Christian writings, the first mention of the chasuble as a properly liturgical vestment is relatively late: it is found in the second of the two letters written by St Germain of Paris († 576), which contains a famous description of the mass according to the ancient Gallican rite:

Casula quam amphibalum vocant, quod sacerdos induetur, tota unita per Moysem legiferum instituta primitus demonstratur. Jussit ergo Dominus fieri dissimilatum vestimentum, ut talem sacerdos induerit, quale indui populus non auderetur. Ideo sine manicas, quia sacerdos potius benedicit quam ministrat. Ideo unita prinsecus, non scissa, non aperta ; quia multae sunt Scripturae sacrae secreta mysteria, quae quasi sub sigillo sacerdoti doctus debet abscondere, et unitatem fidei custodire, non in haerese vel schismata declinare.

The chasuble, which is known as amphibalus and which the priest wears, shows the original unity of all that was instituted by Moses the Lawgiver. Now, the Lord commanded that diverse vestments be made, so that the people might not dare wear what the priest wears. Hence it has no sleeves, since the priest’s duty is to bless rather than to minister. Hence from the start it has been of one piece, and not split or opened, since many are the hidden mysteries of Holy Scripture, which the learned priest must conceal under a seal, as it were, and preserve the unity of the faith, nor to fall into heresy or schism.

Nevertheless, well before this first mention, numerous frescoes, mosaics, and miniatures from the 4th century onward show beyond doubt the chasuble was largely adopted during this era as a liturgical vestment, in the East as well as the West.

St Ambrose of Milan wearing a chasuble. Note the cut that facilitates the movements of the right arm. Mosaic dated 375 from the chapel of San Vittore in Ciel d’Oro in the basilica of St Ambrose.

At this time, the chasuble was the general vestment of all the clergy, not only that of bishops and priests, but also of deacons, subdeacons, and—according to Alcuin (c. 730-804)—in certain circumstances even of acolytes! Amalarius of Metz (775-850) tells us that the chasuble was still worn in his time by all clerics without distinction. He calls it the generale indumentum sacrorum ducum [4]. t was still employed by acolytes in certain regions into the 11th century [5].

For the celebrating bishop or priest, this vestment did not create any discomfort in carrying out the sacred ceremonies, as St Germain of Paris notes: “Hence it has no sleeves, since the duty of the priest is to bless rather than to minister”. But the ministers—deacons and subdeacons—had to adapt the chasuble for their purposes: they rolled back the front part of the vestment, so that the arms of the ministers would be free to handle the sacred vessels. And thus they were dubbed “folded chasubles”, or planetæ plicatæ ante pectus, as the Latin liturgical books say.

In order to better understand the form taken by this folding, below are some photographs taken from the journal L’Art d’Église (n. 4, 1948), which show a very successful attempt to recreate the ancient shape of the folded chasuble by the monks of the St Andrew’s Abbey in Belgium:

The subdeacon’s folded chasuble.

From the singing of the Gospel until the end of the Mass, the deacon, in order to be freer in his movements, rolled up his chasuble and slung it across his shoulders over his stole:

The deacon’s chasuble: rolled and slung over the shoulder or simply folded, depending on the different moments of the Mass.

The celebrant’s chasuble did not need to be folded [6] precisely because the deacon and subdeacon would help him by lifting up its edges at certain times during the incensings and at the elevations. This beautiful gesture was faithfully kept by the Roman liturgy, even when it ceased to be necessary after celebrants’ chasubles began to be clipped and reduced in shape.

In fact, the folded chasubles worn by deacons and subdeacons were a clear symbol of their proper function as sacred ministers, i.e. of their role as servants of the celebrant.

Deacons’ and subdeacons’ folded chasubles were later replaced, beginning in the 5th century, by two new vestments: the dalmatic and the tunicle, vestments endowed with sleeves that it more manageable to carry out their liturgical and ministerial functions.

Still, Rome took a long time to adopt this novelty, and the Ordines Romani that describe the Roman liturgy at the time of St Gregory the Great and a bit thereafter (7th century) still name the chasuble as the vestment worn by the pope, the deacons, and the subdeacons. Moreover, John the Deacon (c. 825-880), the biographer of St Gregory the Great (c. 540-604), in his Vita Gregorii Magni, designates the rest of the clergy that accompanied the Pope on processions with the term planeti (“those wearing planetæ“, i.e. chasubles).

When Rome finally accepted the use of dalmatics and tunicles, she nevertheless kept the use of folded chasubles for the deacon and subdeacon during Lent and penitential seasons, following the generally observed liturgical principle that the seasons considered the most holy are also those that are spared from liturgical innovations.

Furthermore, the dalmatic and tunicle are sumptuous vestments that symbolize joy and innocence. For a long time, their colour had to be white, and ancient dalmatics were also adorned with the two bright purple vertical bands (lati claves) that adorned the senatorial garb of old. During the ordination of a deacon, the bishop imposes the dalmatic upon him with these words: “May the Lord attire thee in the garment of salvation, and the vestment of joy (indumento lætitiæ), and ever surround thee with the dalmatic of justice”. The equivalent prayer for clothing the subdeacon with the tunicle also speaks of a vestimento lætitiæ. The use of the dalmatic and tunicle was consequently entirely inappropriate for penitential seasons, during which the old folded chasuble was hence preserved.

The distribution of candles during the Feast of the Purification.

RULES FOR LITURGICAL USE. Folded chasubles are therefore used in the Roman liturgy during penitential seasons. The exact extent of these seasons is described in chapter XIX, §§ 6 and 7 of the rubrics of the Roman Missal of St Pius V (De qualitate paramentorum) [7]:

“In cathedrals and major churches, chasubles are used folded before the breast on fasting days (except on the vigils of the saints), and on the Sundays and ferias of Advent and Lent, and on the Vigil of Pentecost before Mass (except on

  • Gaudete Sunday, and when its Mass is repeated during the week,
  • on Lætare Sunday,
  • on the Vigil of Christmas,
  • on Holy Saturday during the blessing of the candle and during Mass, and
  • on the Ember Days of Pentecost)

also during the blessing of candles and procession on the day of the Purification of Our Lady, and during the blessing of ashes and the blessing of palms and the procession.

“In smaller churches, however, on the aforesaid fasting days (the deacon and subdeacon) minister only with the alb; the subdeacon with the maniple, and the deacon also with the stole hanging from his left shoulder under his right.”

Ordinations on Ember Saturday: the deacon and subdeacon, ministers of the bishop, wear folded chasubles.

We shall here explain certain aspects of this rubric in greater detail. Despite its apparent complexity, it follows some simple and logical principles:

1. Folded chasubles were only used on penitential seasons, and hence only in violet or black. They were not used (even if the above rubric does not make it explicit) for the Mass on Maundy Thursday, celebrated in white, but were for the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday, celebrated in black. Before the reforms of the 1950s, the Vigil of Pentecost was like a second Paschal Vigil, and comprised six prophecies before the beginning of the Mass. This fore-mass was celebrated in violet and hence folded chasubles were used. The subsequent Mass was in red. Likewise, on Holy Saturday, the deacon blessed the Paschal candle in a white dalmatic, then put on the folded chasuble again for the Fore-Mass in violet (which comprised twelve prophecies and the blessing of the font). The Mass following this Fore-Mass was in white vestments.

2. Sundays of Advent and Lent are not fasting days (one never fasts on Sundays, which always celebrates Christ’s resurrection) but are still included as part of penitential seasons because they are celebrated in violet. Nonetheless, the rubric of the Roman Missal does not mention Sundays of Septuagesima, which are also celebrated in violet. With some exceptions, medieval commentators did not recommend the use of violet chasubles during the season of Fore-Lent. (To follow the rubric rigorously, one should not use them on Sundays during Septuagesima, but one could consider using them on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays on the three weeks of this season, since they were formerly fasting days).

3. The two Sundays of Gaudete and Lætare are breaks in the middle of Advent and of Lent, days of joy when the Church gives the faithful a foretaste of the rejoicing that awaits them at the end of these two penitential seasons: the vestments are rose-coloured instead of violet, altars are adorned with flowers, and the organ and other musical instruments are played. The Mass of Gaudete Sunday can be celebrated again during the week that follows, and is endowed with the same privileges (the Mass of Lætare Sunday cannot be repeated during the following week, since each feria of Lent is provided with a proper mass).

4. The Ember Days of Pentecost are the sole Ember Days without fasting, because they are included in the Octave of Pentecost. Hence, unlike the Ember Days of September, Advent, and Lent, folded chasubles are not used during these masses.

5. By “major churches”, the rubric means cathedrals, collegiate churches, and also parish churches. This was confirmed by a decision of the Sacred Congregation of Rites dated 11 September 1847 addressed to Nicholas Wiseman, bishop of London, who was then reestablishing the Catholic hierarchy in England and whose entirely new parishes were still often bereft of vestments. The same decision counseled him to celebrate Mass in his cathedral without sacred ministers rather than have deacons and subdeacons without folded chasubles. This decision must have seemed a bit inflexible because it was suppressed in later collections of decrees of the S. C. R.: a major church lacking folded chasubles can always have ministers serve without folded chasubles, wearing only with alb, stole, and maniple.

6. Smaller churches seems to have been dispensed from using folded chasubles not so much because they lacked them but because it was more difficult to have three perfectly matching chasubles, two of which were folded.

7. Another response by the Sacred Congregation of Rites (n. 5385, 31 August 1867) specifies that folded chasubles must be used before the exposed Blessed Sacrament during the Forty Hours Prayer taking place in Advent or Lent.

8. The use of folded chasubles was linked to an idea of liturgical time, for they were not used during Requiem masses, which are not tied to any particular season:  black dalmatic and tunicle are used instead.

LITURGICAL USE. For the ministers to assist the celebrant, it suffices that the front of their chasubles be folded; but when the deacon or subdeacon must carry out those tasks proper to them, they entirely remove this vestment or fold it still further.

Thus, the subdeacon takes off his folded chasuble before singing the epistle, and puts it on again immediately thereafter [8].

The proper office of the deacon begins with the singing of the Gospel and continues until the end of communion; during this time, he does not remove his folded chasuble entirely, but wears it folded and strung over his left shoulder, attached under the right arm with thin cords (or even by making a knot), over his stole. After communion, he unrolls the fabric and wears the chasuble folded as before.

Deacon wearing his chasuble rolled up for the singing of the Gospel.

To simplify this procedure, the custom arose of folding another chasuble in advance, which the deacon put over his shoulder at the appropriate time. Later on, this folded chasuble was often replaced by a simple band of the same fabric, commonly dubbed a broad stole [9].

Evolution of the transversed chasuble to the broad stole: on the left, a rolled chasuble on a mediæval stature of Wells Cathedral in England; on the right, the broad stole in its modern shape: a simple band of fabric without trims on the edges.

During Pontifical Mass, the assistant deacons put on their vestments—viz. a chasuble folded in front, over a cotta or rochet—towards the end of Terce, before the bishop sings the collect [10].

The cross-bearer subdeacon also wears a folded chasuble [11].

Chasuble pliée & stolon de la basilique Sainte-Marie-des-Anges à Rome.
Folded chasuble and broad stole from the basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Rome.

EVOLUTION OF THE SHAPE. From the folded chasuble to the cut chasuble.

The use of actually folding the front part of the chasuble and keeping it folded with cords or hooks has persisted to our days.

In the 17th century, Pisacara Castaldo notes that folded chasubles must not be different from that of the celebrant [12]. In the 18th century, Merato, commenting on Gavantus, further specified that the hooks that keep them folded must be removed between ceremonies lest the chasubles be damaged, and in order that priests might comfortably use them in low masses [13].

A folded chasuble is therefore exactly what its name suggests: a chasuble like any other, worn with the front part folded from within up to the level of the elbows, and often held in place by two steel clips.

New Jersey - USA - FSSP.
Mater Ecclesiæ Church, New Jersey, USA

Nevertheless, over the centuries, as chasubles for celebrants became clipped on the edges for convenience’s sake, the folds of chasubles for deacons and subdeacons became definitively stitched up, and finally the excess fabric was entirely cut off (one might therefore speak of “cut chasubles”, but common use has kept the term “folded chasubles.)

Formes classiques romaines : stolon du diacre, chasuble du célébrant et chasuble pliée du sous-diacre - Londres
Classical Roman shapes: deacon’s broad stole, celebrant’s chasuble, and subdeacon’s folded chasuble. Juventutem London.


  1. Cf. De Oratoribus chap. XXXIX, attributed to Tacitus (58 – c. 120)
  2. There are many chasubles that are said to have belonged to St Paul.
  3. Tertullian, De Oratione, chap. XV.
  4. Amalarius of Metz, De ecclesiasticis officiis, II, 19 (PL 105, 1095).
  5. A. King, Liturgy of the Roman Church, London-New York-Toronto, Longmans, 1957, p. 130.
  6. Even if some celebrants’ chasubles sometimes have folds or cords; this was the use in the cathedral of Rheims.
  7. De qualitate paramentorum tit. XIX, n. 6, 7. “In diebus vero ieiuniorum (præterquam in vigiliis Sanctorum) et in Dominicis et feriis Adventus et Quadragesimæ ac in vigilia Pentecostes ante Missam (exceptis Domi‐ nica Gaudete, si eius Missa infra hebdomadam repetatur, et Dominica Lætare, Vigilia Nativitatis Domini, Sabbato Sancto in benedictione Cerei et in Missa, ac quatuor temporibus Pentecostes) item in benedictione Candelarum et Processione in die Purificationis Beatæ Mariæ, et in benedictione Cinerum ac benedictione Palmarum et Processione, in Cathedralibus et præcipuis Ecclesiis utuntur Planetis plicatis ante pectus ; quam planetam Diaconus dimittit, etc. In minoribus autem Ecclesiis, prædictis diebus ieiuniorum Alba tantum induti ministrant : Subdiaconus cum manipulo, Diaconus etiam cum stola ab humero sinistro pendente sub dextrum.”
  8. “If the ministers are wearing the folded chasuble, the first acolyte rises during the last collect before the Epistle and takes the folded chasuble from the sub-deacon, then the latter takes the book, chants the Epistle, and kisses the hand of the celebrant. After returning the book, he revests again in the folded chasuble—either by the altar or at the credence—and transfers the Missal from the Gospel side with its cushion or book-stand.” Pio Martinucci, Manuale sacrarum Caerimoniarum, chap. VI, n. 14.
  9. “After the celebrant has begin reading the Gospel [in a low voice], the deacon descends from the altar by the side, as has been said. At the credence he deposits the folded chasuble and puts on the broad stole; then he takes the Gospel book, carries it to the altar, and completes the rest of his functions.” Pio Martinucci, Manuale sacrarum Caerimoniarum, chap. VI, n. 15.
  10. Caerimoniale Episcoporum, Book II, chap. XIII, n. 3.
  11. Pierre Jean Baptiste de Herdt, Pratique de la liturgie selon le rite romain, p. 213.
  12. A. Pisacara Castaldo, Praxis caeremoniarum, Neapoli, Scoriggium, 1645, p. 178.
  13. B. Gavantus—G.M. Merato, Thesaurus Sacrorum Rituum, Venetiis, Balleoniana, 1792, I, p. 48.

Lebrun: On the Priest’s Preparation


On the Priest’s Preparation as Noted in the Rubrics

Exclusion from the Garden of Eden, Masaccio


Explanation of the word RUBRIC

The name Rubrics refers to directions written in red characters. The word comes from ancient Roman Law, in which titles, rules, or important decisions were written in red.[1]Read through the red-lettered laws of our forefathers,” said Juvenal,[2] which means the rubrics of the law according to an ancient Scholiast. In the same way we speak of the rubrics of the Mass, the rules that prescribe the manner of saying it, because in fact they are commonly written in red in order that they may be better distinguished. In former times these rules were only written in particular books, called Directories, Rituals, Ceremonials, or Ordinaries. The ancient missal manuscripts and even the first printed ones contain almost no rubrics. Burchard,[3] Master of Ceremonies under the popes Innocent VIII and Alexander VI at the end of the 15th century, is the first to have included them alongside the order and ceremonies of the Mass—in the Pontifical printed at Rome for the first time in 1485, and in the Sacerdotal printed some years later and reprinted under Leo X.[4] The ceremonies of the Ordinary of the Mass were added in some Missals; and Pope Pius V, in 1570 caused them to be placed in the order and under the headings that we see today in the front of our Missals. This is the precious source of the rubrics. We will relate them all exactly and in their order, in each case noting the meaning and discovering the origins, and at the same time we will explain the prayers.

First Rubric

The Personal Preparation of the Priest

The priest celebrating the Mass, after making a sacramental confession if necessary, and after reciting at least Matins and Lauds, should take a little time for prayer, using some of the prayers below. He takes the Missal, locates the Mass texts, washes his hands, and prepares the chalice.[5]


1) The priest makes his confession, if necessary. This rule follows from the precept of the Apostle, who said: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord.”[6] “But what a crime is theirs on the one hand,” says Firmilien in his letter to St. Cyprian, “who receive, or on the other, theirs who are received, that their foulness not being washed away by the layer of the Church, nor their sins put away, communion being rashly seized, they touch the body and blood of the Lord, although it is written, Whosoever, etc.”[7] These maxims were not neglected at Carthage, where St. Cyprian speaks of those men full of faith and charity “who, although bound by no crime of sacrifice to idols or of certificate, yet, since they have even thought of such things, with grief and simplicity confess this very thing to God’s priests, and make the conscientious avowal, put off from them the load of their minds, and seek out the salutary medicine even for slight and moderate wounds.”[8] The Council of Trent[9] has distinctly indicated to priests and the faithful what they must observe regarding Confession in order to participate in the holy Mysteries; and these rules are found in many particular councils before and after the Council of Trent.[10]

2) After having said Matins and Lauds. Long vocal prayers have always been said before the holy Sacrifice with the view of exciting those desires which, as St. Augustine says, produce a greater effect the more they are stirred up in advance.[11] The night vigils and early morning prayers, so ancient a practice among Christians, were regarded as a fitting disposition for the Eucharist. When St. Athanasius was obliged to flee into exile, he was at that moment celebrating the Vigils in the church, because he was about to perform the Synax, i.e. the assembly for the Sacrifice.[12] For the same reason we find the long vigils of Saturday in Cassian,[13]and that prolongation of prayers on Sunday morning, when the monks assisted at Mass and communicated. Now, Matins and Lauds are the Office of the night and the morning. Matins was once called Vigils, the Nocturne or Nocturnes, because they were said at night. We know that for at least 1100 years without interruption this Office has been said at night in the Church of Paris;[14] we do not know when this practice began, but it was once very common.[15] But because for many centuries the majority of the churches said the Nocturne in the morning, they came to be called Matins.[16] Thus the Council of Rouen in 1256 orders that priests and chaplains should say Matins during the night; and the chapter of the cathedral of Troyes, in 1364, states that we shall continue to chant Matins at midnight.[17] With regard to Lauds, it was the office of dawn, which is clearly indicated in Gregory of Tours in the middle of the 6th century, who wrote concerning the time to say it and noted the Psalms and Chapter of which it is still composed.[18] Thus, since these offices were a first preparation for the holy Sacrifice, many councils[19] legislated just as our rubric, that Mass should not be said before the office of night and morning which is Matins and Lauds. Some ancient churches have so rigorously maintained this maxim that the office is a preparation for the holy Sacrifice, that at St. Etienne de Bourges, the Archbishop is not allowed to officiate at the Mass on the days assigned to him if he has noted assisted at First Vespers, Matins, and Lauds. It is the same at Boulogne. This is observed also at Notre-Dame de Paris, as long as indisposition or business do not impede the archbishop from going to the night office after having officiated at Vespers. This is also the custom of Auxerre. In Lyon and Vienne the archbishop must ask for a dispensation from the chapter.

The rubric adds at least, because it has often been prescribed to say Prime,[20] and even Terce[21] before the Mass, and because one would regularly have said the Hours that precede the time when one says Mass, which is to say, Prime and Terce if it is said at 9 o’clock, and even Sext if it is said around midday.

3) The priest takes a little time for prayer. Mental prayer should always be joined to vocal prayer, which is useful insofar as it is recollected, and recollection can be strengthened by a simple attention to one’s unworthiness and to the grandeur of the mysteries. Lest the tumult of the world should pose an obstacle to recollection, certain cathedral and collegiate churches have recommended that the priest whose turn it is to officiate during a particular week should spend the whole time in retreat.[22] On Saturday evening, the whole choir would lead him in procession to a separate apartment set aside for this purpose, from which he would not leave except for the Mass and the other offices. Cardinal Jiménes observed this retreat. In some places the deacon and subdeacon were also obliged to the same retreat. Two learned ecclesiastics who have researched the ancient customs of that church, under the direction of M. Fouquet the Bishop of Agde, have noted that the weekly deacon and subdeacon scrupulously observed this retreat during their week and never left the chapter house, in which they each had a separate room.

But little remains of these very edifying practices. Currently at the Abbey of Saint-Claude, the hebdomarius does not leave the cloister and during the week he observes the abstinence from meat that the whole community formerly kept.[23] Those priests whom circumstances constrain to living the common life and attending to many affairs should often groan and beg of God the gift of that recollection that befits the Holy Sacrifice.

4) He says the prayers. The ancient author who wrote under the name of St. Denys the Areopagite[24] speaks about particular inspirations that the bishop St. Carpus received during the preparatory prayers before the holy Mysteries. And St. Maximus[25] and St. Pachymeres[26] who have commented on this text understand these prayers to be private prayers the priest makes in order to dispose himself to approach the altar with purity and fervor. It has been eight or nine hundred years that we have placed these kinds of prayers in the front of Sacramentaries or Missals. The Micrologus (around 500) noted the first four Psalms[27] of the preparation that he say in the Missals, Breviaries, and all the parish registers. One hundred years previously, the Sacramentary of Trèves (written in the 10th century) only notes the first three, but it places them after lengthy Litanies of the Saints, and these Litanies were said by the whole choir at Solemn Masses.[28] This is still observed in the Cathedral of Cambrai, where every day the whole choir sings the Litanies on their knees before Mass, and in Barcelona, where they are recited.[29] One does not find precisely the same Psalms and the same prayers in all the ancient books, and the Church leaves it to the devotion and preference of the priest to choose the prayers that he judges the most appropriate to nourish his faith and piety.

5) He locates the Mass texts, so that he may understand them and say them well, and cause no tedium to the assistants by searching around in the book.

6) He washes his hands. It is a maxim of all times and of all peoples, to wash the hands before the Sacrifice. The Old Law ordered it expressly[30] and Christians have never neglected this practice. St. Cyril of Jerusalem says[31] that it is common knowledge that the ministers of the altar do not approach without having first washed their hands. “Would you dare to approach the Sacrifice without washing your hands?,” asks St. Chrysostom in his homilies to the people of Antioch;[32] and St. Augustine,[33] or rather St. Cesarius,[34] also says that all men take care to wash their hands in order to receive the Eucharist. Respect alone inspires this propriety, but the Church has it principally in view to inspire, by this exterior ablution, the interior purity that she asks for in the special Oration said while washing the hands.

7) He prepares the chalice himself, or causes it to be prepared by some other person, as the Rubric of the Missal of Paris remarks. It is also sufficient if everything necessary for the oblation is placed on the altar at the Offertory, as is done in Solemn Masses. But in Low Masses, as the priest has neither deacon or subdeacon and might need something at the time of the oblation, it is more appropriate that before he begins the Mass he carries the prepared chalice to the altar along with a bread on the paten.

**Also published at Liturgical Arts Journal.

Cleansing the Temple.jpg

Quintillian, book 2, chapter 3, Prudentius contra Symm.

[2] Causas age, perlege rubras Majorum leges (Satyr. XIV).

[3] See the Preface of Patricio, Bishop of Pienza, in the first Pontifical printed in Rome in 1485, his letter to Innocent VIII in 1488, and the Prefaces of the Sacerdotal and Pontifical under Leo X.

[4] Ordo Missae compositus per Reverendum Patrem Dominum Joannem Burcardum, olim Magistrum ceremoniarum S. R. Ecclesiae… Ordo servandus per Sacerdotes in celebratione Missae sine cantu et sine Ministris, secundum ritum S. R. Ecclesiae. Sacerdotale, trac. 4. ch. 8, p. 66.

[5] Sacerdos celebraturus Missam, praevia Confessione sacramentali, quando opus est, et saltem matutino cum laudibus absoluti, orationi aliquantulum vacet; et orationes inferius positas pro temporis opportunitate dicat. Deinde accedit ad locum in Sacristia, vel alibi praeparatum, ubi paramenta, aliaque ad celebrationem necessaria habentur: accipit missale, perquirit Missam, perlegit, et signacula ordinat ad ea, quae dicturus est. Postea lavat manus, dicens orationem inferior positam. Deinde praeparat calicem (Rubricae, Tit. 1, n. 1).

[6] 1 Cor 11:27.

[7] Quale delictum est…. ut non ablutis per Ecclesiae lavacrum sordibus, nec peccatis expositis, usurpata temere communicatione contingant corpus et sanguinem Domini, cum scriptum sit: Quicunque, etc. (Inter Ep. Cyprian. 75).

[8] Cyprian On the Lapsed.

[9] Session 13, chapter 7.

[10] Conc. Colon. (1280); Lingonense (1404); Carnotense (1526), chapter 26. Parisiense (1557), chapter 1. Burdigalense (1582), chapter 6. Remense (1583), chapter 4. Birturicense (1584), chapter 89. Aquense (1585), chapter 7.

[11] Ideo per certa intervalla horarum et temporum etiam verbis rogamus Deum, ut…ad hoc augendum nos ipsos acrius excitemus. Dignior enim sequentur effectus quem ferventior praecedit affectus (Epistle 130 ad Probam).

[12] Socrat. Hist. Eccles. book 2, chapter 8.

[13] Book 3, chapter 8 and 11.

[14] Venantius Fortunatus, Vita S. Germani and book 2, Carmen 10.

[15] Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks, book 9, chapter 6.

[16] The Customary of the Carthusians written by Guigues, fifty Prior-General, which are the first Statues of the order, called the night office Matins, apparently because they said Lauds at the same time, and the new Missals and Breviaries of Paris call them Nocturnes in order to use the terminology of antiquity.

[17] Camuzat, Promptuarium sacrum antiquitatum Trecassinae diocesis.

[18] De Vitis Patrum, chapter 6. (Ed.: See here, page 63).

[19] Synodus Parisiensis. Eudes. de Sully.. Innocent IV, epist. 40. Concilium Nemaus (1284). Concilium Lingonense (1444). Senonense (1524).

[20] Synodus Coloniensis (1280). Synodus Exoniensis (1287), chapter 21. Synodus Parisiensis, p. 7.

[21] Ibid., pag. 343.

[22] See the book entitled: Pratiques de Piete pour honorer le saint Sacrement (1683), part. 28, where it is said that in the cathedral Church of Rouen the ancient canons observed this ceremony, against the efforts of certain young people, pg. 86. But this has not been observed for many years.

[23] Among the Carthusians where the cloister and abstinence are still kept, the hebdomarius adds to these practices that of reciting the Passion of Jesus Christ. At Paris he does this in a stole at the foot of the Altar before beginning Mass, in order to bring to the altar a spirit entirely occupied with the mysteries of the Sacrifice of our Savior (Consuetudines Carthusianeses, Paris).

[24] Epistle 8, p. 790.

[25] In Dionysium, pg. 319.

[26] Page 279.

[27] Quam dilecta, Benedixisti, Inclina, Credidi.

[28] The Carthusians in Paris also say them on ferial days.

[29] They stopped singing them around 36 years ago at Tournai. At Noyon, during the procession which was made on Sunday before the Mass, the children of the choir chanted the Litanies at the altar. This seems to have been established in order to shorten the office. At Metz there is the custom of chanting the Litanies of the Saints on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays of Lent after Sext. The whole choir begin them on their knees before the altar, then continue them during the procession and end them in the church. At Toulon, on the first Sunday of each month, they are also begin in choir, and continued during the procession until the moment when they re-enter the church.

[30] Exodus 30:18.

[31] Mystagogical Catechesis, 5.

[32] Homily 3 in Epist. ad Ephesios.

[33] Sermon 229.

[34] Sermon 52.

Gemma Animae (34-36): Water, Bread, and Daily Mass

Ch. 34

On the Water

Book of Revelation, Urgell Beatus, (f°198v-199), c. 10th century

The sacrifice of water made because water flowed out of Christ’s side, and the angel told John that the waters were the people [1]. And the water is mixed with the wine, because the people, redeemed by the blood of Christ and cleansed by the water of baptism, receive Christ through the food of his bread and the drink of this wine. Now, this bread is turned into flesh because Christ the Paschal Lamb is slain for us, and our flesh is ransomed from death. The wine turns into blood, for Christ, pouring out his blood, laid down his soul for us, thus redeeming our soul, which dwells in the blood, from its sins. Without water this sacrament cannot be confected, for this Mystery is done for the sake of the people alone, for they are daily refreshed by it.


Ch. 35

On the Form of the Bread

Now the bread is made in the shape of a denarius, for Christ, the bread of life, was betrayed for a number of denarii, and he is given as the true denarius in recompense for those who labour. Therefore, the image of God is expressed with letters in this bread, for in a denarius are also imprinted the image and name of the emperor, and by this bread the image of God is restored in us, and our name is written down in the book of life [2].


Ch. 36

Why Mass is Sung Daily

Though Christ redeemed the faithful once by his death, it is necessary to repeated this sacrament daily for three reasons: one reason is so that those labouring in the vineyard might be refreshed daily by it; another is so that those who are in the number of the faithful may daily be united together and incorporated into Christ by it; the third is so that the commemoration of the Passion of Christ might be daily inculcated into the minds of the faithful that they might imitate it. Now it is offered in the following way (tali autem ordine).




[1] Rev. 17:15. The mystical symbolism of the commingling of the water and wine is explained by St. Cyprian in his beautiful Letter 62 to Caecilius: “For because among the Jews there was a want of spiritual grace, wine also was wanting. For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts was the house of Israel; but Christ, when teaching and showing that the people of the Gentiles should succeed them, and that by the merit of faith we should subsequently attain to the place which the Jews had lost, of water made wine; that is, He showed that at the marriage of Christ and the Church, as the Jews failed, the people of the nations should rather flow together and assemble: for the divine Scripture in the Apocalypse declares that the waters signify the people, saying, The waters which you saw, upon which the whore sits, are peoples and multitudes, and nations of the Gentiles, and tongues (Revelation 17:15) which we evidently see to be contained also in the sacrament of the cup.

13. For because Christ bore us all, in that He also bore our sins, we see that in the water is understood the people, but in the wine is showed the blood of Christ. But when the water is mingled in the cup with wine, the people is made one with Christ, and the assembly of believers is associated and conjoined with Him on whom it believes; which association and conjunction of water and wine is so mingled in the Lord’s cup, that that mixture cannot any more be separated. Whence, moreover, nothing can separate the Church— that is, the people established in the Church, faithfully and firmly persevering in that which they have believed— from Christ, in such a way as to prevent their undivided love from always abiding and adhering.”

This understanding is constant throughout the Middle Ages. Even the Council of Trent offers the same defense for the commingling (Session 22, c. 7):


On the water that is to be mixed with the wine to be offered in the chalice.

The holy Synod notices, in the next place, that it has been enjoined by the Church on priests, to mix water with the wine that is to be offered in the chalice; as well because it is believed that Christ the Lord did this, as also because from His side there came out blood and water; the memory of which mystery is renewed by this commixture; and, whereas in the apocalypse of blessed John, the peoples are called waters, the union of that faithful people with Christ their head is hereby represented.

[2] The Form of Eucharistic Bread.

It took some time for the hostia to take the form of a wafer. For much of liturgical history, the bread offered on the altar took the ordinary form of the bread consumed by people as their daily sustenance. But there is also evidence that it was designed by bakers with great skill. Mosaics in Ravenna depict the bread in a simple disk-shape stamped with a cross, but also in the more elaborate corona, a sort of twisted braid named for its resemblance to a crown. And for late antique textual witnesses, Gregory the Great speaks of duas oblationum coronas (Dial., IV, 55, PL, LXXVII, 417 B) and the Liber Pontificalis of Pope Zephyrinus also mentions the corona consecrata. Whatever their form, these loaves were consecrated whole then broken for distribution to the people during the Fraction rite, as we can see in the ancient papal rite found in the Ordines Romani. As Jungmann describes:

“Now acolytes stepped up to the altar, taking their stations at both sides of it. They had scarfs over their shoulders, for they were about to bear a precious burden. They all carried linen bags which, with the subdeacons’ help, they held open and ready, and in which the archdeacon placed the breads which lay on the altar. Then they divided to right and left among the bishops and priests who, at a sign from the pope, began the fraction” (MS, vol. 2., 303-304).

The custom is observable as late as the 12th century in Humbert of Silva Candida’s Adversus Graecorum Calumnias, where he says (PL 143, 952B):  tenues oblatas ex simila praeparatas integras et sanas sacris altaribus nos quoque superponimus, et ex ipsis post consecrationem fractis cum populo communicamus, but around the same time the move toward the denarius shape seems to have begun, which is essentially the decision to create the particles for Communion in advance, perhaps motivated by growing reverence for the Eucharist and fear of losing particles through breaking.

The bread was often stamped, either with a simple Cross or a more elaborate design. In the West the device used to stamp the Eucharistic bread was called a ferrum or ferramentum, the English terms for which were “bult” or “singing iron.”