The Mass Commentary of Radulphus of Rivo

Radulphus of Rivo (d. 1403) was a Dutch jurist, liturgist, historian, and dean of Tongres cathedral chapter, whose several works on the liturgy are of primary importance for understanding the development of the Mass and Breviary in the high medieval period.

Written to aid his apostolate as a reforming Augustinian, the treatise De Canonum Observantia examines the traditional sources of authority—Scripture, tradition, canons, papal decretals, commentaries, etc.—to establish “authentic” Roman practice. He lays out the criteria for a pristine Roman liturgy that eschews the encroachments of contemporary fashions. He also meets the challenge posed by the spread of the new mass and office of the Papal Court, spearheaded by the Franciscan Order.

As van Dijk has pointed out, Radulph may have been incorrect in blaming the Franciscans for the many abbreviations of the new curial books. He failed to see that the papacy had already imposed the curial liturgy on the whole city of Rome, that the pristine uses of the Roman basilicas were already gone. His manuscript studies, and information gleaned from invidious Roman clerics who hated the court at Avignon, led him astray.

In Proposition XXII—which appeared on this blog in English—he harshly criticized the Franciscan breviary compiled by Haymo of Faversham for departing from the traditional Roman order while claiming to be its only true representative. The piece raised interesting questions about the nature of Rome’s liturgical primacy.

Herein we offer our readers a translation of Proposition XXIII, where Radulphus discusses the rites of the Mass. We have added the paragraph numbers and section titles for ease of reading.

Download a PDF of the translation here.

A PDF of the critical edition of this work, edited by Leo Cunibert Mohlberg, OSB, is available


De canonum observantia
Proposition 23

We ought to observe faithfully the Mass offices of the Roman Church on Sundays and Saints’ days, so that in so doing we may humbly preserve the traditions of our Fathers

The Dominical and Apostolic Origin of Liturgical Praxis

1. Jesus Christ, the first and supreme Pontiff and Priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech, not levitical but evangelical, not of the Old Law but of the New, did at supper on the night before he was to suffer on the cross, institute and hand down to the Apostles, as a memorial of his death, the form and words for the consecration of his Body and Blood in the sacrament of the Eucharist, as we may plainly gather from the teaching of the Gospels. For as often as we shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, we shall show the death of the Lord. Thus, when Jesus said, Do this in memory of me, he expressly instituted this sacrament and tacitly abandoned the typic sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb, as Isidore says in Super Matthaeum, and as found in de Consecratione, dist. 2, Accipite. On this point see the fourth book of the Sentences, distinction 8.

2. With regard to the form for the consecration of Christ’s Blood, the holy doctors rightly believe and hold that it is the form found in the Canon, which the whole Church uses in conformity with the primitive tradition of the Apostles and holy Fathers. For many things have been added that none of the Evangelists expressed in writing. On this point, read the beautiful words of Pope Innocent III: Liber ExtraDe celebratione Missae, ch. Cum Marthae. The Apostles received the form and matter of this sacrament from our Lord Jesus Christ, preserved it, and handed it down to the Church with respect to the act of celebration itself. In what pertains to the mode or rite, time and place, the ensemble of sacred vestments and vessels, they ordained certain things explicitly as propriety demanded. Their successors followed their example and teaching. Thus the acts of the Quinisext Council state that James—Our Lord’s brother according to the flesh and the first to have trust over the Church of Jerusalem—and Basil, bishop of Caesarea, gave us the rite of Mass: de consecratione, dist. 1, Iacobus

Vestments, Vessels, and Rite in the Primitive Church

3. According to several ancient sources, in the beginning when the Church was still young, the Apostles used to celebrate Mass by means of sign of the cross and the Lord’s prayer, and “in everyday clothes and wooden chalices.” But according to the Gemma animae, “St. Clement, handing on the teaching of Peter, took the use of sacred vestments from the Law,” based on St. Peter’s teaching. St. Soter, a native of Campania, whose reign began in A.D. 125, forbade “women from touching the sacred vestments of the altar or carrying incense near the altar”[1]dist. 23, Sacratas. Thus sacred vestments are to be used only by sacred persons and put to no other uses: de consec., dist. 1, ch. In sancta, etc, and Vestimenta. Nor may they be used as wedding garments: ch. Ad nuptiarium.

4. St. Zephyrinus, the sixteenth pope, ordered that the vessels used in liturgical celebrations should be made of glass; Pope Urban I, however, decreed that they be silver: De cons. dist. 1, Vasa. “Concerning them, when St. Boniface, bishop and martyr, was asked whether it were permitted to confect the sacrament in wooden vessels, he replied that once golden priests had used wooden vessels, and now the opposite. And so, in the case of vessels as in other things pertaining to worship, with the passage of time churches grew in splendor”: ch. Vasa. And so, let the chalice be made, if not of silver, at least of tin, not of copper or brass: ch. Et calix

5. St. Stephen, a Roman, whose reign began in 258, “ordered that Church vestments used in the Lord’s service should be both sacred and worthy”: ch. Vestimenta. Sixtus II, who reigned from 261, ordered the Mass to be celebrated on an altar, which had not been done before. Felix I, a native of Rome, who reigned beginning in A.D. 166, “ordered the Mass to be celebrated over martyrs’ tombs.”

6. St. Sylvester I, a Roman, who began to reign in A.D. 315, “ordered that deacons must use dalmatics in church, and that their left hand must be covered by a linen handkerchief. For indeed, priests wore the dalmatic before they began to use the chasuble. Later, however, when they began to don the chasuble, deacons were allowed to use dalmatics.” Likewise, he established that “the sacrifice of the altar be celebrated on, not a silken or coloured cloth, but one of pure linen consecrated by the bishop, just as Our Lord’s body was buried in a clean linen shroud”: de cons. d. 1. Consulto.

7. Regarding the Urban mentioned above, we read that he ordered the admixture of water, in conformity with the teaching of Apostolic tradition on this matter: de con., dist. 2., c. 1. and the three following chapters, and that grapes not be added to the oblation, as in c. Didicimus c. dist 2.

8. St. Boniface I, a native of Rome, whose reign began in A.D. 425, prohibited nuns or any woman from touching the sacred vessels or the altar-cloths. How the sacred vestments are to be washed is explained in the chapter Nemo per ignorantiam, in de cons., dist. 1.

9. Regarding the hour Mass ought to be celebrated, St. Telesphorus, martyr, a Greek who succeeded Sixtus in A.D. 139, established that masses should be celebrated on Christmas night and “the Angelic Hymn solemnly sung. Otherwise, Mass is not to be celebrated before the third hour, when Our Lord was crucified and the Holy Ghost descended upon the Apostles”: de cons. dist. 1, Nocte. In Lent, however, it is celebrated usually at the hour of Vespers: de cons., dist. Solent. Likewise on Holy Saturday at the same time or at the beginning of the night: dist. 65, Quod a patribus and Ordinationes. Indeed, “judging by the decrees of the holy Fathers, ordinations were celebrated so late on Saturday that they were reckoned as taking place on Sunday rather than Saturday.” See Micrologus 29. Further, the current custom of saying Mass at None on fasting days, and on other days at Terce, stands on ancient authority. And when a fast and feast fall on the same day, the Mass of the feast is said festively at Terce, the Mass of the fast at None. It is done that way in Rome and Cologne. In collegiate churches the custom is to say the principal Mass at the last hour before luncheon, and when two fall on the same day, the first is said one hour before the second. Later on we shall discuss what is to be done nowadays.

Preparations

10. According to Micrologus 1 and 23: “According to the Roman custom, when the priest prepares himself for Mass, he sings the psalms Quam dilectaBenedixistiInclinaCredidiKyrie eleisonPater noster, Et ne, and the versicles Ego dixiConverteFiat misericordiaSacerdotesProtector nosterDomine exaudi, and the collects Aufer and Actiones.” 

The Introit

11. As he enters and goes toward the altar, an antiphon is sung, “which for this reason is known as the Introit in the Roman rite,” and the Ingressa in the Ambrosian. According to Sigebert and others in the Chronicles, Celestine I, a Roman, who began to reign in A.D. 418 as the forty-first in the papal succession, “decreed the 150 psalms of David should be sung by all antiphonally before the Sacrifice, something that had not been done before. Formerly, only the Epistle of St. Paul and the Holy Gospel were said. On this basis, in the Church of Rome, psalm texts set to melodic chant began to be sung at Mass: the Introit, Gradual, Offertory before the Sacrifice, and the Communion during the distribution of communion.”

12. But we should not conclude that Celestine was the first to introduce the saying of individual psalms before the Sacrifice, for our Fathers sang them from the beginning a long time before. Hence Cassian says, in his De institutis monachorum 3.10: “But we ought to know this, too, that on Sunday only one office is celebrated before dinner, at which, out of regard for the actual service and the Lord’s communion, they use a more solemn and a longer service of Psalms and prayers and lessons, and so consider that Tierce and Sext are included in it.”[2]

Excursus on liturgical development

13. Therefore, whenever we find that a particular practice has been established by more than one person, it means that the later person restored, authorized, modified, decreed, or more broadly extended an observance established by his predecessors.

14. For instance, with regard to the Epistles and Gospels, we read that the Apostles’ successors ordered the Epistles and Gospels to be read. Thus the Apostolic canons order and de consec. dist. 1 Omnes states that “the faithful who gather for the sacred liturgy should listen to the writings of the Apostles and the Gospel, and should persevere in prayer until the end of Mass.”

15. Elsewhere it is recorded that “Pope Alexander decreed the Epistle and Gospel should be read during Mass. Likewise the book entitled Comes[3] has it that the Cardinal-Priest St. Jerome chose and arranged the Epistles and Gospels as the Church has them today,” and he himself says the same in a letter to  Bishop Constantius: “Pope Damasus decreed they should be read in the way that is customary today.” 

16. In the Ambrosian rite, however, Epistles and Gospels are provided in abundance throughout the year, agreeing with the Roman rite from time to time. This rite follows a beautiful order on masses of feasts and Sundays: after the Gloria in excelsis and threefold Kyrie eleison, they read a first lesson from the Old Testament with a responsory the Ambrosian rite calls the Psalmellusand we the Gradual, a second from the New Testament with an Alleluia and verse, as in the Roman rite, and a third from the Holy Gospel, before and after which antiphons called Ante Evangelium and Post Evangelium are sung, which the Romans lack. Indeed, the Ambrosian rite is far older than the Roman rite, as explained above in proposition 12.[4] Anyone who sees the Ambrosian rite is immediately aware that the chants of the Mass, the Epistles and Gospels and many orations, responsories, antiphons, and other elements were adopted by the Roman rite. A sign of this is the fact that chants appear in both rites in the same tone, such as the Introit Gaudeamus, which is in the first tone in both rites. But the Ambrosian chant is stronger, more robust, and more ornate. 

The Mass of the Catechumens

The Confiteor

17. Let us now return to the beginning of the Mass. Pope St. Damasus, a Spaniard, who began to reign in A.D. 370, ordered that the priest should make his confession before going up to the altar. According to the Roman order, “once the priest has vested, he makes his way to the altar and says the antiphon Introibo with the psalm Iudica and makes his confession,” which Micrologus 23 gives thus briefly: I confess to almighty God, to saints so-and-so, and to all saints, and to thee my brother, that I have sinned in thought, word, deed, and pollution of mind and body. Therefore I beseech thee, pray for me. May almighty God have mercy on thee and forgive thee all thy sins, deliver thee from every evil, and keep thee in every good work, and may Jesus Christ, son of the living God, bring us to live everlasting. Amen. May the almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon and remission of all our sins. Amen.

The Dominicans have a similar formula for the confession, saying: Absolutionem et remissionem, &c., taking words from the Gospel Quodcunque solveris[5] and Quorum remiseritis.[6]

The Introit

18. In the Roman rite, the Introit is said with a psalm verse and Gloria Patri and then repeated, which is not done in the Ambrosian Ingressa. In the Gradual of blessed Gregory, two psalm verses are always given for the Introit, as we observe today in the Requiem. Some have argued, based on Celestine’s order, that “formerly the entire psalm was sung.” When the composition of Introit melodies is attributed to St. Gregory, it means that he added many Introits taken from the psalms, for in fact a good deal of them were borrowed from Ambrose. 

The Kyrie

19. The Council of Nicaea composed the Gloria Patride cons. dist. 1, de hymnis, but “Pope Damasus decreed that it should be sung at the end of each psalm. It is written that Pope Sylvester borrowed the Kyrie eleison from the Greeks, and that Pope Gregory instituted it in the Mass.” It must be noted that the Greeks and Ambrosians repeat the Kyrie eleison very often during the Hours, and in the Ambrosian Mass the Kyrie eleison is said thrice in three places: after the Gloria in excelsis, after the Gospel, and at the end of the Mass. In the Roman Mass, however, it is said nine times in a single place along with Christe eleison, which the Greeks and Ambrosians do not say. 

20. Similarly, the Ambrosians sing their Kyrie eleisonGloria in excelsisCredo, and Sanctus to a single setting, while there are few settings for the Gloria in excelsis and Sanctus in the Gradual of St. Gregory used in Rome. One must conclude that the many settings made by the seculars are without authority. And so it seems to correspond to the humility of your religious state, that you follow the Carthusians in this matter. 

The Gloria

21. The Angelic Hymn was discussed above in proposition 1. Micrologus in chapters 2 and 46 says that it is sung “on every feast with a full office,” that is to say, of nine lessons, “except in Advent, Childermas, and Septuagesima.” “Even in these seasons, however,” according to Micrologus 46, “the Gloria in excelsis is said on the birthdays of Apostles and feasts of Our Lady following the Roman custom,” but the more prudent leave this matter to local custom. “Some say that the Gloria should not be said in the afternoon, except on the day of Our Lord’s Supper when the chrism is confected, and on the Saturdays before Easter and Pentecost.

Greeting, Response, and Genuflections

22. Then turning to the people the priest says Dominus vobiscum,” which is taken from the Old Testament book of Ruth. The Pax vobis is taken from the New Testament, from the Gospel; the response Et cum spiritu tuo from the epistles of Paul; and the Amenfrom Apocalypse. The popes taught us to say all these things as handed down by our Lord, and Pope Clement or Anacletus ordered them to be said.” The Ambrosians usually say Dominus vobiscum, et cum spiritu tuo without turning, then Oremus

23. Note that according to Micrologus 2 “these words presuppose several persons who respond and one who greets. But just as it is foolish to respond Et cum spiritu tuo to more than one greeter, it is equally inappropriate to greet with Dominus vobiscum when only one or even none are present. Therefore, the most blessed Apostolic Fathers Anacletus, fifth after Peter, and Soter, third after Peter according to our list above, have established it thus in their decrees, that there should be at least two other persons present when a priest says Mass: de cons., dist. 1, Hoc quoque statutum est” “for a priest may not celebrate Mass or any other of the divine offices without the assistance of at least one minister.” “The Apostolic Lord Zachary, ninety-third in the succession, decreed that priests should not come in to celebrate Mass bearing a staff, nor stand at the altar with their head covered: de consec., dist. 1, Nullus episcopus. Also, the Holy Fathers at the council of Orléans, in the third chapter, decided that not only the clergy and those in religious vows, but the whole people should respond to the priest’s greeting with one voice.”

24. According to Micrologus 28, Flectamus genua is said on the Ember days (save those of Pentecost), on Wednesday before the first collect, on Friday before the principal collect, and on Saturday before each of the first four collects. In the prayer about the furnace, the genuflexion is omitted in imitation of the three young men who refused to adore the idols of the Gentiles. And according to the Roman order, we kneel in Lenten Masses after the greeting.[7] The same holds for both collects on the Wednesday following Palm Sunday. But the Franciscans omit these genuflections because they are not done in the Papal Chapel. 

The Collect

25. Then an oration follows that is called the Collect for a particular reason, since among the Romans it is said over an assembly of people as they gather to proceed from one church to another to hold the station. For example, the collect Concede is said on Ash Wednesday at Sant’Anastasia, when the station is at Santa Sabina. At Sant’Adriano on the Assumption, the oration is Veneranda. On the Nativity of Mary, the prayer is Supplicationes servorum, when according to the custom of Pope Gregory, the procession leaves Sant’Adriano for St. Mary Major. The Friars omit these two orations without cause, because they are not said in the Chapel.[8]

26. Now, “according to the Roman order, we ought to say only one oration before the reading, as Micrologus 4 states, and as Amalarius, among others, claims in the prologue to De Officiis to have learned from the Romans themselves. The very nature of the ecclesial offices seems to require that, just as during one Mass we read one Lesson and one Gospel and one Introit—indeed, we sing but one office—so we ought to say only one oration. But some people multiply orations to such an extent that they annoy those assisting. Wiser men say one, three, five, or seven: one to follow the Roman tradition, three because Our Lord prayed three times before the Passion, five because of His five-fold Passion, and seven because the Holy Apostles are said to have consecrated the Holy Mysteries with the seven-fold Lord’s Prayer. In the use of Liège no more than five are said. On the Feast of the Nativity, the Romans add a second oration of St. Anastasia because the day’s station is held in that martyr’s church.[9] We imitate them on this point, even if we do not have the same occasion for the addition.” 

27. But Rhabanus, Archbishop of Mainz, says in his Liber Sacramentorum[10] that he asked the ministers of St. Peter’s in Rome how many orations they were used to say before the Epistle in Masses when more than one oration occurs, as in the second Mass of the Nativity and on Sundays when feasts are commemorated. The response they gave him was that only one is said. Hence he says he learned about the order of orations at Mass from a work of St. Ambrose and St. Augustine: when Christmas Mass is held in the place where the body of the holy martyr lies, let the oration of St. Anastasia be said according to the Roman custom; where this is not the case, only that of the Incarnation. Likewise for other feasts and on all other days when we celebrate Masses per annum. Thus in older books, when two Masses fall on the same day, two are to be said, such as on the Invention of the Holy Cross, on the feast of St Augustine, on the Decollation of John the Baptist, All Saints, and others. The unity of a Mass demands, therefore, that no matter how many orations there might be, the first one must always be said by itself,[11] even if there are only two according to Roman custom and the more approved uses. 

28. We also know that in the Ambrosian office four orations are said at Mass: the first super populum after the Ingressa; the second super syndonem after the Gospel; the third after the Preface, as we do; the fourth after the Communion. We use the same number in Lent, albeit not in this order. They also say the Gloria in excelsis and Kyrie after the first oration, but we keep the opposite order after the Introit, saying the Kyrie eleison and Gloria then the orations. Now, St. Ambrose composed a great number of orations for the Mass, and after him St. Gelasius increased their number. I spoke about the authority of these orations above in the thirteenth proposition.[12]

29. The Gospel commands us that we are to beseech the Father in the name of the Son, and we shall receive what we ask for. Nearly all the orations, therefore, conclude with Per Dominum. A very small number end with a different conclusion to fit the sense. In every conclusion we commemorate the Holy Trinity. The Roman order and very ancient codices place the name of God in the midst of the formula, saying: Qui tecum vivit et regnat Deus in unitate Spiritus Sancti, and the Ambrosians still retain this way. But the moderns tack it on the end,[13] and this way of concluding has taken such hold among the Romans and other nations that it is no longer possible to observe the ancient tradition without giving scandal. According to Roman authority, no oration concludes with Per eum qui venturus est except ones that adjure the devil.[14]

30. During the oration, all stand following the ancient tradition of the Holy Fathers, and, as a sign of assent, must say Amen, in order to confirm the communal prayer made by the priest on behalf of all. Thus in the Secret he says the conclusion Per omnia saecula saeculorum in a louder voice so that the people can give their assent to it. 

The Readings and Intercalary Chants

31. We have already spoken about the Lesson and Gospel. From the Ambrosian order,[15] the Romans take only one lesson, from either the Old or New Testament, along with the Gradual and Alleluia. Some say that even today, in many churches of the city of Milan, they are content to follow the Roman custom of only one Lesson with Alleluia. Nevertheless, in the Duomo the ancient practice is always kept, which has been received into the Roman office only for the four masses of Our Lord’s Nativity. This is why in some Italian churches, at the three Masses of Christmas day, they say the Gradual after the first reading, imitating the custom of blessed Ambrose. And at the Vigil they split up the Gradual, singing the first part after the first lesson, and the verse after the second lesson. 

32. But our dear Friars removed these first readings from the Roman office for the six Wednesdays before Saturdays of ordination. In the Roman Office there are two Lessons with two Responsories. Micrologus 52 says that on the Monday and Wednesday after Palm Sunday, two readings are read back to back as on the Nativity of Our Lord. 

33. Ambrose put many Graduals and Alleluias into his office. Gregory put these and others into the Roman office. “Abbot Notker is said to have composed some Sequences for the melismas of the Alleluias, which Pope Nicholas allowed to be sung at Mass.” I have found a few Sequences in old Roman books, but many have added many more. Everyone loves his own novelties. It seems safer to follow the Carthusians and Cistercians in these matters. The jubili or melismas of the Graduals and Alleluias should not be removed, unless Sequences are sung in their place. 

34. “Roman authority permits only subdeacons wearing sacred vestments to read the Epistle,” as Micrologus 8 states, and dist. 34 Si subdiaconus. In chapter three, St. Hormisdas, fifty-third pope after blessed Peter, lays it down that no one who is not ordained—that is, who has never been elevated by consecration or ecclesiastical custom—should perform the office of the ordained. The canons of several other councils prohibit any person to read in church, to sing the psalms in public, to say the Alleluia, or to perform an exorcism unless he be ordained for these functions. † But concerning the Epistle (title) De vita et honestate (clericorum) of the cited chapter Ut clerici say as there. “But there is nothing preventing a priest from performing the duties of the lower orders at Mass if necessary, since the priestly order contains all the lower orders, so long as he is wearing sacred vestments, without which we may not minister at the altar, according to the Roman order.” “Thus it is more fitting that he should read the Epistle and the Gospel himself than that he should permit an unordained man to do it.” 

35. Anastasius I, a native of Rome, whose reign began in 304, ordered that no one in the church should sit while the Holy Gospel is being read, rather everyone should hear Our Lord’s words attentively and faithfully adore them: de consecratione dist. 1, Apostolica. The Greeks are said to show the same reverence to the Lesson of the Apostle, as Micrologus 9 says. Now, according to the Roman order, the deacon reads the Gospel in the ambo turned toward the South, where the men are assembled. The priest at the altar, however, reads on the left corner so that the right side is free for receiving the oblations and performing the sacrifice. Today the custom of the deacon also turning toward the North has grown to such an extent that it is considered part of the order. On this point, Micrologus 9 speaks more at length. The order also prescribes that he who is to read the Gospel should make a sign of the cross on his forehead and on his chest. The Roman order also prescribes that incense and candles should precede the Gospel as it is carried either to the altar or to the ambo. The Ambrosians, Romans, and other nations usually do not agree regarding the Gospels read on Sundays and many other feasts. On these days we follow our own ancient books, without prejudice, of course, to the Apostolic See, if it has ordered otherwise. 

The Creed

36. St. Mark, a native of Rome and successor of Silvester, who began his reign in the A.D. 339 or 340, decided that the Nicene Creed, i.e. the Credo in unum Deum, should be said aloud after the Gospel. Then Pope Damasus ordered that the same form of the Creed, which proclaims the faith of the Greeks and Latins and was handed down by the Holy Fathers after the Council of Nicaea in the second holy and universal synod celebrated at Constantinople during his reign, circa A.D. 387, should be sung at Mass on solemn days. In accordance with the canons it must be sung on all Sundays of the year, on all feasts of Our Lord, the Holy Cross, Our Lady, the Holy Apostles, All Saints, the Dedication of a church; and not without good reason, since this Creed alludes to each in some way. The same holds for the octaves of Easter and Pentecost, which are reckoned along with the principal day as one single feast. As Innocent III of happy memory says in De celebratione Missae, ch. Consilium: “On Saturdays when Mass is celebrated in honour of the Blessed Virgin, this Creed is not sung in the Roman Church, in order to manifest the difference between a solemnity and a commemoration.”

37. From this principle it follows that the Creed should not be sung during the other major octaves either. There are various opinions and arguments, however, concerning whether it ought to be sung on octave days or on the feasts of St. Michael, the Nativity of John the Baptist, Mary Magdalene, Mark, Luke, and Martin. And indeed the Creed is not said in masses of angels, virgins, martyrs, and pontiffs. Neither is it sung on the first and second Mass of Christmas night, albeit some have taught that it should be sung especially solemnly at the principal Mass.[16] The genuflection that same people make beginning with the words Descendit de coelis and ending in the words et resurrexit is not supported by any authority. The Council of Nicaea forbids genuflection on the Lord’s day: de cons. dist. 3. Quoniam; nor should it be done on other major feasts: De feriis 2.

38. The secular manner of singing the Creed in cantus fractus[17] does not befit your religious observance. Follow instead the Carthusian monks, from whose fellowship you are not separated, as said above. 

The Mass of the Faithful

The Offertory Chant

39. “Concerning the Offertory sung during the ceremony of offering, although some have said that it came into Christian use by way of the previous people, we do not find clear evidence regarding when precisely someone added it to our offices,” as some Chronicles relate. “Similarly in the case of the antiphon[18] sung at the end: we truly believe that in ancient times the holy Fathers both offered and communicated in silence, a practice that we continue to observe on Holy Saturday. But over time, in sundry ways and various places, the beauty of the Church has developed and will never cease to increase until the end of time.” Some people ascribe the Offertories to St. Gregory. It is indeed true that St. Gregory took many from the Ambrosian office, and composed many more, and added to all of them a great many verses, which are contained in ancient books from Rome as well as our own. But today these have all been pared down, and the Offertory is sung all the more slowly as a result.[19]

The Offertory

40. The offertory follows immediately upon the Gospel: de cons., dist. 1, Omnis, while the Offertory is sung, whose name comes from the action of offering. Hence the offertory is indeed performed in the opposite way, as the priest only asks the people to pray after he has placed the offerings on the altar.[20] Pope St. Alexander, a native of Rome, the fifth pope after Peter, whose reign began A.D. 121, ordered that only bread and wine mixed with water should be offered in Our Lord’s sacrifice, because blood and water flowed forth together from Our Lord’s side: de cons., dist. 2, In sacramentorum. Hence St. Cyprian: “In the Lord’s chalice the wine, I say, must not be without water, lest the people, who according to the Apocalypse are signified by water, appear to be separated from Christ”: de cons. dist. 2, ch. 2, 3, and 4).  The same Pope Alexander also ordered that this oblation should be made of a small quantity of unleavened bread, saying: “The smaller, the more potent.” He also ordered that the people be sprinkled with salted water that has been exorcized and blessed: de cons., dist. 3, Aquam

41. There are two customs regarding the arrangement of the oblation on the altar: one is the Roman custom, practiced by the Italians and Germans using two corporals, both of which must be of pure linen: de cons., dist. 1, Consulto. The French use only one. “In the Roman order,” according to Micrologus 10, “the oblation is placed on the corporal and the chalice is set to its right side, as if to receive the blood that flowed from our Lord’s side. But the French cover the chalice with the fold of one corporal and place the oblation in front, which many do even when doing service with two corporals. Some Chronicles claim that Leo I, about whom we shall speak below, decided that once the offertory is completed, the oblation should be incensed in memory of Christ’s death. Elsewhere it is written that the Council of Rouen ruled to this effect. Micrologus 9 states that the Roman order does not permit incensation of the oblation on the altar, a practice Amalarius, in the prologue to his De Officiis, claims the Romans avoid, even though many, nay, almost everyone does it.

The Offertory Prayers

42. The Roman order, according to Micrologus 11, instituted no prayer before the Secret. In the Gallican order, however, once the offertory is completed the priest says, Veni sanctificator omnipotens aeterne Deus, benedic hoc sacrificium tuo nomini praeparatum, per Christum Dominum nostrum. Then bowing low over the altar he says, not according to any order but by ecclesiastical custom: Suscipe sancta Trinitas hanc oblationem, quam tibi offerimus in memoriam passionis, resurrectionis, ascensionis Domini nostri Iesu Christi, et in honorem sanctae Dei genitricis Mariae, sancti Petri, et sancti Pauli, et istorum, atque omnium sanctorum tuorum, ut illis proficiat ad honorem, nobis autem ad salutem: Et illi pro nobis dignentur intercedere in caelis, quorum memoriam agimus in terris. Per Christum.” The priest, rising, exhorts the people to pray saying the Orate pro me, which is ascribed to Pope Leo. In the aforesaid prayer Suscipe, there should be no mention of Christ’s Nativity, because in this sacrifice we should proclaim not Our Lord’s nativity but his death, according to the Apostle. 

43. When it comes to this sort of prayers, the more conscientious observers of the order leave much to general custom, avoiding what is superfluous as far as possible. Hence the Dominicans say only three articles, leaving out everything else. First, as they take and elevate both species at once, they say the verses Quid retribuam and Calicem, then a shorter prayer: Suscipe sancta Trinitas hanc oblationem, quam tibi offero in memoriam passionis Domini nostri Iesu Christi, et praesta, ut conspectu tuo tibi placita ascendat, et meam et omnium fidelium salutem operetur aeternam. Per Christum. Then bowing low they say: In spiritu humilitatis, and omitting the third verse[21] they say: Orate fratres, ut meum pariter et vestrum in conspectu Domini sit acceptum sacrificium. The Ambrosians have many long prayers at this point. The Secret orations are said in the same order as the Collects. In the Ambrosian rite they are said aloud. 

The Preface

44. After the Secret the priest begins the Preface, whose mention of the heavenly citizens is fitting, since they are believed to be present at that point. That is why the angelic hymn follows right after. The Sursum corda is taken from Jeremiah, Gratias agamusfrom the Apostle. St. Cyprian says that “the priest before the Canon utters a prefatory injunction, and prepares the minds of the brethren by saying Sursum corda: in order that, as the people respond, Habemus ad Dominum, they may be warned that they ought to think of nothing but the Lord. Let the breast be closed against the adversary and open to the only God; let it not allow God’s enemy to approach it in the time of prayer”: de cons., dist. 1, Quando autem stamus.[22] The Gemma says that Dionysius the Areopagite is thought to have composed the Prefaces. Ambrose wrote a book of Prefaces,[23] many of which are quoted in the Lombardic History.[24] The Ambrosian office sings a proper preface at every Mass. St. Gelasius I, about whom we spoke above in Proposition 11, composed treatises and hymns in the manner of St. Ambrose, and among his other works he wrote prefaces and prayers in a sparing and polished style. There are many prefaces in our oldest missals too. But Pelagius I, a native of Rome, who began to reign in A.D. 558, decreed that only nine Prefaces should be included in the sacred list: de cons. dist. 1, Invenimus. Sigibert, however, ascribes this act to Pelagius II. During the Council of Piacenza held in 1095, Urban II, who began to reign in A.D. 1088, added to these nine ancient Prefaces a tenth for the Blessed Virgin, which is found under dist. 70, Sanctorum. About his other council in France, I have spoken in Proposition 20. 

45. As a general rule, prefaces are used throughout their seasons and days at every Mass, provided no proper one exists. So the Preface of the Nativity is said up until the Epiphany, except on John’s day and the octaves; the Preface of the Epiphany for eight days; the Preface of Lent on Sundays as well as their ferias, from Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday, as Micrologus 50 says; on Palm Sunday and the four subsequent days, the Preface of the Holy Cross; the Preface of the Resurrection from the vigil of Easter to Ascension, and the Preface of the Ascension thenceforth until the vigil of Pentecost; the Preface of the Holy Spirit from then until Trinity and whenever the Holy Spirit is honored; the Preface of the Holy Trinity whenever a Mass of the Trinity is sung, during its octave, and on all Sundays between Trinity and Advent, both when the Mass of the Sunday and when a nine-lesson feast is sung. This is the custom among the English, Germans, and many other nations. Micrologus 60 says that, according to Roman authority, this Preface should be used on all Sundays. But the Friars follow the abbreviated forms of the papal chapel.[25]The Preface of Our Lord’s Nativity is repeated on Corpus Christi and its octave; those of the Holy Cross, the Blessed Virgin, and the Apostles are said whenever their feasts are celebrated, continued throughout their octaves, and the latter is also used for feasts of Evangelists.

The Sanctus

46. Sixtus I, a native of Rome, who succeeded Alexander in A.D. 129, decreed that the hymn Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus should be sung before the sacrifice, taking half of it from Isaias and half from the Gospel. He also decreed that the sacred vessels should not be touched save by Our Lord’s consecrated ministers: de cons. dist. 1, In sancta Apostolica. We spoke of this at more length above. The priest must say this hymn, lest after begging in the Preface that his voice and others’ be allowed to join the angels’ praises, he leave out his own prayer. 

The Canon

47. The author who composed the prayer we call, after the Roman manner, Canon or Action, since it is used for regular confection of the sacrament, is not identified explicitly in written sources, except that St. Gregory claims it was composed by a certain scholastic. It is believed that this scholastic was St. Gelasius. Nevertheless, we do read that many things were later inserted into the Canon by holy prelates, as may be gathered from the following decrees and acts of the Roman Pontiffs. St. Clement I, a native of Rome, is said to have instituted a prayer before the consecration; hence some have attributed the Te igitur, clementissime paterto him. St. Alexander, whom we spoke of earlier, ordered the insertion of a commemoration of Our Lord’s very passion; hence some attribute the prayer Unde et memores to him. 

48. “Concerning the signs of the cross made over the oblation, which are performed variously by different people,” so says Micrologus 14, “we deem that we have taken their form especially from the Apostolic See, from whom we have received the origin and order of the whole Christian religion. Indeed, in our age, God has appointed as ruler of that see Gregory of—I insist—reverend memory, a man who, reared and educated in Rome under ten of his predecessors, diligently sought to discover all the traditions handed down by the Apostles, and, once he had found them, zealously made a record of them. In what pertains to the sacred mysteries, therefore, we imitate this doctor, so distinguished in piety and authority, above all; or rather, we imitate apostolic tradition through him. So, based on what we have from him and the bishops who have taken him as their model, we make an odd number of signs of the cross over the oblation: one, three, or five. There is a definite mystery at the basis of this practice: for through one and three, we signify God, who is three and one; five crosses, on the other hand, represent Our Lord’s five-fold passion. Odd numbers come up often in the ecclesiastical offices, and for good reason, since their unity prevents them from being divided into two equal parts, just as the unity of the Holy Church cannot be split into two parts. 

49. In the first place, where we say Haec dona, haec munera, haec sancta sacrificia, we make only three signs of the cross over the bread and wine together, for we never make a sign over the bread or chalice separately, except when they are named separately in the Canon. We make a sign of the cross over both in such a way that only the upright part of the cross is traced over the bread, while the transverse part is traced above the chalice, for the upright part of the cross bore Our Lord’s body, and the transverse part stretched out his arms. Moreover, the chalice is thus fittingly set under his arms, as if ready to receive Our Lord’s blood from his side.[26]

50. Roman authority permits names of living faithful to be mentioned in the first Memento and the names of the faithful departed in the second, as I shall say below. Public recitation of names before the Canon, however, is prohibited according to the same distinction, toward the end.[27] Micrologus 13 says that according to the older and more correct sacramentaries, the following words in the Canon are superfluous: first, the phrase et rege nostro, et omnibus orthodoxis atque catholicae et apostolicae fidei cultoribus, since a commemoration of the living is made in the subsequent prayer; likewise the phrase Pro quibus tibi offerimus, since the offerers are referred to elsewhere only in the third person;[28] likewise, instead of circumstantium, it has circumastantium. Likewise, in the prayer Unde et memores, the word eiusdem is superfluous. Likewise, the second Memento is in this form: Memento etiam Domine et eorum nomina, qui nos praecesserunt cum signo &c. But the Canon can no longer be executed in this manner, in line with ancient Roman tradition, without giving rise to scandal, a thing that the Apostle and the Gospel teach us to avoid. Nevertheless, it seems exceedingly temerarious that we should add to the ancient Canon at our own discretion, except what we know the Holy Fathers added or ordered to be added, especially when we read that none of the holy Fathers added anything, except those who, being endowed with apostolic authority, had the power to do so. It seems best, therefore, not to exceed the limits set by our forefathers in this matter, and not to offend apostolic authority by presuming to add our own interpolations in the Canon, a prerogative that pertains solely to the apostolic power.

51. According to a certain chronicle, Pope Siricius, a native of Rome, who began to reign on A.D. 388, added Communicantes et memoriam venerantes &c. to the Canon of the Mass. But we must not add other saints’ names besides those we find enumerated in the Canon. The only exception, according to Micrologus 13, is in the prayer after the Pater noster, where the order permits the addition of as many saints’ names as we please. On the greatest feasts, moreover, we modify several elements of the Communicantes and Hanc igitur oblationem in the Canon, but we do so on the authority of the most ancient and correct sacramentaries—I mean on our Lord’s Nativity, Epiphany, Maundy Thursday, Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost. And these phrases should only be added on the feast days themselves, and during the six days of Easter and Pentecost. 

52. Gregory III, a native of Rome, who began to reign in 751, built a chapel dedicated to All Saints in St. Peter’s basilica, and added the phrase Quorum solemnitas hodie in conspectu tuae maiestatis celebratur, Domine Deus noster, in toto orbe terrarum to the Canon. Because it pertains to this particular feast, it is not added to the Canon in its general form. 

53. The beginning of the Hanc igitur prayer, which they attribute to St. Leo the Great, more on whom below. Blessed Gregory I added Diesque nostros in tua pace until Per Christum, as everybody writes and it shall be said. We wrote about the institution of the words of consecration previously, where we referred to the decretal of Innocent III.

54. The priest represents Christ’s humiliation unto death upon the cross before us when he bows over the altar saying, Hanc igitur oblationem. And immediately he begins the narrative of Our Lord’s Passion in the subsequent words. It lasts until Supplices te rogamus; until that point he remains bowed in front of the altar, signifying the crucified Christ who bowed his head and gave up the ghost. 

55. In the phrase Ut nobis fiat corpus et sanguis, “this oblation” is implied. And here it is fitting that we make three crosses over both, even though we have five words suitable for the purpose, in order to avoid exceeding the aforementioned limit of five, and though we might also reasonably make a fifth over the chalice as a token of the fifth wound, whence blood and water flowed out. Our Lord’s Passion is recalled in a special way in the Canon, according to the Gospel Haec quotiescumque, and the Apostle: Quotiescunque igitur. Therefore, according to Micrologus 16, the priest keeps his hands outstretched throughout the entire Canon, in order to signify before the assembly both his own devout mind and Christ stretched out upon the Cross, as in the verse Expandi manus meas tota die. He need not keep his fingers pressed together out of excessive caution, for in vain are we cautious if we do not strive with all our might to imitate Christ.[29] It is fitting, therefore, to stretch out our hands during the Canon, taking care to touch nothing with our fingers except the body of Christ, and we should not let our hands fall from this position except when signs of the cross must be made. 

56. Leo I, a native of Tuscany, who began to reign in A. D. 443, 47th in the succession—all the Chronicles say he was a skilled homilist—added Sanctum sacrificium, immaculatam hostiam to the prayer Supra quae. At the prayer Supplices te rogamus, there should be a profound inclination. (Here cite texts of saints who say that the entire heavenly court, namely the glorious Virgin, the choirs of angels, and all the saints are present at the consecration.)[30]

57. The faithful departed are commemorated in the second Memento, after Christ’s death, because we should commemorate only those who have died redeemed in Christ’s death and ended their life in Christ. Hence the Council of Chalcedon decreed, as found in de cons. dist. 1. Visum, that in all Masses the commemoration of souls should be made at the proper place. The Church has kept this custom from antiquity, a fact confirmed by the testimony of St. Augustine. 

58. When the priest raises his voice at the words “Nobis quoque,” he represents the centurion, who, upon witnessing Christ’s death, exclaimed, “Truly, this man was the son of God.” Here as above, the holy martyrs are not enumerated in the order in which they were martyred. From this fact, we can see that the Canon was not compiled by the same person or at the same time. Here four crosses are made over the chalice, and a fifth on its side as before, symbolizing the wound in Our Lord’s side. That is why, according to the Roman order, the chalice is touched on that same side. And as Micrologus 17 says, it is incorrect to make two crosses on the side, because Christ had only one side wound. But as we said earlier, Pope Gregory of reverend memory did it this way, since St. Anselm, bishop of Lucca, claims to have learned it from him. Furthermore he always kept this practice and indicated in the strongest terms that we should do it so. In the Ambrosian rite the confraction takes place at this point, and an antiphon called the Confractorium is sung. 

59. At the words Per omnia saecula saeculorum, the body and the chalice are elevated and the latter is covered as soon as it is put down, because Joseph raised Our Lord’s body from the cross, placed it in the sepulcher, and shut it with a stone. Until this point the chalice has been covered, probably as a precaution. Henceforth it is covered more on account of the mystery, since just as Christ lay covered in the sepulcher for three days, so we cover Our Lord’s body and chalice until we have complete three prayers, namely the preface to the Lord’s Prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, and the one that follows, called the embolism of the Lord’s Prayer. 

60. Gregory I, a native of Rome, a most eminent doctor, 61st in the succession, who began to reign in A.D 562, among the many useful things he did and legislated for the Church, compiled a convenient Antiphonary by patching together and ordering various materials. He ordered that the clergy sing Kyrie eleison at Mass; he caused the Alleluia to be sung in the Roman Church outside of Septuagesima—a practice he borrowed from the church of Jerusalem—and the Tract between Septuagesima and Easter. In the Canon, he added Diesque nostros in tua pace disponas until Per Christum Dominum nostrum; and after the consecratory Canon, he added Praeceptis salutaribus moniti, and in his Registrum he claims he added the Lord’s Prayer. When some murmured on this account, he satisfied them with a humble reply, asserting that it was unseemly for a prayer composed by a scholastic to be said over the oblation, while the prayer believed to have been used at Our Lord’s bidding by the Apostles to confect the same sacraments is omitted. 

61. Praeceptis salutaribus, Pater noster, Libera nos, Domine ab omni malo, praesentibus, praeteritis, et futuris, et intervenientibus beata et gloriosa semper Virgine Dei genetrice, et beatis Apostolis Petro et Paulo, atque Andrea—Here, according to Micrologus 23, one can name however many saints he likes—cum omni(bus sanctis), da propitius pacem in diebus nostris, ut ope misericordiae tuae adiuti, et a peccato simus semper liberi—here he takes up the paten, kisses it, and puts it back down, according to Microloguset omni pertubatione securi

62. Here and at Per Dominum, the confraction is done over the paten, first on the right side, to symbolize the beating of Our Lord’s body, then the greater part is broken in two, according to Micrologus 17. One part is put into the chalice, another is consumed by the priest before he communes from the chalice, and the third is left for those who will communicate and for the sick. Pope Sergius explains the meaning of these three parts: de consec. dist. 2. Triformeand Sentences 4, dist. 12. The Gallican custom is to make the confraction over the chalice. In the Roman order“after dropping the particle into the chalice, the priest says quietly Fiat commixtio et consecratio corporis et sanguinis Domini nostri Iesu Christi, accipientibus nobis in vitam aeternam. Amen.

63. Pope St. Innocent I,” a native of Albano, “40th in the succession, whose reign began in A. D. 407, ordered that the peace be given after the confraction”: de cons., dist. 2, Pace. “And the peace is fittingly given before communion, since he who presumes to receive communion without first making peace with his brother, ‘eateth and drinketh judgement to himself.’ By custom, we give peace to the person standing next to us saying Pax tecum. The response is Et cum spiritu tuo.

64. Sergius I, a native of Syria, 87th in the succession, who began to reign in A.D. 677, ordained that during the fraction of Our Lord’s body, the clergy and the people should sing the Agnus Dei” to beg that he who was offered up for us as an innocent victim might have mercy on us. 

65. Before the priest receives communion, he bows down and says, Domine Iesu Christe, qui voluntate patris cooperante Spiritu sancto per mortem propriam mundum vivificasti, libera me per hoc sacrosanctum corpus et sanguinem tuum, ab omnibus iniquitatibus et malis meis, et fac me tuis inhaerere mandatis, et  a te numquam in perpetuum separari, qui cum Patre, etc. “When he distributes the Eucharist, he says Corpus et sanguinis Domini nostri Iesu Christi proficiat tibi in vitam aeternam. Amen. All ought to receive communion; meanwhile an antiphon is sung whose name derives from the act of communion, and a psalm with Gloria Patri is added if need be, according to Micrologus 18. And this antiphon always takes its verses from the same psalm as the Introit, unless the antiphon is taken from a different psalm.” In Rome the old books contain such verses.[31] In the Ambrosian rite, this antiphon is called the transitorium.

66. “The prayer Domine Iesu Christe, qui nobis, which we say bowed before communicating, does not come from the order but from monastic tradition. The same is the case for the prayer Corpus et sanguinis Domini nostri Iesu Christi which we say when distributing the Eucharist to others. There are many other prayers various persons are accustomed to say privately at the Peace and Communion,” but according to Micrologus 18, “the more conscientious observers of the ancient traditions have taught us to strive for brevity in these sort of private prayers, and to prefer public prayers in the Mass office. Pope St. Innocent, writing to the bishops Sts. Augustine and Aurelius, asserted that common and public prayers are more profitable to us than solitary and private prayers.” 

67. “The habit some have of dipping Our Lord’s body and distributing the people communion by intinction is not grounded in authority. For the Roman order speaks against this, and Pope Julius, 36th in the succession, writing to the bishops of Egypt, absolutely forbids this sort of intinction, and teaches that the bread and chalice are to be consumed separately, as Our Lord established. Pope St. Gelasius 51st in the succession, writing to certain bishops, orders that those who receive Our Lord’s body but not the chalice be excommunicated, and in the same decree asserts that this sort of separation cannot but give rise to great sacrilege.

68. After everyone has received communion, the priest, according to the Roman order, silently says the prayer Quod ore sumpsimus, mente capiamus, et de munere temporali fiat nobis remedium sempiternum. After this follow the Postcommunion oration or orations, which must match in number and order the Collects before the Lesson and the Secrets before the Preface. Clearly, these orations are meant not for those about to receive communion, but for those who have just received communion, as their very name suggests. And therefore those who wish to receive a blessing from these prayers do not neglect to receive communion before them.

69. After these are finished, there follows the Benedicamus Domino or—if it is a feast with a Gloria in excelsisIte, missa est. All respond Deo gratias for the blessings received, in conformity with the Apostle.” “Ite, missa est, whence the Mass derives its name, is taken from the Old Testament, in the place where Pharaoh allows the people to depart, and in the place where Cyrus orders the people to depart from Babylon. Benedicamus Domino is taken from the psalter, and Deo gratias from the Apostle. Pope Leo ordained that these be said. The bishop Martial,[32] a disciple of the Apostles, passed down the practice of the episcopal blessing on the basis of the Apostles’ teaching.[33] Those who used them added to their number with praiseworthy zeal, and Ambrose began to say them, and from him this custom spread everywhere. The Apostolic Lord, however, only says what is said at the end of Mass.” 

70. “After all this, the priest kisses the altar saying Placeat tibi sancta Trinitas obsequium servitii mei, et praesta, ut hoc sacrificium quod oculis tuae maiestatis ego indignus obtuli, mihi et omnibus pro quibus illud obtuli, te miserante, sit propitiabile, per Christum Dominum nostrum. As he removes his vestments, he sings the hymn of the three young men. The holy Fathers of the fourth Council of Toledo decreed that a priest who neglects to say this hymn after Mass is to be excommunicated. Then in thanksgiving he says the Psalm Laudate Dominum in sanctis eiusKyrie eleisonPaster noster, and the versicles” Confiteantur tibi Domine omnes, Exsultabunt, Exsultent iusti, Non nobis, Domine exaudi orationem mean and the collects Deus qui tribus pueris and Actiones nostras.

Conclusion

71. From the aforegoing, we can see how carefully all the things observed in the Holy Mass have been ordained and authoritatively introduced, a fact that should cause us to take heed not to uproot the Roman offices without cause where they are customary, or do things differently from how they are written. St. Alexander, whom we have mentioned before, says: “Just as this oblation excels and is better than all others, so it must be cultivated and venerated better than others”: de cons., dist. 1 Nihil.

72. Let us therefore cultivate and venerate the Holy Mass of the Gregorian office, and, unless impeded by a major feast, let us above all make sure to celebrate the Sunday Masses with all due Glorias,[34] rather than relegate them to ferial gloom. And so, between Easter and Pentecost,[35] within major Octaves, and when vigils of saints fall on Sunday, and above all on their Sundays, let us say the Sunday masses with all due Glorias. It will not do to let the joys of Sunday be hidden in some feria. Let us not omit the Epistles and Gospels handed down to us by the Roman Church. When other proper and special Masses fall on a Sunday or another feast, let them be said early in the morning or at another suitable hour.[36] Let us not neglect the morrow Mass on the feasts of John the Evangelist, John the Baptist, Lawrence, and whenever else there might be one. When St. Gregory ordained two Masses on the same day—as on both feasts of the Holy Cross, of St. Augustine, of the Decollation of St John, on All Saints, and whenever else[37]—by all means let them both be said at some point on that day. And let this be observed whenever a Gregorian Mass cannot have pride of place on account of a major feast. 


[1] In ancient times (and in some rites to this day), deaconesses or other consecrated women had duties relating to the altar, such as lighting candles, adorning the sanctuary, and burning incense in church. 

[2] John Cassian, Institutes 3.11. Translated by C.S. Gibson. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 11. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1894.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/350703.htm&gt;.

[3] The Comes Hieronimi, attributed to St. Jerome, also known as the Lectionarius or Liber Comitis.

[4] In Proposition 12, Radulph explains that the primitive Divine Office at Rome consisted in recitation of Psalms and orations. Chants and hymns first came into use in the Latin West at Milan through Bishop Hilary in the time of Theodosius the Younger (r. 402-450), and Ambrose augmented the corpus. Subsequently, Popes Gregory (r. 590-604) and Vitalianus (r. 657-672) received this corpus from Milan.

[5] Matthew 16:13-19.

[6] John 20:19-31.

[7] I.e., Dominus vobiscum, Oremus.

[8] The use of the Papal chapel had the collect Famulorum tuorum on the Assumption and Famulis tuis on the Nativity of Mary.

[9] Specifically at the second Mass, said at dawn.

[10] Actually quoting and paraphrasing quoting and paraphrasing Amalarius’ Liber officialis, “Praefatio altera.” 

[11] That is, with its own conclusion, to indicate that the first Collect is the proper and sufficient Collect of that Mass.

[12] In proposition 13, he quotes Micrologus 5 to the effect that only orations sanctioned by church councils should be recited in the Divine Office.

[13] I.e., Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus.

[14] The prayers of exorcism said during the blessing of holy salt and water, and over the catechumen at baptism, conclude with this formula.

[15] See paragraph 16, where he assumes the Romans modeled their lectionary on the Ambrosian.

[16] The Mass after Terce.

[17] Cantus fractus was “a rhythmicized form of plainchant used in the 15th century, particularly for new melodies for the Credo and certain antiphon, sequence, and hymn texts” (Ian Rumbold, “Cantus Fractus,” in The Oxford Companion to Music [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011], https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803095547883.). See [here] for an example.

[18] I.e. the Communion antiphon.

[19] By the late 12th century, the use of Offertory verses had ceased in many uses, and the pace of chant slowed in general.

[20] The canon cited by Radulph and Micrologus laments that men ask for things ordine praepostero, in the opposite way that they should: they first seek help from fellow men before asking God for help. In the Mass, however, the priest first asks God for help in the offertory prayers, then men, i.e. the congregation.

[21] I.e. Laudans invocabo Dominum

[22] Translation by Herbert Bindley, Early Church Classics (1914).

[23] Radulph may refer simply to Ambrose’s authorship of the Ambrosian prefaces, or to an independent treatise Liber praefationum, attested in some medieval catalogues, e.g. item 331 in the 1423 Inventory of the Papal library at Peñíscola.

[24] Jacob de Voragine quotes several Ambrosian prefaces throughout his Lombardic History, also called the Golden Legend.

[25] I.e. they say the common preface rather than the Preface of the Holy Trinity.

[26] In our reading, super calicem means that the transverse beam of the cross should be traced, not vertically above the chalice, but rather horizontally above it, i.e. further away from the priest toward the direction of the back of the altar. In this way, from the priest’s perspective the chalice is set beneath the arms of the cross he has traced in the air, forming a mystical representation of the crucifixion. 

[27] In the Gallican and Mozarabic rites, the names of the offerentes were read out before the Canon. This practice was condemned already at the Council of Frankfurt of 754 (can. 51) and again by Charlemagne in his Admonitio generalis of 789 (can. 54), but survived in the bidding prayers said throughout the Middle Ages. 

[28] Ed. note: The phrase pro quibus tibi offerimus was added to Frankish books the 9th century. See Jungmann, Missarum sollemnia, vol. 1, 183.

[29] The sense may be that if the priest does not imitate Christ in his life (outside the Mass) then ritual caution is in vain; or that keeping his arms extended is a sufficient symbolic imitation of Christ and any additional sign is excessive and superfluous.

[30] The editors have bracketed this text because it seems to be a shorthand note that slipped into the final version.

[31] Communion verses had fallen out of common practice by Radulph’s time.

[32] Of Limoges.

[33] The pontifical blessing before communion was a feature from the Gallican rite that resisted many Roman attempts to expunge it, before finally making its way into the solemn Roman service. Matching the great priestly blessing of Numbers 6:22–26, each blessing usually had three sections, a response, Amen, and a concluding clause. See Joseph Jungmann, Missarum Solemnia, vol. 2 (New York, 1951), 296.

[34] This use of glorificationes, borrowed from Micrologus 30, refers to the Te Deum and Gloria in excelsis sung on Sundays and feasts in the Roman rite.

[35] Some mediaeval uses, most notably that of the Holy Sepulchre and its descendant the Carmelite, repeated the Mass Resurrexi of Easter Sunday as the conventual Mass on every Sunday of Eastertide outside of major feasts, keeping the proper Masses of each Sunday for the morrow Mass, said with reduced ceremony, or relegating them to ferias during the week. See Archdale King, Liturgies of the Religious Orders (London, 1955), 249.

[36] In other words, the conventual Mass of the day should be of the Sunday, with the feast celebrated at another time.

[37] Sts. Alexander and companions on the Invention of the Holy Cross, Sts. Cyprian and Cornelius on the Exaltation of the same, St. Hermes on the feast of St. Augustine, St. Sabina on the Decollation of St. John, and St. Caesarius on All Saints. Only the feast of the Decollation was actually celebrated in St. Gregory’s time.

Virginis Filio Ipse Virgo Adhesit: Honorius on St. John the Belovèd

In his sermon on the feast of St. John the Evangelist (27 December) in the Speculum Ecclesiae, Honorius picks up the old tradition that John was the bridegroom at the wedding in Cana.


On the feast of Saint John the Evangelist, if the church is dedicated to St. John, let this be the word of the one who preaches about him:

Who are these, that fly as clouds, and as doves to their windows?[1] Clouds carry rain and water the dry earth. Doves, as they look out through the windows,[2] do not desire to tear other birds to pieces like the raptors. My dearly beloved, the holy apostles were clouds who drench dry hearts with the abundant rain of doctrine, rejoicing to see a fat harvest grow whence they hoped to reap a hundred fold in joy.[3] They look upon the things of this world through the windows of their eyes, because they looked upon women not with the lustful gaze of illicit love but with a simple and chaste regard, and they desired no things of this earth. St. John the Evangelist was one of them, a copiously flowing cloud, who showered the four-cleft regions of the globe all over with his honeyed teaching. He had no bile of avarice, like the simple dove, so he was placed by the Lord in his temple, which is the Church, as a steadfast column.[4] His life was radiant with a special purity of chastity. He lit up all the churches with his teachingand miracles.[5] Hence what the scriptures say about all the saints in general is specially spoken about him: The voice of thy thunder in a wheel. Thy lightnings enlightened the world.[6] The thunder stands for the Church’s loud preaching. The wheel is a figure that refers to this world which ever spins swiftly about like a wheel. In this wheel the voice of God’s thunder rings out when the majestic noise of John the Evangelist thunders out to the world. The lightnings of God enlightened the whole worldwhen Christ’s miracles were made known to the world by John.

It is written that a spring rises in paradise, and is divided into four heads.[7] Paradise which is called the Garden of delights stands for the Church, which contains the delights of the scriptures and has been invited to God’s house where there are glory and riches.[8] A spring rises in that Paradise when Christ, source of all good gifts,[9] is born of a chaste virgin. The four rivers that derive from it are the four evangelists, who watered the whole Garden of the Church with their copious flood of doctrine.These four spiritual rivers gives the Church these delicacies: One gives milk for nourishment, a second oil for soothing, a third wine for taste, a fourth honey for sweetness. Babies are fed milk. Milk is secreted from Matthew’s Gospel for the Church, when he proclaims that Christ became a child for us and was fed milk. Oil cures the infirm. Oil is poured from Luke’s Gospel when he relates to us how Christ’s blood healed our infirmities. Wine makes us merry. Mark’s Gospel plies the Church with wine when he tells how the apostles were made merry by Christ’s resurrection.[10] John’s Gospel drips with honey when it teaches the divinity, which is the sweetness of angels.

The Prophet foresaw all these significations in them, and so described them in the figures of four animals.[11] Matthew is figured as a man, because his pen wrote of Christ’s humanity. Luke is designated as a calf, because he proclaims Christ as the fattened calf who was slain for us. Mark is denoted by the figure of a lion, because he tells how Christ rose from the dead like the lion.[12]John is declared by analogy in the eagle, because he made manifest how Christ took flight up to the Father’s glory.

The four regions of the world intimate the same truth about the evangelists, when we consider them in a figurative manner. The north, where the sun lies under the earth, expresses Matthew, who describes how Christ’s divinity was concealed beneath his flesh. The west, where the sun goes down, stands for Luke, who says that Christ the Sun went down in death. The east, where the sun rises every day, is understood to be Mark, who teaches us that Christ the Sun of Justice has risen from the dead. The south, where the sun blazes in the middle of the sky, signifies John, who expounds how the Eternal Sun shines in the majesty of his divinity.[13]

They are the four gold rings used to carry the Ark of the Covenant.[14] The ark is holy Church, the rings the four Gospels used to carry it into everlasting dwellings.[15] They are Aminadab’s chariots, which carry the Ark of God back from foreign lands to the home of the fatherland.[16] The Ark of God was captured by foreigners, but brought back to Jerusalem in the chariots of the priest Aminadab. The Ark of God is the Church, which was captured by foreigners when it was a slave to idols. Jesus our true Priest drove it back from enemy territory to Jerusalem in chariots, when he bore it to the heavenly homeland through the doctrine of the four evangelists. John was the chief among them, he who soaked the whole world with his preaching.

About this John, we read that he was the son of our Lord’s maternal aunt. He invited Christ and his mother to his wedding, but when the wine ran out Christ changed water into wine and made the feasters merry.[17] At the sight, John left his bride and, still a virgin, he cleaved[18] to the son of the Virgin. Because John renounced a fleshly union for love of him, Christ loved him more than all the disciples. Hence during the Last Supper when he gave his body and blood to his disciples, John leaned on Jesus’ breast,[19] and at that moment he drank from the Fount of wisdom[20] what he later uttered[21] to the world, the unspeakable things of the Word who was hidden in the Father,[22] for in Jesus’ breast are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.[23]Later as he was offering himself on the altar of the Cross as a victim to God the Father for the sake of the world and making his triumph over the prince of death, seeing his mother standing beside the cross next to John, he thought it was best to commend the Virgin to a virgin. Then as Christ left behind the prison of this world, returned to the heavenly palace, and sent the Holy Spirit from the paternal see to his disciples, John, full of the Holy Spirit, entered the Lord’s Temple along with Peter and healed a lame man in the name of Jesus Christ, and thereafter baptized the many Jews were were converted to the faith through their words. When on this account the high priests had them and other apostles punished with heavy floggings, they rejoiced that they were accounted worthy to suffer such things for the name of the Lord.[24]

After the stoning of Stephen, when Samaria had received the Word of the Lord through the preaching of Stephen’s fellow deacon Philip, the apostles sent Peter and John to confirm those who had been baptized, as bishops in the Church still do today. But after the faithful received the Holy Spirit through their laying on of hands, they condemned Simon Magus, who wished to buy this grace, along with all his followers. Having accomplished these things, John passed into Asia and drew all of it to the Lord’s grace by his word and example, great wonders and signs.[25]

The reins of empire were held at that time by Domitian, who ordered the Apostle arrested and brought to Rome, where in the presence of the Senate he had him cast into a cauldron of boiling oil, but God’s grace intervened to protect him and he came out unharmed.[26] Then the emperor banished him to the isle of Patmos, where our Lord visited him often through an angel and revealed to him all the mysteries that were to come in the Church. Later, at the Senate’s decree, the emperor was butchered by gladiators, and the Apostle was honorably restored to God’s Church. He taught the churches all over the world by his writing and preaching, and crushed all heresies everywhere they had sprung. All the while he shone with many spectacular miracles, gleaming before the world like a sun in the darkness.[27] Indeed he changed forest sticks into gold and pebbles on the seashore into gems, and then restored the gold to its former nature as sticks and the gems into rocky matter. He raised a certain widow from the dead, and restored a dead young man to life. A glass vase that had shattered into a thousand pieces he restored to pristine wholeness. He not only drank poison in Christ’s name without being harmed, but also brought some who had died from it back to life.[28]

And so that no one of you lose heart on account of the magnitude of his offences, but rather are strengthened in God’s mercy and entrust yourselves to St. John’s prayer, I want to tell you one brief story about him that I hope will make your spirits merry.[29]

St. John gave a certain youth to a bishop for his upbringing. The bishop baptized him and took every care to educate him. Later on he began to govern him less strictly and, as old men will, ceased to correct him entirely. The boy, as he felt the reins of discipline slacken, straight away threw off our Lord’s yoke and rushed headlong into the crooked ways of vice. He was first tarnished by a voracious gluttony and drunkenness, then ensnared by the wiles of strumpets, and then he joins a band of thieves, and at last as a violent robber himself, he is made the head of a group of robbers. When some time had passed, and John had come invited to the same church and settled all the things he had come for, he asked the bishop to show him the boy he had entrusted to him to be brought up for the heavenly kingdom. With tears the bishop declared that he was dead, because he dwelt with thieves in the mountain passes as a prince of robbers. Hearing this, John groaned heavily, and poured forth abundant tears. Presently he ordered a horse and guide to be brought, and hastened with speed into the mountains. Suddenly a band of robbers surrounded him, but he, undaunted, asked for a conference with their leader. Advancing savage and armed, as soon as got close enough to recognize John, he began to flee. John pursued him, releasing his horse, shouting: “My son, why do you flee an unarmed old man! Why do you dread your own father? Stop, son, stop, and wait; I have to render an account to God for your soul. I would gladly meet death for your sake, as Christ bore it for the sake of the world. Only stop a moment, do not despair. I promise you, you will receive remission of your sins from God.” When he heard this, he suddenly toppled from his horse and John fell on his knees; he baptized himself again in a river of tears, hiding his right hand that was guilty of crime. John drew it forth, kissed it, and with many soothing words urged his fierce spirit to repentance. He convinced him to come to the church, he kept vigils and fasts with him, and gave him back to Mother Church a changed man, and giving an example of the divine mercy, he made the erstwhile cruel thief a noble pastor of that church.

My beloved, if St. John gave so much aid to sinners while living still in fragile flesh, how much more powerfully must he intercede for all who call upon him now that he is reigning with Christ? 

When he was an old man, our Lord appeared to him along with his disciples, and invited him to the heavenly feast. John, giving thanks that Christ invited him to the angelic banquet, ordered a ditch to open next to his altar, and calling together all the people he celebrated mass, and communicated them all in the Lord’s sacraments. Then he got into the ditch and immediately a great light from heaven shone over him. Ever since that time, the only thing found in that ditch is manna, which to this day gives salvation to any soul who asks for it in faith. Hence it is thought that St. John was rapt up into heaven by the angels in that light, and in that rapture he paid the debt of all flesh by his death, then was immediately restored to life. This is what the Church believes will happen on the last day to all the just who are still living in the flesh, namely that they will be rapt into the air to meet Christ and in that rapture shall die and be instantly restored to life.[30]

His dormition took place on the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, but the Church, enlightened by his teaching,[31] holds the solemn feast today because the noble office of the homonymous John the Baptist, who surpassed all other saints, falls on this day,[32] or because it was already honored as the day of his return from exile, and venerated as the day of the dedication of his church.

My beloved, invoke him to your aid, knock on his door with constant prayers,[33] that John whose name means “God’s grace”[34] may obtain the grace of almighty God for you and all Christians in the fatherland above, so that at this life’s end you may exult with him forever in that glory that eye hath not seen, etc.[35]


[1] Isaiah 60:8, text of a Vespers Responsory in the Common of Evangelists and a Matins responsory in the Common of Apostles (Cantus Index 007484).

[2] See Song of Songs 2:9. For a more extended meditation on the qualities of doves, see the Speculum’s Sermon for Pentecost.

[3] Psalm 125

[4] Apocalypse 3:12: “He that shall overcome, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God.”

[5] Cf the Collect for the feast, Ecclesiam tuam, Domine, benignus illustra, which evokes the main theme announced in the Prologue of John’s Gospel: Erat lux vera quae illuminet omnem hominem.

[6] Psalm 76:19, used as a responsory text for John’s feast in some medieval uses (Cantus Index 7921).

[7] Genesis 2:10.

[8] See Psalm 111:3.

[9] fons omnium bonorum: A phrase frequent in Augustine. On the pleasures of heaven, see Elucidarium 19 (PL 172:1171c).

[10] In fact the apostles were accused of being drunk in Acts.

[11] See Ezekiel 1.

[12] For more on the lion, see Speculum, Sermon for Easter.

[13] Prologue.

[14] See Exodus 25:12.

[15] Luke 16:9.

[16] The episode as told in 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 13 has Amindab use a ‘cart’ (plaustrum) to bring the Ark to the ‘home’ of Obed-edom, but Song of Songs 6:11 speaks, by way of poetic epithet, of ‘Aminadab’s chariots’ (quadrigas Aminadab).  

[17] See John 2 and Psalm 103:15: vinum laetificet cor hominis.

[18] Genesis 2:24. The Genesis passage tells how man will leave his family to “cleave” to his wife (Virago); but here John leaves his wife to “cleave” to Christ, the New Adam, and son of the Virgin (Virgo).

[19] John 21.

[20] See Ecclesiasticus 1:5.

[21] Psalm 44:2: Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum.

[22] See 2 Corinthians 12:4 and Ephesians 3:9, Colossians 1:26.

[23] Colossians 2:3.

[24] See Acts 5:41

[25] Acts 6:8.

[26] Both Jerome (In Jovianum 1)  and Tertullian (Proscriptions against heretics 36) report the story.

[27] Cf. John 1:5

[28] The miracles recounted here are told in the Acta Iohannis and Pseudo-Abdias’s 6th century Virtutes apostolorum. Bede also retells some of these miracles in Homilies I.9 (PL 94:47b,c).

[29] Again, Honorius plays with John’s various associations with wine.

[30] See Honorius’ doctrine on the rapture of John, Mary, and all mankind on the last day in Elucidarium 3.11 (PL 172:1164C)

[31] From the feast’s Collect, Ecclesiam tuam.

[32] The idea that the dormition of St. John the Evangelist occurred on the same day as the nativity of St. John the Baptist seems first to appear in a later extension of St. Isidore’s De ortu et obitu patrum, originally , PL 83:1289.

[33] Cf. Matthew 7:7: Petite, et dabitur vobis: quaerite, et invenietis: pulsate, et aperietur vobis.

[34] See also Speculum, “On John the Baptist” (PL 172:968c).

[35] 1 Corinthians 2:9. Honorius invariably ends his sermons with this closing doxology evoking eternal glory.


Source manuscripts:

MSS

A: Admont, Benediktinerstift, cod. 131, ff. 9v
Gr: Graz, Univ. Bibl., Cod. 173, ff. 7v
SG: St. Gall, Stiftsbibl. 1075, pp. 207, pg 
Go: Göttweig, Benediktinerstift, Cod. 104 (rot) / 47 (schwarz), f. 20r
L: Lilienfeld, Stiftsarchiv und Stiftsbibliothek, HS 140,  p. 18

In festo sancti Iohannis euangelistę. Si ęcclesia est in honore sancti Iohannis, ista sit uox de eo predicantis.[1]

Qui sunt hii qui ut nubes uolant et quasi columbę ad fenestras suas? Nubes pluuiam portant et aridam terram irrigant. Columbę autem, cum per fenestras prospiciunt, alias aues non ut accipitres lacerare cupiunt.[2] Sancti apostoli, karissimi, nubes fuerunt, qui arida corda habundanti doctrinę pluuia largiter irrigauerunt, ubi gaudebant messem multam succrescere, unde sperabant se fructum centuplum in gaudio metere. Quasi columbę ad fenestras suorum oculorum mundana prospexerunt, quia mulieres, non ad concupiscendum ut adulteri, sed simplici et casto intuitu aspexerunt, et nichil de terrenis ut auari desiderauerunt. Ex quibus sanctus Iohannes euangelista erat nubes affluentissima, qui sua doctrina melliflua ubique perfudit orbis climata quadrifida. Erat[3]etiam felle carens inuidię, ut simplex columba, unde a Domino in templo suo, id est in Ęcclesia, locatus est ut firma columna.[4]Precipua[5] castitatis mundicia radiabat; uita, doctrina, miraculis cunctas Ęcclesias illustrabat. Vnde quamuis de omnibus apostolis generaliter, de eo pronunciat Scriptura specialiter: Vox tonitrui tui, Deus, in rota. Illuxerunt coruscationes tuę in terra tota.[6] Per tonitruum altisona Euangelii predicatio notatur. Per rotam hic mundus figuratur qui celeri circuitione[7] ut rota iugiter uolutatur. In hac rota uox tonitrui Dei personat, dum grandisonus Iohannis Euangelii clangor mundo intonat. Coruscationesquoque Dei orbi[8] terrę illuxerunt, dum per Iohannem miracula xpi mundo innotuerunt.

Legitur quod in paradyso fons oriatur, qui in quatuor capita diuidatur.[9] Per paradysum qui hortus deliciarum dicitur, Ęcclesia accipitur, in qua sunt Scripturarum delicię, et quę est uocata ad domum Dei[10] ubi sunt gloria et diuicię. In tali paradyso fons oritur, dum xpc fons omnium bonorum de casta Virgine nascitur. Quatuor flumina quę inde oriuntur, iiiior euangelistę intelliguntur, quia largifluo dogmate perfuderunt totum hortum Ęcclesię. Hii iiiior fluuii spiritales,[11] dant Ęcclesię sapores tales. Vnus quidem lactis[12] nutrimentum, alter autem prebet olei fomentum, tercius uini saporem, quartus exhibet mellis dulcorem.[13] Lacte infantes nutriuntur. De Mathei Euangelio lac Ęcclesię manat, dum xpm pro nobis[14] paruulum factum et lacte nutritum clamat. Oleo infirmi curantur. De Lucę Euangelio oleum Ęcclesię funditur, dum xpi cruore nostrę infirmitates curatę ab eo referuntur. Vino[15] bibentes letificantur. Marci Euangelium Ęcclesiam uino potat, dum xpi resurrectione apostolos letificatos memorat. De Iohannis Euangelio mel distillat, dum diuinitatem, quę est dulcedo angelorum, dulciter Ęcclesię insinuat. 

Quod quia propheta in eis significari preuidit, eos in iiiior animalium figuris describit.[16] Per formam hominis Matheus figuratur, per quem humanitas xpi stilo exaratur. Per uituli speciem Lucas notatur, per quem xpc uitulus saginatus pro nobis mactatus predicatur.[17] Per leonis figuram Marcus monstratur,[18] a quo xpc a mortuis[19] ut leo resuscitatus memoratur. Per aquilę similitudinem Iohannes declaratur, a quo xpc in gloriam Patris conuolasse manifestatur.

Hoc etiam iiiior mundi plagę de eis intimant, dum considerantibus hoc[20] figuraliter insinuant. Per aquilonem, ubi sol sub terra latet, Matheus exprimitur, a quo diuinitas xpi sub carne latuisse describitur. Per occidentem, ubi sol occumbit, Lucas accipitur,[21]a quo sol xpc in morte[22] occubuisse dicitur. Per orientem, ubi[23] sol cottidie surgit,[24] Marcus intelligitur, a quo xpc Sol iusticię a mortuis resurrexisse traditur. Per meridiem ubi sol in centro cęli feruet, Iohannes innuitur, a quo sol ęternus in maiestate diuinitatis clarescere exponitur.

Hii sunt iiiior circuli[25] aurei, quibus portabatur[26] arca testamenti. Arca est sancta Ęcclesia, circuli[27] iiiior Euangelia, quibus portatur ad ęterna tabernacula. Hii sunt quadrigę Aminadab, quibus arca Dei de alienigenis reuecta est ad domum patrię. Arca Dei capta est ab allophilis, sed reducta[28] est Ierusalem in sacerdotis[29] Aminadab quadrigis. Arca Dei est Ęcclesia quę capta est ab allophilis, dum[30] subdita fuit idolis. Quam uerus sacerdos ihc de hostibus ad Ierusalem in quadrigis reuexit, dum eam doctrina iiiior[31] euangelistarum ad cęlestem patriam subuexit. Ex quibus hic Iohannes precipuus fuit, qui totum mundum sua predicatione perfudit.

De hoc legitur Iohanne, quod fuerit filius domini materterę. Qui nuptias celebrans xpm cum matre sua inuitauit, sed deficiente uino xpc aquam in uinum commutans conuiuas letificauit. Hoc uiso Iohannes sponsam suam deseruit, Virginis filio ipse uirgo adhesit. Et quia carnis copulam eius amore despexit, xpc eum pre omnibus apostolis dilexit. Cum enim in ultima cena[32] corpus et sanguinem suum discipulis suis tradidit, Iohannes supra pectus ihu[33] recubuit, et de hoc fonte sapientię tunc potauit, quod postmodum mundo eructauit archana[34] uerbi[35] in Patre[36] reconditi, quia in pectore ihu sunt omnes thesauri sapientię et scientię absconditi. Denique in ara crucis cum se xpc hostiam Deo Patri pro mundo[37] ymmolaret, et de principe mortis triumpharet, cernens comminus matrem suam cum Iohanne cruci astare, optimum duxit Virginem uirgini commendare.[38]Postquam vero xpc, carcerem huius mundi deserens, cęleste palacium reuisit et Spiritum sanctum de paterna sede discipulis misit, Iohannes cum Petro Spiritu sancto plenus templum Domini intrauit, et claudum in nomine ihu xpi sanauit, ac multos Iudeos proinde per uerba eorum ad fidem conuersos baptizavit.[39] Cumque summi pontifices eum et alios apostolos ob hoc plurimis flagris affecissent, gaudebant quod talia pro nomine Domini pertulissent.

Cum uero post lapidationem Stephani, Samaria recepisset uerbum Domini per predicationem Phylippi, Stephani condiaconi, miserunt apostoli Petrum et Iohannem ut baptizatos confirmarent, sicut adhuc episcopi in Ęcclesia facere solent. Postquam fideles per impositionem manuum eorum Spiritum sanctum acceperunt, Symonem Magum, qui hanc gratiam emere uoluit, cum omnibus suis sequacibus dampnauerunt. His transactis migrauit Iohannes in Asyam, et uerbo atque exemplo, signis et prodigiis totam traxit ad Domini[40] gratiam. 

Eo tempore tenuit Domicianus monarchiam, qui Apostolum comprehendi et duci iussit Romam, ubi presente senatu eum in dolium feruentis olei misit, sed Dei[41] gratia eum[42] protegente illesus exiuit. Deinde in Pathmos insulam eum exilio relegauit, ubi eum Dominus per angelum suum crebro uisitauit, et ei omnia Ęcclesię mysteria futura reuelauit. Postea imperator a gladiatoribus consultu senatus trucidatur, et Apostolus Ęcclesię Dei cum honore redonatur. Qui scripto et predicatione ubique Ęcclesias instruxit, omnes hereses undique destruxit. Interea multis preclaris miraculis fulsit, quibus mundo ut sol in tenebris luxit.Virgas namque siluestres in aurum et litorea saxa in gemmas commutauit, et rursum aurum in uirgarum naturam et gemmas in saxorum substantiam restaurauit. Viduam quandam de morte resuscitauit, iuuenem nihilominus defunctum ad uitam reparauit. Vas uitreum quod in multas particulas dissiluit pristinę sanitati restituit. Venenum in xpi nomine non solum illesus ebibit, sed etiam inde extinctos rursum uitę reddidit.

Et[43] ut[44] nullus uestrum de magnitudine facinorum suorum diffidat, sed firmetur in misericordia Dei et orationem[45] sancti Iohannis confidat, uobis uolo unum de eo breuiter narrare, quod spero[46] animas uestras letificare.

Quendam iuuenem sanctus Iohannes cuidam episcopo nutriendum commendauit, quem episcopus baptizatum[47] cum omni diligentia educauit. Deinde paulatim cepit eum remissius habere et, ut senes solent, in nullo adolescentem corrigere. Ille ut sensit sibi frena disciplinę abstracta,[48] iugo Domini mox excusso, totus preceps fertur per uiciorum anfracta.[49] Et primo quidem uoracitate et ebrietate delinitur, deinde meretricum illecebris irretitur,[50] exin furibus associatur, ad extremum latronibus ipse uiolentus latro principatur. Euoluto tempore, cum Iohannes ad eandem ęcclesiam uocatus uenisset et omnia propter quę uenerat oportune dispossuisset,[51] ab episcopo poscit sibi iuuenem representari[52] quem commendasset ad cęleste regnum educari. Episcopus cum lacrimis[53] eum mortuum protestatur, quia in faucibus montium cum latronibus princeps latronum moratur. Iohannes hoc audiens[54] grauiter ingemuit, lacrimas uberrimas fudit. Mox sibi equum et uię ducem dari postulat,[55] ad montana festinus properat.[56] Quem protinus caterua latronum circumdedit, sed ipse intrepidus colloquium principis eorum petiit. Ipse truculentus et armatus ueniens, ut eminus Iohannem recognouit, fugam iniit. Quem Iohannes insequitur emisso equo, talia uociferando: «Cur, fili, fugis inermem senem? Cur exhorres tuum patrem? Sta, fili, sta, et expecta; racionem Deo redditurus sum pro anima tua. Certe libenter pro te mortem excipio,[57] sicut xpc eam pertulit pro mundo. Sta tantum,[58] ne desperes; promitto tibi, remissionem peccatorum a Deo recipies.» Hoc audito confestim de equo decidit,[59] Iohannis ad genua procidit, denuo se baptizat[60] lacrimarum flumine, occultans dextram consciam de crimine. Quam Iohannes protrahit,[61] osculatur, multis blandiciis ferocem eius animum ad penitentiam cohortatur. Secum ad ęcclesiam prouocat,[62] uigilias et ieiunia cum eo[63]continuat, et bene emendatum reddidit matri Ęcclesię, atque adiungens exemplum diuinę clementię, prius crudelem latronem eidem ęcclesię prefecit nobilem pastorem.

Si beatus Iohannes karissimi adhuc in fragili carne manens in tantum potuit peccatoribus subuenire, quanto magis nunc cum xpo regnans cunctis eum inuocantibus preualet[64] interuenire? 

Huic[65] Dominus iam grandeuo cum discipulis suis apparuit, et eum ad cęleste conuiuium inuitauit. Ille gratias agens xpm se ad angelicas epulas inuitare,[66] fossam sibi aperiri iubet iuxta[67] altare, conuocatoque uniuerso populo missas celebrauit, omnes dominicis sacramentis communicauit, deinde fossam descendit, et subito lux inmensa de cęlo super eum resplenduit. Post hęc[68]in fossa illa non nisi manna inueniebatur, de quo usque hodie cunctis fideliter petentibus salus prestatur. Vnde creditur sanctus Iohannes in illo lumine ab angelis ad cęlestia raptus fuisse, et in ipso raptu carnis debita per mortem soluisse, moxque uitę restitutum, quod Ęcclesia de omnibus iustis in ultimo die in carne uiuentibus credit futurum, quod scilicet obuiam xpo in aera rapiantur, et in ipso raptu moriantur ac protinus uitę restituantur.

Huius[69] dormitio in natiuitate[70] sancti Iohannis Baptistę contigit, sed eam Ęcclesia, eius doctrina illustrata, hodie sollempniter recolit ob excellens equiuoci sui Iohannis Baptistę officium, qui aliis sanctis fuit incomparabilis, seu quod ob reuersionem eius ab exilio hic dies fuit honorabilis, seu ob dedicationem ipsius ęcclesię uenerabilis.

Hunc,[71] karissimi, in auxilium uestrum inuocate, hunc assiduis precibus pulsate, ut quia Iohannes sonat «Dei gratia», uobis et omnibus xpianis obtineat omnipotentis Dei gratiam in superna patria, quatinus post huius uitę terminum exultetis cum eo in perpetuum in illa gloria quam oculus non uidit &c.


[1] Sic A

[2] non permittunt SG

[3] omit. PL

[4] columba PL

[5] Praecipue PL

[6] in terra tota] SG orbi terre.

[7] circuitu SG

[8] omit. PL

[9] diuiditur SG

[10] ad domum Dei] SG domus dei.

[11] spirituales SG, PL

[12] lacus PL

[13] dulcedinem PL

[14] bonis PL

[15] Vinum SG, PL

[16] preuidit Gr

[17] describitur PL

[18] demonstratur SG

[19] a mortuis] SG mortuus

[20] hec SG, PL

[21] exprimitur PL

[22] omit. L; moriendo PL

[23] vero PL

[24] oritur SG, Go; per hunc add. PL

[25] anuli SG, Go, PL. Gr habet anuli in marg.

[26] gestabatur SG

[27] anuli SG, Go, PL

[28] reuecta SG

[29] sacerdotibus SG

[30] cum A

[31] omit. SG

[32] in ultima cenaRegina austri PL

[33] domini SG, suum L

[34] archanum SG, Go, L, PL

[35] scilicet add. PL. The expression archana uerbi, appears in the episcopal blessing on the feast of St. John in Grimald of St. Gall’s Benedictionale (PL 121:0860D), in Eriugena’s commentary on the prologue of St. John’s Gospel, and a collect for the feast of John’s nativity in the Gelasian sacramentary: Deus, qui per os beati apostoli tui Ioannis evangelistae, Verbi tui nobis arcana reserasti, praesta, quaesumus, ut quod ille nostris auribus excellenter infudit, intelligentiae competentis eruditione capiamus (PL 74:1060a).

[36] in Patre omit. SG

[37] pro mundo omit. A

[38] John 19

[39] Acts 3

[40] Dei SG

[41] Domini Gr

[42] omit. A, PL

[43] omit. PL

[44] omit. SG

[45] in oratione PL

[46] possit SG

[47] baptizauit SG

[48] relaxari SG

[49] amfractus SG

[50] utitur SG

[51] disponeret PL

[52] presentari SG

[53] cum lacrimis omit. PL

[54] audito SG

[55] postulauit SG

[56] properauit SG

[57] suscipio SG

[58] omit. SG

[59] cecidit A; descendit SG

[60] baptizando SG

[61] erigens SG

[62] reuocat SG

[63] cum eo] SG secum

[64] potuit SG

[65] Apocrifum notat Go in margine

[66] gaudebat add. A, Gr. SG, Go, PL

[67] ante PL

[68] hoc A, Gr

[69] Cuius A, Gr

[70] natali PL

[71] Nunc PL