De Can. Observ. 18: Saints’ Feasts of Nine and Three Lessons

In Proposition 18, Radulph addresses the difference between saints’ feasts of nine and of three lessons. He argues that the former should imitate the Sunday office and the latter the ferial office, criticizing uses which drew up sub-categories of feasts of three lessons. Radulph defends the simplicity in this matter followed by orders such as the Carthusians and the Teutonic Knights.


Proposition XVIII

The office of saints’ feasts of nine lessons is kept like a Sunday, that of three readings like a feria

“The disciple is not above the master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord.”[1]

Let the servant be glad to be in his lord’s family; it does not suit him to be honored above his lord. God’s saints, therefore, who are the Lord’s servants, are happy when their days are kept in a manner proportional to those of Christ their Lord. So saints’ days of nine lessons, which are called festivals (festivitates), should have an office like Sunday’s, running from Vespers to Vespers. St. Benedict prescribes as much in chapter 33, saying:

On the festivals of saints, and all other solemnities, let the Office be ordered as we have prescribed for Sundays: except that the psalms, antiphons, and lessons suitable to the day are to be said. Their quantity, however, shall remain as we have appointed above.[2]

Thus far there. 

Likewise when we observe saints of three lessons we ought to follow the structure of a private day of the ferial office, as set forth below.  It is part of the beauty of the divine office that festivals are kept with features of the Sunday office and saints’ days of three lessons like the ferial or private office. And if the prerogatives of Sunday and the privileges of nine lessons be applied to private days, it would spoil the office and undo the order itself. For the Holy Fathers were studiously careful to preserve harmony in ecclesiastical services and prohibit all dissonance. 

Nine-lesson feasts in the kalendar of the 1302 Breviary of Metz (Verdun, Bibl. mun., ms. 0107, fol. 103).

So festivals are kept on the pattern of Sunday with both Vespers, and at these offices and at Lauds the [proper] antiphons, when they exist, are by all means to be sung over the psalms always and everywhere, as stated in proposition 10. For first Vespers the ferial psalms and ferial antiphons, unless proper ones exist. With respect to the Vespers responsory of a double office, it is a widespread custom to sing a responsory at both Vespers. And if the people celebrate the festival, let it be sung at first Vespers. Suffrages should be said as on Sunday, but abbreviated on solemnities. The Invitatory should be solemn and the hymn should, of course, be sung at Nocturns, in which the nine antiphons over nine psalms are not to be omitted. Let the lessons and responsories be authentic, and sing nine responsories. Te DeumGloria in excelsis, and Ite missa est are said in seasons when they can be said on the Sunday; otherwise, let not the servant be greater than his master, without the Lord’s special dispensation. It is customary to celebrate the Mass of the festival as a community. At second Vespers all the antiphons from Lauds are said over the ferial psalms, unless the festival has special ones, such as of the Apostles and, according to a widespread custom, of several others. But if two festivals of nine readings or a festival and a Sunday or a feast of three readings fall on the same day, both of which demand per sea full office, let the more important be kept in full and only a commemoration made of the other. But if it seems good to celebrate both in full, let one be deferred to the following day, just as Pope Gregory celebrated the feast of St. Paul after the feast of St. Peter. For the other practice, which lumps together two offices for celebration on the same day, keeping one nocturn of one feast and the rest of the other, is not allowed by the authority of the holy Fathers, who always instructed us to maintain harmony in the offices, as said above, for when we strain to perform both on the same day, we find that we have celebrated neither with the reverence due to the divine offices. 

The festal office will be discharged most fittingly if it is made proportionately equal to the Sunday office, as far as the given office permits.

When two festivals occur back to back, they should not share a common Vespers in full, as the Minors do it today abusively. Instead observe what Micrologus says in chapter 35:

All the authentic antiphonaries grant St. Stephen a full second Vespers. Following this example, therefore, we grant all festivals of the year a second Vespers in full, even if a major feast falls on the next day. For it is not reasonable to sing only the vesperal psalms from the previous feast but the rest of the office from the subsequent feast. The Holy Fathers have left us no examples of this, and they taught us above all to preserve the harmony of the offices with particular diligence. Nevertheless, when a high feastival follows a lesser one, it is not unreasonable if it claims for itself the previous feast’s second Vespers in whole, as the Octave day of Christmas takes the Second Vespers of St. Sylvester. First we complete the Vespers of one feast in its entirety then, if necessary, commemorate the next one after the Benedicamus Domino, as we do for St. Stephen and St. John.[3]

Precisely the same principle holds for feasts of three reasons. Just as nine-lesson feasts are kept on the model of Sundays, so three-lesson feasts are kept on the model of ferias. The Carthusian monks and the aforementioned Teutonic lords keep this custom admirably. Thus in the office of saints of three readings there are prostrations whenever they would be done in the ferial office of the season. When there is first Vespers, the ferial antiphons and psalms are said, and the short chapter, hymn, verse, Magnificat antiphons and collect of the saint, and suffrages, as in the ferial office. Compline and Prime in full and with the psalm Miserere, as in the ferial office. The Invitatory is sung in the ferial tone. After the saint’s hymn, a ferial Nocturn is sung, as shown in Proposition 10. Let the lessons from Sacred Scripture be read, according to all the doctors; the responsories, versicles, verse, Lauds antiphons, and the rest are of the saint. Let Vigils and Vespers of the Dead and the gradual and penitential psalms with what follows them be observed just as in the ferial office. Te Deum and Gloria in excelsis should never be said, just as they are not in the ferial office. So it is written, as shown above in Proposition 13. So, therefore, we should do and sing.

At Terce, Sext, and None, according to the widespread custom, let the antiphons of the Holy Trinity be said. But the Mass must be of the saint, if there is a proper one, without Gloria in excelsis and with Benedicamus Domino. And just as on saints’ days of three lessons at the preces of Compline and Prime we add Miserere mei Deus, the Carthusians, who have preces at every hour, add the same psalm to every hour on these days, and in this respect on these days these monks diverge from our custom.

Thus for one who desires to respect the ferial office, it will be easy to keep saints’ days of three lessons. It is true, however, that in both the monastic and our own usage, when these days fall within Eastertide or major octaves, the preces and the rest are omitted, since throughout Eastertide they are omitted. 

But the office of saints of three readings should end with the Mass, for as Micrologus says in chapter 44: 

The Roman custom is that no mention of a saint of three responsories is made after the Mass, whether it be sung at Terce or at Sext. Rather, mention of the saint ends at the Mass,” and we say the rest as a ferial office. “But on a feast of nine lessons the office is festal until Second Vespers.[4]

Thus far the Micrologus.

The Carthusians end feasts this way. This is, therefore, the simple observance of three-lesson feasts, such that they are proportional to the ferial office, as said above. But many alter and corrupt this observance in various ways. For some people distinguish saints’ days of three lessons by various names, entitling them “of three responsories,” etc.[5] Others call them “said on any feria, including (or excluding) Sunday.”[6] Others have it as a “Collect” or without one, as a “Mass,”[7] as “three readings” and a Te Deum or, if it falls on a Sunday, nine readings. Others say them with a Te Deum or without it, or various other ways.[8] In the abusive practice of others, a three-lesson saint’s day cancels the ferial and other particular offices on certain days, just as if they were nine lesson feasts. 

The complex ranking of three-lesson feasts in the Kalendar of the 1492 Utrecht breviary, p. 13.

[1] Matthew 10:24–25.

[2] Actually Benedict, Rule 14. Translation by Justin McCann.

[3] Micrologus 35.

[4] Micrologus 49.

[5] Cf. Breviarium Camaracense (1497), which uses various titles: III lec., III ℟ cum nocturno, III ℟. cum missa.

[6] Breviarium Traiectense (1492), which uses titles such as Missa de hoc omni feria sed non in dominica or simply De hoc omni feria.

[7] Cf. Missale Leodiensis Eccleisae (1502), which uses various titles: III lec, Collecta, Missa

[8] A marginal notation reads “at Groenendael,” an Augustinian house mentioned above. We could not find any books for comparison.

De Can. Observ. 13: On the Hymns, Short Chapters, and Orations

Having discussed in Proposition 12 what antiphons and responsories are to be sung at Mass and hours of the Divine Office and at what moments, Radulph of Rivo now turns to the hymns, short chapters, and orations. 

Radulph’s discussion of the metrical hymns of the Divine Office are especially interesting. Unexpectedly, he neglects to mention that the Roman Church long resisted the introduction of metrical hymns into the hours, even as the Ambrosian, Hispanic, and monastic rites enthusiastically adopted them, supported by the authority of the holy doctors Saints Hilary and Ambrose. Rome instead remained loyal to the discipline codified by the Council of Braga in 563: Nil poetice compositum in ecclesia psallatur, sicut et sancti praecipuunt canones (Let no poetic composition be sung in Church, as the holy canons prescribe). The Roman ordines do not mention the singing of hymns in the Office, and neither do Amalarius of Metz or the Micrologus.

The first Urban book to mention metrical hymns is the 12th-century antiphonary of St. Peter, which states that the Te lucis is to be sung and Compline and the Nunc sancte at Terce. But the monastic office had by then established certain fixed hymns to be said at all the minor hours as well as both ferial and seasonal hymns for Vespers, Lauds, and Matins. Across the Alps many uses of the Roman rite had adopted these and other metrical compositions.

Faced with the absence of an authoritative list of what hymns should be sung, and to oppose certain idiosyncratic practices like splitting up the festal hymns to distribute them across the minor hours, Radulph provides his readers with a list of the “authentic” hymns for ferial and seasonal Vespers, Matins, and Lauds which he found in “ancient hymnaries” at Rome (but exactly how ancient, it is impossible to know; one wonders if any precede the 12th century) or in the Ambrosian books. It is fascinating to see that Radulph includes many hymns that do not appear in the Tridentine breviary. 

The same lack of a clear Roman authority is even more evident in the short chapters said in the Office, and Radulph states what chapters are said depends on the use, for there is little overall agreement between them. Our liturgist in fact berates those who wax scrupulous about what chapters ought to be said while abridging the number of psalms to be said at certain hours. Radulph’s concern for liturgical authenticity, therefore, does not imply a desire for liturgical uniformity. He is happy to allow for variety in the limited situations when no ancient authority exists; where it does exist, withal, it must be followed rigorously. 

The Compline hymn Te lucis as it appears in the 12th-century Antiphonary of St. Peter’s (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Arch. Cap. S. Pietro B.79, fol. 48r).

Proposition XIII

Ecclesiastical hymns, short chapters, and orations used in the Office must be authentic

a) Hymns

“With respect to singing hymns, we have the example of our Savior and the apostles,” de consecratione dist. 1, cap. de Hymnis.[1] “For the Lord himself is said to have sung hymns, as the Apostle Matthew says: And a hymn being said, they went out unto mount Olivet.”[2] The Apostle Paul wrote about singing hymns to both the Ephesians and the Colossians, as above in propositions 8 and 12.

“A hymn is a praise of God with music,”[3] such as the hymn Gloria Patri said at the end of psalms, and the hymn Gloria in excelsis which the angels sang when Christ was born, and the hymn Te Deum laudamus, composed by Ambrose and Augustine, as declared in the proëm to the Milleloquii,[4] and the other metrical hymns, “which the most blessed doctors Hilary and Ambrose composed,” according to cap. de Hymnis.

Pope Saint Telesphorus established that three masses should be celebrated on the night of our Lord’s Nativity, and in them that the angelic hymn Gloria in excelsis should be said, de Consecrat. dist. 1, cap. Nocte sancta.[5] The Pope Symmachus, a Sardinian, and Stephen III, also a Sicilian, established that on every Sunday and on feasts of apostles and martyrs, the aforesaid angelic hymn Gloria in excelsis should be sung at Mass. The authority of the holy Fathers, therefore, has assigned this hymn only to feasts; in the seasons of sadness—Advent and Septuagesima—it should be omitted. Pope Leo IX does not exempt any feasts from this omission, de consecratione, dist. 1, cap. Hi duo hymni.[6] Since the hymn Te Deum laudamus resounds the praise of the Holy Trinity just as the hymn Gloria in excelsis, the Roman observance introduced the rule that the hymns must be sung together—one at Lauds and the other at Mass—or omitted together, as Pope Innocent III lays down in Extra, de celebratione Missae, cap. Concilium, near the end.[7] In the same passage, this Pope lays down another authoritative rule: just as on our Lord’s and saints’ feasts falling within the specified seasons these two hymns should be sung, within those same seasons, in diebus profestis, i.e., outside of feasts, namely on diebus privatis, when three lessons are said, the two hymns must not be sung “in order to make clear the difference between a commemoration and a solemnity.” Whoever  loves the beauty of God’s house must so observe[8] For just as it is becoming to say them on feasts, it is becoming to omit them on private days. For when we suppress these glories on private days, we take them up the more joyously on feasts. And this seems to befit your Order, for many religious orders do likewise. And if it is written that they should not be sung outside of Sundays and feasts, let them not be sung, following the precept of the Rule.

With respect to metrical hymns, much care must be taken that you sing only those approved and promulgated, as said above. The spurious ones may be recognized for the most part because either they are not in general use or their meter is corrupt.

According to the Roman custom, the usual hymns at Prime, Terce, Sext, and None do not change and in smaller communities should be sung to a simple tone. As a general rule, the five minor hours should be sung with lesser solemnity and the three major ones more festively. For this we have the authority of Saint Benedict, who allowed the psalms of the minor hours to be said directanee in smaller congregations.[9] Some communities, however, sing the hymns of the [minor] hours to the melodies of feasts and sing an alternate final verse, and other uses have the hymn Agnoscat at Prime, Terce, Sext, and None during Christmastide, which is found in Roman hymnaries. But those who omit the customary hymns on feasts and at the minor hours divide the festal hymn do so on no authority or example, but commit a grave abuse. Your humble community must, therefore, not imitate them, but rather sing what is most humbles.

The hymn Agnoscat, marked to be sung at Terce on Christmas in a 12th-century antiphonary from St. Mary’s Church in Utrecht (Universiteitsbibliotheek, Ms. 406, fol. 24v).

Those who at Compline say the hymn after the chapter act contrary to Roman authority and the order of Saint Benedict, in which offices it is placed immediately after the psalms, just as in the other four minor hours the hymn is said before the psalms. In the Ambrosian rite it is said before the psalms at both Compline and the rest of the minor hours.

Moreover, in the Ambrosian office two hymns are always said at Matins, one at the beginning and the other at the end. Likewise, in the Roman and Benedictine offices one hymn is said at Nocturns and another at Lauds, and all religious observe this, as well as the Italians, the French, and the English. The Germans, however, have fallen away with respect to this, for they say no hymn at Nocturns and seldom one at Lauds. From the aforegoing, it is plain whom you must follow.

You would do well by observing the following hymns: in Advent, at Vespers, Conditor; at Nocturns, Verbum; at Lauds, Vox clara; and at Compline, according to some, Veni Redemptor, which is an Ambrosian hymn for our Lord’s Nativity.

Likewise on Christmas, at Vespers, A solis; at Compline, Fit porta; at Nocturns, Corde natus; at Lauds, Christe Redemptor; at the minor hours, Agnoscat, as said above.

On Epiphany, at Vespers and Lauds, Hostis Herodes; at Nocturns, A patre unigenitus or the Ambrosian Illuminans altissimus.

On ordinary Sundays, at first Vespers on Saturday, Deus creator, which is the daily Ambrosian vesperal hymn, as Augustine mentions in book 7 of his Confessions, when sleep cured him of the anguish and grief his mother’s death had caused him.[10] The Friars Minor and many others wrongly omit this hymn, which is authentic and very beautiful. At Nocturns in winter, Primo dierum, and at Lauds, Aeternae rerum conditor, which in the Ambrosian office is said every day at the beginning of Matins. Likewise, at summer Nocturns, Nocte surgentes, and at Lauds, Ecce iam noctis. At second Vespers on Sunday, Lucis creator.

On Monday, at the Nocturn, Sermo; at Lauds, Splendor paternae, which is the Ambrosian temporal [hymn] at the end of Matins; at Vespers, Immense.

On Tuesday, at the Nocturn, Consors; at Lauds, Ales diei; at Vespers, Telluris.

On Wednesday, at the Nocturn, Rerum creator; at Lauds, Nox et tenebrae; at Vespers, Coeli Deus.

On Thursday, at the Nocturn, Nox atra; at Lauds, Lux ecce; at Vespers, Magnae Deus.

On Friday, at the Nocturn, Tu Trinitatis; at Lauds, Aeterna coeli; at Vespers, Plasmator.

On Saturday, at the Nocturn, Summae Deus; at Lauds, Aurora iam spargit.

All of these ferial hymns have a single simple melody in the Roman use. Some of our Germans, however, omit the nocturnal hymns, such as the church of Cologne; others omit the proper hymns of Lauds and sing the nocturnal hymn at Lauds, such as the church of Liège; others omit all the ferial hymns and repeat the summer Sunday hymns during the ferias, such as the Preachers. The safer policy is to follow the Roman custom.

During Lent, the hymns are: [at Vespers], Audi benigne; at the Nocturns, Ex more; at Lauds, O Nazarene.

On the second fortnight: at Vespers, Nunc tempus; at the Nocturn, Clarum decus; at Lauds, Iam Christe; at Compline for the entire month, Christe, qui lux, which is Ambrosian. Different Lenten hymns are found in other uses, since uses seldom accord among themselves over hymns.

In Passiontide, at Vespers, Vexilla; at Compline, Cultor Dei; at Nocturns and Lauds, Pange lingua, since it has a division.

On Easter, the hymns are: [at Vespers], Ad coenam agni; at Compline, Iesu nostra; and Aurora lucis with verses, which can be split between Nocturns and Lauds, as the Preachers do. The Romans have [the hymn Rex aeterne] at the Nocturn and at Lauds they say the hymn Aurora in its entirety. There is also the Ambrosian hymn Hic est dies verus.

On the Ascension, Festum nunc celebre, Aeterna caeli gloria, and Hymnum canamus, and the Ambrosian Optatus votis.

On the Holy Ghost, Veni creator; at the Nocturn, Iam Christus astra, which is Ambrosian; at Lauds, Beata nobis.

On the Holy Trinity, at Vespers, O lux beata; at the Nocturn, Tu Trinitatis; at Lauds, O nate de nullo.

On John’s Nativity, Ut queant laxis, which is long and can be split up between Nocturns and Lauds; in the Ambrosian office, Almi prophetae.

For the apostles Peter [and Paul], Aurea luce and Felix per omnes, of which the Minors have some verses, cutting out the rest; the Ambrosian is Apostolorum passio.

For Saint Laurence there are many: En martyris; Martyris Christi, which is Sapphic; and the Ambrosian Apostolorum.

On the Assumption, O quam glorifica and Gaude visceribus. And for any [Marian] feast, at Vespers, Ave maris stella; at the Nocturn, Quem terra, and at Lauds its section O gloriosa; and the Ambrosian Mysterium Ecclesiae.

For Saint Michael, at Vespers and Lauds, Christe sanctorum; at the Nocturn, Tibi Christe; and the Ambrosian Mysteriorum.

For Saint Martin, you have many local hymns. The Ambrosian office has Bellator armis.

For the Dedication of a church Urbs beata is commonly used, and can be divided. The Ambrosian office has Christe cunctorum.

For the apostles, at Vespers, Exsultet; at the Nocturn, Aeterna Christi munera, a long Ambrosian hymn which the Romans split between the Nocturn of apostles and the Nocturn of martyrs; on the apostles, at Lauds, Ortu Phoebi.

For one martyr, at Vespers and Lauds, Martyr Dei; at the Nocturn, Deus tuorum, which is Ambrosian. But since it is long some prefer to say the other two: for martyrs, at Vespers, Sanctorum meritis; at the Nocturn as above; at Lauds, Rex gloriose.

For one confessor, Iste confessor. There are two others, Jesu Redemptor omnium and Jesu corona celsior, which is Ambrosian.

For one virgin, at Vespers and Lauds, Jesu corona virginum, which is Ambrosian; at the Nocturn, Virginis proles.

All the aforesaid hymns and many others are found at Rome in the ancient hymnaries and some in the Ambrosian office. The necessary and authentic hymns must be said, and it is a sounder policy to take hymns from the commons rather than to say local and apocryphal compositions. We shall speak below in Proposition 14 about where at Lauds and Vespers the hymns should be sung.

b) Short chapters

Now let us discuss short chapters. Long lessons are read at the night Vigils, but at Lauds and Vespers and at the five minor hours short lessons or lectiunculae are read.[11] In his Rule, Saint Benedict calls them lectiones,[12] and they are often so-called in many sources. In common secular usage, however, they are called capitula. But in the Ambrosian office and in some ancient books the short versicles, which are taken from the psalms, are called capitella, as in De consecratione, distinction 5, ch. Convenit.[13]

Taking the former acceptation of the term, the usual Roman custom on Sundays and feasts is to have only three proper short chapters, i.e., at Terce, Sext, and None, the first of which is repeated at both Vespers and at Lauds. This custom is taken from Ambrose, who assigns proper short chapters of this sort—albeit few—to Terce, Sext, and None only. And this manner of saying and repeating short chapters is very common around the world among Italian, French, and English religious orders. And just as the nocturnal lessons are not the same everywhere, likewise agreement about these short chapters is rare, for different places use different short chapters. But these chapters are everywhere taken—as well they should be—from Holy Writ, and, according to Saint Benedict, they ought to be recited from memory.

In Germany, however, many do the chapters another way. For many German churches have six proper short chapters and orations in their offices, namely at both Vespers, Lauds, Terce, Sext, and None. A prime example is the Capitulary of Stephen, bishop of Tongres [† 920].[14] This bishop, as Sigibert says in his book De viris illustribus, “wrote a book of chapters for Robert, bishop of Metz,” where he was brought up; in it he brought together short chapters and orations for each Sunday and feast in the course of the entire year. Many churches in these parts use these short chapters and orations, some integrally, but others with variations, such as the church of Maastricht.[15] Others are content with a single oration and only took from it the short chapters, such as your brethren in Groenendael.[16] And because the universal custom is to use the short chapters found in the books of the local church, nor is there uniformity in them, as there is not with respect to the Matins lessons, it seems that your brethren from Eymsteyn might, legitimately and without scruples, have retained the Capitulary of Groenendael, whose author we have just mentioned.[17] For it seems an indiscriminate scruple to inform one’s conscience about which chapter, responsory, verse, and the like one should say—as long as they are Roman and authentic as explained above—while omitting sometimes the integral psalter without shame, as treated above in Proposition 10. For I have seen it often in monastic and less frequently in secular books that several short chapters are provided for a single Sunday or festal office, with none of them assigned to any hour in particular. Many Germans, too, say a single chapter at every hour, just as in the Roman office a single oration is said. Nevertheless, this manner of doing the chapters lacks both authority and example.

Breviary of Metz, 1302 (Verdun, Bibl. mun., ms. 0107, fol. 103).

c) Orations

It remains to discuss orations, with respect to which the general custom is to use the same one at all the hours. The Ambrosian office says many orations, including many proper ones in the office. The monks likewise have many, and the Germans even more. Regarding the authority of the orations, a certain short Rationale called the Micrologus (ch. 5) speaks in these terms:

Moreover, they rarely admit orations other than the ancient Gregorian ones, favoring especially the ones they find in the more ancient and corrected sacramentaries. For the eighth council of the province of Africa, attended by Augustine and 214 fathers, established the following in chapter 12: “Let no prayers or orations or missae or prefaces or commendations or impositions of hands be said except those approved in council.” Likewise the third council of Carthage, which Augustine also attended, in chapter 23: “Let no one at the altar name the Father in place of the Son or the Son in place of the Father, but let him always direct the oration to the Father and use only approved orations. Indeed, our Lord himself commanded us to direct our prayer to the Father. Thus he instructed his disciples when they asked him how they should pray, saying “When you shall stand to pray, say ‘Our Father.’”[18]

Thus far the Micrologus.

In the Capitulary mentioned above, Stephen of Tongres assigned one oration to each of the short chapters, and took very many of them from the Ambrosian and the monastic offices. At Rome, moreover, I saw books with the orations Veneranda nobis and Supplicationem servorum tuorum for the collecta at Saint Hadrian’s,[19] as well as many others which the Friars Minor omit. I say this lest it be believed that the Franciscans keep the whole Roman Office. More on this point in proposition 22.

Regardless of the use in question, however, all orations about which there is no certitude are to be rejected as apocryphal according to the aforementioned councils. Fewer orations suffice, as I shall explain in Proposition 23.


[1] CIC, Decr. III, 1.54 — Frdbrg. I, 1308.

[2] Matthew 26:30.

[3] Durandus, Rationale, lib. V, c. 2, nr. 23

[4] The Milleloquium veritatis S. Augustini is a collection of excerpts from the works of St. Augustine arranged in an alphabetical list of over 1000 subjects. Its author was the fourteenth-century Augustinian Hermit, Bartholomew of Urbino (d. 1350).

[5] CIC, Decr. III, 1.48 — Frdbrg. I, 1306.

[6] CIC, Decr. III, 1.55 — Frdbrg. I, 1309.

[7] CIC, Decr. Greg. III, 41.4 — Frdbrg. II, 636.

[8] Ps. 25:8

[9] Benedict, Rule ch. 17.

[10] Augustine, Confessions 9.12 (PL 32:777).

[11] Cf. Durandus, Rationale 5.2.50: “Diurnae vero lectiones a quibusdam, eo quod breves sunt, ‘lectiunculae’ nuncupantur, a pluribus vero capitula…”

[12] Benedict, Rule 13, 17.

[13] CIC, Decr. III, 5.15 — Frdbrg. I, 1415.

[14] Bishop Stephen’s lost work and its prefatory letter to the bishop of Metz are discussed in Mohlberg, Spuren eines verlorenen Liturgiebuches, des “Liber capitularis” Stephanus von Tongeren, in Mélanges d’histoire offerts à Charles Moeller, 1, 1914, p. 350-360.

[15] Like Tongres, Maastricht belonged to the diocese of Liège, a city 30 km away.

[16] On 7 May 1413, this important Augustinian house, of which John of Ruysbroeck was a founding member, was absorbed into the Windesheim congregation.

[17] Founded in 1382, Eymsteyn was a house of Augustinian canons to which the first sixth Brothers of the Common Life were sent to learn the canonical way of life. Apparently these founders had at first used the Capitulary of Groenendael, but put it aside for scrupulous reasons.

[18] Bernold, Micrologus 5 (PL 151:980c).

[19] Pope Sergius I appointed the church of St. Hadrian as the place of the collecta for the procession before Mass on the four feast of our Lady (Candlemas, Annunciation, Assumption, and Nativity). Cf. Proposition 23 for his complaint that the collect Veneranda nobis is used as the collecta for the Assumption in the oldest Roman books but omitted in the Franciscan books.

Statement from the Benedictines of the Immaculate

“The Congregation for Divine Worship is not all-powerful”

La Congrégation pour le culte divin n’a pas tout pouvoir

Regarding the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes of July 16, 2021 and the response to the dubia by the Congregation for Divine Worship promulgated on December 18:

We, the Benedictine monks of the Immaculate, of the Monastery of St. Catherine of Siena in Taggia, founded on August 1, 2008, by Bishop Mario Oliveri, erected as an Institute of Consecrated Life of diocesan right on March 21, 2017, and transferred to the Diocese of Ventimiglia-Sanremo on November 18, 2020, by decree of the Bishop of the diocese, Monsignor Antonio Suetta, have promised to be faithful to our Constitutions, which have been approved by the Holy See and under which we have taken the sacred vows of religion. In particular, as stated in the Prologue of said Constitutions, we have committed ourselves before God and the Church to always keep “as [our] proper rite, both outside and inside the monastery, the liturgy of the Mass celebrated according to the more than one thousand year old form of the Holy Roman Church, which was ‘never abrogated’ (motu proprio Summorum Pontificum), with its Latin language and Gregorian chant.”

This solemn commitment includes the use of the ancient Roman ritual and pontifical, as evidenced by the ordination ceremonies performed since our foundation. We do all this out of fidelity to “the ‘canons’ of the rite definitively fixed at [the Council of Trent, which] provided an insurmountable barrier to any heresy directed against the integrity of the Mystery [of the Mass].”[1] As Archbishop Antonio Suetta publicly stated on television on August 24, 2021, we are “the guardians and witnesses of the most ancient Tradition of the Church.” It is thus and not otherwise that we will remain faithful, whatever the cost.

Through the intercession of the Immaculate Blessed Virgin Mary, may the Supreme Pontiff be enlightened in his function as Vicar of Christ, so that the Catholic faith in its purity and the traditional liturgy that guarantees it may once again shine, before the eyes of the world and for the salvation of souls, and that all the assaults of error and corruption against the Holy Church may be defeated.

Taggia
21st December 2021
St. Thomas the Apostle


The prior, Father Jean de Belleville was interviewed in Présent. Extract :

[…] We must not delude ourselves, both the motu proprio and the response to the dubia show a desire to suppress the use of the old rite in the more or less near future. The position of the traditional communities will not be weakened so much by Rome’s violent dispositions as by a lack of firmness in the faith that is as expressed in the Church’s traditional doctrine and worship. This firmness may require one to reject gravely unjust orders from members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, because the faith is first and fundamental.

By your statutes, to whom do you owe obedience—within the Church militant—in the area of the liturgy?

Competence belongs to the Congregation for Divine Worship, but it is not all-powerful, as Benedict XVI demonstrates in his own words: “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”[2]

What was the reaction of the bishop of your diocese?

All our friends say that our bishop is the best of the Italian bishops, because of his spirit of faith and his gentleness. After the motu proprio, he publicly recognized our right to use the traditional rite of the Mass.

When you say in your December 21 message that you will remain faithful to the traditional liturgy “whatever it takes,” what do you envision happening?

If, God forbid, Rome forces us to go against our Constitutions, what shall we choose: to be obedient to Rome and therefore become renegades, or to be faithful to our vows and consequently be condemned as “disobedient”? The answer is clear!


About the Benedictines of the Immaculate

Our Benedictine community of strict observance, founded by two monks from the Abbey of Le Barroux (France), was founded on July 2, 2008, in Villatalla in Liguria, in the diocese of Bishop Oliveri of Albenga-Imperia. It later moved to the former Capuchin convent of Taggia, even closer to the French border, where it was officially welcomed by Bishop Antonio Suetta of Ventimiglia-Sanremo on August 24, 2019.

We practice the traditional liturgy both inside and outside the monastery.

Article source: Le Salon Beige
Link to original text of the statement


[1] Letter of Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci to Paul VI (Source)

[2] Letter of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the bishops on the occasion of the publication of the apostolic letter “motu proprio data” Summorum Pontificum on the use of the Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970 (Source)

Victor Aubert on the Motu Proprio

Link to original text

Victor Aubert, President of Academia Christiana

Since the promulgation of the Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes, it seems that Pope Francis has decided to wage open warfare against communities committed to the traditional liturgy. The authoritarianism with which the Vatican is handling this issue has stunned many of the faithful and outside observers. At a time when practicing Catholics represent less than 5% of the population of Western Europe, such measures seem totally out of touch with reality. The West is sinking ever deeper into materialism and consumerism. Since our societies have left religion behind, Europeans have been wandering aimlessly in the realm of the absurd. The traditionalist spiritual movement is a remedy against nonsense. Is it not madness to condemn it so harshly? What can be the reasons that drive Pope Francis? Does he sincerely believe that the Church must be purified of its ritualism, of popular piety, of the figure of the pontiff and sacrificer, and of an overly “naïve” faith in the dogmas of the last ends (hell, purgatory, heaven)? All these old-fashioned notions fascinated the modernist clergy of the 1960s, but the generation born in the ‘80s have distanced themselves from their progressive elders.

Today’s young Catholics are mostly affirming their attachment to a more traditional religiosity. Uprootedness uproots everything but the need for roots, Christopher Lasch reminds us.

Whether traditionalist or conservative, young Catholics are less numerous but more assertive. Today’s churchgoers were not all born into Christian families, many are converts who find God on a journey to their roots. The problem today is not simply theological or liturgical, but also generational and anthropological. Preventing the traditional liturgy as a form of prayer not only opposes a strong dynamic within the younger generations but it is above all an attack on one of the last forms of sacredness, of transcendence, and of rites that are still alive, because they have been transmitted by an uninterrupted continuity of transmitters. The traditional liturgy is not a cultural heritage that is preserved like a work of art in a museum, it is a set of gestures and signs that deeply express our human condition with regard to the divine. This mystical dance is understandable only for those who see in man an animal with a spiritual soul. Under these conditions, the sacred can only be experienced in an embodied way by touching, kissing, kneeling, singing, prostrating, and contemplating the beauty of symbols. The cycle of the liturgical year accompanies that of the seasons. When autumn ends and nature declines, the Church celebrates the dead, Christ becomes incarnate in the heart of the longest night of winter, and resurrects in spring when the first buds appear. The Church celebrates the summer Saint John and blesses the wheat fields. With the traditional liturgies, man learns to direct his soul towards God through corporal discipline.

Let us listen to the Italian Christina Campo:

The sacred gestures are also sacred in a biological sense, since they are linked by millenary traditions to numbers which mysteriously respond to the life of man: three, seven, ten and so on. A researcher, Sambucy, has noted that in the Mass are contained the purest ritual attitudes of yoga contemplation, for example at the moment of the Canon, when the priest prays with his arms open geometrically and raised, his thumbs joined with his index fingers; but in our country, in an incomprehensible way, we now judge arbitrary, gratuitous and replaceable the splendor of these gestures or the marvelous complication of certain ceremonial rules; like the one, revolving entirely around the number three and the mystical relationship between straight lines and the circle (in modum circuli, in modum crucis), which marks the incensing of the offerings at High Mass.[1]

The enemies of tradition have an exclusively cerebral and intellectual conception of religion. They conceive of the body only as a burden to be rid of. It is not without reason that the defenders of tradition are often also the defenders of homelands and identities, so many incarnate and concrete elements that are worthless in the eyes of the enemies of the body. And it may seem paradoxical that the abstract spiritualism of the modernist theologians should in fact join the atheistic materialism of the money worshippers, if one does not remember Pascal’s words: whoever wants to act the angel, acts the beast.

This Motu Proprio affair may not only concern traditionalist Catholics, but also two visions of man and the world. To perpetuate this liturgical heritage is, on the one hand, to revere the natural and cosmic order that all men have sensed since the beginning of time, because this sensitive piety contained in the ancient rites corresponds to the deep nature of man who needs to prostrate himself with his body before the divine. On the other hand, in addition to embodying faith through gestures, poetry, ornaments, music, art and sacred architecture, the ancient rites give a central place to the sacrificial dimension of Christianity. We can draw endless graces and wisdom from this liturgical treasure that has been bequeathed to us by our ancestors. The mystery of the cross lived through the Mass gives meaning to all our sufferings and struggles.

The arbitrariness of a legal decision that lags behind the times can never dry up man’s need for the sacred. Law in the Church is not an end in itself, it is a means to the common good, and if it is misused, it is our duty to point it out and to correct its deviations. If it is sometimes meritorious to suffer patiently an individual injustice, it is always cowardly to support a public injustice. The history of the Church teaches us that Peter’s boat must weather storms, and clerics have not always lived up to their calling.

We cannot let the men of this century spoil a heritage that does not belong to them. There is a great risk of being impressed by the authority of those who abuse it. If this motu proprio causes regrettable divisions, let us not forget that conflicts are inevitable and sometimes healthy. Some cancers can only be cured by removal. Here again the mystery of the cross will give meaning to the tribulations we will undoubtedly go through soon. All struggle is first of all spiritual. To whom much is given, much will be required. Our duty is therefore to hold firmly to our mission as guardians of tradition.

Victor Aubert, President of Academia Christiana


[1] Christina Campo, Notes on the Liturgy, La Noix d’or