Voyages Liturgiques: Lenten and Rogation Processions in Rouen (6)

Processions in Rouen

Here I give, in abbreviated form, the most remarkable of the major processions of the year, taken from the about 200-year-old Ordinal, and which is still performed today except for some small details that I will be sure to point out.

alter servers 14 (cesare-auguste detti (cesare auguste detti), the confirmation procession)
Cesare-Auguste Detti (Cesare Auguste Detti), The Confirmation Procession

1) Lenten Stational Processions

On all Wednesdays and Fridays of Lent after None, the clergy with subdeacon, deacon, and priest in albs, maniples, and stoles go to a stational chapel in procession while chanting the Litany of the Saints in a sorrowful tone. When they have arrived, the Litany is broken off to say the Prayers and Suffrages. Formerly they lay entirely prostrate during these Prayers. Today they do the same, but in an even more humiliating way: there are several curved benches over which the clergy all bend, and additionally kneel during the Prayers. We will see this elsewhere too; it is called protratio super formas or se incurvare super formas. This is similar to the ancient prostration. When the Prayers and Collects are finished, the two chaplains take up the Litany where they left off and continue it until everyone has gone back to their places [in choir]. Then they ended it and immediately began the Mass. On these two days the stations included longer prayers and more austere fasts.

Processions in Rouen are carried out with great seriousness and pomp. There are five or six that are so beautiful, that we must mention them here.

On Palm Sunday they do a very unique procession called The Procession of the Sacred Body (La Procession du Corps Saint). The ritual is as follows. Between three and four in the morning the sacristan of the cathedral church lets down the suspended pyx and places the sacred Ciborium in a sort of tabernacle or half-cut lantern of wood and glass attached to a litter. He places this close to the southern door of the choir on a table decorated with a rug and two chandeliers with lighted candles. There it is exposed for the veneration of the faithful who come there from all parts of the city to accompany the sacred Body of Jesus to the place where it is to be carried. Meanwhile, Matins is said and toward the end of Lauds at around 5:30, two chaplains of the Commune vested in albs approach, and at the sound of the great swinging bell they carry the litter on their shoulders, surrounded by twelve great torches provided at the archbishop’s expense and bearing the prelate’s coat of arms. An unbelievable number of people attend, but none of the clergy besides these two chaplains, because the gentlemen of the chapter, so zealous for ancient custom, even refused a benefice to accompany the procession with a number of the clergy. They go by the large rue des Carmes to the church of St. Godard, which is adorned with the most beautiful tapestries in the city. They put down the litter in the middle of the choir on a rich dais, where it stays until 9:00. In the cathedral, at 7:30, after Terce and the sprinkling, the celebrant, deacon, and subdeacon, vested without chasuble or tunicle, preceded by an uncovered crucifix and lighted candles come down into the nave with the clergy who line up in two lines in front of the crucifix while the celebrant and his ministers ascend the Altar of the Cross (better known as the Altar of St. Cecile)[1] and there blesses the palms for all the canons, who each get one, and branches for the cantors, chaplains, and choir boys. For this blessing a dry Mass is said, composed of an antiphon, Collect, Epistle chanted at the jubé by the subdeacon who wears a tunicle and faces the people, a Gradual, Gospel Cum appropinquasset, etc. also chanted at the jubé by the deacon in a dalmatic, another collect, Preface, three[collects, and finally two antiphons and a final collect.[2]

After the distribution of the branches by two priests in surplices, everyone goes in procession, carrying their palms or branches in hand, to the church of St. Godard, ad sanctum Gildardum, chanting responsories and antiphons. When they arrive there, there is a sermon (today) in the neighboring church of St. Laurent; formerly it took place in a large cemetery that is between these two churches. For the event, in the cemetery on the side of the Rue de l’École, they used to construct a large wooden tribune of 20ft² for preaching in the midst of such large crowds of people. I have seen it several times, and it was canceled only forty years ago due to the uncertainty of the weather, which was such that the preacher always caught a cold or was inconvenienced in some other way. As a result they currently hold the preaching in the church of St. Laurent, which is nearby. When the sermon was finished, the clergy of the cathedral church return to St. Godard, where five chaplains stand before the tabernacle of the Blessed Sacrament and sing some verses or antiphons to which the ministers and the choir respond in alternation. The celebrant kneels with his ministers and incenses the Blessed Sacrament.

After the antiphon Hosanna filio David, the Cantor begins the antiphon Coeperunt omnes turbae, and the procession returns in very pompous array. The roads it passes through are strewn with tapestries. The most wealthy bourgeois of the city and a crowd of people follow the procession, and the Fiftiers (Cinquanteniers) and the one hundred arquebusiers are there on the edges of the procession so there is no confusion. When they arrive to the place where the ancient city gate once stood, the Gate of St. Apollonia, patroness of the nearby church of the Carmelites (and sometimes also called the Gate of the Great Bridge) they hold a station at an altar of repose; the choir boys and musicians go up to a nearby room (formerly to one of the gate’s towers) cum Processio ad portam civitatis ornatam venerit, sex pueri turrim ascendant and sing the verses of Gloria, laus et honor.[3] While the archbishop sings the Gloria, laus with the Cantor, the vested ministers and the choir, he continually incenses the Blessed Sacrament in the altar of repose. When the verses are finished, the Cantor begins the Responsory Ingrediente Domino in sanctam civitatem, and the procession enters the city (in the words of the Ordinal), by which it means the old boundaries of the city. When they enter the parvis or forecourt of the church, the Cantor begins the Responsory Collegerunt Pontifices.

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Four priests vested in black copes (formerly red and green) sing before the church door the Versicle Unus autem ex ipsis. Finally, two vested priest-chaplains carry the litter upon which the Body of Our Lord rests inside the lantern across the door, and hold it firmly, such that all the clergy and people enter the church passing under the Blessed Sacrament.

Immediately thereafter, they uncover the great crucifix and the Archbishop, the Cantor, the deacon, and the subdeacon kneel and sing Ave Rex noster, which the choir repeats. Finally they enter the choir and, if the Archbishop is present, he blesses the people. The Blessed Sacrament is again reserved, and the Mass begins.

2) Rogation Processions

On Rogation Monday after Sext, says the Ordinal, they prepare the procession, which the clergy and the people of the city are obliged to attend and do attend, carrying their reliquaries, crosses, and banners. They come together in the Metropolitan Mother Church: ad metropolitanam et matrem Ecclesiam convenire tenentur. While the processions from the other churches are make their way thither, the reliquaries of the saints are taken from the church treasury and placed on the High Altar one after the other by two chaplains of the Commune vested in albs. The relics are escorted to the sanctuary enclosure by two choir-boys carrying candles, the deacon and subdeacon with their usual vestments except the tunicle, the officiating hebdomadary or journeyeur also in an alb, stole, and purple maniple, who incenses each reliquary from the treasury until the entrance to the choir, while the cantors sing an antiphon proper to the saint whose relics are borne. After the antiphon is done, the officiant stops with his ministers, and sings the versicle and collect proper to the saint whose relics are being carried, and places them on the High Altar. When all the reliquaries have been placed upon the altar, and the clergy of the city is assembled, the procession begins from the Cathedral church at about 9:30 in the morning, that is to say at the hour when Sext begins.[4] They are not so delicate as to fear the blazing sun, and in other places where, to avoid it, they begin the procession at 7 in the morning, interpreting the rubric post Sextam as meaning after 6 in the morning.

First go the reliquaries of three or four parishes with their clergy under their banners, and three or four reliquaries of the Cathedral church with two torches or candles flanking each one. Then follow all the crosses and banners of all the other parishes. The cross and banner of the church of St. Maclou, the biggest parish in the city, is the one under which walks all the numerous clergy of all the parish churches of Rouen in a straight line, in two rows, with the parish priests of the city that walk last.

After them walk the canons regular of the church of La Madeleine and St. Lô, who take their place in choir together with the canons of the Cathedral on one side. Then come Benedictines, both the reformed and those of the ancient Royal Abbey of St. Ouen. They also have their place on the other side of the choir with the canons of the Cathedral. These churches have a common association, as I shall say in its proper place.

Then comes a beadle of the Chapter carrying the great banner of the Cathedral church, and after him comes an acolyte who carries the processional cross with a small banner attached, under which walks all the clergy of the Cathedral church, composed of the choir-boys, a great number of chaplains, and the cantors who are also considered chaplains.

saint romanusBetween the cantors, according to the Ordinal, walked the Lord Cantor preceded by the two parish priests of the churches of St. Denis and S. Vigor, holding white batons in their hands to keep the procession of the chaplains in line both going and returning. Then come the canons, the last of which are the deacon and the celebrant. After them come two great dragons which the common folk call Gargouilles  (similar ones are carried in other churches of France, such as Paris, Lyon, etc.) and which follow the reliquaries (or fiertes, from the Latin feretrum) of Our Lady and St. Romanus between players of various musical instruments. Then come the richest merchants of the city and the people. When the procession passes in front of the door of a church, and the door of the stational church, the clergy is incensed by the parish priest or the vicar.

The batons which the two parish priests of the churches of St. Denis and S. Vigor carried to keep the order of procession were not unique to the church of Rouen. We have also seen them in Lyon ad defendendam or custodiendam processionem, that is, to protect the way of the procession, to indicate that free passage be given, and to prevent confusion. The other parish priests of the city and many other clerics have them too, and the dignités and elder canons as well. But, since all things degenerate with time, they were later shortened to 2 feet or 2.5 feet. Finally they have had the audacity to carry them uncovered and adding flowers on the top, and then in the middle of the baton.

Formerly the Benedictines of Bec going to these three Rogation Processions carried batons  or canes to support themselves, or to remove from the way anything that might obstruct the path, since these processions used to be carried out barefoot, as one can see in the Roman Ordinal (and, as I have remarked, in Lyon). Since the Abbey of Bec belongs to the Diocese of Rouen, it is not very far from the city, and followed a good part of the rites of Rouen, it is possible that the batons carried today by part of the clergy—all the ones that receive or buy them—used to be longer and thicker, and employed for the same reason as the Benedictines. Each of the monks of St. Martin-des-Champs of the Congregation of Cluny in Paris still carry a baton during the Rogation Processions, and likewise those of St. Benigne in Dijon, Lisieux, and the entire Order of Cluny. This helps confirm my conjecture. Further evidence is the fact that in Rouen on Rogation Tuesday they process to the church of St. Gervais outside the city, and must go uphill. The same was the case on Rogation Wednesday, when they went to the Abbatial Church of the Mount of St. Catherine, which is a very high mountain, very tough and painstaking to climb. Batons or canes would have been very helpful for climbing up and down. I leave the matter to those learned in the rubrics to decide.

Let us resume the course of our Monday procession. It goes to the parish church of St. Eloi.

After the procession enters the church, they have a sermon, which apparently used to take place after the Gospel of a dry Mass celebrated there, perhaps like in Metz in Lorraine, for the subdeacon, deacon, and celebrant vested as for saying a ferial Mass, except for the chasuble. (In Vienne the celebrant walks in procession with the chasuble.) After the end of the sermon, they say the preces kneeling (formerly everyone prostrated himself) in front of the altar. Then, three cantors or chaplains sing the Litany of the Saints until they go back into the choir of the Cathedral church, where they finish it.

The Ordinal of the Cathedral church adds: Nota quod qualibet die trium dierum processionis Religiosi S. Audoeni tenentur mittere per suos servitores ad domum Cantoris Ecclesiae Rotomagensis vel ejus locum tenentis, hora prandii unum panem magnum, unum galonem boni vini, honestum ferculum piscium, et unum magnum flaconem de pinguedine lactis, sicque in duobus diebus reportantur vasa, et in teria die dimittuntur, et pertinent Cantori.   (“Note that on each one of these three days of the procession, the religious of St. Audoenus must send their servants at lunch time to the house of the Cantor of the Church of Rouen or his locum tenens bearing a large loaf of bread, a gallon of good wine, a large helping of fish, and a large flagon of cream. The dishes are brought for two days and returned on the third.”)

On Rogation Tuesday the Procession goes to the church of St. Gervais with the same ceremonies as yesterday. There is a sermon, and after it is over, they say the preces kneeling (formerly everyone prostrated himself in front of the altar), and then they sing the Responsory O constantia martyrum. When that is over, three canons sing the litany that begins with Humili prece et sincera devotione ad te clamantes  Christe exaudi nos, which the choir repeats after each couplet or combination of stanzas, each of which are composed of a verse in hexameter and one in pentameter, containing the names of the saints in order. The text is as pitiful as the chant is charming.


The procession goes to the edge of the dry moat in which there are towers, arrow-slits and vaults, and much echoing that resounds with this beautiful chant and its cadences. Nothing is more pleasing or charming to the ear. The cantors continue the Litany until they entered the choir of the Cathedral church, where they finish it with two final stanzas, the last of which is in Greek.

On Rogation Wednesday they go in procession to the church of St. Nicaise (formerly to the Abbatial Church of the Mount of St. Catherine before it was destroyed) at the same time and with the same ceremonies as on Monday, and also with a sermon. On their way back three cantors first sing the Litany Ardua spes mundi,[5] which is repeated after a stanza composed of a verse in hexameter and one in pentameter, which contain the names of the saints in order. The text is not beautiful, and neither is the chant. But when they reach a certain crossroad, three priest-chaplains begin another litany with a beautiful chant, and which produces quite a beautiful effect with its refrains. This is its order: the three priest-chaplains begin by singing Rex Kyrie, Kyrie eleison, Christe audi nos. The choir repeats the same. Then the three priest-chaplains in the middle of the procession sing Sancta Maria ora pro nobis. After that, three deacon-chaplains sing Rex virginum Deus immortalis. Three subdeacon-chaplains add, Servis tuis semper miserere. The choir sings, Rex Kyrie, Kyrie eleison, Christe audi nos. And thus they all take the Litany up anew all the way unto the choir, where they finish. Upon their return they say None, and then go to lunch, for it is well after midday.


[1] In the jubé.

[2] The same structure as the pre-Pius XII Roman rite, except that the latter has six collects after the Preface (the use of Rouen lacks the collects Petimus, Domine; Deus, qui dispersa; and Deus, qui miro present in the Roman rite.

[3] De Vert, Explication…., vol. 2, pg. 90.

[4] Because the little hours are anticipated on fasting days.

[5] “This rhymed verse litany is actually much more ancient: it was composed by the monk Ratpert of Saint Gall († 884) to be chanted in the Sunday processions of that famous Swiss abbey. It is one of many witnesses to the extraordinary intellectual, artistic, and scientific flowering of St. Gaul, one of the spearheads of the Carolingian Renaissance. Due to the great influence of the chant school of St. Gaul, Ardua spes mundi like many other pieces from the liturgical repertoire composed for the use of the famous abbey, was rapidly taken up by a number of churches in the West, and even received the approval of Pope Nicholas III († 1280). (Cf. Schubiger, Die Sängerschule St Gallens, p. 37). It is often found assigned to Rogation processions (in the diocese of Trèves it is sung on Tuesday of the Rogations).”

Cette litanie  versifiée et rythmée est de fait beaucoup plus ancienne : elle fut en effet composée par le moine Ratpert de Saint-Gall († 884) pour être chantée aux processions dominicales de cette fameuse abbaye suisse. C’est un témoin parmi bien d’autres de l’extraordinaire efflorescence intellectuelle, artistique et scientifique, qui caractérisa Saint-Gall, alors l’un des fers de lance de la Renaissance carolingienne. En raison du grand rayonnement de l’école de chant de saint Gall, Ardua spes mundi, comme bien d’autres pièces du répertoire liturgique composé pour l’usage de la fameuse abbaye, fut rapidement reprise dans de nombreuses Eglises d’Occident, et reçut même une approbation du pape Nicolas III († 1280) comme litanie (cf. Schubiger, Die Sängerschule St Gallens, p. 37). On la retrouve souvent assignée aux processions des Rogations (dans le diocèse de Trèves, elle est ainsi chantée le mardi des Rogations). []

Rouen (5): Public Penance in 18th Century France


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Public penance in the West became obsolete towards the end of the Middle Ages. By the 16th century its restoration often featured in efforts to reform Church discipline by synods and bishops. The Council of Trent insisted that public sinners ought to be subjected to public penance, and zealous prelates like St. Charles Borromeo tried to restore the old discipline, but generally in vain. As Sieur de Moléon reports here, it survived in certain dioceses of France for particularly egregious sins, and Jansenists like Antoine Arnaud encouraged its revival. The last reports of the celebration of the rituals of public penance on Ash Wednesday and Maundy Thursday come from the middle of the 18th century, although the Pontificale Romanum continued to include the rite until it was reformed in the 20th century, and the Rituale Romanum continued to state that public scandal required public satisfaction (Tit. III, cap. 1).

There is perhaps no church in France where public penance is observed with more exactitude and ceremony than in the church of Rouen. The remains of this ancient discipline are too beautiful to overlook here. Here follows an account of how it is practiced in this church.

Extract from a Memoire of M. de la Fosse, Grand Penitentiary of the church of Rouen, 1673

We commit all sorts of persons to public penance here: men, women, and young people. Since the beginning of this year I have obliged two young men of twenty or twenty-five years for having spoken several blasphemies in the presence of several people of their parish with whom they were working.

The crimes for which people are ordinarily obliged to public penance are: the smothering drowning, or burning of children with significant negligence of their parents; public concubinage, horrible blasphemies that cause scandal, etc. From several places in the diocese I hear of what sort of satisfaction was performed by gentlemen who fought inside churches.

The way in which the penance is done varies, because ordinarily I require it to be performed on the places where the fault has been committed, in addition to the to the fact that the penitents are obliged to show up in the Cathedral church on Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday of the following Lent They are sent to me by their parish priests to be absolved in reserved cases, and so I order them to hear their parish Mass in the porch or portal of their church for one or more Sundays and feasts before receiving absolution. I send them back with a document written in the following manner:

Lator praesentium, vel praesens mulier genuflexa orabit ad fores Ecclesiae proximis tribus diebus Dominicis dum Missa parochialis celebrabitur; deinde feriis 4 Cinerum et 5 in Coena Domini proximae Quadragesimae hora octava matutina conveniet ad praesentem cathedralem ecclesiam. Quorum executio venerabili D. Parocho comendatur. Datum, etc. Signed N. Poenitentiarius Rotomagi. (“The bearer of the present letter shall pray on his or her knees at the doors of the church for the next three Sundays during the parish Mass. Then on Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday of the next Lent, at 8 o’clock in the morning he or she shall assemble at the present Cathedral church. The performance of these things is entrusted to the parish priest.”)

They find me in my chapel on the day and hour prescribed. Those who come from farthest away arrive on the previous day at Vespers usually carrying letters from their parish priests that attest how they have fulfilled what was prescribed for them.

For penitents from the city, usually I make them hear their parish Mass ad fores interiores ecclesiae since the portals of the churches are usually next to the road. In this way they are still noticed, when ladies in silk veils or scarves leave their pews to hear Mass or the Divine Office from the church door.

Ceremony of Ash Wednesday for the imposition of public penitence

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On Wednesday morning the archbishop’s sermon is given in the pulpit at the end of the nave very near to the door of the choir. Subsequently, this same pulpit is removed, with a particular ceremony, into an arcade near to the main portal, so that the penitents who cannot enter the church with the others to assist at the Divine Mysteries may still at least hear the word of God during Lent. Thus on Ash Wednesday the archbishop, in pontifical vestments, or in his absence the head of the chapter, goes into the choir to bless the ashes and impose them on the clergy.

After this they come down in procession into the nave with the crucifix, candles, and a hair shirt (cilice) carried like a banner by the canon-deacon. When all are in their places, the canon deacon reads a long Lesson addressed to the penitents containing the reasons the Church has for imposing this penance upon them and how they must carry it out. Below is an abridged version of the sense of this Latin exhortation:

“The voice of your brothers whom you have killed cry out to God. Holy Church is in morning and sadness for the loss of her infants, but she suffers more from the loss of your souls. This loss is what obliges her to cast you out today from her bosom, and to deliver your bodies to the devil, so that your souls may be saved on the day of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I exhort you to to apply yourselves with much ardor and vigilance to expiate and repair the crimes that you have committed, so that being delivered from the power of the Devil, you may re-enter under the protection of Holy Church your Mother.”

Then after using the words of St. Leo to show them the horrible state to which sin has reduced them, in which they have been separated from the sacraments and communion of the Church, and the obligation they have to perform their penance with fervor and fidelity, lest their penance be extended,  he tells them what they must do:

“During the time of your penance you must wear the hair shirt, eat no meat, fast on bread and water, abstain (according to the order of your parish priest) from riding horses, going to war, from baths, from keeping your hair, and from the company of your wives as long as they desire to permit you. For there is nothing left for him who has become a criminal by using things that were forbidden, than to abstain from things that are permitted. Be assured that we can offer you no indulgence, nor relax any of these acts of penance, unless you redeem them by long and fervent prayers, by feeding the poor, and by other good works.”

After reading this Lesson, or rather exhortation, the archbishop or officiant sits on a faldstool prepared for him on the right side of the clergy. Then one of the beadles comes from my chapel (of John the Baptist) where the penitents wait, each of them holding a lighted candle. He leads them through the people, who have assembled in great number for the ceremony. They pass through all the clergy to prostrate themselves on their knees before the seated officiant who blows out their candles.

Then they go in the same order to the main door of the church which is half-open. After they have left one after the other, I accompany the archbishop or officiant to close the door with him when the last penitent has left. Then we go to join the clergy, where I take my place and return in procession to the choir, where Mass is celebrated.

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Ceremony of Absolution Thursday for the public reconciliation

Screen Shot 2019-01-13 at 6.39.25 AM.pngThe penitents of Ash Wednesday, and others who have been referred during Lent, go on Absolution Thursday at 8 in the morning to the chapel of the penitentiary in the Cathedral. They bring back the candles that had been extinguished on Ash Wednesday.

After None has been celebrated, the clergy come in procession into the nave led by the archbishop in pontifical vestments, or in his absence by the first member of the choir, who takes this properly archiepiscopal day as well as Ash Wednesday. The deacon reads the Lesson that begins Adest, venerabilis Pontifex, etc. which contains a request made by the deacon to the bishop in the name of all the faithful and the whole church, to reconcile the penitents and give them the grace of absolution that the Church asks for them with humility, and of which they have made themselves worthy by their continual tears and groans, by their fasts and other exercises of penance.

While this Lesson is chanted, the beadle comes to take the penitents and lead them outside the church to the main door from which they were expelled on Ash Wednesday. The archbishop or officiant begins the Venite, which the clergy repeat alternately three times, and ends with Venite filii, audite me, timorem Domini docebo vos. Then the main door is opened to the penitents who prostrate themselves one after the other before the archbishop or the officiant, who gives them the kiss of peace. Meanwhile the deacon and subdeacon take the extinguished candles of the penitents, light from from those carried by the acolytes, and give them back to the penitents who go in a line through the clergy to a small area prepared for them in front of the pulpit at the top of the nave, as on Ash Wednesday, where they hear a sermon made by the Penitentiary or someone else appointed to do it. The clergy and a great number of people assist at this ceremony and are very edified by what takes place in this ceremony.

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After the sermon, which the penitents hear on their knees, candles burning in their hands, the cantor begins the Domine ne in furore and the clergy present continue in alternation the seven Penitential Psalms, after which the archbishop or officiant, preceded by two acolytes with their lighted candles mounts the pulpit to give the general absolution as prescribed in the Manual [pg. 293]. Then the penitents return to the chapel of the Penitentiary who sends them away in peace after a word of exhortation.

As for the number of penitents, I remember that I presented about forty of them to the archbishop last year.

Rouen, 6 February 1673


De la Fosse
Canon, Theologian, and Penitentiary of Rouen

In 1697 there were twenty-eight public penitents in the Cathedral church of Rouen.


To read more from the Voyages Liturgiques about the liturgy of Rouen, see

Part (1): The Cathedral Chapter of Rouen
Part (2): Major Feast Days
Part (3): Ordinations and Saints Feasts
Part (4): The 15th Century Ordinal of Rouen

Voyages Liturgiques: Liturgy in 15th Century Rouen (4)

Part (1), (2), (3)

Now we will present several practices and ceremonies taken from an Ordinal of the church of Rouen and from some other documents about two-hundred years old, all of which are still observed, except a few that I will make sure to point out.

Before and after chanting a Lesson or Response from the jubé, a bow is made to the Eagle with a half-turn, semigyrus.

The 18th-century jubé of the Cathedral of Rouen, seen from the choir. It was removed in 1884.

On Sundays of Advent and Lent the deacon wears the orarium[1] in addition to a folded chasuble.

According to this Ordinal, on all ferias of Lent until Holy Thursday, when an office begins the canons, chaplains, and choir boys make the sign of the cross over their place and kiss it. They also do this if they enter choir after the office has begun.

On Lenten ferias a great violet veil is stretch across and above the whole choir during the whole ferial office (from Monday of the first week of Lent to the Passion of Spy Wednesday, when it is ripped in two when the deacon says the words et velum Templi scissum est.)[2] The veil is only lifted during the Gospel and after the Sanctus until the elevation of the chalice.

Before Compline in Lent a minor canon read from the Collations until one-hundred fifty years ago. The same was done at Bayeux, Vienne, and Salisbury in England, and the great reading is still done in the church of Reims and nearly its entire province. This reading gave its name to the small evening meal of Lent. At Compline the deacon says the Confiteor and receives the clergy’s confession. If he is present, he says the Indulgentiam, and at the end of Compline he sprinkles the clergy, except on Sundays. If he is not present the Hebdomadary or the Daily (Journeyer) does it.

The Preface Qui corporali jejunio was only used for ferias until a century ago, as is apparent in all the ancient missals of Rouen, Orléans, and others; on Sundays in Lent they said the common Preface per annum, as they do today in Sens, Auxerre, and elsewhere, because Lenten Sundays are not fasting days, and even in the early 12th century they ate meat on these days.

In all the Missals of Rouen printed in the last century, in the Quod ore sumpsimus, instead of munere temporali, it is written de Corpore et Sanguine Domini nostri Jesu Christi. There was only one purification or ablution with wine, like in Lyon and among the Carthusians.

The final ablution with water and wine was never done, and the priest was never obliged to drink what he rinsed from his fingers. He went to wash his hands in the washbowl or laver near the altar: Sacerdos vadat ad lavatorium. The same thing is noted in the Carmelite Missal of 1574. The Ritual of Rouen states that there should be such a washbowl near all altars, as found in the church of Saint-Étienne-des-Tonneliers in Rouen.[3] Reversus ad Altare dicat Communionem et Postcommunionem; deinde se vertat ad populum, dicens: Dominus vobiscum, et Ite, missa est. Then the priest gave the blessing with which the Mass ended. Et benedictione accepta recedatur, say the ancient Missals of Rouen of the 16th century. This remains the practice today in Rouen, where the people depart after the blessing has been given. Indeed, the priest or deacon has dismissed them with the Ite, missa est. In 1576, the final Gospel according to St. John was still not said in Rouen. It was only introduced in the Missal of 1604, but even then the priest only said it when removing his chasuble. The 1604 Missal states: Vertit se ad populum et ei benedicit manu: interim exuitur casula, dicendo, Dominus vobiscum, et Evangelium secundum Joannem.

We have seen before that in most of the church whereof I have spoken, the last Gospel is still not said in High Masses.

During the fifteen days of Passiontide the Psalm Judica me is not said at the beginning of Mass, because not that long ago it was never said at the foot of the altar. It is still never said in Milan, Sens, nor among the Carthusians, Carmelites, and Dominicans. The Psalm Judica that begins the Mass of Passion Sunday impeded the psalm from being added in order to avoid its repetition.

About 200 years ago, they stopped extinguishing the last candle at the end of Lauds of Holy Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in Rouen. It is instead hidden until the Officiant has said the collect. He used three knocks thereafter to indicate the candle should be relit, according to the Carmelite Ordinal: Expleta oratione, qui facit officium, sonitum trina percussione faciat in signum ut lumen extinctum reaccendatur. In conventual churches, they do the discipline immediately afterwards: Perlato autem lumine a sacrista, recipiantur disciplinae. In some churches each one makes several knocks.[4]

We see in this Ordinal on Maundy Thursday Mass that the Archbishop of Rouen’s pontifical chair was still behind the altar, like in Vienne and Lyon.

On Good Friday, they say the four little Hours—Prime, Terce, Sext, and None—at the four corners of the choir, that is, one in each corner. Vespers is said in the sanctuary and all around, and Compline in the middle of the choir around the tomb of Charles V, king of France, in a low voice.

Before the beginning of the Office of Good Friday, they place a large cloth upon the altar, which is larger than the table and covers the altar above and on all sides. This used to be done every day, for cloths used to be placed on the altar only when Mass was about to be said. I have already made note of this above, in the chapter on Angers, and this is still practiced in the many monasteries of the Order of Cluny. There, they do not use altar frontals, because they were not used in the early centuries of the Church. They are also not used in the Cathedral church of Angers. One can count on the fact that almost everything that is uniquely done on the Holy Triduum is of the greatest and purest antiquity. The Blessed Sacrament reserved for the sick is not at the altar in those days, because it used to be that it was never kept there, but elsewhere, as we shall see was done throughout the year in many churches of Rouen. Likewise, during these three days neither Deus in adjutorium, nor Gloria Patri, nor the short chapter, nor hymns are said in the Office, because they were not said in the early centuries of the Church. They were added later, and it has still not been found advisable to add them to the Office of the Triduum, nor to the Office of the Dead. To call the faithful to the Divine Office in the Cathedral church, they use wooden mallets, with which they strike the doors of the church. In the other parishes they use tablets or tartevelles, because these were anciently used before bells were invented. Finally, on Good Friday and Holy Saturday, Mass begins with the prophecies, since in the first centuries of the Church Mass began with a reading from the Old Testament.[5]

This practice has also been retained on the Saturday Vigil of Pentecost.

There is a very ancient practice in Rouen, which we would doubtless have found in the ancient Ordinal of six-hundred forty years, if several pages were not missing in this place. It is the Inscription of the Paschal Table on a beautiful vellum which is attached at the height of a man to a large wax column about twenty-five feet high,[6] on top of which the Paschal Candle is placed, between the tomb of Charles V and the three silver lamps or basins. This Table was (I imagine) once read out loud by the deacon after he had chanted the Paschale praeconium, of which the Table was apparently a part. At least it used to be exposed to everyone’s view everyone from Easter until Pentecost, as it is currently. It is mentioned in chapter 29, book 6 of Rupert’s De divinis officiis, in Honorius of Autun’s Gemma animae, in ch. 102 of the treatise de antiquo ritu Missae, in Book 6, ch. 80 of William Durandus’s Rationale and in John Beleth’s Summa de Ecclesiasticis Officiis, chapter 108 in these terms: Annotatur quidem in cereo Paschali annus ab incarnatione Domini; inscribuntur quoque cereo Paschali indictio vel aera, atque epacta. I would add that it did not only record the year and epact, but also the mobile feasts, the number of years since the foundation of the church of Rouen, who its first bishop was, how many since it was dedicated, the year of the pontificate of the pope, of the archbishop of Rouen, and of the king. But that means nothing: here is the table from 1697:


Year of Our Lord 1657.
Year since the creation of the world 5697.
Year since the universal Deluge: 4052.
Year since the Incarnation of Our Lord: 1697.
Year since the Passion of the Same: 1664.
Year since the Nativity of Our Lady: 1711.
Year since Her Assumption: 1647.
Year of Indiction: 5.
Year of the Solar Cycle: 29.
Year of the Lunar Cycle: 7.
Epact: 7.[7] 
Golden number: 7.[8]
Dominical Letter: F.[9]
Letter of the Martyrology: G.[10]
End of Easter: 14 April.
Moon of the same: 16 April.
Annotine Easter: 22 April.
Rogation Days: 13 May.
Ascension Day: 16 May.
Pentecost Day: 26 May.
Eucharist Day: 6 June.
Sundays from Pentecost until Advent: 26.
First Sunday of Advent: 1 December.
Dominical Letter of the following year: E.
The following year is 1698 according to the common order.
Letter of the Martyrology of the following year: t.
Sundays from the Nativity of the Lord until Septuagesima of the following year: 4.
Beginning of Septuagesima of the following year: 26 January.
Septuagesima Sunday of the following year: 26 January.
First Sunday of Lent of the following year: 16 February.
Easter Day of the following year: 20 March.
Year since the consecration of St. Mellonius: 1437.
Year since the passing of the same: 1388.
Year since the consecration of St. Romanus: 1066.
Year since the passing of the same: 1053.
Year since the consecration of St. Audoin: 1051.
Year since the passing of the same: 1008.
Year since the Dedication of this Metropolitan Church: 633.
Year since the following year: E.
The following year is 1698 according to the common order.
Letter of the Martyrology of the following year: t.
Sundays from the Nativity of the Lord until Septuagesima of the following year: 4.
Beginning of Septuagesima of the following year: 26 January.
Septuagesima Sunday of the following year: 26 January.
First Sunday of Lent of the following year: 16 February.
Easter Day of the following year: 20 March.
Year since the consecration of St. Mellonius: 1437.
Year since the passing of the same: 1388.
Year since the consecration of St. Romanus: 1066.
Year since the passing of the same: 1053.
Year since the consecration of St. Audoin: 1051.
Year since the passing of the same: 1008.
Year since the Dedication of this Metropolitan Church: 633.

Jacques-Nicolas Colbert, Archbishop of Rouen (reigned 1691-1707)

Year since the proclamation of Rollo as first Duke of Normandy: 785.
Year since the passing of the same: 785.
Year since the coronation of William, first Duke of Normandy in the kingdom of England: 623.
Year since the death of the same: 609.
Year since the Restoration of the Duchy of Normandy to Philip II, King of France: 493.
Year since the second Restoration of the Duchy of Normandy to Charles VII, King of France: 247.
Year of the Pontificate of Our Most Holy Father and Lord Pope Innocent XII: 5.
Year since the consecration of Our Reverend Father and Lord Jacques-Nicolas [Colbert], Archbishop of Rouen and Primate of Normandy: 7.
Year since the birth of the Most Christian Prince Louis XIV, King of France and Navarre: 59.
Year of the reign of the same: 54.
This Candle was consecrated in honor of the Immaculate Lamb and in honor of the glorious Virgin, his Mother Mary.

It was very appropriate for this Table to be published on Easter night, because for many centuries this was considered the first day of the year.

Only in 1565, by an Ordonnance of Charles IX, King of France, did the first day of January come to be reckoned as the first day of the year. This Table was a sort of ecclesiastical calendar. The Lord Chancellor of the Cathedral church of Rouen is tasked with writing it, or to have it written at his own expense.

These Tablets were not only used in this church, but in collegiate churches all over, or at least in abbatial ones, such as those of Bec, as one sees in the statutes issued by the Prior, the Bl. Lanfranc, to be observed in the Monasteries of the Order of St. Benedict, and also in the Customary of Cluny and the Uses of Cîteaux.

There is a similar wax column with the Paschal Candle (but without the Paschal Table) in the churches of St. Ouen, Notre-Dame-de-la-Ronde, and St. Sauveur, all in Rouen.

From the moment the Paschal Candle is lit on Holy Saturday, it burns continuously day and night until the evening of Easter day, following the literal sense of Scripture: ad noctis hujus caliginem destruendam indeficiens perseveret…flammas ejus lucifer matutinus inveniat. It also burns during Mass and Vespers throughout the Octave and Double feasts in Eastertide until the Ascension, during the Office of Triple feasts in Eastertide until the Ascension, and from the Procession and Blessing of fonts of the Saturday Vigil of Pentecost until the evening of Pentecost day, which is properly speaking the end of the fifty days of Eastertide, or the holy Quinquagesima, as the Fathers call it.[11]

As far as one can see, at that time the Psalm Judica me at the foot of the altar was not said.

This is what the new Ordinal reads on Holy Saturday: Archiepiscopus vel Sacerdos cum Diacono et Subdiacono, candelabris et thuribulis veniat, et confessione humiliter dicta, alte incipiat Gloria in excelsis Deo absque tropis; et prosternat se omnis chorus. It adds, Et interim omnes campanae pulsentur, et dehinc per omnes abbatias et parochias totius civitatis. The Ritual indicates the same thing, and it seems it is customary that the principal church begins to give the signal. However, [faute qu’on n’y tient pas la main], there are parish and monastic churches that ring the bell over an hour before the Cathedral.

Here is one of the most beautiful practices to be seen, and which was still in use in Rouen less than 150 years ago: At the Procession on Easter day after Lauds in the nave in front of the Crucifix, the Archbishop kisses all the canons while saying to each one, Resurrexit Dominus. The same thing is still practiced not only in the Cathedral church of Vienne in the Dauphiné and the Collegiate church of S. Vulfran in Abbeville, but also throughout the East, when both the clergy and people greet each other by saying Χριστός ἀνέστη, Jesus Christ is risen.

In Easter day Mass, the Archbishop gave the solemn blessing before the Agnus Dei, as bishops still do today in several churches of France. We can expect that the zeal of the Lord Archbishop of Rouen shall re-establish it, as the Lord Bishop of Orléans has recently done.

In this Mass and that of solemn feasts tropes and laudes, or praises, were sung: cum tropis et laudibus.

I think I have already said that tropes were stanzas or words mixed into the Kyrie eleison, such as Kyrie orbis factor, or Fons bonitatis, which are still sung at Lyon, Sens, and elsewhere. The words were eliminated, but the notes were kept, and this is the reason why today there are so many notes over a single syllable in the Kyrie. The laudes or praises were acclamations that began Christus vincit, Christus regnat, etc. Ludovico Regi Francorum pax, salus, et victoria, etc., which are sung at Rouen between the collect and the Epistle every time the Lord Archbishop celebrates Pontifical Mass on Triple feasts of the first class. Perhaps this term also refers to an antiphon that begun Hunc diem, and which was once sung immediately after the Communion in the church of Vienne.

Here is the Christus vincit as it is sung on all solemn feasts when the Lord Archbishop celebrates Pontifical Mass.

On Easter day and week, less than a hundred years ago Vespers began with the Kyrie eleison, following the ancient Roman Ordinal, the ancient and new Ordinal of Rouen, the books of the Divine Offices, that attributed to Alcuin, Rupert, Honorius of Autun, William Durandus, an old Dominican Breviary, the Carmelite Ordinal, and the breviaries of Rouen of 1491 and 1578. This is still done in the churches and dioceses of Besançon, Châlons-sur-Marne, Cambrai, the Province of Reims, and among the old Carmelites and Premonstratensians.[12] I write eleêson as in the Breviary of Cluny, since that is how it is sung by the musicians of the Cathedral of Rouen, and in all the churches of the Low Countries, and that is how it ought to be pronounced.

On that day, Vespers was said as it is still said today in Rouen and nearly everywhere else: with three psalms and Alleluia antiphons, the Gradual Haec dies and the Alleluia, with a versicle and without a prose.

After the Magnificat, the collect, and the Benedicamus, they do the procession to the fonts.

Two priests in albs carry the ampoules or vials of the sacred Oils and the holy Chrism. Each of them have on their necks a large veil or scarf, and they use the ends thereof to carry the ampoules. In their place, a deacon in alb and dalmatic carries the blessed Candle. All three walk together along the same line, with their heads covered with their square birettas, but everyone else’s head is uncovered. I think the reason is that they leave the sacristy with their heads covered, for nothing requires them to have their heads bare, and since their hands are occupied holding the vials of the sacred Oils and the Candle, they cannot uncover their heads anyway. (We have likewise seen the subdeacon of Lyon carrying the cross in Procession with his mitre on his head, even in the presence of the blessed Sacrament.) Then come the rest of the clergy together with the subdeacon and deacon, and finally the officiant. While processing towards the fonts, they sing the Psalm Laudate pueri with the Alleluia antiphon, and then around the fonts they sing the verse Laudate pueri Dominum, laudate nomen Domini. The officiant says the collect ad fontes for the newly baptized. Then they sing the Psalm In exitu Israel de Aegypto, which, together with the Psalm Laudate pueri, [est triomphé], and the Procession going through the church aisle to the western door, and finishes the psalm in the nave where they make a station. Then, the Procession goes back into the choir singing in faux bourdon the Antiphon Lux perpetua lucebit sanctis tuis Domine, etc., the versicle, and the collect; and the choir-boys conclude Benedicamus Domino, alleluia, alleluia.

The Procession to the Fonts after Vespers during the Easter Octave, from a 1789 Processional of Rouen.

This Procession is still duly carried out in the Cathedral church and in the better-run parish churches. In the others they do not carry the sacred Oils, but only the Paschal Candle, without a deacon or subdeacon. This Procession is very appropriate to remind Christians of their baptismal vows. […] This practice is very ancient and praiseworthy.

Every Saturday from Easter to Ascension, they used to and still do a station after Vespers. It is held in the nave before the Crucifix, which is incensed with three strikes by the coped officiant while the Responsory Dignus est Domine Deus noster accipere is sung. No cross is borne during this station, apparently because one is always before the Crucifix, but the thurifer and two candle-bearers are present.

Every Sunday from Easter to Ascension, they make a similar procession or station before the Crucifix after Lauds. It is done with the cross, banner, and candle-bearers, but without incense, in addition to the procession held before High Mass.

On Pentecost at Terce, seven priest-canons vested in chasubles above their surplices, accompanied by the deacon and subdeacon and canons vested in dalmatic and tunicle, with the two candle-bearers, go into the sanctuary at the bottom altar step. The priest in the middle sings the Deus in adjutorium and they all sing together and kneeling the first stanza of the Hymn Veni Creator Spiritus, during which they incense with the thuribles. The choir sings the second stanza, the seven priests the third, and so on in alternation. After the end of the hymn, the seven priests turn towards the clergy and incense them while they sing an entire antiphone. The clergy and people have remained kneeling from the beginning of the Veni Creator until the end of this antiphon. Then the Cantor begins the Psalm Legem pone. The seven priests, the deacon, and the subdeacon sing Terce together in the sanctuary, and thereafter return to the sacristy. This is also done in well-run parish churches.

At Terce during the Octave of Pentecost, the priest who sings the High Mass, the deacon, and the subdeacon vested as for Mass, except for the chasuble and tunicles, come together with the two candle-bearers to the back of the choir, and the officiating priest intones the Deus in adjutorium for Terce. He and the deacon each take a thurible, and, kneeling with the subdeacon, they begin the Hymn Veni Creator, and continue this first stanza together with the left side of the choir, while they incense. The right side of the choir sings the following stanza, and so they continue in alternation both today and during the rest of the week. The choir alternates each day during this Octave, as well as those of Christmas and Easter, when the Office is not done by the Hebdomadarian but by the Journeyer, who is called in Latin dietarius. The Cantor intones the Psalm Legem pone for the Antiphon Repleti sunt. The officiant sits together with his ministers on the stalls, and after the psalms and antiphon, he stands and sings the Chapter, the collect after the Short Responsory, and finishes Terce with the Benedicamus Domino. Then immediately the Cantor begins the Introit of the Mass.

On Easter, Pentecost, the Assumption, the Dedication of the Church, and the feast of St. Romanus, all the clergy wore copes during the procession, and remained thus vested at the High Mass. Nine of them stood in a line in the middle of the choir. Today only five do so.


[1] I.e. a broad stole.

[2] See our post on veils, and Gemma Animae

[3] This church was destroyed by the Anglo-American bombing of Rouen in 1944.

[4] The Roman Breviary, for instance, states, Finita oratione, fit fragor et strepitus aliquantulum: mox profertur candela accensa de sub altari, et omnes surgunt, et cum silentio discedunt.

[5] Honorius Augustudunensis believed the same thing: Officium hodie [sc. Feria VI in Parasceve] a lectione inchoatur, quia olim omnis missa a lectione incipiebatur. (Gemma animae III, Ch. 89).

[6] Durandus (Lib. VI, Cap. lxxx) confirms that in many churches of France there were Paschal candles that were effectively wax columns, and mentions (but does not approve) how some writers connect these with the columns of wax St Constantine ordered placed around the city to light the streets of Constantinople on Easter night.

[7] The number of days since the new moon at the beginning of the calendar year, used to compute the date of Easter.

[8] The number showing a year’s place in the Metonic lunar cycle, used to compute the date of Easter.

[9] Indicates which days of the month are Sundays.

[10] Used to determine the lunar day, which is announced at the beginning of the Martyrology after Prime.

[11] Cf. Honorius, Gemma animae III, Ch. 148: De Paschali quinquagesima.

[12] Author’s note: On Quasimodo Sunday and the rest of the year they begin Deus in adjutorium, which is how the ancient hermits began, for meum is in the singular. Kyrie eleeson hemas was the beginning for the clergy, which was always together, since hemas is in the plural. This is what Fr. Châtelain has written to me about the matter.

Voyages Liturgiques, Rouen (3): Ordinations and Saints Days

Part (1): The Cathedral Chapter
Part (2): The Major Feasts

Image result for José Alcázar Tejedor, 1887

On the Sundays after Easter they said three Nocturns with nine lessons.

They had a procession or station before the Crucifix on Saturday after Vespers and on Sunday after Lauds until Christmas. From Easter to Pentecost they sang of the Resurrection, and from Pentecost to Christmas a responsory about the Cross. During the Sundays between Easter until the Ascension the Morning Mass was of the Sunday, and the High Mass of the Resurrection, Resurrexi, as on Easter day. This is the case in many missals from the past century. Only a hundred years ago it was changed to follow the Roman Missal.

If a feast fell on one of the Sundays in Eastertide, as well as those of Advent and Lent, it was transferred to the following day: Si in Dominicis hujus temporis [Paschalis] festivitas evenerit, in crastino celebranda reservetur. Indeed, the holy season of Easter should not be any less than those of Advent and Lent. (In Orléans and Châlons-en-Champagne ferias in Eastertide are commemorated like those of Advent and Lent, and feasts are never celebrated on Sundays, except for Annual Feasts[1] like Christmas, All Saints, etc., since Sundays are particularly consecrated to the Lord and the memory of his Resurrection.)

If the Major Litany, that of the 25th of April, fell during the Octave of Easter or on one of the Sundays after Easter, they observed no fasting or abstinence, and held no commemoration except for a procession that was appropriately festal—nisi festiva tantum processio—, where they sung nothing sad or redolent of penance. This is still observed in Rouen, for in these cases they go to the nearest church singing the Responsory Christus resurgens.

Inside the stational church they sing a responsory or antiphon of the holy patron, with a versicle and collect. Then they return to their own church singing the Litany of the Saints, and after they have entered the church they sing an antiphon, versicle, and collect of the patron saint, and that is all. This procession for the fruits of the earth is always held on the 25th of April. In former times, the pagans similarly prayed to their gods for their earthly goods. This discovery was made by M. Châtelain.

But “if it should fall at any other time,” says the ancient Ordinal, “let all fast, except little children and the infirm.” In those days, all who had passed their seventh or eighth year were obliged to fast (less than a hundred years ago) in the Province of Normandy. I have learned this from two breviaries, one from Rouen in 1578, and the other from Avranche in 1592, at the beginning of which I find in the Kalendar the following instruction: Sacerdotes ecclesiarum praecipiant OMNIBUS AETATEM ADULTAM HABENTIBUS instituta jejunia observari, ut jejunium Quadragesimae &c. et omnia praedicta prohibeant expresse et sub poena peccati mortalis. This fast on St. Mark’s day was later changed to abstinence, in order to avoid fasting on Eastertide, following the spirit of the early Church. There are still families in Normandy that have done so from time immemorial and still today observe the great fast of Lent, that is, only one meal a day. In the diocese of Autun there are certain parishes where there are twelve, and even up to sixty plough-boys or thrashers who work from daybreak, and by 7 in the evening have still not taken any food, as one of their curés has assured me.[2]

God is pleased to preserve this spirit of fervor in certain families and persons in order to confound the laxity of the others. This makes one see that such a fast is not impossible. One should be persuaded thereof by everything that we have reported about different places in this entire account. One shall be fully persuaded when told that in Ireland they do not eat during Lent until the evening, and that in Rouen a certain major canon and a chaplain are still fasting at 4 or 5 in the evening of Ascension day, when the weather is much hotter than during Lent, and so such a long abstinence must be even harder to bear.

Since on ordinary fasting days during the year they did not eat until after None, the ancient Ordinal states that on St. Mark’s day the procession from the Cathedral church to St. Ouen began after noon. The priest, deacon, and subdeacon wore albs, stoles, and maniples, which is still observed at present in the Cathedral and other well-run churches. Neither the ancient Ordinal nor the more recent one state that one should kneel during the prayers in the stational church; the more recent one says that the Mass Exaudivit should be said there. The two state that, after returning from the procession, they say None at 2 in the afternoon, and then go to their meal. The same thing is practiced on the three [minor] Rogation days.

Ascension day was solemn like Easter. There were nine lessons on that day, like on Sundays of Eastertide.

The Acts of the Apostles are read in the church of Rouen after Ascension until the first Sunday after Pentecost. That is truly the proper season, since this history begins at that point, and most of what it contains occurred during those days.

On Pentecost day they sang hymns. At Terce they lit all the candles. The hymn was intoned by three canons in copes, who also incensed the altar. We shall see hereafter how this celebration became even more solemn.

(Ordinations and Consecrations)

screen shot 2019-01-08 at 9.01.48 pm
Pontificale, ms. Cas. 724

The last day of the Octave of Pentecost was solemn like the first, and like Easter. The Ordinal says, Dies octavus ut primus celeberrime agatur.

The Ember Days were celebrated like the season of Lent, as in Orléans. On Ember Saturday, when holy orders were conferred, the Cantor led the choir of the Mass, which did not end until the night of the Sunday, for the Mass of the Ordination of Priests began in the evening at the hour for Vespers, which belongs to the Sunday, says the Ordinal of Rouen. (This is the reason why the Gospel of the Sunday is read at the Mass of Ember Saturday, a use that has remained unto the present day. In Missa vespertinali quidem hora, quae pars est Dominicae Resurrectionis, a B. Leone summo Pontifice caeterisque sanctis Patribus ordinum consecratio fieri consituitur, quae jejunis a jejunantibus conferatur. These last three words explain why the Mass has been anticipated so early. Nevertheless, the Ordinal continues, Ante Nonam fieri sacra auctoritate prohibetur.

The Ordination or Consecration of bishops is always done on Sunday. We see in an ancient manuscript Pontifical of the Cathedral church of Rouen, about 700 years old, how a bishop was consecrated. It states that the dean, the major Archdeacon, the Cantor, and the Chancellor marked those that should serve as ministers for the bishop, just like they did on major feasts: sicut in majoribus mos est festivitatibus. There were two acolytes with two thuribles, seven acolytes who each carried a candlestick with a candle, seven subdeacons with the Gospel books, seven deacon who carried the relics of the saints, and twelve priests wearing chasubles.

It cannot be doubted that this Pontifical is proper to the church of Rouen, for it contains these words: Interrogatio: Vis sancta Rotomagensi Ecclesiae mihique et successoribus meis obediens esse et subditus? ℟. Volo.

Interrogatio. Vis mihi et ecclesiae meae professionem facere, sicut mos ANTIQUITUS constitutus obtinuit? ℟. Volo, et paratus sum in omnibus obedire.

This ancient usage is still observed in the present day in the Cathedral church of Rouen, where they consider it as it were a right of this church to receive the obeisance of the suffragan bishops of the province, because it is the Metropolitan and Primatial Church of Normandy, confirmed as such by a most ancient right, and seen in the ancient Pontifical mentioned above, which even states that it is a “very ancient usage,” citing papal bulls and rulings of the court of Parliament. The suffragan bishops must present this obseissance in the hands of the Lord Archbishop, if he is present; if he is absent, in the hands of the celebrant at the moment when he has gone up to the altar before reading the Introit.

Although the Mass is only of a feria, it is said as a double, with the Gloria in excelsis and the Credo, and the Cantor leading the choir, which only happens on doubles and triples.

Here is the formula that the suffragan bishop says over the Gospel book:

Ego N. Episcopus (Lexovinensis) Venerabili Ecclesiae Rotomagensi ac Reverendissimo Patri Domino N. Archiepiscopo et suis successoribus canonice intrantibus reverentiam et obedientiam me perpetuo exhibiturum promitto. And he signs his name in a manuscript covered with ivory which is kept in the sacristy of the Cathedral church. In it, there are a number of signatures of suffragan bishops and of abbots and abbesses of the diocese of Rouen.

At the first Solemn Mass which M. Colbert,[3] Archbishop of Rouen, sang in his Cathedral after receiving the pallium, there were two suffragan bishops who presented their oath of obedience before the reading of the Introit. Without presenting this oath the suffragan bishops are not recognized in the Metropolitan Church, are not admitted into the provincial assemblies, and are not allowed to be deputies of the province for the Assembly of the Clergy. Not only must they swear the oath of obedience, but also to dine with the Messieurs du Chapitre (Lords of the Chapter), in lieu of which they usually give 100 écus. This is apparently what is called the droit de past or right of repast, jus pastus in Latin.

On Pentecost day 1694, the new Abbess of St. Amand in Rouen, of the Order of St. Benedict, gave the same oath of obedience during the High Mass of Pentecost, which was done with solemnity. This Abbess came accompanied by twelve of her nuns, who took their places in the second row of the stalls of the chaplains, and the abbess in the upper row, in the same place as a suffragan bishop when he is present in the Office or for a similar ceremony. At first she simply had a foot mat. During the Kyrie, the Lord Archbishop’s faldstool is placed at the bottom altar step. The Archbishop, with his back to the altar, received in his hand the oath of obedience of the abbess, who knelt before him. She was led to the altar by the dean, the cantor, the treasurer, and the major archdeacon, who are the first four dignitaries, and is taken back by them to her place in choir, where she finds upon returning the [carreau] which a verger brought there immediately after she gave her oath. The abbess heard Mass there with her twelve nuns.

(On Saints’ Feasts)

Initial G[audeamus omnes] from a Gradual: Christ, Virgin, and Saints, about 1370–77. Don Silvestro dei Gherarducci (Italian, Florence, 1339–1399). Ink, tempera, and gold on vellum.
Let us return to our Ordinal of Rouen. There remains the section de festivitatibus sanctorum. It does not favor an excessive number of feasts, lest they be dull and distasteful, nor does it want for all of them to be cut out. (Besides the feasts of Our Lord, the Purification, Annunciation, Assumption, and Nativity of Our Lady, there are very few, and two hundred years ago there were even fewer.) Here is how this section begins, and this is the most salient part: Oportet nos festivitates sanctorum discernere qualiter celebrentur, ne sint nobis fastidiosae si superflue agimus: aut si nimis reticemus, eorum juvamine careamus. It prescribes a fast for the Vigil of the Assumption, and it establishes that the feast be of a superior rank to the other feasts of Our Lady, so that the others might be lesser.

I do not know how they should be lesser, for it goes on to say that it should be of the same solemnity as the feasts of the Annunciation, the Purification, the Nativity of Our Lady, and of All Saints. Perhaps it means that these feasts should have no vigils or octaves. It was Sixtus IV that granted the latter an octave in 1480, and there are churches that have still not done so.

On the day of the Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed, they say the Office of the day in addition to that of the Dead. This is still observed in the Roman Breviary and a few others. The Office of the Dead had no hymns nor invitatories. It seems that it had Second Vespers; there are a few missing words in the manuscripts than could hardly indicate anything else. What confirms my conjecture is that second Compline appears like the other Hours of this Office. Second Vespers are still said not only in Cluny, but also in the illustrious churches of Vienne, Tours, and Besançon.


On semi-double feasts Matins of the feria is said rather than Matins of the feast.[4]

[1] The highest-ranking feasts in the kalendars of some French dioceses.

[2] Author’s note: The learned M. Bocquillot, currently canon of Avalon, and author of the excellent Traité historique de la liturgie.

[3] Jacques Nicolas Colbert, reigned 1691-1707.

[4] The same is the case for simple feasts in Roman rite before the reforms of St. Pius X.

Voyages Liturgiques: The Cathedral Chapter of Rouen (1)

Following the chapter on Vienne, we continue with the Voyages Liturgiquess account of Rouen, the longest and richest in the work, it being the hometown of the author.

Rouen, the capital city of the Second Lyonnaise, also known as the Province of Neustria, called Normandy ever since the Normans made themselves its masters, is situated on the bank of the River Seine (ad Sequanam). It is one of the most beautiful cities of the Realm. In Latin it is called Rotomagus and sometimes the ancients called it Rotomus and Rodomus.

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The Cathedral Church of Notre-Dame

In the city and its outskirts there are thirty-six parish churches and about fifty religious houses of both sexes, and in the diocese twenty-six abbeys, a number of priories, chapels, and sick-houses; ten collegiate churches of canons, and 1,388 parishes or curacies distributed among six archdeacons and twenty-seven rural deans all under the dean of the curates of the city and suburbs, who is called the Dean of Christendom (Doyen de la Chrétienté), in Latin Decanus Christianitatis. He is named by the archbishop and must be a curate of the city intra muros and not from the outskirts. He does not have a seat in choir among the canons of the cathedral, but he has the right to wear the habit of a canon.

The church of Rouen has always been highly distinguished. From the 4th century onward it flourished in piety, according to the testimony of St. Paulinus in his letter to St. Victrix,[1] where he speaks very highly of the people of Rouen. In the 12th century it was the most famous of all the churches, not only in Normandy but even of England and Aquitaine, according to Richard II, King of England and Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine. It was called holy, sancta Rotomagensis Ecclesia by the kings of France and England and many prelates. One more sign it was so impressive for its piety in the 12th century is that St. Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury, recommended himself to the prayers, fastings, and other good works of this church and of the whole people of Rouen.

The nave of the cathedral church is quite large and stately, with galleries that run all the way across under stained glass above. In total it is four hundred eight feet long: the nave two hundred ten feet, the choir one hundred ten, and the Chapel of the Virgin 88 feet. The crossing is 164 feet long. The whole is very well proportioned and paved with large liais stones. There is one aisle on each side of the choir and nave, and beside it another which is entirely occupied by chapels on each side. They are very beautiful and well-kept, and were decorated and furnished thirty or forty years ago through the generosity of many canons who also took pains to make the church much more clear than it had been.[2] Currently, the chapels are used for Low Masses. Since Low Masses were never said in the time when this church was built, these places were probably once used for those who wanted to pray and meditate alone, outside the time of the divine offices, as well as to bury persons who were important for their piety or rank, as we see in the 32nd letter of St. Paulinus who had several churches built in Nola which bear a very close resemblance to our own. There we see that the high altar was under a large conque or cupola, and that on each side there were two smaller cupolas, one serving as a sacristy, as it still does in the cathedral church of Rouen, and the other for keeping the holy books and writings of the Fathers.


Only major canons can serve as subdeacon and deacon, and say Mass at the high altar; not even the King’s Almoner could say a Low Mass there in the presence of His Majesty, unless he were a bishop that the chapter had invited.

The chapter is composed of ten dignitaries and fifty one canons counting the archbishop who is also a canon, and in this capacity has a voice in the chapter, where he holds the first place and presides. All the canonries and all the dignitaries of the cathedral church are his to nominate, except the High-Dean who is elected by the chapter.

In addition there are eight minor canons who receive fifteen marks and fifteen pounds, have no voice in chapter, and sit in the second row of stalls with the chaplains, cantors, and musicians.

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Los Monaguillos, José Alcázar Tejedor

There are also four colleges of chaplains and cantors. One of them, called Alban, was founded by Pierre de Colmieu, Cardinal of Albano (and formerly archbishop of Rouen) for ten cantors, of which four are priests, three deacons, and three subdeacons, all of whom must live together in the same house or under the same roof and live in community. Only fifty years ago they were still living this way and doing table readings.[3]

The statutes forbid them to frequent taverns, jeux de paume,[4] boules,[5] and other public places, or to play brelans or berlans;[6] to bring dogs into the church under pain of monetary fine; to rent their rooms in the college; to carry Breviaries or other books to choir,[7] nor to read during the Office; or to begin a verse until the other side had entirely finished singing its own.[8]

They are obliged to know the Psalter and chant by heart, for the chanting is done from memory in this illustrious church, as in Lyon. There is only one book for the Lessons, and another for the Short Chapters and Collects. The major canons, even those who chant four or five Responsories on semi-double and greater feasts, and who wear copes on double and triple feasts, are obliged to know by heart everything they chant, and the musicians as well, unless they are chanting a Mass sur le livre.[9]

In the church of Rouen, Second Vespers are always less solemn than First Vespers, no matter the feast. Apparently, this is because immediately after Second Vespers the solemnity of the feast ended, and afterward it was permitted to do servile labor again. This was the practice already at the end of the 11th century, as I gather from the Benedictine scholar Dom Godin, in his Notes on a Council of Rouen[10] held in 1072, from the councils of Compiègne and Lyon, from the Capitularies of Charles the Bald and Louis the Fair, which made it obligatory to stop manual labor beginning with First Vespers in imitation of God’s command to the Jews: A vespera ad vesperam celebrabitis Sabbata vestra (Lev. 23:32). Though this policy with regard to ceasing from manual labor has changed, and is now only observed from midnight to midnight, nevertheless this church has always retained its ancient practice in the celebration of Sundays and feasts, beginning to celebrate them with First Vespers.[11] I do not know precisely when this practiced changed as a public expression in Normandy. It could not have been very long ago, because the very old women in the Norman countryside still refrain from spinning on Saturday afternoon. Moreover, in Rouen even the artisans of most trades do not dare to work on the evenings of solemn Vespers after the first sounding of First Vespers, according to their statutes. If they are found working by the guards or judges of their trade, who purposely make their visits on those days, they are charged a fine. I have observed this many times in Rouen. On the principal feats the city gates are closed except for a little gate.

Here are some customs and ceremonies taken from the ancient Ordinal and Ceremonial of Rouen, which is nearly six hundred fifty years old.[12]

The canons of Rouen lived in community, at least around the year 1000 and were called Brothers (Frères). From the epitaph of Guillaume Bonne-ame (d. 1110), we can see that they had a cloister:

Fratribus hanc aedem cum claustro composuisti.

They said Vespers at the beginning of night, imminente nocte, as formerly in the church of Paris. Hence this office is called Lucernarum or Lucernalis Hora, because in fact they made use of light to chant the prayers. (See “Bourges” and “Lyon.”). For the same reason they bring candlesticks, lighted candles or bougies. This office is when they light their candles.

The altar was incensed during the versicle before the Magnificat. The versicle Dirigatur oratio mea sicut incensum is apparently the literal reason for this. Furthermore, this versicle is not said on ferial days when there is no incensation. Outside of Sundays and feasts, after the Magnificat antiphon, they always said the preces before the collect, as the Carthusians still do and the famous Church of Lyon. After Vespers they still busied themselves with manual labor.

Before Compline they had a reading from the Conferences of Cassian or the Dialogues of St. Gregory, or other works containing examples of the saints suitable to encourage one to good actions. In Completorii hora nos contra noctis insidias munientes…quam lectio praecedit de exemplis Sanctorum Patrum excitandas in in bono animas fratrum.

They rose at midnight (as they still do in Paris) to say the Vigils or Nocturns, later called Matins. This lasted in Rouen until 1325, when they began to be said later on account of certain night terrors which troubled them at that time, according to the Chronicle of St. Lô. In other manuscript memoirs, however, one finds that in 1324 there was a statute made in the church of Rouen decreeing that Matins would no longer be said at midnight because one canon had been killed by a thief on his way to Matins.

They began with Domine labia mea aperies, according to the ancient Ordinal of Rouen: Quia somno dominante hucusque conticuimus, Dominum deprecamur, ut labia nostra ad laudem suam pronuntiandam aperire dignetur. I also read in Amalarius: Congrue juxta consuetudinem Romanae Ecclesiae, a somno surgentes dicimus primo, Domine labia mea aperies. Elsewhere this verse is called Versus apertionis, because it is with this verse that they first opened their mouths immediately after rising to sing God’s praises. Properly speaking, the Domine labia mea aperies is a preparation for saying the Office. What certain devout people think should be said before this is nothing but a preparation for the preparation, which is against the axiom of philosophy, non datur dispositio dispositionis.[13] Lauds have the same ritual as Vespers.

Every time they chanted the Gloria Patri the canons and other ecclesiastics turned toward the altar and bowed, as the canons of Lyon and the choir boys in all cathedral churches still do.

The antiphon of Prime was taken from one of the psalms, like that of Compline, no matter what feast day it might be. This was changed only one hundred years ago.

After Prime during the year, and after Terce in Lent, the canons went to chapter where they held the reading of the Martyrology (they still do this currently outside of solemn feasts) then the Necrology or Obituary, and finally the Rule of Canons.[14] Inde recitetur lectio Regulae Canonicalis. Deiinde culpae examinentur, examinatio canonicaliter exerceatur. They held an examination of faults and punished them as they deserved, as we still find in a 450-year-old Ordinal, where it is written: Post haec solent recitari marantiae[15] et offensae diei et horarum praecedentium, et ibi puniri.

The canons did not venture to leave the choir without the Dean’s permission, nor the other ecclesiastics without the permission of the cantor.


At that time in Rouen the Mass was said almost exactly as at Lyon. On ferial days there was only one candle-bearer as at Tours, Orléans, etc. On feasts there were two. The celebrant with his ministers left the sacristy at the Gloria Patri of the Introit as in Lyon. After the Confiteor the celebrant kissed the deacon and subdeacon. After a collect the celebrant bowed to the deacon, the deacon to the subdeacon, and the subdeacon to the choir, with reciprocal inclinations. Then the celebrant went up to the altar and the deacon as well who, after kissing the two corners of the altar, presented the Gospel Book to the celebrant to be kissed. The celebrant also kissed the middle of the altar. Then the priest went to the right side of the altar followed by the deacon who stood who remained standing until the priest gave the sign to sit. They sat when the Kyrie eleison began. Note that the celebrant did not read the Introit or Kyrie at the altar.

The candle-bearers, placed at the southern corner,held their candles up toward the north. At the beginning of the Kyrie they put them down in the same place. They held them up in the same place while the priest chanted the collects, and very probably faced that direction to give light to the celebrant.

Sometimes they added a third candle, apparently on double feasts. On major feasts there were seven candle-bearers. After the collect they placed them from East to West.

When the deacon is not performing a function at the altar he was in the choir, as in the church of Lyon.

At the Gloria in excelsis the celebrant incesed the altar. Currently he does it during the Kyrie (while the acolyte incenses the clergy during the Gloria in excelsis and Credo).

When the subdeacon began the Epistle, the celebrant sat and made the sign to the deacon to sit as well. Incipiente subdiacono Epistolam, sacerdos iuxta altare sedeat, et diacono in loco suo sedere innuat. From this we can tell that the priest did not read it at the altar (nor elsewhere, since there is no mention of it). The Epistle and Gospel were chanted from the jubé on feast days, as well as the Gradual and Alleluia, which were chanted per rotulos as in Lyon, on ivory tablets.[16] This may be what the ancient Ordinal calls tabulas osseas quas tenent in manibus.

When the deacon and subdeacon use folded chasubles, i.e. on Ember Saturdays and during all of Advent and Lent (except feast days), the subdeacon took off his chasuble before reading the epistle and put it on again after reading. Immediately before reading the Gospel the deacon wrapped his chasuble around over his left shoulder, tying it under his right arm. He wore it this way until the Communion, when he put it back on as at the beginning of Mass. (This is also the practice observed currently.)

When it was time to go to the jubé, the celebrant put incense in the thurible and incensed the altar (he no longer incenses at this moment, but when he has ascended to the altar during the Kyrie). Then the deacon, having asked and received the priest’s blessing, went to the jubé carrying the Gospel book resting on his left shoulder, preceded by a subdeacon who held a pillow, by candle-bearers and a thurifer. (It is the same today, except that the subdeacon does not carry a pillow.) The deacon, standing in the highest part of the jubé between two candles, chanted the Gospel toward the North, after having incensed it. They come back from the jubé in the same order they went to it.

After the Gospel they extinguished the candles.

The celebrant was incensed after the subdeacon had presented the Gospel Book for him to kiss. The deacon kissed it thereafter, and on Sundays and feasts the subdeacon would then take it to be kissed by the clergy. This is still done today, except that the deacon does not kiss it. I do not see the reason for this: he used to kiss it before. The subdeacon kissed it last of all.

The Offertory antiphon always had verses, as at Lyon, and they are still preserved in some Sunday Masses, and especially in Masses of the Dead. A more modern Ordinal of the church of Rouen forbade their omission under pain of anathema, unless the priest was ready to say the Preface. Statutum est in ecclesia Rotomagensi per totum annum versus Offerendarum secundum suum ordinem cantare, et sub anathemate jussum ne dimittantur propter cleri negligentiam, nisi presbyter fuerit promptus ad Per omnia. And so some [viz. the longer ones] were omitted.. When this happens in Lyon, the verses are not omitted. Instead the last verses are sung more quickly, as I have seen done on the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, when there were four verses to the Offertory with the repetition of the antiphon or first verse only after the asterisk, as they do for the Offertory of the Mass for the Dead.[17]

The subdeacon gave the bread and wine to the deacon, and the deacon to the priest, like today. On major feasts the cantor gave the water, covered with a towel, to the deacon, who poured it into the chalice, as the cantor still does in Angers on the most solemn feasts, which they call jours de Fêtage.[18] On other days it was the acolyte who gave the water, as he still does at present.

The chalice was not placed in the middle of the corporal as today, but to the right of the host and on the same line. The same arrangement is found in the Ordo Romanus, Amalarius, the Micrologus, and Radulphus of Rivo. The chalice was covered not by a pall but by the corporal, just as they do today in Lyon and among the Carthusians, who have not innovated in this matter.

Next the priest incensed the offerings and gave the thurible to the deacon, who after incensing around the altar incensed the celebrant, then gave the thurible to the acolyte who proceeded to incense the clergy and the people.

The deacon took the paten from the altar and gave it to the subdeacon, and the subdeacon gave it, wrapped in a veil, to an acolyte if there was one,[19] as in Paris and Tours. Otherwise he held it himself, as is done in Rouen today.

I have said that it was the deacon who took it from the altar, because the subdeacon was not allowed to take anything sacred from the altar. Non licet enim, says the ancient Ordinal, quidquam sacri ab altari auferre alicui nisi Diacono vel Sacerdoti. This is still diligently observed in the Cathedral church, where the subdeacon even brings the chalice with both his hands covered by a veil, and takes it back to the sacristy during the last collects of the Mass in the same way, after the deacon has purified it and helped him place it in the large veil. Thus, the subdeacon never touches it at all, which he was prohibited from doing by Canon 21 of the Council of Laodicea.

Everything else until the Canon has nothing particular.

During the canon the deacon, thurifer, and candle-bearers stood bowing behind the celebrant, but the subdeacon was bowed in front of the priest, facing him as at Lyon. Note that at that time there was no retable or altarpiece above the altar, which was a simple table entirely unattached to anything else, without a retable, like the arrangement today in the cathedral churches of Lyon, Chalon-sur-Saône and Blois, and the morning Mass altar in Bourges and Mâcon. On solemn feasts with seven subdeacons, they stood in a line behind the altar facing the priest; the seven deacons stood also in a line behind the priest.

Neither in the ancient Ordinal of Rouen, nor in the Ordo Romanus, nor in any of the ancient authors or interpreters of the divine offices is there any mention of the elevation of the host and chalice separately, but only of one elevation immediately before the Pater or during the Pater.

It is marked in the 1516 Missal of Rouen that at the prayer Supplices te rogamus, the priest bowed profoundly before the altar, his hands not joined like today but crossed (right over left) until ex hac altaris participatione. The same is found in the three missals of England and Scotland before their separation from the Catholic Church, in the missals of Orléans (1504), Vienne (1519), Lyon (1530), and (I believe) in all the missals of France until the time of Pius V who made this change in his missal that has been followed almost everywhere.

At Per quem haec omnia, Domine, the deacon approached the altar and took the corporal from the chalice, which he uncovered with the priest.

There is a note that the priest touched the four sides of the chalice with the host: Oblata quatuor partes calicis tangat. This is also found in the ancient Ordo Romanus and in Ivo of Chartres, Letter 233. (The new rubricists make it a matter of great scruple for the priest, and insist that he must take care that the host does not touch the chalice while he says sanctitas, and the rest. This is certainly because they do not know the real reason for this practice.)

After breaking the Host in three parts, the priest put the smallest particle in the chalice and the two others on the paten, as today. He, the deacon, and the subdeacon took communion from the larger of the two particles, while the other was reserved for the viaticum of the dying, tertia, viaticum morientis. […]

The priests and ministers of the altar received communion under the two species separately. The priest received as priests do today. The deacon and subdeacon received the priest’s kiss, they they kissed his hand when he presented them a particle of the Sacred Host. Then the priest took a bit of the Precious Blood with a small particle of the Host and gave the rest to the deacon and subdeacon to drink, as they do today at Cluny and Saint-Denys in France.[20] […]

After communion the priest did not do an ablution. Rather, while the ministers took communion from the chalice, an acolyte brought another vessel to wash the priest’s hands, as observed today in Lyon, Chartres, and among the Carthusians, and as they did in Rouen until a century ago. The purpose of this form of ablution is so that the priest is not obliged to drink what is rinsed from his fingers

The subdeacon helped the deacon purify the chalice and paten. (Only the deacon does this today in the cathedral church of Rouen and in Lyon, while the subdeacon carries the book to the other side of the altar.) An acolyte received the chalice and paten wrapped in a large veil.

It is not said that the priest read the Communion antiphon, but only the [Postcommunion] prayer preceded and followed by Dominus vobiscum and then the Ite, missa est or Benedicamus Domino chanted by the deacon. Clero respondente Deo gratias, officium finiat. The Mass and all the divine offices finished in this way. What has been added on later [i.e. the Last Gospel] is very modern, from a century or century and a half ago, as we can see in the old books. The people of Rouen are not even accustomed to it yet. When the priest has given the blessing, everyone leaves. Finally, if Sext is to be said, the choir begins the Deus in adjutorium immediately without any regard for the priest, if he is reciting the Last Gospel. We have already seen that the celebrant does not recite it at High Masses in most churches of France.


[1] Letter 18. Des Marettes edited a collection of St. Paulinus’ writings.

[2] Perhaps referring to the removal of altars and other elements in the nave, which accelerated in the late 17th century. The appeal to “clarity” was often used to justify clearing away objects, such as rood screens, that impeded a clear view of the choir and nave. See Fr. Thiers’ work on the history of jubés in France.

[3] By the High Middle Ages, most cathedral chapters no longer observed the full community life. Canons lived in their own houses in town (with other clerics and choir students) or within the cathedral compound, attending offices but not dining or reading in common. Their vicars and the chaplains of the cathedral, however, often organized into chapters to live the community life that the canons themselves were failing to uphold. To observe that the Alban chapter was “doing table readings” is to say that they were not only eating together but keeping the ancient monastic rule of silence during meals.

[4] A ball-and-court game, precursor of tennis.

[5] Any of a number of games, like bocce, that involve throwing balls at small targets.

[6] Three-person card games

[7] Perhaps because they were to have the office memorized.

[8] Another sign of careful observance: as less-than-enthusiastic communities would have sped through the required psalms.

[9] Abbé Jean Prim, “Chant sur le Livre” in French Churches in the 18th Century,” Journal of the American Musicological Society, vol. 14, No. 1 (Spring, 1961), pp. 37-49; Jean-Paul Montagnier, “Le Chant sur le Livre au XVIIIe siècle: les Traités de Louis-Joseph Marchand et Henry Madin,” Revue de Musicologie, T. 81, No. 1 (1995), pp. 37-63.

[10] Recueil des décrets des Conciles et des Synodes de l’église de Rouen; actually published by Dom Pommeraye.

[11] Under canon law liturgical days began to be considered to take place from midnight to midnight, so it was licit to continue working after first Vespers. Similarly, pre-Vatican II fasts were midnight-to-midnight

[12] Several liturgical books from the period survive from this period. See the Usuarium database.

[13] He is criticizing the prayer “Aperi, Domine, os meum…” which was never obligatory but extremely common until John XXIII removed it from the editio typica of the breviary and suppressed the indulgences attached to its recitation.

[14] I.e the rule of St. Augustine.

[15] Du Cange; MARANCIA, Dolor, qui concipitur ex aliquo damno, vox a Marrire, et Marritio deducta : unde postmodum traducta ad ipsas mulctas aut pœnas, quæ præ levioribus delictis, vel pro defectibus seu absentia irrogatur : nostris vulgo Marance.

[16] See the post on Vienne.

[17] The issue is long Offertories that lasted longer than the Offertory ritual. In Rouen, the verses are dropped if the priest was ready. In Lyons, they just sang the verses more quickly, and repeated part of the response (after the asterisk) rather than the whole response. There were always varied customs about what response to sing: all of it or part of it, and which part. Different MSS say different things, or do not mark it at all.

[18] This is an ancient aspect of the Roman rite, as seen in the Ordo Romanus I. See also Gemma animae 1.38.

[19] In the Ordo Romanus I, the acolyte holds the paten.

[20] On the Greek Mass of St. Denis.