Dom Guéranger on the Neo-Gallican Prefaces

As Gregory DiPippo over at the New Liturgical Movement begins his discussion of the Neo-Gallican Prefaces whose facultative use the Lord Francis PP. recently extended beyond the confines of France, it seemed germane to translate Dom Prosper Guéranger’s remarks on these very Prefaces.

The same reason [viz. that minds might be elevated to God, and helped to enkindle the holy fire of faith, hope, and charity] has led us to add certain Prefaces when proper ones were lacking, to wit for Advent and certain greater solemnities of the year, namely Corpus Christi, the Dedication, All Saints, and others. Thus we have tried, as much as possible, to draw near to the ancient custom of the Roman Church, where almost every Mass was assigned its own Preface, as is still the case today in the churches that use the Ambrosian Rite. 

Charles de Ventimille, Pastoral Letter announcing the reformed Parisian Missal, 11 March 1738

Why, then, were the prefaces of Advent, the Dedication, All Saints, and even St Denis not taken from the ancient sacramentaries? Why commission the composition of entirely new ones from doctors of the Sorbonne, whose style, so prolix, so bloated, is so far from the refined cadences of St Leo and St Gelasius?

Laurent-François Boursier (1679-1749)

Why, above all, was a heretic like Dr Laurent-François Boursier, expelled from the Sorbonne in 1720 for having written against the Council of Embrun,1 given the honour of composing such sacred prayers? To this man the Church of Paris owes the Preface of All Saints, also sung on patronal feasts. In this Preface, Boursier tells God that, by crowning the merits of the saints, He crowns his own gifts: eorum coronando merita, coronas dona tua: a very Catholic expression in one sense, and a very Jansenist one in another.

As a liturgical historian we would be remiss if we did not mention that Boursier died on 17 February 1749 in the parish of Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet, without having retracted his Appeal.2

The Curé of this parish, although an opponent of the Appeal, nevertheless administered the Sacraments to Boursier, and the Archbishop of Beaumont therefore exiled him to Senlis for his act of schism. And yet Boursier’s Preface continued, and continues, to be sung!

Dom Prosper Guéranger, Institutions liturgiques, vol. 2, p. 371.


1. A controversial council held in 1727 that deposed the Lord Jean Soanen, bishop of Séez, one of the major baculous opponents of the papal bull Unigenitus, which condemned Jansenist propositions.

2. The appeal against the bull Unigenitus.

A Sequence for Trinity and a Franciscan Musical Treasury

In 1902, the French provinces of the Order of Friars Minor undertook the publication of a richly variegated collection of chants gathered from manuscripts of their Order, under the title Cantus Varii in Usu apud Nostrates ab Origine Ordinis, Aliaque Carmina in Decursu Sæculorum Pie Usu Parta, that is, Various chants in use among our community from the origin of the Order and other songs in use piously composed in the course of the centuries. The prolix title is certainly accurate, and the pieces included range from medieval sequences and hymns to later Latin songs that are not strictly speaking Gregorian chants. Unfortunately, no information is included about the sources whence each piece was taken. Click here to download a PDF of the book.

Among the chants in honour of the Holy Trinity, the volume includes a sequence attributed to Adam of St Victor, the prolific 12th-century composer of liturgical poetry. It is found in several Dominican and Franciscan manuscripts, as well as in the books of a number of French dioceses. It also made its way into the books of the archdiocese of York, and was included in the first printed missal of that use (1509).

In the Cantus Varii, it is set to the melody of the sequence Lauda Sion.

Profitentes Trinitatem,
Veneremur Unitatem,
Pari reverentia;
Professing the Trinity,
Let us venerate the Unity
With like reverence;
Tres Personas asserentes,[1]
Personali differentes
A se differentia.
Let us assert Three Persons
Differing from one another
By a distinction of persons.
Hae dicuntur relative,
Cum sint unum substantive,
Non tria principia;
Persons are said relatively
For they are one in substance,
Not three principles.
Sive dicas tres vel tria,
Simplex tamen est usia,
Non triplex essentia.
Call them three persons or three principles,
Yet the being is simple
The essence is not three-fold.
Simplex esse, simplex posse,
Simplex velle, simplex nosse,[2]
Cuncta simplicia.
Simple being, simple potency,
Simple will, simple knowledge,
All things simple.
Non unius quam duarum
Sive trium Personarum
Minor efficacia.
The power of one
Is not greater than that of two
Or three persons.
Pater, Proles, Sacrum Flamen,
Deus unus sed hi tamen
Habent quaedam propria.
Father, Son, Holy Ghost,
One God: yet they
Have some proper qualities.
Una virtus, unum numen,
Unus splendor, unum lumen,
Hoc una quod alia.
One power, one God-head,
One splendour, one light,
In one and all.
Patri Proles est aequalis,
Nec hoc tollit personalis
Amborum distinctio.
The Father equal to the Son,
But this doeth not not remove
The distinction of persons.
Patri compar Filioque,
Spiritalis ab utroque
Procedit connexio.
Equal to the Father and to the Son,
The Spirit’s connexion
Proceedeth from both.
Non humana ratione
Capi possunt hae Personae,
Nec harum discretio.
By human reason
These Persons cannot be grasped
Nor their distinction.
Non hic ordo temporalis,
Non hic situs, aut localis
Rerum circumscriptio.
Here no succession of time,
No circumscription of situation
Nor of place.
Nil in Deo praeter Deum,
Nulla causa praeter eum
Qui causat causalia.[3]
Nothing in God but God,
No cause but Himself
The cause of all causes.
Effectiva vel formalis
Causa Deus, et finalis,
Sed numquam materia.
God is effective and formal cause
As well as final,
But never material.
Digne loqui de Personis
Vim transcendit rationis,
Excedit ingenia.
Speaking worthily of the Persons
Transcendeth the power of reason,
Exceedeth our talents.
Quid sit gigni, quid processus,
Me nescire sum professus:
Sed fide non dubia.
What is begetting, what proceeding,
I confess I wot not,
But not with doubting fath.
Qui sic credit non festinet,
Et a via non declinet
Insolenter regia;[4]
Let he who believeth this be not hasty
And stray not
Insolently from the royal way.
Servet fidem, formet mores,
Non declinet ad errores
Quos damnat Ecclesia.
Let him keep the faith, form his manners,
And not stray into errors
Which the Church condemneth.
Nos in fide gloriemur,
Nos in una modulemur[5]
Fidei constantia:
Let us glory in our fath,
Let us together sing,
In constancy of faith.
Trinae sit laus Unitati,
Sit et simplex Trinitati
Coaeterna gloria! Amen.
Praise be to the Triune Unity,
And to the simple Trinity
Coëternal glory! Amen.


[1] Afferentes in Cantus Varii, a manifest typographical error.

[2] Nolle in Cantus Varii, typo’.

[3] Qui creat causalia in Cantus Varii.

[4] In solenti regia in Cantus Varii, typo’.

[5] Nos in via modulemur in Cantus varii.

God’s Spirit Hath Made the Heavens Fair: Honorius’s Sermon on Whitsun

Click here to download a PDF of the translation and Latin text.

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Honorius Augustodunensis
Sermon on Pentecost

from the Speculum Ecclesiae

By the word of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the power of them by the spirit of his mouth.[1] Through the Son, who is the Word of God, not only the heavens, but yea all things have been created from nothing, and, lest they descend once more into nothingness, they have been established by the same Word and all their power has been supplied by the spirit of his mouth. Those angels are also called Heavens who, when the others fell, were established in charity through the Word and abundantly furnished in every virtue through his Spirit. Hence it is written: God’s spirit hath made the heavens fair,[2] because he embellished these heavens with stars and the angels with virtues.

The Creation of Heaven and Earth, Monreale Cathedral

Verily, the angelic spirits are created through the Son, but given life through the Holy Spirit;[3] the substance of light began to glisten through the Son, but its splendor shone forth through the Holy Spirit;[4] the firmament is fashioned by the Son, but it turns in swift circular motion through the Holy Spirit; the sun, moon, and stars are set to preside over times through the Son, but the finishing touch is set through the Holy Spirit with the lustre of light; the rivers are poured out through the Son, their streaming course is assigned by the Holy Spirit; the earth is formed through the Son, it is strewn with fruits and flowers through the Holy Spirit; the v

The Creation of Birds and Fishes, Monreale Cathedral

arious kinds of animals are brought forth through the Son, they are imbued with the breath of life through the Holy Spirit, and through Him the birds are sustained in flight, the fish in swimming, and reptiles and serpents in their slithering; man is made in God’s image through the Son, but his soul is brought to life through the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit inspires divers talents and also bestows the divers crafts. Divers kinds of tongue[5] are given by the Holy Spirit, and through Him the manifold rivers of the Scriptures are brought out of the hidden treasuries of wisdom.[6] Through the Holy Spirit the patriarchs pointed out in figures the events that were to happen concerning Christ and the Church; through the same Spirit the Prophets spake, foretelling these same events through the Scriptures; through the same Spirit the Apostles were confirmed, and they spread the word that these events had come to pass in the world; through the same Spirit the doctors were inspired, and explained the Scriptures. Man was redeemed from death through the Son; through the Holy Spirit he was regenerated in baptism unto life.[7] Sins are remitted through the Holy Spirit, and through Him souls are raised to life from the death of transgressions. Through the Holy Spirit many abandoned the world and embraced the religious life; through Him many shone with signs and miracles. Through the Holy Spirit even today many are converted into the better life; through Him many are rapt into heaven in ecstasy.

The Creation of Adam, Monreale Cathedral

Through the Son the dead are brought back to life; through the Holy Spirit they are changed to everlasting life. The world is judged through the Sun; through the Holy Spirit both sides are given their just deserts. Through the Son God the Father shall create a new heaven and a new earth, but through the Holy Spirit He shall transform all things into a new and better state. Heaven, forsooth, shall be clothed with the sun’s splendor through Him; through Him the sun shall be clad with seven-fold light; through Him the moon shall gleam with the sun’s brightness; through Him the earth shall come into bloom as lovely as paradise. Then the Son shall lead them out from the toil of earthly life and make them to sit down, whilst He shall come by to minister to them, for upon his return from the Judgement He shall make his elect rest in divers mansions according to their divers merits[8] and show them the glory of His divinity face to face. The Holy Spirit, withal, shall make them shine forth in full joy, radiant like the sun, with perfect knowledge of the Triune Unity.

The Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Monreale Cathedral

We celebrate this feast for seven days, since we venerate the Holy Spirit in His seven gifts, as foretold by the prophet: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness, the spirit of the fear of the Lord.[9] These are the seven women who took hold of one man,[10] since the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit laid hold of Christ’s body.[11] All who fear God scale the heavens by the gift of this Spirit. Indeed, through Him they are granted fear, which is of two kinds, for there is servile fear and filial fear. A servant, by troth, fears his lord lest he condemn him; a son fears his father lest he disinherit him. An adulterous woman fears lest her husband come; a chaste wife fears lest he depart. When the Holy Spirit, who is charity, shall have laid hold of the soul, He shall cast out servile fear;[12] but the fear of the Lord endureth for ever and ever.[13] For then he shall not fear hell as a servant, since he shall seek to commit no sin, but as a son, rather, he shall cling to God through love of virtue, and so lay hold of his inheritance. Let us obtain his grace by praying that we might dread the Lord our God, as servants, by avoiding evil, lest he inflict punishment on us for contemning His commandments, nay more, lest he punish us with everlasting torments as enemies rebelling against him. Let us beg that we might fear Him, as sons do a good father, by so acting that we might become co-heirs with his Son in the enjoyment of the Father’s face. After the fear of God, the Holy Spirit gives piety, in order that man might serve his maker with devotion, and to do for his neighbor what good acts are in his power. Then He inspires knowledge, so that man may know what he must do and what he must avoid. After knowledge He gives fortitude so that man may not be turned to vice by difficulties or pleasures. Then He supplies reason with the gift of counsel that he may choose what is expedient, and spurn what is harmful. Then He offers the gift of understanding so the soul can understand eternal things through the visible. Next He inspires wisdom, that the rational creature might disdain changing creatures, love his Creator who is the unchanging good, and hunger after the sole fount of wisdom, Christ, in the Holy Spirit.

Those who bloom in these virtues by the septiform Spirit’s aid shall obtain, through Him, seven gifts in body and seven gifts in soul when, in their fatherland, they shall come into possession of a two-fold inheritance, to wit, when they shall shine as the sun in body,[14] and be equal to the angels in soul.[15] Indeed their bodies shall shine seven times more brightly than the sun through Him whose beauty astounds the sun and moon. For Christ shall refashion our lowly bodies through the Holy Spirit, configuring them to the body of His glory,[16] a spiritual body, and He whose word runneth swiftly[17] shall endow them with such speed that their sight shall reach even unto heaven and their thoughts to the ends of the earth, so rapidly shall they be borne there by their bodies’ mobility. Yea verily, He who is the vigor of all things shall infuse our bodies with such strength that they shall easily overturn the masses of mountains with their foot. Moreover, the grace of liberty shall be given to them to such a degree by him who was free among the dead,[18] that they shall be able to penetrate any solid object. Upon glimpsing them, the angels shall be overcome with marvelous delight and all the saints shall be filled with intense pleasure. At His bidding they shall drink their fill from every river of joy, when in the joy of their lord they shall be placed over all his goods. [19] There they shall see the king of glory as he is, in his beauty,[20] upon whom they desire to look.[21] There they shall see the glory of all the angels and saints, and they shall behold all their limbs translucent inside and out. There they shall hear the saints’ organs and the angels’ symphony resound for ever after. There they shall be refreshed by the sweet smell of cinnamon and balsam[22] and shall feast and rejoice in God’s sight and be delighted in gladness,[23] and be inebriated with the plenty of God’s house, and drink of the torrent of His pleasure.[24] He who saves all things shall bestow on them such sound health that their bodies shall undergo no sufferings, like a sunbeam whose rays cannot be cut. He who is eternal life shall confirm them in such longness of life that death shall not undo them forever.

They shall have these seven bodily gifts through the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. They shall have the same number of gifts there, where they shall rejoice forever in the Lord’s goods. As a fountain of wisdom He flows into them, bestowing knowledge of all things. They are linked in ineffable friendship because they are loved by God as sons, and by the angels as brothers. Incomparable harmony binds them, because neither God nor any saint differs from their pleasure differs nothing from God or the saints. They are invested with inconceivable power, because they are made lords over the new heaven and the new earth. They are raised to untold honor, because they are revered by God himself and all the angels. They are supremely secure, because no one shall ever take these things from them. They shall have fullness of joy in these gifts without end, rejoicing that all of their friends, whom they love, also enjoy these good things forever.

These are the gifts that Christ, ascending on high, gave to men,[25] who had been captured by the devil. He led them out, captured out of the captivity of death, and as a glorious victor drove them to starry abodes. While on earth, too, he bestowed gifts on them, making them scintillate with miracles and new tongues through the charisms of the Holy Spirit. Yea, whosoever is found lacking the seven-fold gifts of the Holy Spirit shall suffer as many punishments as the good things those ones enjoy. These gifts were whilom prefigured in the Law; these gifts were foreannounced by the prophets. Soothly, seven lamps shine from the candlestick of the Law,[26] for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit go forth to the Church from Christ. These are the seven columns that support the house of wisdom,[27] for the Church, which is the house of God, is marked by the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are the seven eyes the prophet beheld upon one stone,[28] for, verily, the rock that is Christ gave the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit to illuminate the souls of the faithful. These are the seven horns of the Lamb slain for us, that treads the seven heads of the red dragon underfoot.[29]

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Baptism of Christ, Monreale Cathedral

We read how the same Holy Spirit descended upon our Lord in the shape of a dove after He was baptized;[30] this is on account of the seven traits which are said to be in the dove.[31] The dove nests on rock, because the Holy Spirit lives bodily in Christ. It feeds others’ chicks when it brings back those who have strayed from God’s kingdom through penance. It chooses pure grains, because it separates the good from the evil, as grains from chaff. It has no bile, because it drains malice from those it possesses. It does no harm with its beak, because it is full of the Holy Spirit. It does not lie in ambush for its neighbor, and lives near water, because the Holy Spirit dwells in the wise. It flies in flocks, because the Holy Spirit gives His gifts to those who flock together in the Lord’s name.[32] Hence the Prophet says, “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity. Like the precious ointment on the head, that ran down upon the beard, the beard of Aaron, which ran down to the skirt of his garment, as the dew of Hermon, which descendeth upon Mount Syon.”[33] Brethren dwelt pleasantly in unity when the multitude of believers had but one heart and one soul.[34] Oil ran down Aaron’s head to his beard because the Holy Spirit, who is spiritual unction,[35]came upon the Apostles from God, the head of all. Aaron, whose name means strong mountain, is Christ, by whom the faithful stand strong against the vices and go from virtue to virtue[36] into heaven. The apostles were his beard, when they stuck to Christ, the Father’s face, like a beard to a face. The oil flowed from the beard onto the garment when the Holy Spirit poured himself out on believers through the apostles’ laying on of hands. The dew of Hermon, which means anathema, came down on Mount Syon, which means watchtower, when heavenly grace went from the Synagogue to the Church. Mount Hermon is beside the Jordan, where Our Lord was baptized. Hermon’s dew is, therefore, the Holy Spirit, who descended on Our Lord in baptism near that mountain; today He descends upon believers, on Mount Syon where Jerusalem lies.

The Holy Ghost descends upon the Apostles. Note the personified representations of the different regions of the world below them. From the Basilica of St Mark’s, Venice.

Holy Scripture tells us today how this happened. When fifty days had passed from Christ’s resurrection and His disciples tarried together in Jerusalem, as He had commended them when He ascended, there suddenly came a loud sound as of a mighty wind coming, which filled the whole house where they were sitting, and there appeared to them tongues of fire, and thus inflamed they began to speak the wonderful works of God in the tongues of all nations. Jews from every nation of the earth had gathered in Jerusalem for the feast, for they celebrated Pentecost every year as the day when they received the Law. When they heard the loud sound, they came together and they were amazed that every man heard them speak in his own mother tongue. To them Peter declared that the things foretold by the prophets had been fulfilled by Jesus, whom they had crucified. Thus moved to contrition, three thousand men were baptized and they too were filled with the Holy Spirit as the others had been.[37] On another day, after Peter and John had healed a lame man by the Holy Spirit,[38] five thousand were baptized,[39] all of whom received the Holy Spirit. Later, they received the Blood of Christ in great fear and trembling, for they had shed it in their fury. Very many of them went on to shed their own blood for Him. The apostles remained together in Jerusalem for twelve days after they had received the Holy Spirit, as He Himself had instructed them, and they converted many to the faith by miracles and wonders. All received the Holy Spirit when the apostles laid hands on them, and they declared God’s mighty deeds with new tongues. Forsooth, through the Holy Spirit the apostles restored sight to the blind, cleansed the leprous, expelled demons from the obsessed, loosed the tongue of the dumb, steadied the step of the lame, and raised the dead. They restored health to the infirm even by their staves, their garments, yea, some of them even by their shadow.

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St Paul preaches in Damascus, Cappella Palatina, Palermo

Later, the twelve spread out over the whole world, filled with the seven-fold gift of the Holy Spirit. The twelve did their work through the number seven when they brought the four regions of the world to faith in the Holy Trinity. For three added to four makes seven, and multiplied makes twelve. And verily, these goodly fishermen used the net of faith, and signs and miracles, to haul those fish predestined for life long ago from the ocean of this world to the shore of eternal life; they led the way, laying down their lives for their sheep as Christ had. In the beginning, after God had created all things in six days, he made the seventh holy, by resting from his work. Just so those who zealously strive to perform works with the gifts of the Holy Spirit throughout the six ages of the world shall rest through Him from every labor on the seventh day. So we too labor for six days during the week and rest on the seventh, because we press forward now in good works through the septiform Spirit, and in the future we rest from every labor in bliss, where he shall cause us to be at leisure and see Him as He is.[40]

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Noah sends out a dove, Monreale Cathedral

During the Flood, a dove brought back an olive branch, announcing peace to those shut inside,[41] because through the anointing with chrism the Holy Spirit restored to souls shut up in the flesh the peace they had lost. He is called the finger of God’s right hand,[42] because as the hand works through the fingers, so Christ, the Father’s right hand, does all his works through the graces shared out by the Holy Spirit. Hence the magicians who could not withstand Moses proclaimed that the finger of God was at work,[43] for they saw plainly that the miracles had been worked through the Holy Spirit. This finger wrote the Law on two tablets,[44] because it is divided into the two precepts of charity by the Holy Spirit.[45] Our Lord cast out demons with this finger, because the works of the Son and the Spirit are inseparable.[46] Once upon a time the human race used only one language, but seventy-two giants built a tower to challenge God, who was offended by their deed. He confused their languages so that no one could understand another’s language,[47] and dispersed them throughout the globe. But today the Holy Spirit joins them all into the unity of the faith through the gift of tongues.

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Paschal Lamb, Basilica of Sts Cosmas and Damian, Rome

Further, the Hebrew people were liberated from slavery in Egypt on the Paschal night through the Paschal lamb. They were ferried through the Red Sea, and on the fiftieth day they came to Mount Synai, which was filled with smoke and fire, and in the midst of the fire the Lord gave them the Law of fear in written tablets. Thus the Christian people were delivered from the subjugation to the devil on the Paschal night and through the Paschal Lamb. Through baptism they were borne through the Red Sea, as it were, and on the fiftieth day, that is, today, they received the Law of life in fire, which the Lord commanded them to write in their hearts, so that what they used to do by force of fear they should thereafter do willingly for the love of God. Moreover, the Law prescribed that the fiftieth year should be called the Jubilee, that is, the year of remission, when no servile work should be performed, and that lost inheritances should be returned to the proper heirs.[48] This time prefigured the Holy Spirit, who wished His people to abstain from servile work, that is, from sin, and restored to them the lost inheritance of paradise. We read that the Holy Spirit was given twice: once on earth, and once from heaven.[49] The Spirit was given on earth for love of neighbor; the Spiritual was given from heaven for love of God. For he who loveth God shall keep His word, and the Father shall love him, and the Trinity shall come to him, make His abode with him.[50] And so, dearly beloved, let us love God by keeping his commandments, that He might love us and prepare an abode for Himself in us. Let us wipe away the dung of sins from the inn of our hearts through penance and confession, let us wash away its filth with tears, let us strive to adorn it with the flowers for good works, so that the Holy Spirit might vouchsafe to come and prepare a worthy habitation for Himself in us. He also descended over the Lord in the form of a dove, showing Him to be immune from sins. He descended over the disciples in fire since, by burning away their sins, he blotted out the writing of sin. Hence he went before the children of Israel in fire, guiding their way to their fatherland, since the fire of the preceded the disciples and showed them the way to the fatherland of paradise through the Scriptures. Therefore baptisms are held now, since original sin is remitted through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, too, we observe a fast this week, that we might merit to receive the remission of our sins. He who should blaspheme against the Holy Spirit shall not have his sins remitted, neither in this world nor the next.[51] Remission of sins is given through the Holy Spirit. He who despairs of His forgiveness is the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, and commits the unpardonable sin.

Baptism of Christ, Baptistry of Neon, Ravenna

My best beloved, you know Our Lord’s nativity is a high feast; good Christians honor today’s solemn feast as well, because just as God visited mankind at Christmas when he came in the flesh, so God came in fire to purify men from their sins today, and gave them divers charismatic gifts. These feasts, held in such high regard by men and angels, are honored by our God as well. For at Christmas the Lord of majesty rose from His glorious throne, donned His battle gear, and went down into exile to fight for us. Good Friday was the day of His battle and victory, when the strong and mighty in battle conquered the devil, prince of this world, him and all his band, and won a mighty victory. On the day of His resurrection, the war finished, He laid waste the tyrant’s kingdom, and rounded up the captives the devil had taken. On Ascension Day the Lord of hosts returned in solemn procession and held a triumph; welcomed by angelic strains, He raised our flesh above the airs. But today is the day He shared out his spoils among the soldiers, granting the faithful the gifts of the Holy Spirit. There is yet a day to come when He shall lead his spouse out of this Babylon, when he shall place the Church in the heavenly Jerusalem on the Last Day. Lo! the Holy Spirit sang of these days throughout the whole Psalter. Nay more, the Law and every prophet resounded these events with one harmonious voice.

My best beloved, let us now, therefore, appear before His face in justice, so that when His glory shall appear,[52] we may be able to feast to our content at his wedding party, that we may see the good of His chosen, that we may rejoice in the joy of His nation in the fullness of all good things,[53] which eye hath not seen &c.[54]

Triumph of the Cross, Basilica of St Clement, Rome


[1] Psalm 32:6

[2] Job 26:13.

[3] The whole paragraph is a whirlwind tour through salvation history, beginning with the days of Genesis.

[4] This passage resonates with the collect for the Vigil of Pentecost, which alludes to the Holy Spirit as the “light of [Christ’s] light” and “splendor” of his “brightness”: Præsta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: ut claritatis tuæ super nos splendor effulgeat; et lux tuæ lucis corda eorum, qui per gratiam tuam renati sunt, Sancti Spíritus illustratione confirmet. Cf. also Ambrose’s hymn Splendor paternae gloriae.

[5] 1 Corinthians 12:10.

[6] Cf. Job 28:18.

[7] Baptism was administered during the Vigil of Pentecost, and the newly baptized are mentioned each day of the Octave in the proper Hanc igitur. References to baptism abound in the Mass texts.

[8] Cf. John 14:2.

[9] Isaias 11:2.

[10] Isaias 4:1, read at the Vigil Mass of Pentecost.

[11] Cf. Isaias 11.

[12] 1 John 4:18.

[13] Psalm 18:10.

[14] Matthew 13:43.

[15] Luke 20:36.

[16] Philippians 3:21.

[17] Psalm 14:4.

[18] Psalm 87:6.

[19] Matthew 24:47 and 25:21.

[20] Isaiah 33:17.

[21] 1 Peter 1:12.

[22] Ecclesiasticus 24:20.

[23] Psalm 67:4.

[24] Psalm 35:9.

[25] Ephesians 4:8.

[26] Cf. Exodus 25 and Gemma animae 1.11.

[27] Cf. Proverbs 9.

[28] Cf. Zacharias 4.

[29] Cf. Apocalypse 5, 6.

[30] Cf. Matthew 3

[31] Honorius mentions the septem naturae of the dove in his Expositio in Cantica Canticorum (PL 172.411B), as does Anselm of Laon (Enarrationes in Cantica canticorum, PL 162.1195C). Haymo of Halberstadt menons it in a sermon (PL 118.0115B).

[32] This notion of gathering up appears in the first antiphon at Vespers, Dum santificatus.

[33] Psalm 132:1-3

[34] Acts of the Apostles 4:32.

[35] Hymn Veni Creator Spiritus, second stanza.

[36] Psalm 83:8.

[37] Cf. Acts of the Apostles 2.

[38] Cf. Acts of the Apostles 3.

[39] Cf. Acts of the Apostles 4.

[40] 1 John 3:2.

[41] Cf. Genesis 8

[42] In the hymn Veni, sancte Spiritus. The expression “finger of God” is found only three times in the Old Testament, all mentioned here. In the Bible the term is used in a figurative sense, “denoting power, direction, or immediate agency.” Cf. Jewish Encyclopedia, “Finger.”

[43] Cf. Exodus 8

[44] Cf. Exodus 31

[45] I.e., love of God and love of neighbor.

[46] Cf. Luke 11:20.

[47] Cf. Genesis 9. Honorius elaborates on the Tower of Babel story in several places.

[48] Cf. Leviticus 25.

[49] First by our Lord on earth after the Resurrection (John 20:22), second after the Ascension when the Spirit descended from heaven (Acts 2:1–4), as Saint Gregory the Great discusses in sermon 36 (PL 110:177).

[50] John 14:23.

[51] Luke 12.

[52] Psalm 16:15.

[53] Psalm 105:5.

[54] 1 Corinthians 2

Three Introit Tropes for Whitsun

Gladdened by God’s good Ghost, let us sing forth His praises on this holy feast of Pentecost with three exuberant tropes on the day’s Introit Spiritus Domini.

Hodie Spiritus Sanctus


Hodie Spiritus Sanctus descendit super Apostolos omnemque terram replevit: eia! Dic, domne! Spiritus Domini replevit orbem terrarum, alleluia! Hodie Spiritus Sanctus Paraclitus totam replevit domum igne divino: et hoc quod continet omnia scientiam habet vocis. Gratias agamus sanctae Trinitati et unitati maiestatis semper: alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! Today the Holy Spirit hath descended upon the Apostles and hath filled all the earth: ho! Speak, my lord! The Spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole world, alleluia! Today the Holy Spirit hath filled the whole house with divine fire: and that which containeth all things hath knowledge of the voice. Let us give thanks to the holy Trinity and the unity of majesty for aye: alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Discipulis flammas infundens


Discipulis flammas infundens caelitus almas: Spiritus Domini replevit orbem terrarum, alleluia! omnigenis linguis reserans magnalia Christi: et hoc quod continet omnia, scientiam habet vocis, alleluia! Ipsi perspicuas dicamus vocibus odas: alleluia, alleluia! Pouring into the disciples propitious flames from heaven, the Spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole world, alleluia! revealing Christ’s mighty deeds in all manner of tongues: and that which containeth all things hath knowledge of the voice, alleluia! With our voices let us cry out limpid hymns to him: alleluia! 

Spiritus almus adest


Spiritus almus adest, cunctorum vivificator: Spiritus Domini replevit orbem terrarum, alleluia! Namque replet linguis, qui corda fidelia cunctis: et hoc quod continet omnia mirifico visu satiat: quod continet omne scientiam habet vocis. Ebria namque fides divo solamine cantat: alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! The nourishing Spirit is here, who lives life to all things: the Spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole world, alleluia! Yea verily, he who filleth faithful hearts with every language, and that which containeth all things satisfieth: a wonder to behold: that which containeth all hath knowledge of the voice. Faith drunken—forsooth!—with divine solace singeth: alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

These tropes were transcribed from the MSS. by Ferdinand Haberl, Tropi antiphonarum ad Introitum usui liturgicum accomodati, Rome, 1980. 

We also wanted to take the opportunity to introduce our readers to our new Music Library, which contains all the chant recordings made for this ’blog by our Notker Balbulus. 

The Jansenist Use: Liturgical Life in Port-Royal

In his monumental Institutions liturgiques, Dom Prosper Guéranger famously castigated the Neo-Gallican liturgies that proliferated in 17th and 18th century France for, inter alia, being products of Jansenist inspiration. Setting aside the question of whether these liturgies betray a heretical notion of predestination, it is true that many figures associated with the Jansenist movement did have a keen interest in the liturgy. Contrary to what one might expect given Dom Guéranger’s accusations, these “Jansenists” prized respect for ancient custom and repudiated needless novelty. 

The Abbey of Port-Royal-des-Champs (© RMN-GP (musée de Port-Royal des Champs) / © Gérard Blot).

The intellectual centre of Jansenism was the Abbey of Port-Royal, a community of Cistercian nuns who, after a reform in the early 17th century led by the formidable Abbess Angélique Arnauld, became noted for their exemplary religious observance and cultivation of liturgical piety. Their piety attracted a number of intellectuals who chose to settle as solitaires on the abbey grounds, leading a retired life of study and simple manual labour, including Angélique’s brother Antoine, one of the most prominent Jansenist theologians. Both the nuns and solitaries set up schools to teach neighbouring children. 

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The nuns of Port-Royal holding a conference in the solitude on the abbey grounds (© RMN-GP / © Gérard Blot).

One of those children was Jean-Baptiste Le Brun des Marettes, whom our readers will remember as the author of the Voyages liturgiques. His father had been sent to the galleys for publishing Jansenist works, and Jean-Baptiste himself once did a stint at the Bastille for his involvement in the controversy. His main interest, however, was not moral theology but liturgy. His Voyages evince his veneration for liturgical antiquity and opposition to modern developments in matters of ritual, furnishing, and vestments. Yet he found a way to reconcile such views with his enthusiasm for the Neo-Gallican reforms of the Mass and Office, ultimately sharing the hubristic certainty of most men of his age that their own putative enlightenment was able to improve upon “Gothic barbarism”. Our Aelredus has described and critiqued the seemingly contradictory tastes that Jean-Baptiste Le Brun shared with other Jansenist figures

With these remarks in mind, let us see how the liturgy was celebrated in the Jansenist stronghold of Port-Royal, in a chapter of the Voyages that Le Brun des Marettes wrote before the abbey’s suppression in 1709 and the destruction of most of its buildings. (Although the Voyages was published in 1718, Le Brun des Marettes employs the present tense in this chapter.) 

We are obliged to the Amish Catholic for his help in this translation, which he has cross-posted on his ‘blog. He has penned the following preface:

The Voyages liturgiques offers several fascinating glimpses into the communal piety of Port-Royal des Champs. Marettes pays attention to the physical space of Port-Royal. He reports that the paintings in the church are by Philippe de Champaigne. The great French classicist had a daughter at the convent, Soeur Catherine de Saint-Suzanne, and seems to have provided the monastery with several portraits of both nuns and solitaires as well as several edifying works of art. The large altarpiece depicting the Last Supper is today in the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, with a copy in the Louvre. Marretes devotes particular attention to the epitaphs in and around the church. The epitaphs for the solitaires Emmanuel le Cerf, an Oratorian, and Jean Hamon, a medical doctor and mystic, are especially moving.

Yet it is the liturgical and communal details he provides here that are most exciting for the historian of Jansenism and which, in fact, force us to take the nuns more seriously as daughters of St. Benedict and St. Bernard. Following the egalitarian reform of Mère Angélique, the Abbey did not require dowries of its postulants. Singing the office according to the use of Paris, they prayed the whole Psalter every week. The first chapter of the Constitutions of Port-Royal is dedicated to veneration of the Blessed Sacrament, a significant organizational choice. There were in fact both communal and individual devotions to the Blessed Sacrament at Port-Royal; for, “in addition to engaging in perpetual adoration … they also have the custom of prostrating themselves before the Sacrament before going up to receive holy communion.” Following an ancient usage, they only exposed the Blessed Sacrament during the Octave of Corpus Christi, and even then, only after the daily High Mass. Usually, the Sacrament was reserved in a hanging pyx, “attached to the end of a veiled wooden fixture shaped like a crosier.” The French Jansenists seem to have had a fixation with hanging pyxes; both M. Saint-Cyran and M. Singlin wrote about “suspension” of the Blessed Sacrament in this form.

The community would meet for chapter daily. The nuns engaged in an exacting and penitential adherence to the Rule, including silence, vegetarianism, abstinence from strong drink, and only a single meal per day in Lent. In their persons as in their ecclesiastical furniture, they followed the Cistercian spirit of holy simplicity; Marettes reports that “The nuns’ habits are coarse, and there is neither gold nor silver in their church vestments.” Yet they were not without the consolation of quiet reading in the garden during summertime.

Marettes reminds us that Port-Royal was not just a community of nuns, but also included male hermits and domestics. He writes, “After the Credo, the priest descends to the bottom of the altar steps and blesses the bread offered by one of the abbey’s domestics.” These servants and workers seem to have had a special participation in the liturgy through this rite, so reminiscent of the blessing of bread found even today in the Eastern Churches. The Necrology of Port-Royal includes these men as well in its roll-call of the Abbey’s luminaries, confirming the sometimes-overlooked egalitarianism of Port-Royaliste spirituality.

One of the more striking moments in the text comes when Marettes writes that “On Sundays and feasts of abstention from servile work there is a general communion; at every Mass said in this church at least one of the nuns receives communion.” The practice of lay communion at every Mass contradicts the usual picture of the Jansenists receiving infrequently or as discouraging lay communion. The nuns themselves, at least, seem to have received the Sacrament daily.

And I cannot help but see in one custom a potent metaphor for the troubled history of the monastery. Marettes writes, “On Holy Saturday, they extinguish the lights throughout the entire house, and during the Office they bring back the newly blessed fire.” The extraordinary and unjust persecution that the nuns endured under the authorities of the French Church and State – to the point of being deprived of communion during Easter, of being denied the last rites, of condemnation to a slow decline even after reconciliation with the Archbishop, and, at the very end, of having their bodies desecrated and even fed to the dogs – must have seemed like a very long Holy Saturday. Yet the blessed fire of the Holy Ghost does not abandon those who faithfully serve God in humble prayer and penitence. Where we find the Cross, Resurrection follows.

It is not for us to resurrect the nuns and solitaires of Port-Royal; historians can only do so much. But by taking the dead on their own terms, we can at least pay them the homage we owe any historical figure, and perhaps especially the defeated, the maligned, the powerless, and the forgotten. Only by doing so can we reckon with our implication in the longstanding myths that efface those voices. It is my hope that the publication of this important translation will help us in that process of revision.

Richard T. Yoder
The Amish Catholic

Port-Royal-des-Champs is an abbey of nuns of the Order of Cîteaux lying between Versailles and the former monastery of Chevreuse.

The church is quite large, and its simplicity and cleanliness inspires respect and devotion. 

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The interior of the church, with the main altar at the right (© RMN-GP / © Gérard Blot).

The main altar is not attached to the wall, since the ample and well-kept sacristy is located behind it. Above the altar hangs the holy pyx, attached to the end of a veiled wooden fixture shaped like a crosier. It is set under a large crucifix above a well-regarded painting of the Last Supper by Philippe de Champaigne.

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The main altar, bare aside from the Crucifix. Above it hangs the Blessed Sacrament inside a veiled pyx (engraving from Dom Antoine Rivet de La Grange’s Nécrologie de Port-Royal-des-Champs, 1723).

There is nothing on the altar but a crucifix. The four wooden candlesticks are set on the ground at its sides.

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There were two relic altars outside the entrance to the nuns’ choir (© RMN-GP / © Gérard Blot).

The woodwork of the sanctuary and parquet floor is very well maintained, as is that of the nuns’ choir. Indeed, the stalls are kept in such good condition that one would think they were carved not twenty years ago, when in fact they are over 150 years old.1

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The nuns’ choir.

The church contains some paintings by Champaigne, and a very well-kept holy water basin to the right of its entry.

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The cloister, where several abbesses and nuns were interred (© RMN-GP / © Gérard Blot).

Inside the cloister, there are several tombs of abbesses and other nuns. From these tombs one can garner

maniple port royale
Engraving of one of the tombs in the cloister, shewing a nun with a maniple (from the Voyages liturgiques).

1. that the first abbesses of the Order of Cîteaux, following the spirit of St Bernard, did not have croziers. Even today, the Abbess of Port-Royal does not use one.

2. that in this monastery the nuns used to be consecrated by the bishop. Two of them are represented on the same tomb wearing a sort of maniple.2 The inscription around the tomb reads:

Here lie two blood-sisters, consecrated nuns of this abbey, Adeline and Nicole aux Pieds d’Estampes. May their souls rest in everlasting peace. Amen. Adeline died in the year of our Lord 1288.3

There is an ancient necrology or obituary in this abbey that includes the ritual for the consecration or blessing of a nun. It describes how on these occasions the bishop celebrated Mass and gave communion to the nun he blessed. To this effect he consecrated a large host which he broke into eight particles, giving one as communion to the nun. He then placed the seven other particles of his host in her right hand, covered by a dominical or small white cloth. During the eight days after her consecration or blessing, she gave herself these particles as communion. Priests also used to give themselves communion during the forty days after their ordination or consecration.4

Under the lamp by the baluster lies a tomb dated 1327, if I remember correctly, which is worthy of description, especially given that its most interesting aspect is misreported in the Gallia Christiana of the brothers de Sainte-Marthe.

It used to be the custom for devout noble ladies to take up the nun’s habit during their last illness, or at least to be clothed in it after their death. See, for example, the tomb of Queen Blanche, mother of King St Louis, at Maubuisson Abbey near Pontoise. Here in Port-Royal we find the tomb of one Dame Marguerite de Levi—wife of Matthew V de Marly of the illustrious House of Montmorency, Grand-Chamberlain of France—buried in a nun’s habit, with this inscription:

Here rested, whose name thou shalt have there hereafter. Marguerite was the wife of Matthew de Marly, and daughter of the noble Guy de Levi. She bore six boys. After her husband died, she went to the nuns. Amongst the claustral sisters she chose to make her home. In her long rest, may she be buried in nun’s clothing. May eternal light shine upon her in peace everlasting. Year 1327.5

By the door of the church, in the vestibule, is the tomb of a priest vested in his vestments. His chasuble is rounded in all corners, not cut or clipped, gathered up over his arms, and hanging down below and behind him in points. His maniple is not wider below than it is on top, and he does not wear his stole crossed over his breast, but straight down like bishops, Carthusians, and the ancient monks of Cluny, who have rejected innovation on this point. His alb has apparels on the bottom matching the vestments: this is what the manuscripts call the alba parata. They are still used in cathedral churches and ancient abbeys.

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The Abbey viewed from the east. Note the domestics’ cemetery next to the entrance to the church (© RMN-GP / © Gérard Blot).

Next to the church door and the clock tower lies the small cemetery of domestics, where two epitaphs are worthy of note.

To God the Best and Greatest.

Here lies Emmanuel le Cerf, who, after dedicating most of his life to the education of the people, deemed the evangelical life superior to evangelical preaching and, in order that he who had lived only for others should die to himself, embraced a penitential life in his old age as eagerly as he did seriously. He embraced the weight of old age, more conducive to suffering than aught else, and various diseases of the body as remedy for his soul and advantageous provision for the journey to eternity. Humbly he awaited death in this port of rest, living no longer as a priest but as a layman, and attained it nearly ninety years old. He died on 8 December 1674, and wished to be buried in this cemetery near the Cross. May he rest in peace.6

And the other:

Jean Hamon

Here rests Jean Hamon, doctor, who, having spent his youth in the study of letters, was eminently learned in the Greek and Latin tongues. Seeing that he flourished in the University of Paris by the renown of his eloquence, and that his fame grew daily for his skill of medicine, he feared the lure of flattery and fame and the haughtiness of life. Suddenly stirred by the prompting of the Holy Spirit, he quickly poured out the value of his inheritance into the bosom of the poor and, in the thirty-third year of his age, he dragged himself into this solitude, as he had long pondered doing. First he applied himself to the labour of the fields, then to serving the ministers of Christ, and soon returned to his original profession, healing the wounded members of the Redeemer in the person of the poor, among whom he honoured the handmaidens of Christ as the spouses of the Lord. He wore the coarsest garments, fasting nearly every day, slept on a board, spent day and night in nearly perpetual vigils, prayer, and meditation, nocturnal works everywhere breathing the love of God. For thirty-seven years he accumulated the toils of medicine, walking some twelve leagues every day, very often while fasting, to visit the sick in the villages, providing them what they might need, helping them by counsel, by hand, with medicines, with food whereof he deprived himself, living for twenty-two years on eating bran bread and water, which he ate secretly and alone, while standing up. As wisely as he had lived, considering every day his last, thus he departed this life in the Lord, amidst the prayers and tears of his brethren, in deep silence and sweet meditation of the Lord’s mercies, with his eyes, mind, and heart fixed on Jesus Christ, mediator between God and man, rejoicing that he obtained the tranquil death for which he had prayed, that he might gain eternal life, at the age of 69, on 22 February 1687.7

Heeding the spirit of St Bernard, the nuns are subject to the Lord Archbishop of Paris, who is their superior. They also sing the office according to the use of Paris, except that they sing the ferial psalms every day in order to fulfill the Rule of St Benedict which they follow, and which binds them to saying the entire psalter every week. This they do with the approbation of the late M. de Harlay, Archbishop of Paris.

At the blessing and aspersion of holy water on Sundays, the abbess and her nuns come forward to receive it at the grill from the priest’s hand.

After the Credo, the priest descends to the bottom of the altar steps and blesses the bread offered by one of the abbey’s domestics. He then announces any feasts or fasting days during the coming week, and gives a short exhortation or explanation of the day’s Gospel.

At every High Mass of the year, the sacristan or thurifer goes to the nuns’ grill at the end of the Credo to receive, through a hatch in the screen, a box from the sister sacristan containing the exact number of hosts needed for the sisters who are to receive communion. He brings them to the altar and gives them the celebrant.

At High Masses for the Dead, the sacristan goes to the grill to receive the bread, a large host, and the wine in a cruet, and brings them to the altar. He gives the host to the priest on the paten, kissing it on the inside edge, and the cruet of wine to the deacon, who pours the wine into the chalice.

At the Agnus Dei, the nuns embrace and give each other the kiss of peace.

On Sundays and feasts of abstention from servile work there is a general communion; at every Mass said in this church at least one of the nuns receives communion.

Devotion for the Most Blessed Sacrament is so great in this monastery that in addition to engaging in perpetual adoration as part of the Institute of the Blessed Sacrament (it is for this reason that they have exchanged their black scapular for a white one charged with a scarlet cross over the breast, about two fingers in width and a half-foot tall), they also have the custom of prostrating themselves before the Sacrament before going up to receive Holy Communion.8

Nevertheless, the Blessed Sacrament is only exposed during the Octave of Corpus Christi, and this every day after High Mass. For here Mass is never said at an altar where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed. We will come back to this point.

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The nuns of Port-Royal processing through the cloister on Corpus Christi. Note the sleeves of the clerics’ surplices are split, long, and trailing, as in Paris and the rest of the ecclesiastical province of Sens (© RMN-GP / © Gérard Blot).

The nuns of this monastery observe an exact and rigorous silence. Except in cases of illness, they never eat meat, and fish only rarely, about twelve or fifteen times a year. They solely drink water, and observe the great fast of Lent in its full rigour, as in the age of St Bernard, eating only at five in the evening after Vespers, which they usually say at 4 p.m., even though they wake up at night to sing Matins and perform manual labour during the day.

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The refectory of Port-Royal (© RMN-GP / © Gérard Blot).

A spiritual conference is held after lunch, during which they continue to work, and during which it is not permitted to speak aloud.

During the summer, the nuns are sometimes allowed to go into the garden after dinner, but many refrain from doing so, and those that go do so separately, taking a book to read or some work to do.

Matins are said here at 2 a.m. together with Lauds, but in winter Lauds are said separately at 6 a.m, and then a Low Mass is celebrated between Lauds and Prime. During the rest of the year, Prime is said at 6 a.m., followed by a Conventual Low Mass. Chapter follows with a reading from the Martyrology, the Necrology, and the Rule, some chapter of which the Abbess explicates once or twice a week. Then they hold the proclamation of faults, and appropriate penances are imposed.

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The nuns of Port-Royal in chapter (© RMN-GP / © Gérard Blot).

Terce is said at 8:30 a.m., followed by High Mass. Sext is at 11 a.m., and on ecclesiastical fast days at 11:45, after which they go to lunch, except in Lent when they do not dine, for in the Rule of St Benedict to lunch means not to fast. None is at 2 p.m. in winter and at 2:30 in summer.

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The nuns of Port-Royal singing the Office (© RMN-GP / © Gérard Blot).

The first bell for Vespers rings at 4 p.m., and the office begins some fifteen minutes later. It finishes at 5 or 5:15, for they sing very unhurriedly and distinctly. After Vespers in Lent, they sound the refectory bell, and the nuns go there to lunch and dine together. One sees nuns following this regime until they are 72 or 75 or even older. Not too long ago there was a priest who, in Lent, only ate in the evening, even though he was 87 years old, and lived till he was 92.

On Holy Saturday, they extinguish the lights throughout the entire house, and during the Office they bring back the newly blessed fire.

The nuns’ habits are coarse, and there is neither gold nor silver in their church vestments.

The Abbey receives girls without a dowry, and makes neither pacts or conventions for the reception of nuns, following the primitive spirit of their monastery, as is clear from the following acts:

Be it known to all men that I, Eudes de Thiverval, esquire, and Thècle my wife gave in pure and perpetual alms, for the salvation of our souls and those of our ancestors, two bushels of corn, that is, one of winter-crop and the other of oats from our tithe-district of Jouy, to the Church of Our Lady of Port-Royal and the nuns serving God therein, to be collected every day on the feast of St Remigius. Be it known that the Abbess and Convent of the said place freely received one of our daughters into their society of nuns. Not wishing to incur the vice of ingratitude, we have given the said two bushels of corn in alms to the said House of our will without any pact. Which, that it may remain ratified and fixed, we have made to be confirmed by the support of our seal. Done in the year of grace 1216.9


Renaud, by the grace of God bishop of Chartres, to all who would earlier or later inspect the present page, in the Lord greeting. We make it known to all future and present that by these presents that the Abbess and Convent of Nuns of Porrois [i.e. Port-Royal] freely received in charity Asceline, daughter of Hugues de Marchais, esquire, as a sister and nun of God. Thereafter the said esquire, lest he should give away his said daughter to be betrothed to Christ without a dowry from part of his patrimony, standing in our presence did give and grant to the Church of Porrois and the nuns serving God therein in perpetual alms for the portion of his said daughter the return of one annual bushel of corn in his grange of Marchais or Lonville to be collected every year in the Paris measure of Dourdan, and three firkins of wine in his vineyard of Marchais to be collected yearly, and ten shillings in his census-district of Marchais. That his gift may remain ratified and fixed, at the petition of the same Hugues we have made the present letters to be confirmed by our seal in testimony. Done at Chartres in the year of the Incarnation of Our Lord 1217, in the month of April.10


Be it known to all them that I, Odeline de Sèvre, gave in pure and perpetual alms to the house of Port-Royal for the soul of my late husband Enguerrand of happy memory, and for the salvation of my soul, and of all my children and ancestors, and especially for the salvation and love of my daughter Marguerite who received the religious habit in the same house, four arpents of vine in my clos of Sèvre to be possessed in perpetuity. My sons Gervais the eldest, Roger, and Simon praised, willed, and granted this donation, to whom it belonged by hereditary right. And further we offered the same donation with the book upon the altar of Port-Royal. In testimony and perpetual confirmation whereof, since by said sons Gervais, Roger, and Simon were not yet esquires and did not yet have seals, I the said Odeline confirmed the present charter by the support of my seal with their will and convent. Done on the year of our Lord 1228.11


1. Author’s note: [After the Abbey’s suppression] the altar and choir stalls were purchased by the Cistercian nuns of Paris and placed in their church, where one can see them.

2. Translators’ note: As did Carthusian nuns.

3. Hic jacent duae sorores germanae, hujus praesentis Abbatiae Moniales Deo sacratae, Adelina et Nicholaa dictae ad Pedem, de Stampis quondam progenitae: quarum animae in pace perpetua requiescant. Amen. Obiit dicta Adelina anno Domini M. C. C. octog. octavo. 

4. Author’s note: See Fulbert. Epist. 2 ad Finard. Rituale Rotomag. ann. 1651.

5. Hic requievit, ibi post cujus nomen habebis.
Margareta fuit Matthæi Malliancensis
Uxor; & hanc genuit generosus Guido Levensis.
Sex parit ista mares. Vir obit. Petit hæc Moniales.
Intra claustrales elegit esse lares.
In requie multa sit Nonnæ veste sepulta;
Luceat æterna sibi lux in pace suprema.
Anno M. C. bis, LX. bis, V. semel, I. bis.

6. D. O. M. Hic jacet Emmanuel le Cerf, qui cum majorem vitæ partem erudiendis populis consumpsisset, vitam evangelicam evanglicæ prædicationi anteponendam ratus, ut sibi moreretur, qui aliis tantum vixerat, ad pœnitentiam accurrit senex eo festinantius, quo serius; pondusque ipsum senectutis, quo nihil ad patiendum aptius, et varios corporis morbos in remedium animæ conversos, tanquam opportunum æternitatis viaticum amplexus; mortem humilis, nec se jam sacerdotem, sed laicum gerens, in hoc quietis portu expectavit, quæ obtigit fere nonagenario. Obiit 8 Decembris 1674 et in Cœmeterio prope Crucem sepeliri voluit. Requiescat in pace.

7. Hic quiescit Joannes Hamon Medicus, qui adolescentia in studiis litterarum transacta, latine græceque egregie doctus, cum in Academia Parisiensi eloquentiæ laude floreret, et medendi peritia in dies inclaresceret, famae blandientis insidias et superbiam vitæ metuens, Spiritus impetu subito percitus, patrimonii pretio in sinum pauperum festinanter effuso, anno ætatis xxxiij in solitudinem hanc, quam diu jam meditabatur, se proripuit. Ubi primum opere rustico exercitus, tum Christi ministris famulatus, mox professioni pristinæ redditus, membra Redemptoris infirma curans in pauperibus, inter quos ancillas Christi quasi sponsas Domini sui suspexit; veste vilissima, jejuniis prope quotidianis, cubatione in asseribus, pervigiliis, precatione, et meditatione diu noctuque fere perpetua, lucubrationibus amorem Dei undique spirantibus, cumulavit ærumnas medendi quas toleravit per annos xxxvj quotidiano pedestri xij plus minus milliarum itinere, quod sæpissime jejunus conficiebat, villarum obiens ægros, eorumque commodis serviens consilio, manu, medicamentis, alimentis, quibus se defraudabat, pane furfureo et aqua, idque clam et solus, et stando per annos xxij. sustentans vitam, quam ut sapienter duxerat, quasi quotidie moriturus, ita inter fratrum preces et lacrymas in alto silentio, misericordias Domini suavissime recolens; atque in Mediatorem Dei et hominum Jesum Christum, oculis, mente, et corde defixus, exitu ad votum suum tranquillo lætus, ut æternum victurus clausit in Domino, annos natus 69 dies 20 viij Kalend. Mart. anni 1687.

8. Translators’ note: The nuns of Port-Royal began to practice perpetual adoration in 1623 to beg for protection from the Abbot General of the Cistercian order, who opposed Mother Angélique Arnaud’s reform of the abbey. Shortly thereafter, she endeavoured to found an Institute “whose principal end should be honouring the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, and to ensure therefor that there be always someone adoring It day and night” (Mémoires d’Angélique, p. 57). In August 1627, the Most Holy Lord Pope Urban VIII signified his approbation of her designs by promulgating a brief putting Port-Royal under episcopal jurisdiction and setting up the Institute of the Blessed Sacrament.

9. Noverint universi quod ego Odo de Tiverval miles et Thecla uxor mea dedimus in puram et perpetuam eleemosynam, pro remedio animarum nostrarum et antecessorum nostrorum, Ecclesiae beatae Mariae de Portu-Regio et Monialibus ibidem Deo servientibus duos modios bladi, unum scilicet hibernagii, et alterum avenae in decima nostra de Joüy, singulis annis in festo S. Remigii percipiendos. Sciendum vero est quod Abbatissa et ejusdem loci Conventus unam de filiabus nostris in societatem Monialium benigne receperunt. Nos vero ingratudinis vitium incurrere nolentes, praedictos duos modios dictae jam domui de voluntate nostra sine aliquo pacto eleemosynavimus. Quod ut ratum et immobile perseveret, sigilli nostri munimine fecimus roborari. Actum anno gratiae M. CC. xvj.

10. Reginaldus Dei gratia Cartonensis Episcopus, universis primis et posteris praesentem paginam inspecturis salutem in Domino. Notum facimus omnibus tam futuris quam praesentibus quod, quoniam Abbatissa et Conventus Sanctimonialium de Porregio Acelinam filiam Hugonis de Marchesio militis in sororem et sanctimonialiem Dei et caritatis intuitu gratis receperant, postmodum dictus miles in nostra constitutus praesentia, ne dictam filiam suam nuptam Christi parte sui patrominii relinqueret indotatam, Ecclesiae de Porregio et Monialibus ibi Deo servientibus dedit et concessit in perpetuam eleemosynam, pro portione dictae filiae suae unum modium bladi annui redditus in granchia sua de Marchesio vel de Lonvilla singulis annis percipiendum ad mensuram Parisiensem de Dordano, et tres modios vini in vinea sua de Marchesio annuatim percipiendos, et decem solidos in censu suo de Marchesio. Ut autem donum ejus ratum et stabile permaneret, ad petitionem ipsius Hugonis praesentes Litteras in testimonium sigillo nostro fecimus roborari. Actum Carnoti anno Dominicae Incarnationis M. CC. septimo decimo, mense Aprili.

11. Noverint universi quod ego Odelina de Sèvre donavi in puram et perpetuam eleemosynam domui Portus-Regis pro anima bonae memoriae Ingeranni quondam mariti mei, et pro salute animae meae, et omnium liberorum et progenitorum meorum; et maxime pro salute et amore Margaretae filiae meae quae in eadem domo religionis habitum assumpserat, quatuor arpentos vineae in clauso meo de Sèvre jure perpetuo possidendos. Hanc autem donationem laudaverunt, voluerunt et concesserunt filii mei Gervasius primogenitus, Rogerus et Simon, ad quos eadem donatio jure hereditario pertinebat. Immo et ipsi eandem donationem obtulimus cum libro super altare Portus Regis. In cujus rei testimonium et conformationem perpetuam ego praedicta Odelina, quia praedicti filii mei G. R. et Simon necdum milites erant, et necdum sigilla habebant, de voluntate eorum et assensu praesentem Chartam sigilli mei munimine roboravi. Actum anno Domini M. CC. vigesimo octavo.