Our Lady of China

Today the Chinese celebrate the feast of Our Lady of China.

Our Lady of China.jpg

During the Boxer Rebellion, a great number of soldiers attacked the village of Donglu, Hebei. The village consisted of a small community of Christians founded by the Vincentian Fathers. The Virgin Mary appeared in white, and a fiery horseman (believed to be St Michael) chased away the soldiers. The pastor, Fr Wu, commissioned a painting of Mary with Christ child dressed in golden imperial robes. This painting became the image of Our Lady, Queen of China. Donglu became a place of pilgrimage in 1924. The image was blessed and promulgated by Pope Pius XI in 1928.

At the close of the 1924 Shanghai Synod of Bishops in China, the first national conference of bishops in the country, Archbishop Celso Costantini, Apostolic Delegate in China, along with all the bishops of China, consecrated the Chinese people to the Blessed Virgin Mary. An officially-sanctioned image of Our Lady of China was blessed, granted and promulgated by Pope Pius XI in 1928. In 1941, Pope Pius XII designated the feast day as an official feast of the Catholic liturgical calendar. In 1973, following the Second Vatican Council, the Chinese Bishops conference, upon approval from the Holy See, placed the feast day on the vigil of Mothers Day.

There is a fuller version of the history here.

The Mass has several proper parts.

The readings are Act 1:12-14 and Jn 19:25-27. The Psalm is 113:1-3, 4-6, 7-8. Of these, the psalm and Gospel are optional parts of the Commune Festorum BMV. 

The Communion is Ave Maria, Gratia plena, Dominus tecum, Benedicta tu in mulieribus. Alleluia.

The Collect and Postcommunion are proper (here translated by a friend from China, though an official version may exist somewhere):

Collect: Almighty and everliving God, you chose Mary to be the Mother of Your Son and to be Our Mother. We ask that, through her prayers, you may bless the billions of the Chinese people, grant peace and an abundant harvest of grain to our country and our people, and make the whole nation know you, love you, and serve you. We ask this through Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God forever and ever. Amen.

Postcommunion: Lord, in this feast we have received the Bread of Heaven. We ask that, through the prayers of Our Lady of China, you may bless us, make us constantly imitate the virtues of Our Lady, love you, and serve you with all our heart. We ask you to hear us, in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Readers of Chinese can find the Mass here: http://catholic-dlc.org.hk/frame3.htm.

In addition to the Mass, there is a prayer of consecration to Our Lady of China:

Prayer to Our Lady of China:

Hail, Holy Mary, Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mother of all nations and all people. You are the special heavenly Mother of the Chinese people. Teach us, your way of total obedience to God’s will. Help us to live our lives true to our faith. Fill our hearts with burning love for God and each other. Stir up in our youth, an unconditional giving of self to the service of God. We call on your powerful intercession for peace, reconciliation and unity among the believers and conversion of the unbelievers in China and throughout the world, for God’s mercy is our only hope. Our Lady of China, Mother of Jesus, hear our petitions and pray for us. Amen.

Consecration of the Chinese People to Our Lady of China:

O Mary, Mother of God, and our Mother, with sincere filial love, we consecrate to your most tender, most loving immaculate heart, our bodies, souls, abilities, lives, words and deeds, and all that we have. We also consecrate to you the Chinese people throughout the world. We pray that you be the Mother of priests and all missionaries. May they loyally and zealously proclaim the Kingdom of God. Be the Mother of all Christians. Help them to progress in virtue and to shine forth evermore the splendor of faith. Be the Mother of all unbelievers. Deliver them from darkness and lead them into the light of Faith. We beseech you to show mercy to the immense population of Chinese descent. They have all been redeemed by the precious blood of your Divine Son. Through your most efficacious intercession, may they all take refuge in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Source of life and holiness, and become one fold under One Shepherd in the Church.

Help of Christians, pray for us. Holy Mary, Mother of all Graces, pray for us. Our Lady of China, Queen of the Chinese People in Heaven, pray for us.

中華聖母 Our Lady of China.jpg

Gemma Animae (39-40): The Offertory and Secret

Ch. 37
On the Subdeacon

The subdeacon carries the chalice in his left hand, the paten in his right, and the corporal above, because at this point the subdeacon signifies Christ, the chalice his Passion, the left the present life, the paten the Cross, the right eternal life, and the corporal the Church. And Christ drinks the chalice of the Passion in the present life, though he first asked the Father to take it from him. Through the Cross he entered into the glory of the Father, and the Church does not cease to imitate his Passion. The corporal is made white by much labor, and the Church is conformed to Christ through many tribulations. Our subdeacon Christ in a manner carried the paten with the chalice, when he carried the Cross to his Passion.

Holy Sepulchre_Crucifixion Chapel
The Crucifixion Chapel, Holy Sepulcher. The icon screen behind seems to depict Christ in a dalmatic.

Ch. 38
On the Cantors

One cantor offers an oblation on honeycomb and wine in a cruet, a second provides the water to be mixed in the wine. The one who offers wine signifies the Church of the Jews, which exchanged the rite of the law into the sacrifice of Christ; he who offers water, the Church of the Gentiles, which sacrificed the gentile people to Christ. These two also put forward a type of Enoch and Elias, who will offer the Jewish people to Christ in sacrifice. They make this offering not with their bare hands, but with honeycombs made white by much labor, because the body of Christ is worthily received only by those who crucify their flesh to vice and concupiscence. The cruet in which the wine is offered signifies our devotion, which is carried in the vessels of the heart. The archdeacon, pouring all the water into the chalice offers it to the bishop, because Christ, whom the deacon signifies here, mixed the Church with himself in his Passion, offered it to the Father on the Cross, and at the last joined the head to the body when he handed over the kingdom to his God and Father.

Ch. 39
On the Prayer of the Priest

[I.e. the Offertory]

After receiving the sacrifice, the bishop bows before the altar saying the prayer Suscipe, sancta Trinitas, because Christ bowed to the feet of the Apostles after handing them the sacrifice at the Last Supper, and standing before the table he made a prayer to the Father. Then he says Orate [Fratres] because Christ told the Apostles to pray. Then he says the prayer super oblata in secret [the Secret], because on the Mount of Olives Christ prayed secretly at great length, and at that time an angel appeared to comfort him. The period of silence after the Offertory signifies that time in which Christ was in Jerusalem before his Passion, just as the Paschal Lamb the Jews sacrificed on the fourteenth day of the month, having reserved it since the tenth.

Ch. 40

On the Secret

The sacrifice completed [i.e. the Offertory], the priest recites a prayer in silence, for the same sacrifice lay hidden in the sacrifice of the Fathers. For he lay hidden in Abel’s lamb, and concealed himself in the ram, taking Isaac’s place. In the Paschal Lamb, in the red calf, and in the scapegoat he was disguised (Levit. 16). Then the pontiff offers the sacrifice for the people, because Christ offered himself for the Church. Then the sacrifice is incensed, because when Christ is offered to God he is accepted as a pleasing odor.



Easter Gift: Supplement to the Kyriale

As an Easter gift to readers, we are happy to offer this Kyriale supplement published in 1934.

[Download here: Supplementum ad Kyriale.]

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Anyone who studies the Troparia of the Spanish archives comes across a number of chants that are commendable for both their antiquity and their elegant melody, but which are lacking from the “Ordinary of the Mass” of the Roman Graduals according to the Vatican typical edition.

The perspicacity of our brother Dom Casiano Rojo [1] discovered this and, in order to supply this defect, he edited a small appendix to the Kyriale for Spain.

But the edition of this booklet having already been depleted, we now offer this more ample supplement, so that just as studies of Spanish codices have recently multiplied, so also the number of melodies which in Spain were once more copious, may be increased.

We have decided to omit from this edition, however, certain chants that are found in many German, French and Italian codices, in all likelihood because they were composed already in the 10th or 11th century by the monastic masters of melody working in the Abbey of St. Martial of Limoges.

When the same melody appears with several variations, we have seen fit to choose the one that excels the others in both elegance and antiquity.

[1] Dom Casiano Rojo Olalla (1877-1931)​, prior of Santo Domingo de Silos.

La vie de saint Martial – Remise du bâton de saint Pierre (détail) – Voûtain est. Chapelle de saint Martial, Palais des Papes, Avignon, Vaucluse, France. (Source)


Music for the Maundy

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

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

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

The Cross in the Sand: Missionaries in Spanish Florida

Spanish Florida
Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Augustine

Michael Gannon’s The Cross in the Sand is a moving account of the Church’s missionary efforts in Spanish Florida from its origins up to the 20th century. Among stories of heroic martyrdom, it contains several marvelous episodes of a liturgical nature. The book gets off to an encouraging start with this triumphant introduction:

“…on six subsequent Spanish explorations to the Florida shoreline from 1521 to 1565, priests of the Church were here to raise the Cross in the sand and to offer unnumbered Masses on wilderness altars. In the striking phrase of the nineteenth-century historian John Gilmary Shea, ‘The altar was older than the hearth.’

Wherever the historian’s eye is cast, there stands the altar with its surmounting Cross–Stat crux cum [sic] volvitur orbis. Around that altar there gathered, at one date or another, all the great names that made up our state’s early history, when La Florida was an outpost of empire and a curve on the rim of Christendom. With but one brief interruption, from 1763 to 1768, the practice of the Catholic Faith was a distinguishing feature of our state’s early culture, and the proudly worn badge of many of her people: priests and friars, conquistadors and hidalgos, soldiers and statesmen, Indians from the swamps and shoreland, Spaniards and Minorcans, rich and poor, the innocent and the repentant–they were a long line of stout men, and if there was any evil in them, there was also much good; and if at times they stooped to small and mean things, they also rose to heights of courage and generosity and sacrifice which are the real patens of nobility and the expected fruits of Christian life.”

1) During Hernando De Soto’s “indomitable procession” through parts of Georgia, Alabama, and the Carolinas in the 1540s, all of the vestments and vessels needed for Mass were destroyed in a battle. A chronicler relates how the expedition proceeded:

“Thereafter, an altar was erected and decorated on Sundays and holy days of obligation. Standing at the altar, a priest, vested in a buckskin chasuble, said the Confiteor, the Introit of the Mass, and the Oration, Epistle, and the Gospel, and all the rest up to the end of the Mass without consecrating. The Spaniards call this the Misa seca; and the one who said the Mass, or another priest, read the Gospel and delivered a sermon on it. From this they derived consolation in the distress they felt at not being able to adore our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ under the sacramental species. This lasted for almost three years, until the time they left Florida for the land of the Christians [Mexico]” (pg. 8).

2) The celebration of the Spanish landing at what would become St. Augustine parish, Sept. 8th, 1565:

“On Saturday the 8th, the General landed with many banner spread, to the sound of trumpets and salutes of artillery. As I had gone ashore the evening before, I took a Cross and went to meet him, singing the hymn, Te Deum Laudamus. The General, followed by all who accompanied him, marched up to the Cross, knelt, and kissed it. A large number of Indians watched these proceedings and imitated all they saw done.

A solemn Mass was then offered in honor of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin. . . It was the first community act of religion and thanksgiving in the first permanent settlement in the land. It was also the beginning of the parish of St. Augustine and of the permanent service of the Catholic Church in what is now the United States” (pp. 26-27).


3) The education of the Indians at a mission near St. Augustine:

“The chapel at Nombre de Dios was a handsome stone structure complete with statues of the saints, and his Indians were by this time so well instructed they sang High Mass and Vespers on Sundays” (pg. 43).

4) From a detailed report written by the visiting bishop of Havana, Gabriel Diaz Vara Calderon, on the piety of the Florida Indians:

“As to their religion, they are not idolaters, and they embrace with devotion the mysteries of our holy Faith. They attend Mass with regularity at eleven o’clock on the Holy Days they observe, namely, Sunday, and the feasts of Christmas, the Circumcision, Epiphany, the Purification of Our Lady, and the feast days of Saint Peter, Saint Paul, and All Saints’ Day, and before entering the church each one brings to the house of the priest a log of wood as a contribution. They do not talk in the church, and the women are separated from the men, the women on the Epistle side, the men on the Gospel side.

They are very devoted to the Virgin, and on Saturdays they attend [church] when her Mass is sung. On Sundays they attend the Rosary and the Salve in the afternoon. They celebrate with rejoicing and devotion the Birth of Our Lord, all attending the midnight Mass with offerings of loaves, eggs, and other food. They subject themselves to extraordinary penances during Holy Week, and during the twenty-four hours of Holy Thursday and Friday. . . they attend standing, praying the rosary in complete silence–twenty-four men, twenty-four women, and twenty-four children–with hourly changes. The children, both male and female, are taught by a teacher whom they call the Athequi [interpreter] of the church–[a person] whom the priests have for this service; as they also have someone deputized to report to them on all parishioners who live in evil” (pg. 66).