Corpus Christi at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem

Corpus Christi
(Source: Custodia Terrae Sanctae)

From the website of the Custodia Terrae Sanctae:

“On May 31, a big feast took place at the Holy Sepulcher. According to ancient tradition, the Church of Jerusalem celebrated Corpus Christi, which is one of the most important solemnities celebrated at the Basilica of the Resurrection.

Beginning on the previous day, however, celebrations at the Holy Sepulcher had already begun. The Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land on the vigil of the feast of Corpus Christi went to the Latin Patriarchate to invite the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate to make his solemn entry into the Sepulcher. In the early afternoon, before the Holy Edicule, they celebrated the first Vespers for the feast. Then came the time for the daily solemn version of the procession at the Holy Sepulcher, with the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, at the very place where the Body of Christ was laid and where he rose.

As with all the solemn feasts, a procession was held which made its way around the shrine of Christ’s Sepulcher three times. Protected by the baldachin, Mons. Pizzaballa carried the Blessed Sacrament in his hands, followed by friars, priests and the faithful. The Tantum Ergo Sacramentum was sung three times at the end of the celebration.”

Do follow their facebook page.

An Englishman’s View of Rome in the 16th Century

Thanks to the generosity of one of our loyal readers, we here provide an excerpt from Roma Sancta, an account of the Eternal City written in 1581 by Gregory Martin, S. J., the chief translator of the Douay-Rheims version of the Bible. 

Chapter 20: The Service of God in the Churches Manie Wayes, and the Peoples Devotion, and First of Masses.

Gregory Martin, S. J.

No man sayeth masse, but first allowed by a grave and worshipful priest; who fynding him meete and skilful in al comely ceremonies after the Romane fashion, commendeth him to an higher Officer; who geveth him leave for sixe monthes, and after for other sixe monethes, or more, or without limitation when he is once growen in credit, and that by subscribing his hand to printed paper for that purpose. Which testimonie, if he shewe, or if he be wel knowen otherwise, then (and not otherwise) shal he be admitted to say masse in any place in Rome or in the teritorie therof, wheresoever his devotion serveth. And this is generally and exactely observed toward al straungers, for as for the Romanes them selves that are made priests, they learne the Ceremonies even from children, by nature, custome, and Tradition, in such comely maner, with such reverence and maiestie, that herein (no doubt) Italie excelleth, and Rome especially, as most exactly observing at this very day the grave sinceritie of the old primitive Church. And thus much of the uniformitie and reverent comlinesse.

See now the provision that is there, for al that in this order can and are disposed to say Masse. for example at S. Peters, thou shalt have in the vesterie (verie fayre and large) from early morning until noone, upon a long table, so many Chalices with al their furniture, these many fayre albes with their vestimentes of whatsoever colour thou wouldest, according as masse requireth which thou meanest to say, for martyrs, red; for virgins and Confessors, white; for Diriges, blacke, whearof I wil say more in an other place. There is the cheefe Sacristane or master of the vesterie ready in his surples attending, and under him a number of pretie boys in gownes and surplises, most ready and diligent to attend upon thee. And the first question is, At what aultar thou wilt say, and what masse, and then wil they appoynt thee a vestment accordingly: and if thy aultar be voyd, thou shalt goe at thy pleasure: if not, either stay til he come in that is there before thee, or take an other. but the Privileges of some aultars ar such, namely of the Seven altars, or in other Churches of five Aultars, and the Relikes and bodies of Saintes adde such devotion and religion to other Aultars, namely S. Andrewes, where S. Gregorie the Doctors body is underneath, and S. Andrewes head above: that among so many as come daylie out of al Rome to celebrate in such places, a man some time must stay a good while, and yet the Canons them selves of purpose geve them to straungers, of charitie yelding to other mens devotion.

Now then, when thou art to be revested, there is water and towel for thy handes, a place to lay thy uppoer gowne, (for the under Cassock is downe to the foote,) a chappel to knele in before if it please thee, a body in gowne and surples ready to revest thee, and that done, he taketh the booke, and the Crewettes with wine and water alwaies new and fresh for every Masse, two tapers (for they never use under two,) and so goeth before thee, and thou in modest and solemne maner folowest, thy left hand holding the Chalice, and thy right upon the patent and burse to stay it, thy cappe on thy head, unles thou come before the B. sacrament, then Cap of and one knee to the ground. Now concerning the people, they are there continually expecting the beginning of some masse, that they may heare the whole, and as sone as the boy hath sounded the litle bel that hangeth in the way betwene the vestrie and the Churche, they goe flocking by and by round about the priest, attending upon him unto the aultar, and there kneeling with him, bowing with him, blessing with him, answering him, lifting up their hartes with his prayers and ceremonies, and wholy occupied in harkening to him, and onely attent to the holy mysteries and blessed wordes of the masse, so that they never use booke at that time: and at the Gospel, every man goeth up as neere as he can to the aultar, and afterward returneth to his place agayne as doing a special honour unto it, and desirous to heare it, and in al their behaviour there is such comelinesse, and such silence, that neither in gesture nor voyce is there any thing to offend any man, but to edifie excedingly and to please a straunger wonderfully. only this thou shalt heare verie often, devoute persons by aboundance of good and vehement spiritual motions, breake out eftsones into sighinges and groninges, to see the blessed Sacrament, to heare the passion of Christ, to behold his agonies, and the cruel martyrdomes of his servauntes; upon occasion of such meditations, the mouth sodenly sounded the inward conceite of the hart. And having thus heard masse to the very end, every one saluteth each other, which is solemly observed, and so they that wil, depart.

But in the meane time there ar commonly so many masses, as there be aultars in the body of the Church, which is ful of them according to the custome there, and they are built everie way, North, South, East and west, and in no place so commodiousely for the sight of the people standing round about, and very neere, and yet every one so inant. As I have for example sake spoken of S. Peters, so is it in other Churches in their degree. And in al places where a mans devotion would move him to say masse, there is al provision for him without al difficultie, only in some Chappels and aultars more desolate but of singular reverence and devotion, a man must have his minister or assistant with him.

And thus farre of masses in general, for as concerning the daily masses of al the Religious houses, of al Cathedral Churches, of Confraternities, of Hospitals, of foren nations, either never ceasing from houre to houre for the peoples commoditie, or insituted to special good purposes, as, for al such dead as otherwise have no frendes to care for them, for them that are executed by justice, for labourers that are to worke al day and would heere mass before early in the morning, for these and other godly and charitable respectes, These Masses I say being infinite, the Reader partly of these few wordes may conceave what might be sayd and partly I shal speake somewhat more of them in their places, hearafter. 

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:

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.]

Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 3.46.30 PM.png



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)