A Medieval Cure for Baldness

A monk drinking wine (from the British Library)
A tonsured monk sneaking a drink of wine (from the British Library)

St Foy (Sancta Fides, Saint Faith) was a virgin martyr from Agen killed in the persecution of Diocletian. In the 9th century her relics were stolen by a monk of the Abbey of Conques, who took them to his own monastery. Fame of the miracles wrought by St Foy there soon spread, and it became a popular place of pilgrimage. A compilation of stories about these miracles was written in the 11th century under the title Liber miraculorum sancte Fidis. The following story, which raises interesting questions about lay participation in monastic masses, is taken therefrom:

A warrior from the Auvergne named Bernard, who was melancholy after losing all his hair, received a night vision from Foy, who told him:

“Do not delay to go confidently to the monastery at Conques. When you have arrived, make known to Abbot Girbert in my name that in my memory he should celebrate the divine mystery before the shrine of my body, while you stand on his left until the reading of the holy Gospel has been completed. After the offertory, when the abbot has washed his hands, collect that water. He should moisten your head, and after that you must go over to the right side of the altar” (3.7).

When Abbot Girbert is told about the vision “point by point,” he,

“as is usually the case with spiritually advanced persons, immediately protested that he was not worthy of being involved in such a business. His resistance was finally overcome by their urgent pleas and he devoutly carried out everything he had been directed to do. The following night while Bernard was keeping vigil in holy prayers before the holy virgin’s mortal remains, his scalp seemed to swell with little hairs, like the head of a newborn boy” (3.7).

(Translation from “Liturgy as Social Performance” by C. Clifford Flanigan, Kathleen Ashley, and Pamela Sheingorn, in The Liturgy of the Medieval Church, ed. by Thomas J. Heffernan and E. Ann Matter, p. 644.)

????? (Source)



The Jubé (5): That Removing Jubés Mutilates Our Churches

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 26
Chapter 27

It is still little understood why the jubés in French churches were so quickly and methodically replaced in the 17th and 18th centuries, but one of the reasons the “ambonoclasts” of the time gave to justify removing screens was that they were “regarded as useless ornaments, irregular protrusions, and inconvenient obstacles which rob the faithful of a view of the holy altars and prevent them from contemplating the most august Mysteries at their leisure.”

In other words, an aesthetic complaint–they obstructed a clear view of the interior and its main lines–combined with a “pastoral concern”–that they excluded the laity. Fr. Thiers takes on the first of these objections in this chapter.

Chapter XXVIII:
Destroying the jubés mutilates our churches

One of the principal reasons that ought to arrest the immoderate and benighted zeal of the jubés declared enemies is that they cannot remove them from churches without rendering them imperfect, and I daresay, mutilated. For a thing is imperfect and mutilated when it lacks one of the parts that it should have and of which it ought to be composed. Now it is certain that, generally speaking, the jubés are an integral part of churches, especially of great and ancient churches.

For this reason St. Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople, explaining the main parts of the church in his Meditation on Church Matters, includes the jubé. Symeon of Thessalonica, in his book Interpretation of the Christian Temple and its Rituals, published in Fr. Goar’s Euchologe, also places it among the parts of a church. William Durandus, speaking of the church and its parts at the beginning of his Rationale,[1] mentions the jubé explicitly. The Ceremoniale Episcoporum numbers the jubé among the things necessary for Solemn Masses: Ambones ubi epistola et evangelia decantari solent.[2] Hospinien[3] and Fr. Boulanger,[4] in their treatises on temples, did not neglect the jubés. Neither did M. Allatio in his second letter to Fr. Morin, Des Temples des Grecs d’aujourd’hui.[5] Fr. Goar[6] and M. de Schelstrate[7] gave them a place in the plans they made of eastern churches. Fr. Morin gives them ample treatment in his book De antiquis Christianorum Ecclesiis,[8] and mentions them elsewhere.[9] Finally, Fr. Cabassout very explicitly affirms, in his Diatribe de la situation, des parties, et de la forme des anciennes Eglises, that the jubé is the third part of the church: Tertia ecclesiae pars ambon dicebatur.[10]

I am well aware that there are a number of churches without jubés, of which, therefore, jubés are not an integral part. But I also know that this does not justify the conduct of the ambonoclasts. For these churches are either cathedral churches, parish churches, collegiate churches, churches belonging to regulars, or private chapels. I maintain that of those churches that do not now have jubés, some either had them formerly, or if they never had them, that there is a reason for it. Let me explain.

a) Cathedral Churches

I know of no great, ancient cathedral that does not have a jubé. But if there are some that lack a jubé, it is because they have been destroyed by fire, damaged during war, or demolished by the heretics. The new cathedrals that do not have jubés are:

1) Those that have all been built, repaired, for renovated recently by architects who do not know the rules of the Church, or did not want to be bound by them and thought the jubés completely useless. So there is no jubé in the new Cathedral of Besançon, though there was a very beautiful one in the ancient cathedral, which was demolished in our time.

2) Those that were formerly Huguenot churches, as that of La Rochelle;

3) Those that were erected over what used to be monastic churches, where there was no jubé originally. Jubés could very well have been built in such cathedrals after they changed their state and character, but the prelates and canons who governed them either were not willing or generous enough to make the expense, or did not find the space suitable for one, or had some other reason for not building a jubé.

Whatever the case may be, we must grant this in justice to the cathedrals, that they are incomparably more attached to ancient practice than other churches are, that they are less prone to make innovations, and that they preserve their jubés more religiously.

b) Parish Churches

The great, ancient parish churches too formerly had their own jubés, and there are many today where jubés may be found. The parishes of Rome, which later become the cardinals’ titular churches, are a good example. St. Sylvester had one built in the church of San Lorenzo;[11] Sixtus III beautified the jubé of the church of St. Mary Major with porphyry;[12] and Sergius I built the jubé of the church of Ss. Cosmas and Damian.[13]

Since there were formerly stational masses in the parish churches of Rome, there must have been jubés in these churches because the Ordo Romanus, which explains the ceremonies that were observed in these Solemn Masses, notes expressly that the Gospel is chanted in the jubé.

Image result for Église Saint-Pierre-le-Rond
View of the (later) screen at Saint-Pierre-le-Rond, Sens (Source)

In Sens there are jubés in the parish churches of Saint-Hilaire, Sainte-Colombe-la-Petite, Saint-Pierre-le-Rond, and Saint-Maurice. In Rouen there are jubés in the churches of Saint-Maclou and Saint-Vivien. Finally, there are jubés in innumerable other parish churches of various dioceses and cities where the piety of the people, the zeal and enlightenment of pastors and bishops have devotedly preserved them.

Church of St. Maclou (destroyed in 1944) (Source)
Jube (St. Maclou).jpg
At St. Maclou, the flamboyant staircase of the former jubé was transferred to the back of the nave, where it served as a staircase to the organ loft (Source)
Jube (St. Vivien, Rouen.JPG
The jubé at St. Vivien, Rouen, was destroyed in 1761 and replaced three years later with this Baroque arrangement (Source)

But it is not surprising that most small parish churches have never had jubés. For there would have been no use for them, since they were served by only one priest and it would not have been quite convenient for him to leave the the altar to go sing the the Epistle and Gospel on the jubé. Additionally, High Masses were often not sung in these churches for lack of cantors. When they were sung on certain solemn days, the priest could chant the Epistle and Gospel in a loud voice and be understood by the people, who were not numerous nor far removed from him. Centuries have passed and the situation is no longer so: there are scarcely any little parishes today where the Mass is not chanted at least on Sundays and solemn feasts.

As the number of faithful has increased, vicars and priests have been added to many parishes, and if they have not had jubés built it is not because they are not necessary to perform the divine offices well, but either because the arrangement of the space does not permit it or because neither the priests nor the people have had the means.

Nevertheless, there are still a large number of jubés to be seen in the churches of large towns and villages that fire, war, and heresy have spared, and which have not been exposed to the reckless and irregular renovation of the new ambonoclast architects.

c) Collegiate Churches

We can make the same judgment about collegiate churches as about the cathedrals. All the great ancient collegiate churches have their jubés, with the exceptions however that we made when speaking about cathedrals.

Screen (St. Etienne, Lyon).jpg
The jubé at St. Etienne, Lyon (Source)

There are jubés in the collegiate churches of Saint-Étienne and Saint-Just in Lyon, and there was once one in St. Nizier before the Huguenots demolished it in 1585. There are jubés in the collegiate church of Saint-Martin de Tours, Saint-Symphorien, and Sainte-Balsamie of Reims, of Saint-Pierre in Mâcon, Saint-André in Chartres, in Monbrison, in Saint-Quentin in Vermandois, etc.

d) Churches of the Regular Orders

With respect to the churches of the Regular Orders, we must make distinctions with respect to time periods and the different institutes in order to know whether they once had jubés, and if they had them, where they are today.


In the West it seems that religious went a long time without building jubés, as much because their churches were small in the beginning—nothing more than oratories as St. Benedict calls them several times in the rule—as because it was long forbidden to celebrate public masses in them, i.e., mass at which seculars were permitted to assist, and seculars were for a long time not at liberty to enter.

Nevertheless, it is not impossible that the monks of St Benedict, among others, had jubés in their churches before that time [the mid-12th century, before which religious were not permitted to administer the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist to the faithful, to hold public assemblies, or to say public Masses in the churches of their monasteries]. There were jubés in the Abbey of St Gall in Switzerland in the 9th century, in the Abbey of St Medard in Soissons in the 10th century, and in the Abbey of St Josse in Picardy in the 11th century, as we have already seen.

Pope Victor III, after the middle of the 11th century, while still Abbot of Monte Cassino, made a jubé to be built which in truth was made of nothing more than wood, but embellished with sculptures and gilding. Cardinal Leo, bishop of Ostia, who reports it, states that the lessons of Matins and the Epistle and the Gospel at Mass where read thereupon on the main feasts of the year.

There were also jubés in the churches of nuns of the Order of St Benedict from the 8th century. Chrodegang, bishop of Metz, ordered a very beautiful one to be built in Metz in the church of Saint-Pierre-le-Vieil, also called de Haut-moutier, or de Marmoutier, where there were once three hundred nuns, according to the observations of M. de Sainte-Marthe.

Finally, there are still jubés in the Abbatial Churches of Saint-Denys in France, of Saint-Cornille in Compiégne, of Saint-Rémi and Saint-Nicaise in Reims, of Saint-Pére in Chartres, of Saint-Faron in Meaux, of Saint-Ouen in Rouen, of Saint-Taurin in Evreux, in Fécan, etc.

1) The monks of Cluny, who appeared in 910, have jubés in their churches, but in very few of them, because there were few Cluniac monasteries where public masses were said, given the fervor of their institution.

For the same reason, many other religious congregations that came thereafter and also fight under the Rule of St Benedict have no or almost no jubés in their churches.

2) The Cistercians have jubés, at least in their great churches, and they chant the Lessons of Matins there, as we have shown in the words of Paris, Abbot de Foucarmont.[14]

3) The Canons Regular, such as those later known as the Canons Regular of St Augustine, also had jubés in their churches, for very ancient ones still exist at present at St. Denis of Reims and Toussaints in Châlon sur-Marne, etc.

4) The Carthusians do not have jubés in their churches because they belong only to themselves. The strict solitude they profess does not allow them to invite laymen in.[15]

5) The Premonstratensians also have them. The jubé of St. Sebastian in Vicogne [destroyed in the Revolution] is one of the most magnificent in all Christendom, and there are a number of others in churches belonging to this order.

6) The Missal of the Mercedarians presupposes that the churches of this Order have jubés.

7) If we took the time, it would be easy to show how the Carmelites, Franciscans, Dominicans, and Augustinians once had and still do have jubés in their churches. They exist in most of their ancient churches, and where they do not, one can find some vestiges of them where indifference for the ancient ceremonies of the Church or some other bad reason has led to their destruction.

8) Since the Barnabites, Theatines, Jesuits, Fathers of the Oratory, and some other new Institutes never, or almost never say High or Solemn Masses in their churches, jubés would be quite useless for them. Thus they ordinarily do not have them. Yet their churches and chapels are not imperfect or mutilated, because they were not built to have jubés, and nothing is imperfect or mutilated unless it lacks one of its essential parts.


[1] Bk. 1. I: []

[2] Bk. 1, c. 12.

[3] Bk. 2. De Origine et Progressu Templorum, ch. 3.

[4] Bk. 1, Opusculum de Templo, ch. 17, 18.

[5] Pg. 171.

[6] Pg. 21, Euchologium.

[7] Dissert. 4 in Concil. Antioch., ch. 4, n. 5, pp. 186-187.

[8] This book was never published. It was once found in the library of the Fathers of the Oratory on Rue Saint Honoré in Paris, but it is not there now, removed for purposes I do not know.

[9] De Poenit., bk. 6, ch. 6, n. 10

[10] Notit. Concilior. 8 (Lyon, 1668).

[11] Anastasius on Sylvester.

[12] Platin. on Sixtus III.

[13] Anastasius on Sergius I.

[14] Du premier esprit de l’ordre de Cisteaux, ch. 1, sect. 2.

[15] This is wrong, or perhaps things changed later, because in fact Carthusians did have lay or converse brothers who would stay outside the rood-screen, whereas the fully professed where within. In the Charterhouse in Fréjus-Toulon the rood screen is still standing.

Gemma Animae (2.3-6): The Vigils of the Patriarchs

Arent de Gelder: God and the Angels visit Abraham
Abraham and the Angels, Aert de Gelder (Source)

Ch. 3
On the Second Watch

The second hour of this vigil lasted from Noah to Abraham, when Noah, Sham, Eber, and Thare stood guard, as the following psalms suggest. Domine Deus meus (Psalm 7) represents Noah, whom the Lord found just in his generation and saved from the “persecuting” waters (Genesis 6). Domine Dominus noster (Psalm 8) fits Sham, whom the Lord “crowned with glory and honor” when he raised him above his brothers through his father’s blessing. Confitebor (Psalm 9) points to Heber, who “told the wonderful deeds of God” when he “rooted out the city” of giants. In Domino confido (Psalm 10) presents us with Thare who “trusted in the Lord” when a “wicked people” forced him to worship fire, and the portion of their cup was “coals of fire and sulfur.” These four psalms too are sung under one Gloria Patri, because we know that these fathers who shone brilliantly with the four virtues also worshiped the Trinity. The antiphon manifests the devotion of their praise.

Ch. 4
On the Third Hour

The third hour of the vigil ran from Abraham to Moses, when Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob kept the turns at watch. The next psalms proclaim this.

Salvum me fac (Psalm 12) expresses Abraham when “there was no longer anyone who was godly,” when he was almost the only one who worshipped God, and the whole world was wallowing in idolatry. Usquequo, Domine, oblivisceris (Psalm 13) tells of Isaac, with whom “the Lord dealt bountifully” when he appeared as a figure of Christ in all things. Dixit insipiens (Psalm 14) shows us Jacob, whom “the fool” Laban devoured “as his prey,” deceiving him several times. Because the Lord was his hope, he kept him from evil and “Jacob rejoiced, and Israel was glad.” Domine, quis habitat (Psalm 15) presents Joseph who “entered without stain” when he refused to commit a vile act and “did what was right” when he saved the people from the danger of famine.

These four also conclude with one Gloria Patri because we read that these sentinels shone with the four virtues and worshipped the Trinity. The antiphon is the praise they exhibited to the Divine Majesty. For these antiphons are like songs the watchers sing.

Ch. 5
The Versicle

A verse follows. “Verse” comes from “turning” (vertendo) because the choir turns toward the East, and turns from the psalms toward love. Then the Lord’s prayer is said in silence (secreto), signifying the secret (secretum) counsel of the king. After the Our Father the priest says the verse out loud, like a king giving orders to his legates. The turns of the lectors are the successions of legates. The one who says Iube, domne, benedicere, is as if he is asking leave to go. The priest’s blessing is the emperor’s permission. The reading itself is the execution of the legation. Tu autem Domine expresses the legate’s return, when he has fulfilled his commission.

Ch. 6
On the Readings

The readings display the preaching of those fathers, the responsories their life, which corresponded with their preaching. After the vigil come the readings of Abraham, because it is said that he was the first one after the flood to discover letters, and taught the Chaldeans astronomy, and trained the Egyptians in mathematics. The readings come after the first vigil because at the end of the first age the books of the Law were published by Moses for the people’s instruction.



CAP. III. – De secunda hora.

Secunda hora huius vigiliae a Noe usque ad Abraham erat. In qua Noe, Sem, Heber, Thare vigilabant, ut sequentes Psalmi insinuant. Domine Deus meus (Psal. VII), Noe exprimit, quem Dominus in sua generatione iustum invenit, et ideo a persequentibus aquis salvum fecit (Gen. VI). Domine Dominus noster (Psal. VIII), Sem congruit, quem Dominus gloria et honore coronavit, dum eum benedictione patris super fratres sublimavit. Confitebor (Psal. IX), Heber innuit, qui omnia Dei mirabilia narravit, quando civitatem gigantum dissipavit. In Domino confido (Psal. X), Thare depromit, qui in Domino confidit, quando impia gens ignem adorare coegit, cuius pars calicis, ignis et sulfur fuit. Hi quoque quaterni psalmi sub uno Gloria Patri canuntur, quia et illi patres in quatuor virtutibus rutilantes Trinitatem adorasse noscuntur. Antiphona vero modulationis praefert devotionem illorum laudationis.

CAP. IV. – De tertia hora.

Tertia hora vigiliae ab Abraham usque ad Moysen fuerat, in qua Abraham, Isaac, Iacob et Ioseph vices vigilandi custodiebant, qui instantes psalmi proclamant.

Salvum me fac (Psal. XI), Abraham exprimit, quando sanctus defecit, cum videlicet ipse pene solus Deum coluit, et totus mundus idololatriae deditus fuit.

Usquequo, Domine, oblivisceris (Psal. XII), Isaac innuit, cui Dominus bona tribuit, dum Christi figuram in omnibus praetulit.

Dixit insipiens (Psal. XIII), Iacob ostendit, quem insipiens Laban sicut escam devoravit, dum eum saepius defraudavit. Scilicet quia Dominus spes eius fuit, malum ab eo avertit, unde exsultavit Iacob, et laetatus est Israel.

Domine, quis habitabit (Psal. XIV), Ioseph demonstratur; qui sine macula est ingressus, dum stuprum recusabat, et operatus est iustitiam, dum populum a periculo famis liberavit. Hi etiam quaterni sub uno Gloria Patri clauduntur, quia hi vigiles quatuor virtutibus splendentes Trinitatem coluisse leguntur. Antiphona melodiae est laus ab eis exhibita maiestati divinae. Sunt etiam istae antiphonae quaedam vigilum cantilenae.

CAP. V. – Versiculus.

Versus qui sequitur, a vertendo dicitur, ideo quia se vertit de psalmis chorus ad Orientem, et quia se vertit de psalmis ad dilectionem; per orationem Dominicam, quae secreto dicitur, secretum regis consilium intelligitur. Post pater noster sacerdos versum aperte dicit, quasi rex mandatum legatis iniungit. Vicissitudines lectorum sunt successiones legatorum. Qui iube, domne, benedicere dicit, quasi licentiam eundi petit. Benedictio vero sacerdotis est licentia imperatoris. Ipsa autem lectio est iniunctae legationis exsecutio. Tu autem Domine, reversionem legati exprimit, dum commissum mandatum redit.

CAP. VI. – De lectionibus.

Lectiones quoque praedicationem illorum patrum praeferunt, responsoria vitam eorum, per quam praedicationi responderunt. Ideo autem post vigiliam Abrahae lectiones leguntur, quia ab eo primitus litterae post diluvium repertae traduntur, et ipse primus Chaldaeos astronomiam docuit, et Aegyptios mathematica imbuit. Ideo etiam peracta prima vigilia lectiones leguntur, quia transacto primo tempore libri legis ad doctrinam populi a Moyse eduntur.

Crusader Feasts and the Conversion of Granada

As we have seen before, the Spanish Reconquista was as much a military enterprise as a religious one; as Diego de Valera told King Ferdinand the Catholic, “the Queen fights [the Muslims] no less with her many alms and devout prayers than you, my Lord, armed with the lance”. This is especially true of the final chapter in that long saga: the liberation of Granada by the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella on 2 January of that portentous year for Spain, 1492.  

The feast of the Miraculous Triumph over the Most Impious Infidel King of the Arabs, Benamarin by Name, Around the Year of Our Lord 1340, in a Missal of Palencia from 1567.

The battle of Las Navas de Tolosa on 1212, liturgically remembered as the feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross, was a decisive Christian victory from which the Mohammedans were never able to recover. Within a few decades, their hold on the Iberian peninsula was limited to the rump kingdom of Granada, a vassal of the kingdom of Castile. In a final bid to undo Christian advances, in 1340 the Sultan of Granada called upon his counterpart of Morocco (whom the Spaniards called the king of Benamarín) for succour, and the latter obliged with a massive host. In the ensuing battle of Río Salado, despite being outnumbered by more than three to one, the combined forces of Castile and Portugal struck a splendid victory which proved the harbinger of the end of Muslim Iberia. The triumph was duly commemorated liturgically on 30 October as the feast of the Victory of Christians (Victoriæ Christianorum) in Portugal and Victory or Triumph against Benamarín in Spain (in some manuscripts, confusingly, it is called the Triumph of the Holy Cross, like the feast of Las Navas de Tolosa).

The beleaguered Mohammedan kingdom of Granada still ambled on for over a century, though wracked by civil wars and at the perpetual mercy of Castile’s benevolence. In response to Granadan raids and internecine struggles for power within the sultanate, Ferdinand and Isabella made war upon it with the approbation of the Lord Pope Sixtus IV, who granted a Bull of Crusade in 1479. The Pope gifted the Monarchs a great silver crucifix, which was borne by the soldiers during the entire campaign; after the surrender of each city, the soldiers adored the crucifix and sung the Te Deum. The papacy also provided much financial aid for the campaign, and this was administered by the Hieronymite friar Hernando de Talavera, bishop of Ávila and confessor of Queen Isabella. 

The Lord Hernando de Talavera, first Archbishop of Granada.

Talavera accompanied the Catholic Monarchs to Granada when its last sultan, Boabdil, finally surrendered in 1492, and, at the suggestion of the Monarchs, was appointed the first archbishop of Grenada by the Lord Pope Alexander VI. He set upon the task of organizing his new diocese and converting its Moorish population with zeal. He commissioned his Hieronymite confrère Pedro de Alcalá to write an Arabic grammar and Spanish-Arabic dictionary to help his priests evangelize the region, and he himself tried to learn the Moorish language. He owned a copy of the Koran and took counsel with the local alfaquíes, and encouraged the zambras—Moorish musical ensembles—to participate not only in processions such as that of Corpus Christi, but even in Mass itself, where he also made use of his knowledge of Arabic, as recounted by his one-time page Francisco Núñez Muley, a Moorish convert:

When His Lordship said Mass in person, the zambra was in the choir with the clerics. At the moments when the organ was to be played, since there was none, the zambra responded with its instruments. He said some words in Arabic during Mass, especially that instead of saying Dominus bobyspon [sic!] he said Y barafiqun. I remember this as if it were yesterday, in the year five hundred and two.1

A Moorish dance, by Christoph Weiditz, 1529.

In these pre-Tridentine days, Talavera had full freedom to dispose the liturgy of Granada, and he decreed that “the Divine Office be prayed in accordance with the Roman, and the chant be as that of the Church of Toledo”. When setting up the kalendar, Talavera was keenly aware of the power of the liturgy to cement the Christian conquest and convert the local population, and became a prolific composer of new Offices for these very purposes. The Archbishop, who  had become a choirboy in the collegiate church of Santa María la Mayor in Talavera de la Reina at the age of five, was renowned for his musical talent, being described as “as learned in chant as he was in theology”, and put these abilities into use when writing the musical propers of these Offices. 

deditionis granatae
A manuscript of the propers of the Feast of the Surrender of the Most Renowned City of Granada.

He established 2 January as the feast of the Surrender of the Most Renowned City of Granada (In festo deditionis nominatissime urbis Granate) and composed its Mass and Office, which were effusively praised by the German traveller Hieronymus Münzer: “Oh! I can scarcely describe how noble and elegant is the Office he composed about the [surrender of the] kingdom of Granada by the mercy of God and the victory of the King”2. Like other Crusader feasts, the Office contains many echoes of the Easter liturgies: the first lesson of Mattins, for instance, is a beautiful panegyric of the Day of victory, which brought an end to the Night of Mohammedanism, reminiscent of the Exultet:

A solemn and illustrious day has come to us, most beloved brethren, a day of gladness and rejoicing, a day of joy and jubilation, a day of good tidings, in which it would be criminal to keep silent. A venerable day, a holy day of the Lord, a most renowned day, a day to us more renowned and holy than all others, for it is the day of God’s mercy. A day for which our forefathers yearned and waited, but saw not. But blessed are our eyes, for they are merited to see it. A day which is almost double, and one day better than a thousand. A day the Lord hath made that we might rejoice and be glad thereon. A day on which the city of Granada is made subject to the Catholic faith and acquired by the Christian religion and restored to the empire of the Spanish. A most powerful city, with secure bridges and surrounded by walls. A most mighty city, a city of refuge and excellent dwelling, a city full of delights, a glorious city, deservedly renowned throughout the whole globe, the mistress of the gentiles and prince of the provinces, a city of perfect beauty, the gladness and pride of the Sarracens, the head and summit of the Mohammedan madness in the lands of the Spanish.3

The Mattins responsories, too, connect the day of victory over the Mohammedans to Christ’s day of victory over Death:

To-day true peace has come down to us from heaven. To-day has shone down upon us the day of our redemption, of renewal of the old, of desired happiness.4

Mattins of the feast of the Surrender of Granada, composed by the Lord Hernando de Talavera, sung by Schola Antiqua.

The Paschal theme continues in Mass, where the Gradual is Haec dies, and the Alleluia Dies sanctificatus, though taken from Christmas Day Mass, follows the same idea. The Gospel pericope is from Luke 10, 21-24, which is by the line “Blessed are the eyes that see the things which you see” tied into the Mattins lesson. The Epistle, from Isaias 54, 1-5, appropriately represents Granada as the city of Jerusalem awaiting her salvation. But the liberation of Granada is not only a type of the day of Resurrection, but the antitype of Old Testament figures and events: in the Mattins lessons, King Ferdinand is called an alter Iosue and Queen Isabella an altera sapientissima Delbora (sic, Debbora) and altera venustissima, religiosissima ac honestissima Iudich (sic, Judith). The antiphons are expertly written to link the psalm to the victory at Grenada; e.g., in First Vespers:

Ant. Let us celebrate the solemn day in which God the Father almighty placed the gable of the enemies of His Son as His footstool. Psalm 109.
Aña. Solemnem agamus diem in qua Deus Pater omnipotens fastigium inimicorum Filii sui posuit scabellum pedum eius.

Ant. Let us praise the Lord, and magnify His works, Who on this holy day hath given his people the inheritance of the gentiles, and redeemed many captives. Psalm 110.
Aña. Confiteamur Domino, et magnificemus opera eius qui hac sacra die dedit populo suo hereditatem gentium, et fecit redemptionem plurimorum captivorum.

Ant. King Ferdinand with Queen Isabella shall enjoy eternal memory, for by his works and toil to-day the Lord hath given to the Christian people the glory and riches of the Saracens. Psalm 111.
Aña. In memoria eterna erit Fernandus rex cum regina Helisabeth, quia sua opera et labore dedit hodie Dominus populo Christinano gloriam et diuicias Agarenorum.

Ant. From the rising of the sun unto its going down let the name of the Lord be praised, who by the works of faith made barren Granada a joyful mother of many churches. Psalm 112.
Aña. A solis ortu usque ad occasum laudetur nomen Domini, qui Granatam fidei operibus sterilem matrem fecit multarum ecclesiarum letantem.

Ant. All the peoples of the Spains praise the Lord, who to-day hath confirmed his mercy upon you, putting an end to the ancient sin. Psalm 116.
Aña. Omnes populi Ispaniarum laudate Dominum, quia confirmauit hodie super uos misericordiam suam, finem imponens antiquo peccato.

Thus does Talavera deftly weave the liberation of Granada into the history of Salvation.

The feast of the Exaltation of the Faith, i.e. the feast of Granada, in a Breviary of Santiago de Compostela from 1569.

This feast does not show up in later propers for the archdiocese of Granada, but it might have survived in certain monasteries, such as the Abbey of Sacromonte, where copies of this office have been found dating as late as the 18th century. A much longer future was enjoyed by another Office and Mass for the liberation of Granada, under the name of the feast of the Exaltation of the Faith (Exaltationis fidei), composed for the Archdiocese of Santiago de Compostela by the Mercedarian friar Diego de Muros, bishop of Ciudad Rodrigo, on the orders of the Catholic Monarchs, who wanted the feast inserted into the kalendar of that important archdiocese. In remained there until the 18th century, and some of the propers were put into polyphonic settings. A third Office and Mass in memory of the liberation was written by the humanist Juan Maldonado for the diocese of Burgos at the request of its bishop, Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca. It was expunged from the kalendar of Burgos by Rodriguez de Fonseca’s successor’s Antonio de Rojas, who went on to succeed Talavera in the see of Granada, and therefore might be responsible for the suppression of the feast there as well.

Talavera himself also set his sights upon the old Office for the feast of the battle of Río Salado. Disappointed with the quality of the Mattins lessons of that feast, he rewrote them, as he explained to Queen Isabella herself:

Since Your Highness is so fond of the writings that I present or communicate, and shews them with, perhaps, not much prudence and too much charity, when they are things that ought not be shewn; because of that and because it is in Latin, I am sending it to Doctor [Rodrigo Maldonado] de Talavera5. so that, if he approves it, he might present it to Your Serenity: the most excellent victory, worthy of immortal memory, which Our Lord gave to the Lord King Alphonse XI, your four-times grandfather, near the river they call the Salado against the King of Morocco and Bellamarín, etc., which I put into Latin accompanied by some phrases from Holy Scripture so that we might read them as lessons on Mattins of that feast, which we began to celebrate some time ago with much solemnity, as is reasonable, because the lessons I saw in the Breviary of Toledo seemed to me brief and not such as I should like, and so Your Highness shall see some of the occupations that fill up my time.6

Talavera also wrote an office for the feast of the Guardian Angel, which was celebrated in Toledo and Aragon on 1 March in thanksgiving for King Ferdinand’s victory over King Alphonse V of Portugal in the battle of Toro in 1476. By establishing this feast in Granada, he may have been trying to exploit Mohammedan belief in the angels. Indeed, he also wrote the propers for the feast of the Archangel Gabriel, who is mentioned in the Koran.

Knowing that Our Lady was highly regarded by the Muslims, and seeing this as an opportunity for their conversion, he established and wrote two Marian Offices. One was for the feast of the Expectation of Our Lady, or Our Lady of the O, the celebration whereof was already widespread in Spain on 18 December. In it, Talavera emphasizes the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Our Lady, since it was an idea widely accepted amongst Muslims. The other was for the feast of the Transfixion of Our Lady.

Finally, Talavera composed an office for the feast of St Joseph, to whom he had a particular personal devotion. One of the first churches he set up Granada, taking over a former mosque, was dedicated to him. 

Any perusal of such compositions should suffice to demonstrate Talavera’s deep piety and firm orthodoxy, but unfortunately, his benignity towards the local population of Granada, which revered him as el santo alfaquí, earned him the distrust of churchmen eager to pursue a tougher policy with respect to the Moors. The Inquisition especially resented his refusal to allow it to operate in Granada, and in 1505, after the death of his protectress Queen Isabella, Diego Rodríguez de Lucero, the Inquisitor of Córdoba, ordered the arrest of Talavera’s friends and family on suspicion of heresy, and tried to gather, or rather, fabricate evidence arraign the Archbishop himself on charges of heresy and apostasy. He was firmly defended by the Lord Pope Julius II, but died, before the matter was entirely settled, on 14 May 1507, having fallen ill after walking barefoot during a procession whilst it was raining. After his death, the scandal caused by Lucero’s witch-hunt against Talavera, and his numerous other excesses, led to the General Congregation of the Spanish Inquisition to investigate Lucero, and he was finally removed from his post, whereafter he died. 

We finish with the excellent hymn Talavera wrote for Vespers of the feast of the Surrender of Granada, inspired by St Venantius Fortunatus’ well-known panegyric on the triumph of the Holy Cross:

Pange, lingua, voce alta
triumphi preconium.
Laudes Deo semper canta,
conditori omnium

qui, edomita Granata,
bellis dedit somnium.

Dedit quippe pacem plenam
populis Ispaniae;

dedit autem malam cenam
Mahumeti insanie

qui illusit Sarracenam
gentem et Arabie.

Personarum Trinitatem
diffitetur impius,
et sumpsisse humanitatem
Deum negat inscius;
tollit fidei pietatem
multis aliis nescius.

Deum Patrem nos laudemus
atque Sanctum Spiritum;

verbum quoque adoremus
vere carni insitum;

et uterum honoremus
quo fuit nobis editum. Amen.

Sing, my tongue, with lofty voice,
the praise of victory.
Sing praises to God for aye,
to the author of all,
who, with the conquest of Granada,
hath put war to sleep.

Lo! he hath given full peace
to the peoples of Spain,
but hath given a bad banquet
to the madness of Mohammed,
who cozened the Saracen people
and the Arabians.

That blasphemer rejects
the Trinity of Persons,
and, benighted, denies that God
took up humanity;
this fool destroys the piety of faith
in sundry other ways.

Let us praise the Father
and the Holy Ghost;
let us also adore the Word
who truly became flesh;
and let us honour the womb
whence he was begotten for us. Amen.

The Mass and parts of the Office of the feast of the Surrender of Granada, composed by the Lord Archbishop de Talavera.


1. Y quando su señoría dezia la misa en persona, estaua la zanbra en el coro con los clerigos, y en los tienpos que avian de taner los organos porque no los avia rrespondia la zanbra y estrumentos della, y dezia en la misa en algunas palablas en arabigo, en espeçial quando dezia «dominus bobyspon», dezia «y barafiqun». Esto me acuerdo dello como si fuese ayer, en el año de quinientos y dos.

2. O quam nobile et elegans officium de regno Granate, misericordia Dei et victoria Regis scripsit, non possum scribere.

3. Adest nobis, dilectissimi fratres, dies solemnis et preclara; dies gaudii et exsultationis; dies leticie et iubilationis, dies boni nuntii, in quo, si tacuerimus, sceleris arguemur. Dies uenerabilis, dies sanctus Domini, dies celeberrimus, dies nobis celebrior et sancior uniuersis, quia dies miserationis Domini; dies quam optauerunt et expectauerunt patres nostri, nec uiderunt. Nostri autem beati oculi, qui eam videre meruerunt. Dies que facta est quasi duo. Et dies una: melior super millia; Dies quam fecit Dominus ut exultemus et letemur in ea. Dies uidelicet in qua fidei catholice subiicitur; in qua Christiane religioni acquiritur; et in qua Ispaniarum imperio restituitur, ciuitas Granata. Ciuitas fortissima, firma pontibus et muris circumsepta. Ciuitas potentissima. Ciuitas refugii et optime habitationis. Ciuitas plena deliciis. Ciuitas feracissima. Ciuitas inclita. Ciuitas gloriosa. In toto terrarum orbe merito nominatissima. Domina gentium, et princeps prouinciarum. Urbs perfecti decoris. Gaudium et superbia Agarenorum. Caput et fastigium Mahumetice insanie in partibus Ispanorum.

4. Hodie nobis de caelo pax vera descendit. Hodie illuxit nobis dies redemptionis nostre, reparationis antique, felicitatis optatae.

5. Rector of the University of Salamanca and counsellor of the Catholic Monarchs.

6. Porque vuestra alteza es avarienta de las escripturas que le presento o comunico, y no las muestra quizá con mucha prudentia y no menos caridad, sino son tales que se deban mostar, por esso y porque va en latín, envío al doctor de Talavera para que si le pareciere bien, la presente a vuestra serenidad, la muy excelente victoria y digna de inmortal memoria que nuestro Señor dió al Rey D. Alonso XI, vuestro cuarto abuelo, cerca del rio que dicen del Salado contra el Rei de Marruecos y de Bellamarín etc.: la cual puse en latín acompañada de algunas sentencias de la santa escritura para que la leyésemos por lecciones a los maitines de aquella fiesta, porque unas lecciones que ví en un breviario toledano me parecieron breves y no tales como yo quisiera, y así verá vuestra alteza alguna de las ocupaciones que estragan mi tiempo.

Gemma Animae (2. 1 – 2): Matins in the Lord’s Camp


In the previous book we treated of the Mass, the Church, and her ministers, as much as God deigned to grant us. Now we shall speak whatever God inspires us to say about the remaining hours, as we have promised, beginning from Sunday night, the night on which we were redeemed out of slavery and borne from death into life.

Angelic Hosts.jpg
Blessed Be the Host of the King of Heaven, a Russian icon from the 1550s

Ch. 1
On the Office of Nocturnes

The night office represents the night watch of heaven’s citizens. For the Heavenly Jerusalem, which is built like a city (Psalm 121/122), is protected by the angelic vigil, who allot their turns in three vigils, dividing each into three hours, and each hour into three [orders], as without end they sing praises to the Trinity in sweet harmony with the infantry below. The present Church will one day enter that city and become mess-mates with its citizens, and for this reason she too is called Jerusalem and imitates the sentinels of that city in her vigils. In imitation of the members of that army, she does it at night, and on Sunday night because that is when she merited to join the company of the angels.

New Jerusalem
John of Patmos watches the descent of New Jerusalem from God in a 14th century tapestry. (Wiki)

Therefore, this city is imaged in the basilica, where the clergy and people gather like an army for its military service. Trumpets give signals to soldiers and bells to Christians who like mustered soldiers salute their emperor when they begin praising Christ through the verse Domine, labia mea aperies. When they went to sleep at night, they protected themselves with the sign of the cross as with a seal, which now they open when they loose for God’s praise the mouths that were closed during the night. But since they keep watch in vain unless God guards the city (Psalm 126), they invoke the divine help through the verse Deus, in adiutorium meum.

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Matins 1.jpg
Monks processing through the south transept as it may have looked in the 14th century (Source)

The cantor who begins the invitatorium is the herald who summons the sentinels to their posts. After the psalm Venite, all sing a hymn, like soldiers who gather in camp to give honor to the king. Then they distribute the vigils among themselves when they sing the three nocturnes. Each vigil is divided into three hours, and there are three psalms in each nocturne. The angelic night guard does its rounds in three orders, corresponding to the nine orders of angels, and in our vigils we have the orders of psalms, readings, and responsories. In a similar way, the three nocturnes recall the soldiery of the whole Church, which has campaigned in the Lord’s service during three ages: before the Law, under the Law, and under grace.

Carthusians at Matins (Source)

Ch. 2
On the First Watch

The first watch stands for the time before the Law. It is assigned (so to speak) three hours of time by being divided into three parts.

The first hour of this vigil lasted from Adam to Noah, during which time the night watch of this city was served by Abel, Enos, Enoch, and Lamech, as the first psalms indicate. The Beatus vir (Psalm 1) portrays Abel, whose name means “tree,” since he bore the fruit of justice when he was struck down from among the men of this city. Quare fremuerunt (Psalm 2) proclaims Enos, who “served the Lord in fear,” and whom Scripture mentions as the first to call invoke the name of the Lord (Genesis 4). Domine, quid multiplicati (Psalm 3) signifies Enoch, whom the Lord took up to heaven (Genesis 5). Domine, ne in furore (Psalm 6) introduces Lamech. The Lord heard his prayer when he gave him a son who saved the human race in the ark from the wrath of God (Genesis 6, 9). These psalms are sung under one Gloria Patri because we believe that the just men of that age worshiped the Trinity. There are four, because these men shone out by the four virtues of prudence, fortitude, justice, and temperance. The antiphon signifies their praise of God.


Initial C from a choir book with singing monks
An initial C (Source)



In superiore libro de missa et Ecclesia, eiusque ministris, quae Dominus largiri dignatus est, digessimus; nunc de reliquis horis, quae rursus Dominus inspiraverit, dicamus, ut promisimus, et a Dominica nocte incipiamus, in qua redempti a servitute ad libertatem, de morte ad vitam translati sumus.

CAP. I. – De nocturnorum officio

Nocturnale itaque officium repraesentat nobis excubias supernorum civium: coelestis namque Hierusalem, quae aedificatur ut civitas, et conservatur per angelicas vigilias. Qui vices suas quasi in tres vigilias distribuunt, ac singulas tribus horis distinguunt, et unamquamque tribus ordinibus custodiunt, dum Trinitati in terrenis agminibus laudes dulcisono concentu iugiter concinunt. Et quia praesens Ecclesia in hanc civitatem, et in contubernium horum civium ventura praedicatur, ideo et ipsa Hierusalem nuncupatur, et idcirco illius civitatis vigiles in suis vigiliis imitatur: quia vero illius membra hic gerit, ideo hoc officium in nocte agit. Ideo autem in nocte Dominica, quia in hac meruit angelorum consortia.

Haec itaque urbs per basilicam figuratur, in qua clerus et populus quasi exercitus in militiam congregantur. Signa militibus per tubas dantur, Christianis signa per campanas dantur, qui quasi milites convenientes imperatorum salutant, dum per versum, Domine, labia mea aperies, laudes Christi inchoant. Dum enim in nocte dormitum eunt, signaculo crucis quasi sigillo se muniunt, qua nunc aperiunt, dum ora in nocte clausa ad laudem Dei solvunt. Sed quia frustra vigilant, nisi Dominus custodiat civitatem (Psal. CXXVI) per versum Deus, in adiutorium meum, divinum auxilium invocant.

Cantor, qui invitatorium inchoat, est praeco, qui tuba vigiles ad excubias convocat. Post psalmum Venite, hymnum omnes cantant, velut milites qui in castra conveniunt regem laudibus efferunt. Deinde vigilias inter se distribuunt, dum tres nocturnos psallunt. Singulae vigiliae tribus horis distinguuntur, et singulis nocturnis tres psalmi discernuntur. Angelicae excubiae tribus ordinibus servantur, et in nostris vigiliis ordines scilicet psalmorum, lectionum, responsoriorum denotantur. Quia coelestes excubiae per novem ordines angelorum celebrantur. Tres itaque nocturni, totius Ecclesiae militiam nobis commemorant, quae in castris Domini sub tribus temporibus videlicet ante legem, sub lege, et sub gratia militat.

CAP. II. – De prima vigilia.

Prima vigilia tempus ante legem intelligitur, quae quasi tribus horis ascribitur, dum tribus interstitiis distinguitur.

Prima vigilia quid significet.

Prima hora huius vigiliae ab Adam usque ad Noe erat, in qua excubias huius civitatis Abel, Enos, Enoch, Lamech servabant, sicut primi Psalmi indicant. Beatus vir (Psal. I) Abel exprimit, qui tanquam lignum interpretatur, quod fructum iustitiae protulit, dum ab hominibus huius urbis procubuit. Quare fremuerunt (Psal. II), Enos denuntiat, qui Domino in timore serviebat, quem Scriptura primum nomen Domini invocasse commemorat (Gen. IV). Domine, quid multiplicati (Psal. III), Enoch innuit, quem Dominus suscepit, dum eum de terrenis transtulit (Gen. V). Domine, ne in furore (Psal. 6), Lamech depromit, cuius deprecationem Dominus exaudivit, cum ei talem filium dedit, qui humanum genus a furore Domini in Arca servavit (Gen. VI, 9). Hi psalmi ideo sub una Gloria Patri canuntur, quia iusti illius temporis Trinitatem coluisse creduntur. Ideo autem quatuor psalluntur, quia quatuor virtutibus prudentia, fortitudine, iustitia, temperantia, fulsisse noscuntur. Antiphona, per quam modulantur, laudatio eorum in Deum notatur.