Gemma Animae (130-136): Stained Glass, Columns, and Painting

Chapter 130
On the Church Windows


The clear windows that exclude weather and let in the light are the doctors who stand against the storms of heresy and shed the light of the Church’s doctrine upon us. Light shines through the glass in the windows, and this glass is the mind of the doctors, which contemplates the heavenly things hidden the figures as if in a mirror. 


Chapter 131
On the Columns

The columns that hold up the house are the bishops, who by their righteousness raise the frame of ecclesial life to lofty heights. The beams that join the house together are the princes of the world, who provide protection and support to the Church. The shingles of the roof, which repel rain from the house, are the soldiers who protect the Church from pagans and enemies.

Chapter 132
On Painting

The painted panel-work represents the examples of the just and the beauty of virtue for all in the Church. Now painting is done for three reasons: first, because it is the literature of the laity (laicorum litteratura); second, to give the house fitting decoration; third, to recall the lives of our forebears.

Chapter 133
On the Halo

The lights that are depicted around the heads of the saints in the church in the form of a circle signify that they are crowned in the light of eternal splendor. Now it is painted in the form of a round shield because they are defended by a divine protection as if by a shield. Hence they gratefully sing: Domine ut scuto nos bonae voluntatis tuae coronasti (Psalm 5). The practice of sculpting images is taken from the Law, where Moses, by God’s command, made two cherubim out of gold (III Kings 6). But the practice of painting churches takes its beginning from Salomon, who placed various engravings in the temple of God. The use of the candelabra and thurible began in the Law.

Chapter 134
On the Pavement

The pavement in Siena Cathedral

The pavement that is trod underfoot is the common man by whose work the Church is sustained. The crypts built under the earth are those who lead a more secret life. The altar on which we sacrifice is Christ on whose merit the Church’s sacrifice is accepted. The body of Christ is confected upon the altar, because the people who believe in him are refreshed by it. They become one with Christ, just as many stones are made into one altar. Relics are hidden in the altar because in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and understanding (Colossians 2). Pyxes [containing saints’ relics] are put on the altar; they are the apostles and martyrs who suffered for Christ. The linens and other cloths that decorate the altar are the confessors and virgins, by whose works Christ is adorned [1].

[1] The Pontificale provides a similar allegorical interpretation, in the bishop’s admonition to candidates for the subdiaconate:

Cujus altaris pallae et corporalia sunt membra Christi, scilicet fideles Dei, quibus Dominus, quasi vestimentis pretiosis circumdatur, ut ait Psalmista: Dominus regnavit, decorem indutus est.  Beatus quoque Joannes in Apocalypsi vidit Filium hominis praecinctum zona aurea, id est, sanctorum caterva.

Chapter 135
On the Cross

A Cross is set up above the altar for three reasons. Firstly, just as the insignia of a king are displayed in a royal city, so in the same manner our Cross, the banner of our King is hung the house of God, so that his soldiers may adore it. Secondly, so that the Church may always have a representation of Christ’s Passion. Thirdly, so that the Christian people may imitate Christ by crucifying their flesh to vice and concupiscence (Galatians 5). The vexilla are set up for this reason, that the Church may always be mindful of Christ’s trophy.

Ch. 136
On the Propitiatorium

The propitiatorium over the altar is the divinity of Christ, which intercedes (propitiatur) for the human race. The stairs, by which one ascends the altar, are the virtues, by which one strives toward Christ [1]. The lavacrum by the altar where the ablutions of hands take place, is the mercy flowing from Christ, which which men in Baptism or in Penance are cleansed from their filth [2].

[1] Ibunt de virtute in virtutem.
[2] It was once common to have an ablution basin in the wall on the epistle side of the altar. They can still be seen in older churches.


Farced Introits: A Prologue for Christmas Day Mass

Hodie cantandus est nobis puer, quem gignebat ineffabiliter ante tempora pater, et eundem sub tempore generavit inclita mater.

Quis est iste puer, quem tam magnis præconiis dignum vociferatis? Dicite nobis, ut collaudatores esse possimus.

Hic enim est, quem presagus et electus symnista Dei, ad terras uenturum preuidens, longe ante prenotavit sicque predixit:

Puer natus est nobis…

To-day we must sing of that child, Whom His Father ineffably begot afore time, and Whom His glorious Mother bore in time.

Who is this child, whom you proclaim worthy of such great acclamations? Tell us, that we too might praise Him.

For He is Whom the soothsayer and chosen companion of God, foreseeing that He should come to earth, foreshewed and foretold:

A child is born unto us…

The Hodie cantandus est verses, diastematic notation from Nevers (PA 1235), East-Frankish neumes (Minden Be 11). Click to enlarge. (Source)

Farced introits represent the largest repertory of tropes after Kyrie tropes 1, and one of the most fascinating. Like sequences, they had their origin in that hotbed of liturgical creativity that was the Abbey of St Gall in modern-day Switzerland.

The earliest account of their composition in found in the continuation of the Casus sancti Galli, a chronicle of the abbey written by Ekkehard IV. Towards the end of the ninth century, a precocious young monk (plane iuvenis acutissimus) named Tuotilo wrote introductory verses for the introit of the Mass of Christmas Day—Puer natus est—which begin Hodie cantandus est. These verses proved popular, like the sequences that Tuotilo’s confrère and close friend Notker had invented some years earlier, and Tuotilo went on to write several other tropes throughout his life. Although he was nowhere near as prolific a composer as Notker, Tuotilo’s pieces were much admired; one of those who delighted therein was Emperor Charles the Fat:

The melodies Tuotilo composed are distinctive and easily recognisable, for his music is sweeter, whether on the psaltery or the rotta, at which he excelled, as is manifest in Hodie cantandus and Omnium virtutum gemmis. Indeed, he presented these tropes to Charles to be sung at the offering the king himself would make [i.e. during the offertory of the Mass, when the king would present his offerings]. When Tuotilo had composed the offertory Viri Galilæi 2, the king even bade him to add verses, [which were,] as they say, Quoniam Dominus Jesus Christus cum esset, Omnipotens genitor, fons et origo, with the following: Gaudete et cantate, and others indeed; but we mention these, so that, if you be a musician, you might know how different his music is from that of others.3

The Hodie cantandus est trope itself is an example of the melodic peculiarity that characterises Tuotilo’s compositions: the trope is in the first mode, whereas the subsequent introit is in the seventh mode; a striking modulation in the third phrase of the trope allows it to conclude in G to match the first note of the introit. 

Howsoever idiosyncratic the melody of this trope may be, its text a classic example of exegesis one expects of a trope. Its dialogical structure, reminiscent of Psalm 23, is almost catechetical—Statement, Question, Response. The statement is a dogmatic proclamation of the mystery about to be celebrated in the Mass, and it elicits the question that allows the announcement of Christ’s birth to be tied into the words of the Prophet Isaias (presagus et symnista Dei) that form the introit antiphon. And at the same time the initial proclamation is a scholium on the words Puer natus est nobis, et filius datus est nobis: this son is born in time of the blessed Virgin, but is given to us by the Father, who begot him before all ages. 

The Hodie cantandus est trope enjoyed great popularity throughout the Middle Ages, and is found in liturgical books as late as the 15th century, well after the general decline in the popularity of tropes.

Tuotilo’s example, moreover, proved influential in the composition of introit tropes in the succeeding centuries. In particular, there arose an entire genre of chant verses to be sung before the introit which served almost as introductions to the feast commemorated in the Mass of the day, often labelled Tropi ad processionem in northern French manuscripts and Versus ad officium in English ones. Since they were part of the procession before Mass, or even sometimes of a pre-Mass ritual, some scholars have rather pedantically decided to argue they are not true tropes. Howbeit, in some instances they do seem to have acquired a life beyond that of a mere trope, taking advantage of the dramatic possibilities inherent in the dialogical structure of the Hodie cantandus est verses. Such is the case of the Quem quæritis dialogue on Easter, whereon we hope to dedicate a future post. 

cambrai trope
In this version of the Hodie cantandus est trope, from an 11th-century gradual from the Abbey of St-Vaast d’Arras (Cambrai, F-CA 75 [76]), the original verses have become part of a larger pre-introit ritual with the heading “ad processionem”. This sort of chanted dialogue would eventually develop into so-called “liturgical dramas”.


1. By way of example, in volumes I and III of the Corpus Troporum, which contain tropes for Christmastide and Eastertide respectively, one finds 1,044 introit trope verses, against 250 trope verses for offertories and 113 for communions.

2. This offertory responsory is different from the one preserved in the Tridentine missal, and can be found on pp. 4-5 here (without the added verses).

3. Que autem Tuotilo dictauerat, singularis et agnoscibilis melodie sunt, quia per psalterium seu per rotham, qua potentior ipse erat, neumata inuenta dulciora sunt, ut apparet in Hodie cantandus et Omnium uirtutum gemmis, quos quidem tropos Karolo ad offerendam quam ipse rex fecerat, obtulit canendos. Qui rex etiam Viri Galilei offerendam cum dictasset, Tuotiloni versus addere iniungit, ut aiunt: Quoniam Dominus Ihesus Christus cum esset, Omnipotens genitor, fons et origo; cum sequentibus: Gaudete et cantate, et alios quidem; sed istos proposuimus, ut quam dispar eius melodia sit ceteris, si musicus es, noris. (Ekkehard IV, Casus sancti Galli).

Gemma Animae (126-129): On the Church

Chapter 126
On the Seven Words for the Church

Thus our church takes its form from the temple that Salomon made. Now the church has seven names, because the Church of Christ is sustained by the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, akin to the seven columns of the house of wisdom (Proverbs 9). Ecclesia means convocation, because in it the faithful people are called together to hear the judgments of God and to attend the banquet of Christ. The congregation used to be called a synagogue, because it was gathered together like a herd of irrational beasts by the stick of the law. But the Church is justly called convocatio, because it is called together into one faith by the love of the Holy Spirit.

Noah's Ark.jpg
Story of Noah’s Ark, St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice

Chapter 127
On the Basilica, and Other Names for the Temple

This house is called a basilica because it is regal, because in it we serve the King of Kings. For basileus means king, from basis laos, which means the people’s column, because they are sustained by his rule. This house is also called κυριακὴ, which means “of the Lord,” because in it we serve the Lord of Lords. For Kyrius means Lord. It is also called the house of God (domus Dei), because in it we adore the Lord. Or again a house of prayer (domus orationis), because in it the faithful people are gathered to pray. Or again God’s hall (aula Dei), because in it we celebrate the banquet of the eternal king. Or again it is called an oratory (oratorium), because it is a place for the faithful to pray. Or again temple, from amplum tectum (large house), because the assembly of the people is united in it as if under one roof. A habitation of monks is called a monasterium, for monos means alone, and steron means habitation. Now major churches are called temples, but minor churches chapels (sacella), and also capellae from goat’s skin (caprarum pellibus).

Chapter 128
On Chapels

For while on a journey, ancient noblemen carried with them little churches made out of goat skins, which therefore they called chapels (capellas), and their guardians were called chaplains (capellanos). For chaplains are named after the cap (cappa) of St. Martin that the Frankish kings always had with them in battle, and they called those who carried them chaplains. A capenum is a house to which paupers come to ask for alms. Hence the diminutive form capella is said, for Christians poor in spirit come there to ask for spiritual alms.

Russian Orthodox mobile chapel. Not made of goatskin. 


“Auto-Chapel” of the Belgian Army, WWI (Source)

Chapter 129
On the Church Site

Churches are turned ad orientem, toward where the sun rises, because in them the Sun of justice is adored, and in the East, as we preach, is the paradise of our homeland. Thus the church building is a figure of the Church, which is gathered in it to do the service of God. This house is built on a rock, and the Church is founded on the firm rock of Christ. It rises upward with four walls, and the Church grows to heights of virtue through the four Gospels. This house is constructed from hard stones, and the Church is gathered from among the strong in faith and works. The stones are held together by cement, and the faithful are woven together in the bond of love. The Sanctuary is the first-fruits of the Church gathered from among the Jews; the anterior house are those serving God in the active life.

Gemma Animae (122-125): On Salomon’s Temple


Chapter 122
On the Altar

Noah was the first to construct an altar for the Lord; subsequently we read that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob built altars which were nothing more than a raised pile of stones. Over them they made sacrifices, and burned them with fire. But sometimes the fire descended from heaven and consumed the oblation. Hence Cain killed his brother because heavenly fire consumed Abel’s sacrifice but left his untouched (Genesis 4). Now there is this difference between altare and aram: an altare is elevated, as in a “high ara” (alta + ara), in which the priests burned incense. But ara is similar to area, which means flat, or from ardore (heat), since sacrifices were burned there. Ara is Greek; the Latin is imprecatio.

Temple (Jean Fouquet)
Constructing the Temple of Jerusalem, Jean Fouquet, 15th century

Chapter 123
On the Tabernacle of Moses

But when the Lord led his people out of Egypt, he showed an ideal (speciale) tabernacle to Moses on Mt. Sinae (Exodus 26), and ordered him to build a material one on this model. He also commanded precious vessels and sacred vestments to be made. He established an altar for sacrifices, priests and levites for the ministries, and commissioned silver or bronze trumpets for calling the people together. Moses brought all this work wondrously to completion according to the divine exemplar and dedicated the tabernacle while the people rejoiced. When this tabernacle had become worn with age, the Lord ordered a temple to be built for himself and through the prophet he sent King David a piece of paper in which there was a description of how the temple ought to be built. But it was Salomon who build a marvelous temple that became famous the world over, following the Lord’s commands as written in the paper (III Kings 5). He also made a golden altar and very precious vessels and sacred vestments; priests, cantors, levites he assigned to minister in the temple as the Lord had prescribed in the inventory. When all had been fittingly completed, he dedicated the temple with a sumptuous ceremony and placed the arc inside.

Since both of these structures prefigured the Church, the Christian people has modeled their churches on them both.

Chapter 124
On the People’s Tabernacle

Temple 2 (Jean Fouquet)
Jean Fouquet, Herod Capture’s….Gothic Jerusalem?

The tabernacle that the people carried with them on their journey was in the form of the universe, and acted as a type of the Church, which has no abiding city on its journey through this world, but seeks a future habitation (Hebrews 13). The tabernacle was formed on the image of the world, and so all the elements and everything in the world was prefigured in it, because this whole world has become the temple of God, dedicated by the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9), in which the universal Church, being God’s tabernacle, celebrates the living and true Lord with endless praise. The Church is a tabernacle, but strives to become a true temple. One part of this tabernacle was called the Holy Place (Sancta), in which the people sacrificed, and stands for the active life in which the people labors each in the love of his neighbor. The other part was called the Holy of Holies, in which the priests and levites ministered, and stands for the contemplative life, in which the fervor of the religious eagerly thirst after heavenly things through the love of God.

Christians build their churches following the form of the tabernacle. The inner part of the house, where the people stand, is made like the Holy Place (Sancta). The sanctuary is made like the Holy of Holies (Sancta Sanctorum), where the clergy stands. In the Church the order of Christian ministers is modeled on the ministry of the levites and priests. She converted the vessels and vestments and the rite of the sacrifices into the usages of the Church (morem ecclesiasticorum). The blare of trumpets she transposed into the sound of bells.

Chapter 125
On the Temple

Now when the people had established a sure peace, they possessed a temple in their homeland. This prefigured the temple of glory built out of living stones in the Heavenly Jerusalem, in which the Church rejoices in an eternal peace. But this temple is divided into two parts, for the temple of the divine curia is divided into men and angels. There is also a golden altar, which is Christ, the glory of the saints. In this temple everyone will be elected priests and cantors; and like precious vessels tested in the fiery trials of their journey, they will shine like the sun in the garment of salvation and with the robe of righteousness.

Temple 3 (Fouquet)
Pompey’s army in the Temple

Lebrun: On the Use of Candles in Antiquity

(From Pierre Lebrun’s Explanation, Preliminary Treatise)

Article V
On Candles. Why they are lit in the daytime. The origin of this practice.[1]

St. James Cathedral, Armenian Quarter, Jerusalem (Source)

During the first centuries of the Church, the Christians who assembled on Sunday mornings before the break of day, and who were often forced during times of persecution to meet in dark places, found it necessary to light a number of candles or lamps for illumination. Following a custom of the Jews, they even sometimes lit a great number of them to mark a day of particular joy.[2] St. Luke says that there were many lamps in the place where St. Paul held his long discussion on the first day of the week,[3] the day St. John calls the Lord’s Day. Hence it is that candles are lit not only to provide light during the night offices but also to augment the solemnity of great feasts.[4] Around the year 230, God sent a miracle to prevent the Church of Jerusalem from going without the joy of these lights. Eusebius tells us that on a certain day, when the oil ran out, the bishop St. Narcissus ordered the lamps to be filled with water from a nearby well. The lamps burned more brightly than if they had been filled with the best oil.[5]

Eusebius also informs us that on the night of Easter, in addition to the lights of the churches, the Emperor Constantine ordered large candles to be lit in the streets of the city, and all sorts of lamps that lit up the night more brilliantly than the brightest day.[6]

If we were to content ourselves with explanations that are merely probable, we might follow certain contemporary authors[7] in maintaining that the practice of lighting candles at Masses held during the day comes from the fact that Christians were originally obliged to light them by necessity, but continued to light them during the day out of custom. But because our duty is to discover the truth, and not to stop before we reach it, several points must be acknowledged: 1) that candles have not always been lit at daytime masses; 2) that certain other churches have followed the Eastern Church in lighting the candles at the Gospel and then during the whole mass; and 3) that the real reason candles are lit during day masses and the other offices is to render them more solemn, and for other even more mystical reasons.

Candles 2
The Divine Liturgy of St. James, Vatopaidi, Mount Athos (Source)

In the second century, Christian assemblies met ordinarily in elevated and well-lit places, a fact that can be gathered from Lucian’s Philopatris (or The Catechumen), and from Tertullian: in editis semper et apertis et ad lucem.[8] In these places lighting candles was not necessary.

In the third century, around the time of St. Cyprian, Mass was said during the daytime because the Church was usually at peace. However, we do not find evidence that candles were lit during the day. This practice had not been introduced even at the beginning of the fourth century, when the Church enjoyed complete peace, and was able to carry out her most solemn ceremonies in full majesty. Even by the year 400, candles were still not lit during Mass. When Vigilance was so bold as to reproach the devotion of certain pious persons who lit candles on the tombs of the martyrs in broad daylight, calling it a superstition, St. Jerome responded forcefully and with indignation, saying the following with regard to the ecclesiastical offices:

“As to the question of tapers, however, we do not, as you in vain misrepresent us, light them in the daytime, but by their solace we would cheer the darkness of the night, and watch for the dawn, lest we should be blind like you and sleep in darkness.”[9]

Candles 3
Lenten Vespers service at St. James Cathedral, Armenian Quarter, Jerusalem (Source)

There was no one better informed about these practices than this holy Doctor, who had visited both Gauls and traveled through nearly the entire West, not to mention the East where he resided. Therefore we must take him as an authority when he says that candles were not lit in the daytime, in the first place, because the custom was to light them at night, and secondly, that the Churches of the Orient lit candles during the day for mystical reasons:

“Throughout the whole Eastern Church, even when there are no relics of the martyrs, whenever the Gospel is to be read the candles are lighted, although the dawn may be reddening the sky, not of course to scatter the darkness, but by way of evidencing our joy […] so that, under the figure of corporeal light, that light is represented of which we read in the Psalter, Your word is a lamp unto my feet, O Lord, and a light unto my paths.”[10]

Catafalque constructed for King Victor Emmanuel in the Pantheon, Rome (Source)
catafalco 2
Pius IX’s catafalque in the Sistine Chapel (Source)
catafalque 3
The Maltese Chapelle Ardente Catafalque (1736), re-assembled in Valletta Cathedral for the death of John XXIII. “Soaring to a height of 10 metres and with places to hold 230 candles, the structure was originally made to stand in the centre of the cathedral during solemn requiems to commemorate the demise of popes and grand masters and important public figures associated with Catholic countries, such as kings, queens and cardinals” (Source).

Thus the use of candles at day masses comes from the Churches of the Orient. If we are to ask where these churches got this practice, there is room to believe that they took it from the Jews. It is clear that during the first three centuries these Churches practiced a number of Jewish rites, such as celebrating Easter on the 14th of Nisan and not on a Sunday, and it is possible that they consciously imitated the manner in which the Jews treated the book of the Law. The Jews used to, and in fact still do, leave a lamp continually burning before the book of the Law of Moses. It was even more fitting that the solemn proclamation of the Gospel be accompanied by lights that indicated the respect due to the holy Book that illuminates the shadows of the Old Law.

The practice observed in the Eastern Churches and practiced all throughout the fourth century was imitated by the other Churches after the time of Jerome. Candles were lit for the Gospel reading and extinguished afterwards, as noted by the ancient Roman Ordines and by Amalarius. Edifying practices commonly spread to neighboring Churches, and the cause of their origin was also the cause of their progress. The same mystical reason that first inspired the lighting of candles during the Gospel led to their being lit during the sacrificial action, where Christ our true Light is really present. Around the year 600, St. Isidore says that “they are called acolytes in Greek and candle-bearers in Latin, from the fact that they carry the candles when the Gospel is read or when the sacrifice is offered, not to scatter the darkness, since the sun is shining, but by way of evincing our joy, so that, under the figure of corporeal light, that light is represented of which we read in the Gospel: Erat lux vera…. ”[11] By this time the candles were lit only during the Gospel and the sacrificial action, and these candles were held by acolytes. Finally, some time later they came to be lit at the beginning of Mass and during certain of the divine offices when more solemnity was called for, and in order to give the people a more tangible sign of Jesus Christ who is the true light.

The Church has always esteemed and approved these sorts of mystical symbols which are so many brief and edifying instructions for the people. There is nothing more ancient than the custom of the newly-baptized holding a candle. In 350 St. Cyril of Jerusalem says to them: “You who have just lighted the torches of faith, guard them carefully in your hands unquenched.”[12] In some places Epiphany came to be called the Feast of the Holy Lights, because it was a feast in honor of the Baptism of Christ. St. Gregory Nazianzen gave two very beautiful sermons on this Feast of Lights, where he uses many comparisons to show how physical light is a symbol of the divine light that should fill our souls.[13]

Holy Sepulchre_Tomb 5
The Tomb of the Holy Sepulcher, covered with lamps and candles

For more than twelve hundred years we have solemnly blessed and lit the Paschal Candle, not in order to provide light during the night of Easter, since the Church is already illuminated infinitely more brightly than at any other vigil of the year by the many candles and lamps. Rather, it is done for mystical reasons. The Fourth Council of Toledo (633) reprimands the churches that did not observe this ceremony and had requested to know the reason for it. The reason, the Council says, is “so that the blessing of this candle may cause us to contemplate the sacred mystery of the resurrection,” which is the luminous glory of the new life “of Jesus Christ.”[14]

It is also for mystical reasons that candles have been lit on the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, also called the Purification of the Virgin, in order to share the holy joy of the aged St. Simeon as he held the divine Infant in his arms, and in order more vividly to express the truth that he is the Light of the nations.

Candles 4
The Altar of Repose at Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, Rome (Source)

Since the fourth century, the bodies of the faithful who have died with the signs of faith have been carried to the Church followed by a great number of candles. The bodies of the emperor Constantine,[15] St. Paul, St. Simeon the Stylite, and many others were carried in this way, in order to show that these were true children of the light. The practice continues today.

Finally, we know from the witness of St. Paulinus and Prudentius[16] that, in the fourth century, a great number of candles that were left burning on the tombs of the martyrs day and night, for no other reason than to honor the heavenly light that these sounds enjoyed, and which is the whole joy of Christians.[17] Therefore, the candles lit in our churches in daytime have always been regarded as symbols of the divine light. St. Jerome and St. Isidore have told us so. The Roman Ordo, Amalarius, and Alcuin agree, and the Micrologus follows their authority when, in 1086, it expresses itself in the following manner: “We never celebrate the Mass without light: not of course to scatter the darkness, since it is daytime, but rather as a type of the light whose Sacrament we confect, and without whom we would grope around at midday as if it were midnight.”[18] The candles also remind us that once were in the darkness, but have been enlightened in Jesus Christ, and that we must act like children of light through works of charity.[19]


[1] Ed. note: For a more comprehensive treatment of the use of candles in Catholic worship, see the excellent article “Candles” in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
[2] See Baronius, Annales Ecclesiastici, vol. I, an. 58. n. 70: “Quantumlibet ad noctis tenebras expellendas copiosum numerum, quem Lucas refert, fuisse lampadum in coenaculo collocatum, quisque jure dicere posse videatur: tamen exploratissimum est consuevisse Judaeos non tantum ad lumen inducendum, tenebrasque pellendas lucernas incendere, sed et laetitae causa, cum celebritatem aliquam agerent […]. Qui quidem usus in Ecclesiam dimanavit: nam non ad lucem tantum inducendam, sed ad pium religionis cultum amplificandum interdiu vel in sacris adhiberi, vel aliter in honorem numinis accendi lumina, consuetudinem fuisse, complura sunt antiquorum exempla.”
[3] Una Sabbati cum convenissemus ad frangendum panem, Paulus … protraxit sermonem usque in mediam noctem…. erant autem lampades copiosae in coenaculo ubi eramus congregati (Acts 20:7, 8).
[4] Concil. Trid.
[5] Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, book 6, chapter 9.
[6] In Vita Constantini, book 4, chapter 22: “The emperor himself, as a sharer in the holy mysteries of our religion, would seclude himself daily at a stated hour in the innermost chambers of his palace; and there in solitary converse with his God, would kneel in humble supplication, and entreat the blessings of which he stood in need. But especially at the salutary feast of Easter, his religious diligence was redoubled; he fulfilled as it were the duties of a hierophant with every energy of his mind and body, and outvied all others in the zealous celebration of this feast. He changed, too, the holy night vigil into a brightness like that of day, by causing waxen tapers of great length to be lighted throughout the city: besides which, torches everywhere diffused their light, so as to impart to this mystic vigil a brilliant splendor beyond that of day.”
[7] Ed. note: This is a veiled reference to the explanation advanced by Benedictine Claude de Vert in his Explication simple, littérale et historique des cérémonies de l’Église (4 vol., Paris, 1709-1713), the catalyst for Lebrun’s Explanation. Lebrun takes this mistaken explanation as emblematic of de Vert’s flawed approach to liturgical symbolism, which he refutes at length in the introduction to this work.
[8] Tertullian, Against Valent. ch. 3: “Let, then, the serpent hide himself as much as he is able, and let him wrest all his wisdom in the labyrinths of his obscurities; let him dwell deep down in the ground; let him worm himself into secret holes; let him unroll his length through his sinuous joints; let him tortuously crawl, though not all at once, beast as he is that skulks the light. Of our dove, however, how simple is the very home!— always in high and open places, and facing the light! As the symbol of the Holy Spirit, it loves the radiant East, that figure of Christ.”
[9] Cereos autem non clara luce accendimus, sicut frustra calumniatis: sed ut noctis tenebras hoc solatio temperemus et vigilemus ad lumen, ne caeci tecum dormiamus in tenebris (Jerome, Epistle against Vigilance).
[10] Per totas Orientis Ecclesias, quando Evangelium legendum est, accenduntur luminaria, iam sole rutilante, non utique ad fugandas tenebras, sed ad signum laetitae demonstrandum…ut sub typo luminis corporalis illa lux ostendatur, de qua in Psalterio legimus: Lucernae pedibus meis verbum tuum, Domine, et lumen semitis meis (ibid.). By “Churches of the Orient,” Jerome was referring to the cities and provinces governed by the Prefect of the Orient according to the division of the Roman Empire. Its capital was at Antioch of Syria. This included the Churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, and the rest of Asia Minor.
[11] Acolyti Graece, Latine ceroferarii dicuntur a deportandis cereis quando Evangelium legendum est, aut sacrificium offerendum […] (Isidore, Origines, book 7, ch. 12).
[12] Cathechesis 1
[13] In sancta lumina orationes 39 et 40.
[14] Lucerna et cereus in praevigiliis Paschae apud quasdam Ecclesias non benedicuntur, et cur a nobis benedicuntur inquirunt. Propter gloriosum enim noctis istius Sacramentum solemniter haec benedicimus, ut sacrae resurrectionis Christi mysterium, quod tempore huius votivae noctis advenit, in benedictione sanctificati luminis suscipiamus (Counc. Tolet. VI, can 9).
[15] Eusebius, Vita Constantini, book 4, ch. 66: “After this the soldiers lifted the body from its couch, and laid it in a golden coffin, which they enveloped in a covering of purple, and removed to the city which was called by his own name. Here it was placed in an elevated position in the principal chamber of the imperial palace, and surrounded by candles burning in candlesticks of gold, presenting a marvelous spectacle, and such as no one under the light of the sun had ever seen on earth since the world itself began. For in the central apartment of the imperial palace, the body of the emperor lay in its elevated resting- place, arrayed in the symbols of sovereignty, the diadem and purple robe, and encircled by a numerous retinue of attendants, who watched around it incessantly night and day.”
[16] Ed. note: See Prudentius’s “Hymn for the Lighting of the Lamps”:

“So by Thy gifts, great Father, hearth and hall
Are all ablaze with points of twinkling light
That vie with daylight spent; and vanquished Night
Rends, as she flies away, her sable pall.”

[17] Lux orta est iusto, et rectis corde laetitia (Psalm 96).
[18] Juxta Ordinem Romanum nunquam Missam absque lumine celebramus: non utique ad depellendas tenebras, cum sit clara dies, sed potius in typum illius luminis, cuius sacramentum ibi conficimus, sine quo et in meridie palpabimus ut in nocte (Micrologum, ch. 11).
[19] Eratis enim aliquando tenebrae, nunc autem lux in Domino, ut filii lucis ambulate (Ephesians 5:8).