Voyages Liturgiques, Angers (4): St. Mark’s and Rogation Days

St. Mark’s Day 

The procession on this day is made by the clergy of the Cathedral church and the secular chapters mentioned above. The usual Litanies are sung, perhaps with minor differences. However, after the six cantors have invoked a saint, the choir replies only Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison. The Mass is said in violet vestments at an abbey of Benedictine nuns called the Abbey of the Ronceray, of which I will speak hereafter. The clergy enters the nuns’ choir.

Rogation Processions 

These processions were once made in black or winter habits. All the aforementioned secular chapters perform them together with the Cathedral church. They carry two banners of the Cathedral church and two of the royal chapters, and also a reliquary. The six priests who carry the reliquary in alternation hold it two by two, and say the confession in the enclosure of the high altar before setting out. The most senior priests says the Confiteor and the others reply Misereatur, and then they say Confiteor, and the most senior says Misereatur and Indulgentiam.

The Litany that is sung is extraordinary in its composition. Coming back, they are sung by the last canon and the sub-cantor of the Cathedral church, and also by the four canons-cantor of the four collegiate churches.

The procession of Tuesday is quite singular. The people call it La Haye percée , because they enter and go through many churches, but only to sing a suffrage. This ceremony is based, so they say, on the words, Non habemus hic manentem civitatem, &c. In the last of the churches, they say the choir Mass or that of the Office.[1] No other Masses are said in the churches or chapters that participate in this procession.

The procession on Wednesday is remarkable in that, besides the fact that they again pass through certain churches, on the way back the Litany is sung by eight Dignités, who are the senior canons of the Cathedral church. They walk first, followed by the most senior, such that the last canon has the place and usual rank of the oldest and most honorable, and is thus closest to the bishop.[2] Entering back into the Cathedral church, they place the reliquary across church door, and all the clergy and people pass under it. The clergy arrange themselves in two rows in the nave, and the eight Dignités—the canons singing the Litany—place themselves from the front to the back of the nave, and the sacristans vest them in precious green copes. There they resume the Litany, facing the relic, that is, facing West. At the end of the Litany, when they sing Gloria Patri et Filio, they turn towards the East, and remain in that position.

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An altar of repose for Corpus Christi in Montbrison (Source)

Here follow some other unique aspects of the church of Angers. Epiphany and the Ascension are of the same rank as Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas.

At the end of None on the Saturday before Septuagesima the Alleluia stops being sung,[3] and at None the Alleluia is sung in the short responsory and twice after the Benedicamus. (This seems to me common sense.)

On Ash Wednesday, after they have blessed the ashes, they go in procession towards a church. In the procession, a deacon or another cleric in surplice walking immediately after the cross carries the ashes in a basin covered by a purple veil.

On the first Sunday of Lent, after Vespers they hold a station in the nave, at the end of which they cover the great crucifix with a veil, singing the Psalm Miserere mei Deus with a versicle and a collect of the cross.

On Good Friday they use violet vestments.

In the churches of the diocese of Angers, they hold the procession to the fonts after Vespers not only on the first three days of the Easter Octave, as in the Cathedral, but also on Easter Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

They do not fast on the Vigil of Pentecost, following the spirit of the early Church.

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In Angers, Corpus Christi [usually Fête-Dieu in French] is called in Latin Festum Corporis Christi and Festum consecrationis Corporis Christi, and in French le Sacre.

On the 6th of August, the feast of the Transfiguration, the celebrant blesses the new grapes after the Epistle at High Mass. They then remain upon the altar in two silver basins, and at the Agnus Dei the two master-chaplains who are with the cantor distribute them to the clergy.

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On the day of the commemoration of the dead, a quarter of an hour or half an hour before Prime, the master-chaplain of the week, vested in a black cape with his camail and a stole, preceded by a verger and a choir-boy carrying the holy water bucket, solemnly sprinkles the whole church, the chapels, the portico, the entire cloister, and the cemetery of the parish chapel, always saying Requiescant in pace.

Part (1): The Office on Solemn Days
Part (2): Solemn Mass at the Cathedral
Part (3): The Triduum (and Ostrich Eggs!)


[1] This means they either say the Rogation Mass or the Mass proper to the Office of the day if it is a saint’s feast (there is nothing about the Rogations in the Divine Office).

[2] I.e. they invert the order from the normal juniores priores to seniores priores.

[3] In the Roman rite it ceases after Vespers.

Voyages Liturgiques, Angers (2): The Solemn Mass at the Cathedral

Part (1): The Office on Solemn Days
Part (3): The Triduum, and Ostrich Eggs!

At Mass, there are three deacons and three subdeacons, namely the four ones in vestments whom we have already mentioned, and two canons who are called the major deacon (grand-diacre) and major subdeacon (grand-Soûdiacre). The celebrant and these latter two wear appareled amices and albs, and always have the amice over their heads except after the Sanctus until communion.

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Ways of wearing the almuce, from Claude De Vert’s Explication….

They go from the sacristy to the altar in this order:

A deacon in dalmatic precedes the two thurifers and the two candle-bearers. He carries the cross followed by two minor subdeacons and the other minor deacon, then the major subdeacon and major deacon, and finally the officiant, all without an almuce. (If the bishop is celebrating, the major subdeacon and major deacon act as archdeacons.)

When they have all arrived to the foot of the altar, they arrange themselves to the right and the left of the celebrant, three on each side, the cross remaining to the left of the priest. The major subdeacon, with his back to the altar, holds the Gospel-book before the priest until the latter goes up to the altar. At that point, the subdeacon gives him the book to kiss.

The celebrant sits not only during the Gloria in excelsis and the Credo, but also during the Gradual and Alleluia, with the major deacon at his left and the subdeacon at the left of the major deacon. The minor deacons and subdeacons also sit in front of them on the other side. They never cover their heads with a square biretta when they are in the enclosure of the altar, even when they sit.

During the singing of the Alleluia, the Lord Cantor goes to the major deacon to entone the Ante Evangelium,[1] which is usually the Benedictus antiphon. It was apparently followed by Proses or sequences at one time.

The deacon says the Munda and receives the priest’s blessing. The priest rises to give the blessing, staying at his place, and sits again thereafter. The two minor subdeacons and one of the minor deacons imitate this movement.

The major deacon begins the antiphon known as the Ante Evangelium and the organ continues it. They go towards the jubé in this order:

Two thurifers perfume the way with incense on both sides, followed by the two candle-bearers. Then a minor deacon holding the cross, the major subdeacon holding the Epistle-book, and the major deacon the Gospel-book, go all three by the Epistle side, and climb the jubé, where the major deacon incenses the Gospel-book with three strokes and then sings facing the choir, with the cross at his left, the subdeacon at his right, and the two candle-bearers at his sides.

After the reading of the Gospel, the deacon and his assistants go back from the jubé by the gospel side, in the same order as they went, with the two thurifers incensing as before.

At the Offertory, the canons make the offering as they did at the station in the nave. The solemn incensations are done as at the Kyrie: first the altar by the celebrant, then the choir by the major deacon and major subdeacon, who are themselves incensed by the two thurifers in the same place where the two canons were incensed at the Benedictus and Magnificat.

On the most solemn days, called de Fêtage, the Lord Cantor goes to the Altar to present the water for the Mass (as was once done in Rouen),[2] and gives it to one of the minor deacons.

When the bishop celebrants on great feasts, he gives the solemn blessing at Mass immediately before the Agnus Dei.[3]

After the Ite, missa est, the celebrant gives the blessing and, continuing to face the clergy, immediately begins the Deus in adjutorium for Sext. He does not go to the corner of the altar to say the Last Gospel.

On Saturdays after Vespers a station is held in the nave before the crucifix.

The Procession before Mass

On Sundays during Terce a master-chaplain vested in an alb, stole, maniple, and cope, blesses the water in a low voice at the altar on the epistle side, with the two candle-bearers, a coped choir-boy at his right with the cross, and the water vessel on the lowest step of the altar.

After Terce, the subdeacon in a cope intones the antiphon Asperges me between the choir and the altar. All those that were in the higher stalls go down to the lower ones, and those in the lower stalls, except the junior canons, go to the middle of the choir and form a line or haye on each side to receive the sprinkling of holy water.

Then comes the procession. A choir-boy carrying the bucket, then two others holding the candles, the deacon holding the cross, at his side the subdeacon holding the book, a chaplain called the Garde-Reliques holding a relic, &c. The celebrant enters into the cloister where the chaplains and singers are buried, and sprinkles the pavement only with three strikes with the aspergillum, which is given to him by the server who carries the bucket at the head of the procession.

Every time the celebrant, deacon, and subdeacon wear the alb, whether it be for a procession or another ceremony, they always wear the maniple.

After the O antiphons begin in Advent, on the morning after Lauds until Christmas day exclusive, they sing O Noel, which is repeated twelve or fifteen times.[4]

On Christmas, Lauds are said in Angers as in Orléans, except the two antiphons of the pastourelle, of which one is said by the Lord Cantor and the other by the choir-boys before the fifth antiphon of Lauds.

On every first Sunday of the month, there is a general procession in the morning after the sermon given by the Canon-Theologian. They go to one of the collegiate churches of Angers in alternation and the Mass is sung there en musique.[5] This is the order of procession: the Franciscans, the Augustinians, the Dominicans, the Carmelites, each following their cross.

Then come five crosses followed by five chapters, then the cross and chapter of the canons regular; two crosses and two royal chapters; and finally the cross and chapter of the Cathedral church.

During Lent, each chapter holds processions or stations on Wednesdays and Fridays in different churches, one per day. On the way to each place they sing penitential responsories. When they arrive, they kneel and sing a suffrage, versicles, a psalm, and collects or orations. Going back, they sing the Litany which is begun by the last canon and a sub-cantor.

At the end of Tenebrae, while the Kyrie eleison is sung without tropes except Domine miserere, the choir-boys go to the front of the choir and lie prostrate flat on the ground until the end. This is true prostration.

Throughout the entire year, all kneel at the versicle Te ergo quaesumus of the Te Deum laudamus, as in Rouen.

At the three evangelical canticles, all the canons and other clerics stand and do not lean on their stalls.

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Ludwig Johann Passini – Canons in St. Peter’s Church.

Every time the Confiteor is said at Prime and Compline, the choir-boys arrange themselves in front of the officiant or hebdomadary. They kneel and bow down so that their face almost touches the ground while they say the Confiteor and when the officiant says the Misereatur and Indulgentiam. (This is also a sort of prostration: we shall later see two other types.) If the bishop is present at Prime or Compline, he makes and receives the confession and gives absolution. Otherwise, the hebdomadary does it, and if he is not present the dean.

Every day of the year, at the end of Compline, a choir-boy carries the holy water bucket to the back of the choir in the midst of the stalls of the caped [canons]. He presents the aspergillum to the corbelier, who, with his back to the altar, sprinkles with holy water each of the canons and other clerics as they step out one by one. If the bishop is present, he Grand Corbelier gives him the aspergillum, and the prelate sprinkles all the canons with holy water. Then, the Grand Corbelier does the same for the rest of the clergy.

At Masses in Lent, on Sundays as well as ferias, the deacon has over his stole an orarium,[6] which is a large band a foot wide of the same material as the stole and which hardly goes below the waist. Above this orarium, he has a rather ample chasuble which reaches in front down to the chest, like the camail that canons wear in winter. The subdeacon wears a similar chasuble over the alb, and removes it only to read the epistle; he then puts it back on and does not remove it again. The deacon removes it to read the gospel, and only puts it back on after the priest’s communion.

A 300-year-old manuscript missal of Angers states that on Sundays of Lent the common preface per annum is said.


[1] Durandus, Rationale, book 4, ch. 24.

[2] The offering of water by the choir is an ancient feature of the Roman liturgy, mentioned in the first Roman Ordo.

[3] On the Gallican episcopal blessing, see Chartres, fn. 7.

[4] Lacking in any medieval liturgical text, the triple Noel seems to have been at first a genuine, spontaneous cry of popular acclamation used on various solemn occasions and even during church offices. It was linked with folk musical traditions but found a place in church practice, as at Paris where it was sung by clerics during the elevation. See the excellent article of Cécile Davy-Rigaud, La Fête de Noël dans le diocèse de Paris au xviie siècle in : La célébration de Noël du xviie au xixe siècle : liturgie et tradition, Université Blaise Pascal.

[5] A Mass in which plainchant is replaced by contemporary compositions.

[6] The broad stole. In ancient and medieval writers, orarium refers to the Roman shawl that became the Roman priest’s stole or the Greek orarion. In the Voyages, we can see from context that it means the broad stole. The Notes and Queries agrees.

Voyages Liturgiques, Angers (1): The Office on Solemn Days

Angers on the river Mayenne, Andegavum ad Meduanam in Latin, has a university with four faculties, and is famous for its quarries of slate, with which all the houses are covered.

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The canons of Angers once wore purple cassocks on major feasts. The sleeves of their surplices are split and drag like in Paris and the province of Sens. The canons, including the bas-formiers (minor canons),[1] and the ten Officers or cantor-priests have an almuce over the arm, and these Officers sit on the higher stalls.

The four cantor-deacons and -subdeacons do not carry an almuce. On episcopal feasts, the dignitaries have red robes over their surplices.

The ten choir-boys wear a white cassock, like the Pope. When it is cold or when they go into town, they wear a robe over their white cassock which is red one year and purple the next year, and so on in alternation. Their square biretta is always purple. During the offices, they are clean-shaven, standing, and bare-headed. When they sing alone, whether it be a versicle or a responsory, they are always in the front of the choir, like in Rouen, at the end of a bench.

The canons of Angers have retained the custom of proclaiming their faults at the four general chapters, but they only do this speaking in general. This is the formula that each canon is bound to state: “I admit, my Lords, before God and before the Church that I have committed many faults in choir. I submit to the correction that it shall please the Chapter to impose.”

All the canon-priests who live in the city have the right of having in their homes a domestic clerk,[2] who has, by this position, the right to enter into choir and participate in the distribution of benefices like the other officers and chaplains.

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Tapestry in St. Maurice Cathedral

The sacraments are administered to the canons and other ecclesiastics of the choir of the Cathedral Church, wherever in the city they might dwell, by the Grand Corbelier, as the first Officer is called, from the Latin corbicularius, or according to others cubicularius. In former times he was the only officer. At Angers it is believed that he can be the Infirmarian or the Sacristan.

The Chapter also buries all the canons and other ecclesiastics of the choir, whatever the place they might have died. Indeed, ten or twelve years ago a canon had the burial ground of his ancestors in a parish of Angers, and the chapter buried him there without the participation of the parish priest.

The Office on solemn days

When the Office is performed solemnly, all the candles are lit and all the great bells are rung, which together with the music are among the best in France.

The six coped ministers go out of the sacristy into the choir, preceded by four vergers, except at Matins, when they put on their copes at the main altar, and only the Lord Cantor goes out of the sacristy alone and enters the choir with his baton and small mitre or round biretta. The latter is perhaps what was once dubbed the couronne (crown).

After First Vespers, at the beginning of Compline, an ecclesiastic goes up to the highest row of stalls, and tells the canons which lessons or responsories they have to sing the next day at Matins.

The Lord Cantor and his two assistants begin the singing of both the psalms and the responsories. During the entire office they sit in the first stalls of the second row, except when the Lord Cantor walks around one or twice at the beginning of each office. Then they intone a psalm or a responsory, they always go together, because even though the psalm is intoned by two of them, all three always re-intone it, even when it was correctly intoned in the first place.

The lessons are sung by the canons.

Those who chant the lessons and responsories wear copes, and go pick them up from the little altar that is behind the main altar.

At the Te Deum, the choir-boys go on both sides to the front of the choir, and turn towards the choristers or psalteurs of their side, and all together they sing the Te Deum, even on semi-double feasts. No incensing is performed during the Te Deum besides the incensing of the Third Nocturn, which continues during the hymn; for incensing is done at the end of each Nocturn, like in Orléans (in former times during the Prose[3] with which they ended), and also at the end of Lauds during the Benedictus and at Vespers during the Magnificat.

The incensations are performed by two canons who go to the altar to each put on a cope. Kneeling, both of them incense the main altar intra cancellos, and then both kiss it. Then, standing, they incense their relics on their side, and extra cancellos the small altars, without kissing them. Then they incense the clergy, and are finally incensed themselves. They remove their copes at the main altar. At Lauds and Vespers, the officiating Canon goes to put on a cope at the Sicut erat and, preceded by the two candle-bearers, goes to stand at the end of the choir at the right of the Lord Cantor, and there says the collect or oration, for in this church the Cantor or whoever intones the chant stands at the right of the officiant.

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Types of choir cape, and on the bottom right the camail, from De Vert’s Explication

On solemn days, Terce is chanted solemnly with five copes, but the officiant does not wear one, and says the collect or oration in his usual place. Even in winter, when they wear the camail, he does not bare his head in order to sing the collect, but this is a very modern practice, and an abuse.

When the choir are all in their choir capes, he is as well for Terce and the Procession. During Terce, the two minor deacons and the two minor subdeacons wear tunicles and stand below, in plano, in front of the choir-boys, facing the choir to which they belong.

On solemn days, even when it do not fall on Sunday, the aspersion with holy water is carried out after Terce. The head cantor and his four assistants go up between the choir and the altar. There, the cantor and two others intone Sanctus Deus, Sanctus fortis, &c. While they sing this, one of the master-chaplains, wearing a cope, sprinkles the altars and those in choir. The other master-chaplain, the one on the side where the choir is, sings the collect or oration. (This same master-chaplain says the oration at the stations in the nave after the procession when the bishop is not celebrating. In Latin, master-chaplain is major Capellanus).

After the aspersion has been made and the oration sung, the cantors begin the procession responsory. The procession is made in this order: the two minor vergers; the two major vergers; a choir-boy in a cope carrying the holy water bucket; two others in tunicle carrying the candles; two deacons in dalmatics carrying two crosses if it is a fetâge, otherwise a cross and a Gospel-book; two other deacons carrying two other books; a corbelier in cope with a humeral veil carrying the relics of a saint; at his side two choir-boys in tunicles holding two smoking thuribles in their hands; the two master-chaplains in cope; and the cantor by himself also wearing a cope, holding his stave in his hand, and with a red biretta covered in silk.

Then walk, two-by-two, the choir-boys, the psalteurs, the clerics, the chaplains, the officers, the canons, and the bishop.

When they reach the nave, the coped cantors and the entire clergy arrange themselves in choir at the back of the nave. The deacons and others, the corbelier carrying the relic, and the candle-bearers place themselves at the front of the nave facing west.

The cantor (or the bishop, if he is celebrating) begins another responsory that is continued by the organ. Only the bishop, the cantor, the dignitaries, the canons, and the four assistants to the cantor go to kiss the relic and make an offering with some coins. Then the choir finishes the responsory, and four canons (or six dignitaries, if it is a fetâge) advance toward the front of the nave, and there, facing east, they sing the versicle of the responsory. Then the collect or oration is said, whereafter the corbelier gives the blessing out loud with the relic.

If it is a fetâge, when the entire clergy has returned to the choir, before the start of the Mass, a small music choir sings at the front of the Choir: Accendite faces lampadarum: eia: psallite, fratres, hora est: cantate Deo; eia, eia, eia.


[1] The French name refers to the fact that they say in the “lower form,” i.e., on the lower benches.

[2] One of the most ancient disciplinary canons of canonical clerical life: that a priest had to live with another cleric who could assure his good conduct.

[3] The French word for Sequence. It appears there were Sequences at Matins in Angers.

Voyages Liturgiques: Chartres


Chartres lies on the banks of the river Eure. In Latin it is Carnutum or Carnotum ad Auduram.

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Chartres Cathedral, Choir Screen, Annunciation

Notre Dame de Chartres.

The Cathedral Church of Notre-Dame is very beautiful, and the crypt is richly ornamented, decorated and illuminated by several silver lamps. The outside surroundings of this church—I mean the Cathedral—are quite beautiful. There are three very large porticos. Atop that of the main door there are two towers visible from 5 leagues away.[1]

The choir is one of the biggest and most beautiful one can find, and filled with a very great number of chairs, two rows of stalls on each side, and a rather large bench as a third stall, with a step of carved wood.

The bishop’s chair is rather ordinary, and placed on the Epistle side at the head of the canons’ seats, as in Paris and Rouen, but it is not covered. It only has a carpet in front and a seat for the bishop, as in the illustration.

The main altar is quite big. It has no balustrades, but only brass columns with angels on top arranged around the sanctuary. The antependium (parement) is attached to the altar-cloths a half-foot over the edge of the altar. Its fringe rests on the altar table itself.[2] Above the altar there is only one veil (parement) on the retable, above which there is an image of the Blessed Virgin in gilded silver. Behind the veil is a bronze bar, and above it a gold crucifix one and a half foot tall. At its foot is another bronze bar that protrudes about one or one and a half feet over the altar. On the end of it hangs the holy Ciborium, according to the Council of Tours, sub titulo crucis Corpus Domini componatur.

Above the corner of the altar there is a small violet veil about one square foot in size, suspended from a small cord as at Orleans.

Just before the Consecration, the deacon draws it to the center of the altar so that (they say) the Sacred Host can be seen by those standing in the back of the choir. This small veil is a very ancient custom in this church, as they say. I believe the real reason was to present the priest during the Consecration with a vivid image of Christ on the Cross. There is such an image on the veil itself, which was called the majestas or divina majestas. Inclinet ante majestatem.

There are aisles that allow one to walk around the choir, but the stained glass though very large is so dark because of the painting and thickness of the glass that in wintertime they still use bougies at 10:30 in the morning after the conventual Mass to say Sext. At Sext they do not respond Deo gratias after the Short Chapter. There is no response to the Versicle after the Brief Response, which has a melisma as long as the Verses of the major hours. Apparently they make the response in a low voice during the melisma.


Pre-Mass Ceremonies

The blessing of the holy water on Sunday is not done after Terce, as in most churches, but at the first Mass, which is said at four or five in the morning. The priest who will celebrate it is vested in an alb and stole and blesses it in a stoup, sometimes at the entrance of the church, sometimes in another place, and then he goes to the chapel to sprinkle the people present to hear Mass.

Before High Mass, an altar boy brings the holy water bucket (or Orceau, as it is called in Chartres, from the Latin term urceus or urceolus) when everyone is ready to hold the stations. The procession goes out from the choir through the crucifix door, and without going through the nave it goes directly to the altar of St John the Baptist at the intersection on the left. The priest, accompanied by the deacon and subdeacon vested in albs and stoles, except the subdeacon, with an almuce over their arm and their biretta in hand, sprinkles the altar, then the deacon and subdeacon, and then the entire clergy. After the procession has made a turn around the entire choir, it enters again by the same door. The same practice is found in many large churches that I describe in this account; this makes it clear that the purpose of the Sunday procession before Mass was to sprinkle the people and the common places.[3]

Solemn Mass

At Solemn Mass, the priest, deacon, and subdeacon first reverence the altar and then turn towards the choir and reverence it. Then they turn back towards the altar and begin the Mass, before going up to the altar. During the Gloria in excelsis the subdeacon goes to the jubé [i.e. rood-screen tribune] with the Epistle Book, and at the same time the deacon, having received the Gospel Book, retires behind the altar. The priest remains alone at the altar with his assistant priest clad in a surplice, standing at the end of the altar to serve the celebrant.

After having sung the Epistle, the subdeacon returns to the altar. The deacon immediately comes out with the Gospel Book and, having received the celebrant’s blessing, goes to the jubé[4] accompanied by the subdeacon, who holds the cushion; the altar boy who walks in front incensing; and the two candle-bearers. From the moment the deacon goes away from the altar, he raises the Gospel Book with both hands and, as he passes, the clerics get up and bare their heads. The subdeacon takes the open Gospel Book to the celebrant for him to kiss, and then to the canons at their places, and then he returns to the altar.

When the priest has incensed the altar at the Offertory, the deacon takes the thurible that the altar boy gives him and goes down the altar-steps and, having incensed the altar with three strokes, he kisses it at the corner. Then he continues to incense it by going around it, and he incenses the two reliquaries with three strokes each, and goes back to his place. A short moment thereafter the altar boy takes the thurible to the deacon, who incenses the rest of the altar in the same way, kisses the other corner, and then incenses the priest and subdeacon. Then the thurifer, having received the thurible from the hands of the deacon, incenses him. The deacon always holds his biretta in his hand and during the entire Mass he does not put it down except when taking the Gospel Book to the jubé.

At the Sursum corda, the subdeacon receives the paten, which is given to him with a veil. He holds it slightly elevated in front of him behind the altar, so that he sees nothing that is performed there.

One remains standing at the elevation, except only at Masses when one says the O salutaris Hostia, and then only while it is being said.

At the Pater, the subdeacon comes back in front of the altar and gives the paten without the veil to the deacon, who holds it even higher than the subdeacon until the end of the Pater, when he puts it back on the altar.[5]

Then the choir sings the psalm Exaudiat, during which the celebrant, his ministers, and all the clergy kneel.[6] Then the priest receives communion, and the deacon, taking the cruets, pours out the ablutions. This is the only time that the deacon serves the priest. An altar boys gives him a basin to wash in as at the Lavabo, and pours the water out into the piscina, so that the priest is not obliged to drink what he rinses off his fingers. This was done everywhere in former times, and is still done at Lyon and among the Carthusians, who have preserved more ancient customs.

The priest goes to the corner of the altar to say the final prayers, and the deacon, having turned towards the clergy, sings the Ite missa est. Then the Celebrant gives the blessing and goes back to the sacristy with his minister in the same order that they came in.

When the bishop celebrates pontifically on great feasts, he gives the solemn blessing at the Agnus Dei, and not at the end of the Mass.[7]

Holy Week Celebrations

The ceremonies of public penance on Ash Wednesday and Maundy Thursday are more or less the same as those we shall describe for the church of Rouen.


On Maundy Thursday, six priest-archdeacons celebrate the High Mass together with the bishop, consecrate the holy oils with him, and receive communion under two species from the same host and the same chalice. The bishop stands before the middle of the altar, with three priests at his right and three at his left, along a single line. All seven sing with one voice and carry out all the ceremonies of the Mass together. Praiseworthy church, which has carefully preserved such an august and ancient ceremony! which helps us understand why in several churches the bishop is assisted on great feasts by priests and curés in the celebration of Mass.[8] At the end of the Mass, the deacon, without saying anything, gives the blessing with the sacred Host before taking it to the Treasury where it is reserved in a burse for the following day.

On the same day, the Mandatum or washing of the feet was performed. The altars, however, are not washed until the following day right before the start of the Mass ex praesanctificatis.

During Easter week, the Procession to the Fonts is performed at Vespers. All the clergymen of the Cathedral Church who are neither priests nor deacons, whether or not they be canons, carry a white baton during this procession, as does the sub-cantor who walks at the head of the younger canons. This is done, it is said, to represent the white habits that the newly-baptized used to wear during the Octave. On the way to the fonts and coming back they sing the fourth and fifth psalms of the feria.

Although this Church fasts on the vigils of Apostles, and observes more fasts than others, it nevertheless does not keep the fast on the Vigil of Pentecost, following the ancient custom of the Church, and of the churches of Angers, Nantes, and Amiens. Indeed, the Father attest that there was no fasting during the fifty days of Eastertide, which only ended on the evening of Pentecost Sunday.

On the Ember Wednesday of December, they read the entirety of the Gospel Missus est as the first lesson of Matins, like at Sens. Then the choir prostrates itself and sings the antiphon Salve Regina, and then the homily is read as usual.


[1] About 17 English miles.

[2] On this difficult passage, consult Claude de Vert, Explication (…) des céremonies de l’eglise, pp. 297 and 355, where he explains the typical way the antependium was suspended from the altar by an iron bar, which was in turn covered by a sort of fringe. De Vert and other, especially Jansenist contemporaries disparage the antependium as one of the unnecessary ornaments of the altar.

[3] At this time in many places, the pre-mass procession continued but without the sprinkling of people, church, and common rooms of the cloister. In several places, De Moléon stresses the origin of the procession as a sprinkling rite.

[4] The French word for rood screen. See an extensive article on the French rood screen (here), and its disappearance (here).

[5] On rites attending the Pater noster, see Jungmann vol 2, pp. 299 et sqq. In many places the Pater noster including an elevation or ostentation of the host, or the raising of the paten during the prayer at panem nostrum, as a signum instantis communionis, a sign of the imminence of Communion.

[6] On the addition of post-Pater Noster prayers in the Middle Ages, which were allowed to drop during the 16th century reforms, but flourished in many places afterwards, see Jungmann, Missarum Sollemnia, vol. 2, 292-293. In some places a prostratio was expected at this point.

[7] On the Gallican solemn pontifical blessing, which is different in form and position from the Roman, see Jungmann vol. 2, pp. 294 et sqq.:

“The Gallic pontifical blessing, like the blessing in the Orient, was usually preceded by the deacon’s exhortation: Humiliate vos ad benedictionem, which was answered by a Deo gratias; then the bishop, with mitre and staff, turned to the people and read the formula of blessing from the Benedictionale held before him; at the concluding sentence he made the sign of the Cross three times in three directions. The formula of blessing itself was regularly composed of three members, following the model of the great priestly blessing in the Old Testament (Numbers 6:22-26), which also appeared in the most ancient collections. After each of these three members (usually consisting of well-rounded periods) there was a response, Amen, and at the end a special concluding clause” (296). Jungmann notes that this blessing was retained in the cathedrals of Lyons and Autun right up to his time.

[8] On the origin and development of concelebration in the West, see Jungmann, Missarum Sollemnia, vol. 1, pp. 195 et sqq.

Voyages Liturgiques: Nuptial Blessings and Eulogia in Rouen (11)

Le mariage de Monsieur le duc de Bourbon et Mlle de Nantes dans la chapelle royale de Versailles le 24 juillet 1685
Marriage of the Duke of Bourbon and Princess Marie Anne of Nantes in the Royal Chapel at Versailles in 1685

At the end of the nuptial mass, the priest (following the prescriptions of the Missal and Ritual of Rouen) makes an exhortation to the newly-weds about the fidelity they owe to one another and about the continence that they must observe in the days of prayer, fasting, and on major feasts. Thus there are no marriages in Lent or Advent, which was formerly a season of fasting, nor on the feasts of Christmas, Epiphany, or Easter (nor even from the fifth Sunday after Easter until after the Octave of Pentecost in some dioceses, as we see in several Rituals). This is in conformity with what St. Paul says in his first Letter to the Corinthians (ch. 7).

Moreover this is not particular to the church of Rouen. I have seen many Missals and Rituals from different churches [even Roman ones] from this century and the last: there is not one in which this is not noted.

Image result for antidoron france
La bénédiction du pain by Francoise Archange, depicting a first-communicant bringing the bread to be blessed after Mass.

After this exhortation, in Rouen and in the diocese, the priest blessed white bread and wine. Then he (or the priest-sacristan) gives to the husband and wife who have just been married a piece of bread soaked in wine in testimony of their union, and as a symbol of the love of married life (conjugalis convictus symbolum sponso et sponsae panem distribuat vino intinctum). Afterwards the parents and especially the children eat this bread soaked in wine: this is a remnant of the Agapes of charity and union.[1]

There is also the holy custom in this diocese of going in the afternoon or early evening to bless the nuptial bed in the presence of the newly-weds. The priest vested in surplice and stole and accompanied by his sacristan sprinkles the nuptial bed and the couple with holy water saying Asperges me and then Visitet Dominus habitationem istam from Compline (but in the third person); Psalm 127 Beati omnes qui timent Dominum, which is so fitting for this ceremony; then the Kyrie eleison and the Pater with two collects, the latter of which is:

Benedicat Deus corpora vestra et animas vestras, et det super vos benedictionem suam, sicut benedixit Abraham, Isaac et Jacob: manus Domini sancta sit super vos, mittatque angelum suum qui custodiat vos omnibus diebus vitae vestrae. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Then he blesses bread and wine and gives them bread dipped in the wine, as at the end of the nuptial Mass.

Mariage sous le poêle au XVIIIème siècle

In all the parishes of Rouen on Easter day, as the faithful leave, an Agape of hosts as big as two hands and thick as a liard (farthing) are distributed in the middle or back of the nave, along with wine in a cup with a napkin to wipe the mouth after drinking. But because it is not customary to drink [this] wine in Rouen, few people drink. This Agape that remains on Easter day was formerly practiced on all the great feasts, as we read in the Life of St. Ansbert, archbishop of Rouen, who gave the people an agape in his church after communion on solemn days and served the poor himself at table. When the obligation to take communion was reduced to the day of Easter alone, the agapes were retained only on that day. This is perhaps what John Beleth calls the parvum prandiolum, a small luncheon before dinner.

On Sundays in Rouen blessed bread is eaten in the church as a supplement to communion, and some small pieces of this eulogia are brought back to the house for those who were not able to assist at Mass. The Ritual and Missal prescribe that the blessed bread should be distributed only by ecclesiastics, and not by laymen, much less by women.

The Blessed Bread, Pascal Adolphe Jean Dagnan-Bouveret (1852-1929)


See also the Rad Trad’s post on this topic on commentary on The Blessing of Bread painting.


[1] A rather enthusiastic hypothesis, since the Agape died out in antiquity. For an overview, cf. Jungmann, Missarum Sollemnia,  vol. 2, 452-455.