Claude De Vert: Preface to Volume 2 of the Explanation (1710)

INTRODUCTION
PREFACE to Volume 1

Here De Vert shows that the frequent changes, variations, and dispensations of Church practices show that the Church does not hold mystical or symbolic reasons for the ceremonies as primary. Note especially his paragraphs on Baptism**.

PREFACE
Volume 2

In the preface of the first part of this work, I showed that this method of explaining the ceremonies of the Church according to their simple, natural and historic sense was nothing new, and that I have taken as my model a great number of authors renowned for their knowledge and piety.[1]

But this was insufficient. It still remains to show that the Church herself lends me this idea, and that my own mind differs in nothing from hers. God forbid I should ever think otherwise, or depart from her spirit and views in anything, even in trivial matters and points of less importance.

Nothing seems easier than to justify this proposition, and to show how at every step of the way and with all her conduct the Church approves as true, proper, and original meanings of her ceremonies those that I call simple, natural, and literal. If it were otherwise, and if she saw her ceremonies as founded solely upon spiritual reasons, and instituted for purely symbolic and mystical reasons, then because these sorts of reasons are not susceptible to change and because mystical realities are fixed and constant, once room is given to figure and allegory the ceremony must remain unaltered forever. It would follow that the Church herself was immovable–even in her customs and regulations. Her ordinances and laws, rites and ceremonies–once we supposed them to be founded upon such mystical reasons, as upon stable and permanent foundations–would thereby become essential and indispensable with no room for exception. In no circumstance would it be permitted to the Church to innovate or change anything in her whole exterior conduct. This would in no way accord with her discipline, which is variable and changing according to circumstances of time, persons, and place.

[Impediment to Orders for the Twice-Married]

Mariage sous le poêle au XVIIIème siècle

 

If it had always been true, for example, that those who have married more than once were excluded from Holy Orders merely because they had divided their flesh (as the mystical authors would say), and having shared it (so to speak) with others, they are no longer able to represent the union of JESUS CHRIST with his Church[2] which is one, and their marriage cannot be the image of the perfect love of this virgin Spouse for her virgin Groom,[3] this resulting defect of the sacrament constituting an irregularity; if, I say, it had always been true that this was the spirit and essential, primitive motive, principle cause and fundamental original reason that St. Paul prohibited a man who had more than one woman from the sacred ministry, then must also wonder why it is so easy, as it is, to lift this prohibition, founded as we have supposed on such sublime and serious, mysterious and thus respectable reasons. But if the apostle made this rule to accommodate the morals of his time and especially in order not to be less sensitive than the Jews and pagans, who also forbade from ministry at the altar those who had had more than one woman,[4] then we would easily judge that there are cases where this reason which is nothing more than mere convenience and pure convention, should give way to other considerations that justify dispensing this canonical impediment.

[Impediment to Marriage within a Certain Degree, Marrying in Penitential Seasons]

The same holds for some other customs that have come to us from the Jews and pagans, in which the Church has no trouble giving dispensations if she does not find just and legitimate reasons for them. Certainly she would be loth to do so if she thought that everything was mystical in the institution of all her practices. Thus in the case of the prohibition of marrying between parents of a certain degree (a prohibition that seems to have come to Christians through the Jews and Romans), indulgence is given very frequently. [5] This is true for innumerable other constitutions and ordinances, in which she gives dispensation so easily only because she regards them as being founded on opinions and motives that are subject to change and variation; such is the case for most of her practices and customs. Accordingly dispensation is nearly always granted for marrying in Lent and Advent (in this case we might even say the exception has become the rule), because we know that the Church’s prohibition on celebrating nuptials during those times is only the consequence of the ancient practice of continence on fasting days; since in our time such continence has become a matter of simple counsel, superiors have more leeway to relax the discipline on this point. Moreover, I have heard that in some diocese one is no longer even required to give a reason to obtain this dispensation, so well informed they are on the true reason and spirit of the law.

[Interval between reception of major orders]

In the same way, the Church finds it very easy to dispense with the usual interval of time between the reception of two orders, because there is reason to believe that the reason for the introduction of the span of one year between the reception of orders is that in ancient times ordinations were done only once a year in Rome, in the month of December, in accordance with the words repeated so often in the Lives of the first popes, fecit ordinationes mense decembri.[6] Consequently since orders were received only once a year it was necessary to wait an entire year before being promoted to the next order. But since at present orders can be conferred regularly on every Ember week, and even more often if desired, namely on the Saturday before Passion Sunday and Easter Saturday, several bishops have deemed that this span of three months can suffice for an interval between orders. […] Nothing is more frequent than these extra tempora, i.e. dispensations to be ordained outside of Ember days. And whence comes this facility of obtaining dispensations, if not because, in light of the fact that ordinations were done every Sunday in some centuries […] it seems less difficult to return to this use and that we may without scruple give an exception and condescension, even for cases without grave reasons? Thus it seems that what most facilitates the obtaining of these dispensations is nothing other than the recognition that there are reasons that form the basis of this regulations, and that these reasons were simple, indifferent, and variable. If on the contrary there were mysteries and spiritual senses hidden under these rules, these superiors would behave entirely differently and would be careful not to dispense anyone from them.

Now for practices of a different nature. If it were true, for example, that the clerical tonsure, at its origin and institution, had been nothing else than the image and symbol of the crown of thorns placed on Our Lord’s head, would we not be obliged by necessity to hold to this idea and practice, or would it be permitted in any case or for any reason to alter such a mysterious and significant sign as this? and would not the Church herself, on the contrary, have to require clerics in all times and from the very beginning, to wear a tonsure as similar as possible in form to the one worn by Our Lord, without permitting it to be enlarged or diminished at will? But the fact that the Church permits these ministers to have different tonsures, some more large or straight than others, us a visible sign that she does not at all regard the crown of Our Lord as the model and measure of what all clerics must wear. She gives another origin to this practice. Thus, she knows she has the freedom to regulate the form of the tonsure as she judges best, in accordance with circumstances of time and place.

Again, if it were true that infants are named at their baptism only in order to put them under the special protection of the Saint whose name they take, would the Church leave the choice up to the will of every individual to change this name at confirmation, clothing, or religious profession?

[Altar Decorations and Vestments]

Could we easily believe that the bishops would permit so many churches to have no antependium (parement) in front of the altar, if they were not informed that this antependium’s only purpose originally was to protect the relics that were placed under the altar; so that, in relation to this original use, the antependium has become entirely useless in churches where relics are no longer placed under the altar?

Is it conceivable that they would set their hands so readily to the destruction of the jubés, if they did not see that, since these types of tribunes were only erected to such a height so as to ensure that the reader’s voice would carry and be heard by the whole assembly, and that suffices to attain this purpose if the lector stands only a few feet above the others; and that there is no need to build these jubés in the form of galleries and to raise these huge masses of stone that can still be seen, especially in the cathedrals and collegiate churches, and that entirely block the faithful’s view of the choir and sanctuary?[7]

59 contemporary dove tabernacle cardinalseansblog.org copy
“From the time of Emperor Constantine a common form of tabernacle, both East and West, was a dove (called in the West columbae), which was hung over the altar from the ciborium canopy (55). It was high enough not to be stolen easily, and could be lowered with a pulley system. In some cases this rope was attached to the church bells so that people were alerted if someone tried to steal the columba.” Source: https://www.orthodoxartsjournal.org/ciboria-and-tabernacles-a-short-history/ 

The same obtains for the practice of suspending the Blessed Sacrament above the altar. Would the re-establishment of this practice in many places be permitted, to the prejudice of tabernacles, unless we knew that this was the ancient custom (especially since the 6th century[8]), and that tabernacles have only been in use for about a hundred years?[9]

Image result for chasuble cuts diagram over time

Finally, it is the same for certain sacred vestments that would never be allowed to be cut, and which have been cut to the point we see today, if we had not learned from many renowned authors[10] that these vestments originally were not peculiar to the ministers at the altar, so that taking account of their original use, it doesn’t seem that there is anything amiss about letting them gradually take on a different form, more convenient and comfortable. Especially with regard to the chasuble, which formerly used to cover the priest entirely all around, if it were certain that it had this form for the sole purpose of being the symbol of charity that covers (in the words of St. Peter) a multitude of sins, would it have been, so to speak, relaxed to the secular arm, namely, left to chasuble-makers to cut them, shorten them, scallop them, and reform them to the point that they no longer cover the arms or legs? Truly, would it have been permitted to thus disfigure a sacred vestment consecrated by the moral idea that had been attached to it from the beginning?

Perhaps if people reflected well on all these consequences, they would be more hesitant to suppose that the Church has ideas and intentions that it is very doubtful and very uncertain that she has ever had. No priest and no bishop thinks any longer that the stole and maniple were destined since their institution to represent the bonds with which our Lord was tied when he was taken before Pilate.

If they imagined these vestments from this symbolic point of view, would they allow them to be so largely disguised by the ornaments embroidered onto them, so that today they have no resemblance to the cords with which the Savior of the world was tied and bound? If any bishop still believed that the action of kissing the altar at Mass contained any mysterious meaning, would he believe that it is sufficient to kiss only the wooden border that surrounds the altar? For, if we suppose that the altar was a figure of Jesus Christ, as certain mystical authors claim, could this symbol and image be applied to a simple wooden rail on which the antependium is set?

*[Baptism]*

louis xiv 10
The baptism and anointing of Clovis

But how should we explain the fact that Pope Innocent II decided that there was no obligation for women to be churched after childbirth, if not because (without looking about for anything mystical in the ceremony), this great jurist and theologian saw that this practice belonged to a law that had been abolished by the Author of grace and truth, and so allowed the Church to use this blessing as a laudable pious custom, a custom of counsel and devotion and not a duty of precept? Moreover, how was it permitted that the full immersion of the whole body in the ceremony of baptism was changed to a simple pouring or infusion of one part of the body? It is because we know that this practice of plunging was originally a form of washing infants at the moment of their birth for reasons of physical health. Thus it can never be part of the essence of a sacrament, where the point is not to wash away physical uncleanness, and so the amount of water used does not matter, and as long as the sacrament is administered with water, then infusion, aspersion, or immersion or all equally good, and all forms are judged valid.[11] But if, on the contrary, the Church regarded immersion as essentially instituted to be an express representation of the fact that, being baptized into the death of Jesus Christ, we are also mystically buried with him, she would have taken great care to prevent this practice from changing, knowing well that whatever is the ground and substance of the sacraments is unalterable and indispensable. From this alteration of the discipline with regard to baptism we can see that the Church regards baptism by immersion as a simple custom that has come down to her from the tradition of the Jews or pagans, or perhaps from both together, and from all the nations of the world.[12] The same applies to the unction that precedes and follows the baptism. Understanding the physical, sensible causes for the institution of this practice, the Church has found it appropriate for good reasons to reduce it to only certain parts of the body, where formerly it was done on the whole body. On the other hand, if she had believed that this ceremony had been introduced only to give the catechumen power against the temptations and attacks of the devil, or to indicate that the neophyte takes part in a spiritual unction (reasons all used later on for the instruction and edification of the faithful), she would never have allowed it to be touched or reduced in any way, because that would have weakened the mystery, rendered its signification defective, and thus diminished the effects of the holy chrism and oil of catechumens.

[[NB footnote 12: “Though this did not keep the apostle Paul […] from finding excellent relations and wonderful allusions between this manner of plunging entirely into the water and the faithful’s being buried with Jesus Christ and rising from the water as Jesus Christ rose from the tomb. But it is one thing to make allusions and applications, metaphors and comparisons, and quite another to say that the original purpose for the institution of this action was to represent and signify the burial of the faithful with Jesus Christ. I mean to say that all these spiritual and symbolic viewpoints are not the cause and principle of the immersion, and played no part in the intention of those who instituted it. Rather, the fact of immersion merely provided the occasion for all these ideas and reflections.”]]

[Mystical Reasons Lead to Contradictions]

Creation (Hurlbutt)
Passauer Calendar Universitätsbibliothek Kassel, 2° Ms. astron. 1, fol. 70v.

Another thing that seems to demonstrate that the Church is very far from envisaging these sorts of reasons as the only reasons for the establishment of her ceremonies is the fact that if this was the case, she would often fall into contradiction in her practice. For instance, on the one hand the Church gives us to understand that the candles on our altars burn for no other reason than to express Jesus Christ who said that he was the light of the world; and at the same time they are not lit at Prime, Terce, Sext, or None, when Christ is no less the light of the world than at Matins, Lauds, and Vespers, when they are lit. This would not be coherent and the Church would be contradicting herself. Assuming this symbolic reason were true, we would have to leave the candles burning continually, and not only at certain divine offices, because, as the Apostle says, “(Heb. 13)” He is “the true light of man, who enlightens the world” (John 1) at all times of the day as well as during the hours of night. He is eternally the splendor of the “glory of his father,”  (Heb 1:3; Sap. 7:26).

If we ask the Church for the reason why she lights candles at certain hours of the office and not at others, she responds very simply and naturally, it is that there is no need for superfluous light during the day when Prime, Terce, Sext, and None are said, but only at night and dawn when Matins, Lauds, and Vespers are sung.

Are there many communities and famous corporations who are persuaded that the primitive reason for the institution of the hours of the office is precisely to honor and celebrate the various mysteries of Christ’s life? such as for example the birth of Our Savior at Matins, his resurrection at Lauds, the morning of his Passion at Prime, the descent of the Holy Spirit at Terce, the crucifixion at Sext, his death at None, his burial at Vespers, his lying in the tomb at Compline?

If it were true that in instituting the Divine Office, the Church had intended to honor in each of these hours the mysteries that took place during them–how Our Lord came into the world at night, how he rose at dawn, valde mane, how the Holy Spirit descended around Terce, cum sit hora diei tertia, how Our Lord was crucified around the hour of Sext, erat hora quasi sexta, that he died around None, circa horam nonam, and that he was buried in the evening–then it would never be permitted at all to change the order of the offices and thus obliterate all these intentions of the Church.

But an evident proof that all these congregations do not believe that the Hours were instituted for these sorts of sublime and mysterious reasons, is the freedom that they give to anticipate or postpone the Hours, to distribute them according to convenience or the will of their superiors. Thus, at Paris for example, they say Matins followed by Lauds at anytime during the night, between five o’clock in the evening of the previous day and six in the morning of the next day. Likewise they say Prime sometime between five thirty and eight in the morning; Terce between eight and ten; Sext between ten and eleven forty-five; None between mid-day and three; Vespers between one and six; and Compline between three or four and nine. Nothing could show more clearly how these hours are arbitrary, and how far the Church is from thinking that the primitive reason, the reason for the institution of these Hours was to honor the various mysteries.

Furthermore, would the whole Church have taken it upon herself in Lent to anticipate Vespers at noon and celebrate at that hour a mystery that happened in the evening? It is thus much more natural to believe that all these particular churches and the universal Church herself regard the determination of the Hours of the Office as a tradition coming from the Jews, who actually assembled for prayer at about the same hours as Christians; namely in the morning[13], at 6,[14] and 9,[15] and in the evening,[16] not to mention the night prayers.[17] Therefore the Churches can easily anticipate or postpone these Hours because in the final analysis, just as the jews had their reasons for choosing these hours, the Churches about which we are speaking also believe that they have sufficient reasons to change the times of the hours and choose other times.

Therefore, we have found proof of my thesis everywhere: that the ease of obtaining dispensations and the variability of the Church’s discipline, especially with regard to the rites and ceremonies, comes from the fact that this discipline is founded on simple reasons that are nearly all based either on the customs of the ancients, or on the relation between actions and words or between words and actions, or on necessity, or on propriety and convenience.[18] All such practices and reasons are subject to change, because what is convenient at one time is not at another. As soon as these reasons no longer hold, it would seem permissible at the same time to abolish the practices connected with them. If, on the other hand, all these practices were meant to figure and represent some mystery, then the respect superiors had for these reasons would prohibit them from permitting the changes that are introduced nearly every day in the ceremonies and exterior cult of our religion.

[….]

It was the changes introduced into the ceremonies that caused people to forget and lose sight of the sensible and natural reasons of their establishment. If people only wore their hair short and their clothes long once again, as they did less than 200 years ago, they would very quickly see the reason for the tonsure and the religious habit and the whole exterior vesture of ecclesiastics.[19] If they could see the chasuble in its ancient form, they would quickly see why it is lifted at the elevation of the host and chalice. If the maniple became a handkerchief once again, they would see what the manipulus fletus mentioned in the vesting prayer is. If on Holy Thursday all priests celebrated Mass together with the bishop in the cathedral churches, with the parish priest in the parishes, or with the superior in the monasteries, and therefore with the priests vested in their priestly habits, they would know why they take communion on that day with the stole.[20] If Tenebrae is restored to midnight, so that the office began in darkness and ended around dawn, they would see that the Church was not mistaken at first to light a great number of candles during this office and extinguish them gradually as the day approached, and to extinguish them all at the end of Lauds when day had broken. If on Sunday before Mass, we began once more to bless and sprinkle the holy water, inside and outside the Church, the cemetery, and the common places in the monasteries and cathedral chapters where the canons once lived in common, we would understand the origin and reason for the Sunday procession and why in monasteries and other churches the procession visits the four sides of the cloister. There is no other way to explain this procession or discover its object. [….]

[The Literal Sense and Church Reform]

Understanding the literal and historical reasons is useful for another reason: it allows bishops more easily to remove ceremonies that, through the change of manners and church discipline, no longer seem appropriate. Thus, for example, the archbishop of Sens thought it best to suppress most of the baptismal exorcisms in his new ritual, because it seemed to him that the repetition of these exorcisms, which were once performed on different days, no longer had a purpose after they were joined into one ceremony.

[On Burial Practices]

So there you have it, material already too much for one preface. If I were to give it the full extent of treatment it deserves, there would be enough to compose a book; indeed all the more so because the truth of the system I have proposed has already been sufficiently proved by many judicious and learned persons. It is also useless to speak again about the necessity of studying the simple, literal, and historical reasons for the ceremonies if one wants to understand what is happening at every moment in the Church, either at Mass or in the Office, or during the administration of a sacrament, or any other function. Above all, nothing is more shameful and scandalous than to see pastors and priests who are ignorant of what their ministry obliges them to know and teach to others. A learned bishop of the 16th century, complaining to a cardinal about the ignorance that reigned among most clergy of his day about church ceremonies, said:

“Since our understanding and right intention is the foundation of the sacred worship, whoever is ignorant of what he is doing performs sacred worship in vain, for he lacks the basis, namely the right understanding and intention. How many clergy put on their vestments entirely ignorant of why there are so many and various: priests who have celebrated mass for years, and bishops who have consecrated for years? If you ask them why they do these things, they are speechless and have nothing to respond.”[21]


NOTES:

[1] Among them we cannot fail to mention Dom Edmond Martenne, a scholar of the Congregation of St. Maur, who in the preface to his first volume on the ancient rites of the Church, openly declares that he prefers historical reasons to those commonly known as “mystical”: His igitur attente consideratis…post habitis rationibus mysticis, quas apud editos scriptores quique consulere potest, universos ecclesia ritus more historico representarem, etc.

[2] St. Paul takes what Moses says literally about the union between man and wife, using it to explain the union of Jesus Christ and the Church from a mystical point of view, calling it a great mystery and sacrament: Sacramentum hoc magnum est, ego autem dico in Christo et in ecclesia (Ephes. 5:32).

[3] M. Nicole shows in his Instruction on the Sacrament of Order that, far from being St. Paul’s explanation, it was St. Augustine who was the first to invent it, and that before him the reason for the exclusion of the twice-married from orders was the incontinence that was implied in these second marriages.

[4] On the Jews, see Leviticus 21 and for the pagans, Titus Livius, (Decade 1.50.x, and Alex ab Alex. 50.6. To see that second marriage were detestable to the ancients, as showing some kind of incontinence or weakness, we have only to hearken to Dido, the widow of Sicheus, who reproaches herself for the grievous fault of merely thinking of marrying Aeneas (Huic uni forsan potui succumbere culpa, Aeneid 4).

[5] Trans. note: Consanguinity is forbidden by Leviticus 18 and Deuteronomy 20.

[6] Primi apostolici semper in decembrio mense, in quo Nativitas D. N. J. C. celebratur, consecrationes ministrabant usque ad Simplicium…ipse primus sacravit in Februario (Amalarius II.1). The Micrologus says the same thing. See also Dom Mabillon, in his Commentary on the Ordo Romanus, n. 16.

[7] See M. Bocquillot in his Traité historique de la liturgie, pg. 72.

[8] Following these words of the Council of Tours can. 3: Ut corpus Domini in altari, non in armario, sed sub crucis titulo componatur (The Body of Our Lord should not be placed in a tabernacle but on the altar under the cross.). This is what we find still in many churches where the holy ciborium is suspended at the foot of the great crucifix over the altar.

[9] It is thought that the first tabernacle seen in Paris is that of the Capuchins on the Rue Saint-Honoré.

[10] Among others, Fr. Thomassin, the Abbé of Fleury, etc.

[11] See M. de Meaux in his Traite de la communion sous les deux especes.

[12] Though this did not keep the apostle Paul […] from finding excellent relations and wonderful allusions between this manner of plunging entirely into the water and the faithful’s being buried with Jesus Christ and rising from the water as Jesus Christ rose from the tomb. But it is one thing to make allusions and applications, metaphors and comparisons, and quite another to say that the original purpose for the institution of this action was to represent and signify the burial of the faithful with Jesus Christ. I mean to say that all these spiritual and symbolic viewpoints are not the cause and principle of the immersion, and played no part in the intention of those who instituted it. Rather, the fact of immersion merely provided the occasion for all these ideas and reflections.

[13] Sacrificium matutinum.

[14] Ascendit Petrus in superiora ut oraret circa horam sextam (Acts 10:9).

[15] Petrus et Joannes ascendebant in Templum ut orarent ad horam orationis nonam (Acts 3:1).

[16] Sacrificium vespertinum

[17] Media nocte surgebam

[18] See vol. 1, p. 269, note b.

[19] See pg. 431 ff.

[20] See vol. 1, pg. 348 ff.

[21] To Saint-Pierre d’Abbeville, 25 September 1707.

Claude De Vert: Preface to Volume 1 of the Explanation (1709)

As we promised in the introductory post, here are excerpts from the Preface to the first edition of volume one of Claude de Vert’s Explication simple, littérale, et historique des cérémonies de l’Église (1709 – 1713).

PREFACE to Volume 2

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PREFACE

[1. Encouragement by Protestant Ministers]

It has been several years since M. Jurieu[1] undertook in one of his books to attack the ceremonies of the Mass and even to subject them to mockery. I found myself charged at that time by M. the Bishop of Meaux, and also by my own interest, to refute this minister, who had used me as a sort of witness and proof of his own ideas. Thus I wrote him a letter[2] on the subject. Since it was clear from certain places in his work that mystical and symbolic explanations were not to his taste and left no impression on him, I thought it best to accommodate myself to his dispositions. In other words, in my response the only explanations I admitted were those that were simple, natural, and historical, against which I judged M. Jurieu would have no objection. It pleased God to grant my attempt so much success, that my letter has remained without response for fifteen years.

But this is not the only effect that this manner of explaining the ceremonies of the Church has produced. It has also pleased a great number of new Catholics. Even several converted ministers were intrigued by my explanations and did me the honor of writing to say (and these are their own words):

“We have always been convinced that in order to give an account of the ceremonies of the Church, especially to new converts, one must make use of common sense, give the facts as simply as possible, and in the end explain things as naturally as possible. We have already experienced the cogency of your natural explanations with two completely opposite sorts of people, namely, with some grudging converts who saw only superstition and mummery in the Church’s rites; and with some old ecclesiastics who would hear nothing about the literal sense or about the traces of ancient customs in the liturgy, recognizing only mystery and speculation in it.”

They said that neither of these groups were able to resist my historical reasons, and the connection I made between the letter and the spirit left them speechless.

They were certain that a full discussion of all these things would be well received by both scholars and the unlettered, and even by stubborn opponents of the Church. M. Jurieu’s brief controversy had not provided the occasion for such a discussion, but the wish and need of the Church compelled me. The attempts that I had already made in my letter had given them so much pleasure that they were impatient for a complete treatment of the subject. Further, in my explanation of the Introit, Kyrie eleison, Collect, Secret, Supra quae propitio, etc., of the mingling of a part of the Host in the chalice, I had said things that no one had yet thought and that promised countless further discoveries.

Moreover these ministers plied me with innumerable questions and difficulties which they implored me to answer. And so this is the occasion and, so to speak, the foundation of the present work that I present to the public.

At the same time another ministers, one of my friends, who had also converted some years ago, but converted sincerely in good faith, through persuasion, intelligence, and knowledge, brought me one of his nephews who was still in the grips of error. […]

He was already very prejudiced against our ceremonies and especially against the exterior cult of our Religion. After having questioned me on many practices, he appeared so content with my responses (all literal and historical) that he said to his uncle (who later told me) that one more meeting with me would be enough to remove all his scruples and doubts.

[Another Successful Conversation with a Protestant Lady….]

[….]

[2. Support from Catholic Ecclesiastics]

To these proselytes, and others that I have not named, I could add a large number of Catholics: ecclesiastics and laymen of every state and personality. M. Bossuet, Bishop of Meaux especially (and all know that his name alone is synonymous with knowledge, eloquence, beauty, genius, and zeal for the Church) often did me the honor of urging me, face to face and in writing, to explain and develop all this material to its fullest extent. I did this in two or three conferences. He listened, made objections, gave counsel, and offered his advice on difficult and delicate points. I will always remember how he encouraged me not to attack the Mystical Authors or their reasons, telling me that all I had to do was lay out the facts and establish them soundly, and the truth speak for itself.

But he isn’t the only who encouraged me to work my ideas into a book. M. the Bishop of Chalons sur Saône, so well versed in this discipline, and engaged since the start of his episcopate in the correction of the usages of his church, which he is reforming wholesale and in a manner worthy of his zeal and intelligence: the Breviary, the Missal, the Ritual, and Ceremonial. After approving my Letter to the Minister Jurieu, he asked if:

“I might give a more ample, literal, and historical explanation of the ceremonies of the Mass and in general of the whole Office.”

Others told me:

“The quickest and easiest way to refute every calumny the Heretics advance against the practices of the Church is to trace them back to their origin and institution. Hence we learn the true reasons for the ceremonies, and we see their simplicity. We prove that it was necessity or utility that introduced them, and that they have been preserved either for decency or out of fear of innovation. Because the reasons are simple and natural, we see their connection to the ceremonies immediately. It has been said that the primary reason the ministers of the Protestant religion declaim against the ceremonies of the Catholic Church is that they see these ceremonies only through the mystical reasons that some Catholic authors have given to them, without seeing the natural sense that the same authors presume as the basis of everything they say.”

[…]

[On the Usefulness of this Method in Seminary Education]

M. Wateblé (who recently passed away), Superior of the seminary of Beauvais, also asked me many times to share my reflections on this question, assuring me that they would be welcomed in the seminaries of the Congregation of the Mission [….]. He said that, if he had only known these reasons a long time ago, then our seminaries would have embraced them, and this manner of explaining the ceremonies would be held in high regard. This holds as much for the priests of St. Lazare as for the Jesuits, the Fathers of the Oratory, for the congregation of St. Sulpice, and other ecclesiastics who form clergy in the seminaries. In these excellent schools, after having given the seminarians the primitive and fundamental reasons for the ceremonies, we could present them other reasons for their edification, to nourish their piety; I am referring to what I call secondary and subsidiary reasons: spiritual and symbolic ideas and pious moralities. In these holy congregations, in their frequent conferences on the practices and uses of the Church, we could develop the analogy of all these different senses and teach them to join the spirit with the letter, and figurative and allegorical explanations to literal and historical ones.

[The Catechism of Montpellier already does this]

[….]

[3. Justification for this Method from the Fathers]

In the interest of justifying this approach with examples and authorities, we see that always and in all times the practices and ceremonies of the Church have been interpreted in their proper, primitive, and necessary sense, and whenever people have understood them, they have given as far as possible simple and natural reasons in preference to those called mystical (mystiques) and figurative (figurées), and often enough even to their prejudice and exclusion. Therefore, my project is neither new nor unique. I am merely following and imitating nearly all of the authors who have ever written on this subject.

St. Jerome, for example, in his Letter to St Paulinus, St. Augustine says that the Host is broken at the Mass in order to distribute it to the faithful, ad distribuendum comminuitur. Behold: another entirely simple and natural reason for the Fraction of the Host, and very different, as we shall see, from the allegorical reasons to which the Protestants accuse us of having reduced this practice.

[Mass on Holy Thursday morning]

St. Isidore (7th c.) and the Rule of the Master written about the same time, teach us that the washing of the altars, which is still practiced today in many Churches on Holy Thursday and Good Friday is done in order to remove the dust and odors that may have collected on the tables throughout the year. In addition, they washed and purified the walls and sacred vessels, so that the whole Church was washed and set in order from the vaults to the pavement in preparation for Easter.

Amalarius, not content with the various mystical reasons given for the custom of reserving only the Body of Our Lord on Holy Thursday, without the Blood, concludes (along with the Bishop of Meaux[3]) that a more simple explanation is that this species is corrupted more easily than bread. Thus we see that this author seems to prefer this reason to the “mystical” reasons. The same author says that the priest washes his hands at Mass in order to clean and purify them from any uncleanness he may have come into contact with by touching the bread received during the Offertory. His testimony is all the more credible because Amalarius certainly cannot be accused generally of preferring simple and natural explanations. Indeed Cardinal Bona reproaches him for his excessive subtilty (quandoque nimium subtiliter). The Ordo Romanus VI, St. Thomas Aquinas, Durandus, the Jesuit P. Scortia, and others give the same reason.

[….]

[St. Thomas on the Use of Incense]

Now, what are we to make of St. Thomas’s response to the objection regarding the use of incense in the Church (this irrefragable doctor, who cannot be contradicted with impunity in the Schools of Theology, where he justly bears the excellent title of Angelic)? It is to dispel bad odors: Ut scilicet per bonum odorem depellatur si quid corporaliter pravi odoris in loco fuerit, quod posset provocare horrorem.[4] Dominic Soto, Cardinal Bellarmine, Genebrard, Scortia, Gavantus, M. Meurier, and others whom we cite later on in the work, all adopt the same reason.

[….]

[The Paschal Candle]

In the Benediction of the Paschal Candle, the Church herself teaches us that its purpose is to give light during the night: Cereus iste, in honorem nominis tui consecratus, ad noctis huius caliginem destruendam indeficiens perseveret. Thus it is left burning until the morning (flammas eius lucifer matutinus inveniat[5]).

[…]

The Council of Trent teaches us (along with the whole tradition) that water is mixed into the wine in the chalice as an imitation of Our Lord Jesus Christ who, we think, did the same: quod Christum Dominum ita fecisse credatur.[6] And why did our Lord dilute his wine at the Last Supper? Because, as St. Thomas and many theologians and scholastics tell us, it was the custom of the place to do so (secundum morem illius terrae).

[4. Conclusion]

The method we have supposed is not novel, its purpose is not unusual or surprising. Rather to the contrary, there are authors who absolutely reject every mystical reason, regarding their different applications as impractical. And the truth is that since everything in ritual and discipline is subject to perpetual change, it is quite difficult to assign mysteries to the Church’s customs and practices. Let us say, for example, that I want the chasuble, which was once entirely round and reached down to the floor, to be a symbol of charity which (according to St. Peter) covers a multitude of sins. Today this vestment is significantly shortened, trimmed and open at the sides. What possible relation could this modern garment have with the proposed mystical reason?

Or again, the Cardinal bishops were once seven in number. They could represent the seven angels or seven Churches of Asia. But now that there are only six, what can they represent? The six wings of the Seraphim? Hence the difficulty or rather the impossibility of allegorizing practices that are subject to such variation.

[….]

[Apology for Mystical Reasons]

Thus, following the understanding and taste of all these different authors, I have seen fit to explain the ceremonies of the Mass in their simple, literal, and historical sense, but with this difference, that I do not go so far as some of them. God forbid that I should ever condemn the mystic writers or mystical reasons. On this point I hold to what I said in my Letter to M. Jurieu, and to what I shall say again in the present work. To put it simply, everything I say here about historical reasons is always without prejudice to the mystical reasons. Further, even if I seem to privilege these latter, it is not that I have made my own decisions, but that I have sought the truth, and I will always be happy to learn from not only pastors and superiors, but from the littlest disciples and smallest children of the Church. Quaero non affirmo.


NOTES:

[1] A Protestant leader.

[2] https://books.google.co.il/books?id=g5xbAAAAcAAJ

[3] Communion sous les deux especes, pag. 167.

[4] De Vert omits the rest of Thomas’ response, which adds a spiritual explanation: “[The use of incense] has reference to two things: first, to the reverence due to this sacrament, i.e. in order by its good odor, to remove any disagreeable smell that may be about the place; secondly, it serves to show the effect of grace, wherewith Christ was filled as with a good odor, according to Genesis 27:27: “Behold, the odor of my son is like the odor of a ripe field”; and from Christ it spreads to the faithful by the work of His ministers, according to 2 Corinthians 2:14: “He manifesteth the odor of his knowledge by us in every place”; and therefore when the altar which represents Christ, has been incensed on every side, then all are incensed in their proper order.”

[5] Of course, even a cursory fair reading of the Exultet, with its florid descriptions of Christ as the Light of the World, and comparisons of the candle with the Pillar of Fire, would make it one of the strongest arguments against the validity of De Vert’s reductive literal sense.

[6] Again, De Vert neglects the spiritual reason given in the same chapter of Trent: “Monet deinde sancta Synodus, praeceptum esse a Ecclesia sacerdotibus, ut squam ino in calice offerendo miscerent: tum quod Christum Dominum ita fecisse credatur, tum etiam quia e latere ejus aqua simul cum sanguine exierit, quod Sacramentum hac mixtione recolitur; et cum aquae in Apocalypsi beati Joannis populi dicantur; ipsius populi fidelis cum capite Christo unio repraesentatur.”

Lenten Stations in the Ancient Rite of Paris (Part 4: The Third Week of Lent)

We present the fourth part of Henri de Villiers’ article on the Lenten stations observed by the church of Paris. The French original was published on the blog of the Schola Sainte-Cécile; since it is fairly lengthy, we have broken it up into six parts, each covering the stations celebrated that particular week.

Part 1: General Introduction.
Part 2: The First Week
Part 3: The Second Week

  1. Monday of the Third Week of Lent: station at the abbatial church of Sainte-Geneviève-du-Mont en l’Université (Sancta Genovefa de Monte in Universitate).

    Saint-Etienne-du-Mont à gauche et l'ancienne Abbatiale Sainte-Geneviève à droite.
    Saint-Etienne-du-Mont on the left and the old Abbey of Sainte-Geneviève on the right.

     

This famous Parisian great abbey was founded in 502 by King Clovis and his wife Queen St Clotilde on Mount Lucotitius, where there was already a cemetery called the monastère des Saints-Apôtres,  originally dedicated to the Apostles Peter and Paul). St Genevieve had the custom of praying there and took a path that would later become the Rue de la Montagne-Sainte-Geneviève. When she died in 512, her body was buried in the crypt of the abbatial church next to that of King Clovis, who had died and been buried there the previous year.They were joined in 545 by Queen St Clotilde. Several councils were held there during the 6th and 7th centuries, notably in 577 against Prætextatus, bishop of Rouen. Ravaged by Viking invasions in 857, the abbey was not rebuilt until the beginning of the 12th century by Stephen of Tournai; at the time, it was under the order of Cluny. During the trial of the Templars, a pontifical commission used the abbey as its headquarters from 8 August 1309 to 5 June 1311; nearly 600 Templars came there to defend their order. On 24 June 1667, Descartes’ copper coffin was placed there under a marble monument.  The abbatial church was famous for holding the relics of St Genevieve, patroness of Paris; great processions with these relics marked the great crises in the history of the city and of France. As the headquarters of the congregation of Augustinian abbeys known as the Génovéfains, the abbey enjoyed great influence throughout Europe beginning in the 17th century. This congregation, set up by Cardinal de la Rochefoucauld, abbot of Sainte-Geneviève, had the goal of effecting in Augustinian abbeys the reforms demanded by the Council of Trent. During the 18th century, the ancient abbey was falling in ruin and King Louis XV, in fulfillment of a vow he made during an illness in 1744, decided to build a vast new basilica to replace the old church, placed further to the west over the abbey gardens. The project, entrusted to the architect Soufflot, began in 1758 and was finished in 1790. On 4 April 1791, however, the Constitutional Assembly secularized the church of Sainte-Geneviève and transformed it into a “Pantheon for great men”. What remained of the old abbatial church was demolished in 1807 to make way for the Rue Clovis. Of the original church, there only remains the clocktower, known today by the name of “tour Clovis” (Clovis Tower), placed inside the Lycée Henry-IV, itself composed of the old conventual buildings of the abbey, which date from the 13th and 17th centuries. Napoleon I gave the building over to Catholic worship by a decree of 20 February 1806, but the July Monarchy secularized it again to remake the Pantheon. The future Napoleon III restored the building to Catholic worship by a decree of 6 November 1851 and the Third Republic suppressed it on 19 July 1881.

  1. Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent: station at the abbatial church of Saint-Victor au dit faubourg (Sanctus Victor in suburbio ejusdem).

    L'Abbaye de Saint-Victor en 1655 - gravure de Mérian.
    The Abbey of Saint-Victor in 1655 – engraving by de Mérian.

Around 1108, the famous theologian William of Champeaux retired from teaching with some disciples and moved into an abandoned hermitage next to a chapel dedicated to St Victor, on the foothills of Mount Sainte-Geneviève. In 1113, when he was elected bishop of Châlons-sur-Marne, Louis VI the Fat transformed his little hermitage into a richly endowed abbey, and the following year, the pope confirmed the foundation. William’s successor was Gilduin, his most beloved disciple and the king’s confessor. Born in Paris, he was abbot from 1113 to 1155, and wrote a rule—the Liber ordinis Sancti Victoris—characterized by rigorous asceticism, where silence and manual work were dominant. Because of the personality of its founders, Saint-Victor quickly became an intellectual center of the first rank: its school foreshadowed and contributed to the foundation of the University of Paris in the following century. Ss Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) and Thomas Becket (1118-1170) both made retreats here, and the bishops of Paris had an apartment in the abbey. At the death of its first abbot Gilduin in 1155, the abbey already presided over 44 foundations, and a letter from Pope Gregory XI dated 2 July 1233 lists 70 daughter-houses, not only in northern France, but also in Italy, England, and even Denmark. In 1237, a chair of theology, linked to the University of Paris, was established there. At the beginning of the 14th century, most of the 12th-century buildings were destroyed and replaced by new, bigger, and better-lighted structures. Nevertheless, beginning in 1350, the abbey faced several difficulties and, despite several reforms, it was finally absorbed by its great rival, the Congregation of France (Génovéfains) in 1633. The Abbey of Saint-Victor was suppressed in 1790, but the abbatial church became a parish in 1791; the buildings were then sold as nationalized property, before being finally demolished in 1811. They were situated on the site of the current Université Jussieu and the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes. One of the last vestiges of the interior of the abbey, the so-called Tower of Alexander, upon which the Saint-Victor Fountain was raised, was destroyed together with the latter in 1840.

  1. Friday of the Third Week of Lent: station at the collegiate church of Saint-Marcel au dit faubourg (Sanctus Marcellus in suburbio ejusdem).
La collégiale Saint-Marcel sur le plan de Turgot de 1739.
The collegiate church of Saint-Marcel on Turgot’s 1739 plan.

St Marcellus is the ninth bishop of Paris whose name has come down to us. He was born in 505 in Paris, on the Île de la Cité, to a humble family living near the Petit-Pont. Having become bishop of Paris, he protected St Genevieve and performed several miraculous healings; he is honored as the third protector of Paris, together with Ss Dionysius and Genevieve. When he died on 1 November 436 during the reign of the Roman Emperor Theodosius II, he was buried near the southeast exit from Paris, in one of the cemeteries which ran along the old Roman road. A little later a church was erected over his tomb, which became gradually surrounded by houses. During the 6th century, this place had enough homes for Gregory of Tours to call it a vicus (village); this is the origin of the Faubourg Saint-Marcel (in the current 5th and 13th arrondisements). This original church was destroyed at the end of the 9th century during the Norman invasions, but the relics of St Marcellus were kept safe in the cathedral and preserved. Around 1040 a new church was built over the ruins of the old and became a collegiate church in 1158. This collegiate church was of considerable size, with a nave about 50 metres long, 38 metres wide at the transept; its crypt housed the Saint’s tomb. Peter Lombard, the 72nd bishop of Paris and teacher of Philip of France, son of Louis VI, was buried there in 1160. Until the 17th century, the collegiate church remains outside the walls of Paris. It was closed during the Revolution in 1790 and then destroyed in 1806. Its last vestiges disappeared when the Boulevard Saint-Marcel and the Rue de la Collégiale were laid out (their names preserve its memory), with the exception of one of its towers, which survived until 1874. Today, a boundary stone of the city of Paris, set up on the Boulevard Saint-Marcel around number 81, reminds passers-by of the existence of the old collegiate church.

Lenten Stations in the Ancient Rite of Paris (Part 3)

We present the third part of Henri de Villiers’ article on the Lenten stations observed by the church of Paris, in an English translation by Gerhard Eger. The French original was published on the blog of the Schola Sainte-Cécile; since it is fairly lengthy, we have broken it up into six parts, each covering the stations celebrated that particular week; see part one for a general introduction.

5. Monday of the Second Week of Lent: station at the collegiate church of Saint-Benoît-le-Bétourné au quartier Saint-Jacques (Sanctus Benedictus Beneversi in vico Sancti Iacobi).

The cloister and church of Saint-Benoît-le-Bétourné in 1810.

This church was founded in the 6th century and dedicated to the Syrian martyrs Sergius and Bacchus, and then passed to the patronage of St Benedict of Nursia in the 13th century. During the reign of St Louis, a public market was held in the cloister, and the king authorized the canons of Notre-Dame to levy a duty on the bread and wine sold in this market. The storehouses in the church’s vast cloister kept the duties in grain or wine owed to the canons. This church was strangely built originally, without regard for the traditional orientation of prayer, so that the sanctuary and the high altar faced west (and this was without a doubt the only ancient Parisian church built in a disoriented fashion). Francis I had it altered in the beginning of the 16th century in order to place the sanctuary and the altar towards the east, in accord with the usual sense imposed by the liturgical canons. It then received its current nickname Saint-Benoît-le-Bistourné (i.e. “twice turned around”) or Saint-Benoît-le-Bétourné (i.e. “well turned”). Charles Perrault [1] was buried here in 1703.

The church was transformed into a barn in 1790 by the revolutionaries, and then destroyed in 1831 to make way for the Théâtre du Panthéon, which was itself torn down in 1854 to allow for the construction of the Rue des Écoles. The only remaining vestige of it is the old main gate of the church, which can be seen over the north façade of the Hôtel de Cluny in the garden. Saint-Benoît-le-Bétourné constituted the third stage of the Parisians’ pilgrimage in honour of St Dionysius, who is said to have celebrated Mass there and preached on the Trinity.

6. Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent: station at the collegiate church of Saint-Étienne-des-Grès près la Porte Saint-Jacques (Sanctus Stephanus de gressibus prope portam Sancti Iacobi).

Saint-Étienne-des-Grès before the revolution.

This very ancient church, which tradition holds was founded by St Dionysius himself, is mentioned in the Annals of Saint-Bertin in 857 as being outside the city walls, not far from the Porte Saint-Jacques. It was placed at the corner of the Rue Saint-Jacques and the old Rue Saint-Étienne des Grès (today Rue Cujas) in the 5th arrondissement. In the 11th century, the church was given by King Henry I to the Bishop of Paris, who set up a chapter there. Being from that time under the protection of the Cathedral, this church is one of the “four daughters of Notre-Dame”, a title which afforded its curé the title of “cardinal of Paris”, and the right to assist the bishop by standing at the corners (cardes) of the altar with the other cardinal priests during the Masses of the great solemnities of Christmas, Easter, and the Assumption. The chapter held twelve prebends and one chèvecerie (a chevecier was a canon charged with the maintenance of a church’s chevet and the care of its treasury and lighting), which were held by the canons of Notre-Dame by turns (in turno). The bell tower and the chapel of Our Lady of Good Deliverance date from this period. The qualifier des Grès (“of the steps”) appears for the first time in a charter from 1219, probably to distinguish it from the church of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, also founded around this time. The term refers to the steps (de gressibus) one had to mount to enter the church by the door in the Rue Saint-Jacques. In the 14th century its portal was redone and lasted until the Revolution.

Beginning in the 14th century as well, the statue of Our Lady of Good Deliverance became the object of particular veneration, and was especially popular during the course of the Wars of Religion, during which she was invoked as vanquisher of all heresies. In 1533, the Confraternity of the Charity of Our Lady of Good Deliverance was founded. Endowed by the Holy See with numerous indulgences, it quickly counted 12,000 members, including King Louis XIII and Queen Anne of Austria, who enrolled in 1622. Francis de Sales, who believed himself damned, recovered peace and confidence at the feet of this statue of Our Lady of Good Deliverance; in 1692, a chapel named for him was erected in the church in memory thereof. Such successes did not pass without disputes between the canons of Saint-Étienne-des-Grès and the confraternity; the latter was even dissolved by the Parlement of Paris in 1737, but re-established in 1774. The miraculous statue of Our Lady of Good Deliverance is currently kept in the convent of the Sisters of St Thomas of Villanova in Neuilly-sur-Seine. Saint-Étienne-des-Grès was closed on 12 July 1790 and destroyed in 1792. Some remains of its exterior walls and of its buttresses survived until the extension of the Faculty of Law in 1876. Its holy water font was well-known because it was surmounted by the famous paleo-Christian inscription ΝΙΨΟΝΑΝΟΜΗΜΑΤΑΜΗΜΟΝΑΝΟΨΙΝ, a Greek palindrome meaning “Wash your sins, not only your face”, also written on one of the pillars of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. Saint-Étienne-des-Grès constituted the second stage of the Parisians’ pilgrimage in honour of St Dionysius, and one could there venerate the relic of his crozier.

7. Friday of the Second Week of Lent: station at the priory church of Notre-Dame-des-Champs au Faubourg Saint-Jacques (Beata Maria de Campis in suburbio Sancti Iacobi).

The church of Notre-Dame des Champs and the Carmelite convent at the beginning of the 17th century.

Tradition holds that Saint Dionysius first established himself around here when he arrived in Lutetia, as Paris was then called, and preached about the love of the Virgin Mary. After the conversion of the region to Christianity, a church was erected and dedicated to the Virgin on the ruins of an ancient Roman temple of Mercury. This church was later named Notre-Dame-des-Vignes, since the place was encircled by vineyards at the time. King Robert the Pious (996-1031) ordered that it be enlarged to honour the place where Saint Dionysius is said to have celebrated the holy mysteries, and later the church became a priory of the Benedictines of the Abbey of Noirmoutier. The monks uprooted the surrounding vineyards and renamed the church Notre-Dame-des-Champs (“of the fields”). A crypt of this sanctuary survives in the basement of building 14bis in the current Rue Pierre-Nicole. In 1604, the Benedictines ceded Notre-Dame-des-Champs to the Duchess of Orléans-Longueville, who installed some Carmelites from Spain who made their monastery one of the most renowned in the 17th century. It was hither that, amongst others, Mademoiselle de La Vallière and Madame de Montespan [2] retired.

During the Revolution, the Carmelite convent was closed and the church destroyed, only the memory of its presence remaining in the name of the street, Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs. In 1856, a parish, detached from Saint-Sulpice, was created for the neighborhood, and it naturally received the name of Notre-Dame-des-Champs. A provisional wooden chapel was set up on 153 and 155 Rue de Rennes. The cornerstone of the new church was laid on 17 March 1867 and, eight years later, on 31 October 1876, the church was blessed. Of neo-Romanesque inspiration, its building was entrusted to Léon Ginain. It was dedicated on 25 March 1913 by Cardinal Amette, archbishop of Paris. Notre-Dame-des-Champs constituted the first stage of the Parisians’ pilgrimage in honour of St Dionysius.

[1] A French author and member of the Académie Française (1628-1703).
[2] Both were mistresses of King Louis XIV.

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.

Image result for fete-dieu procession ancienne
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.

Image result for fete-dieu procession ancienne

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.

Related image

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!)


NOTES:

[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.