Dom Guéranger on the Neo-Gallican Prefaces

As Gregory DiPippo over at the New Liturgical Movement begins his discussion of the Neo-Gallican Prefaces whose facultative use the Lord Francis PP. recently extended beyond the confines of France, it seemed germane to translate Dom Prosper Guéranger’s remarks on these very Prefaces.


The same reason [viz. that minds might be elevated to God, and helped to enkindle the holy fire of faith, hope, and charity] has led us to add certain Prefaces when proper ones were lacking, to wit for Advent and certain greater solemnities of the year, namely Corpus Christi, the Dedication, All Saints, and others. Thus we have tried, as much as possible, to draw near to the ancient custom of the Roman Church, where almost every Mass was assigned its own Preface, as is still the case today in the churches that use the Ambrosian Rite. 

Charles de Ventimille, Pastoral Letter announcing the reformed Parisian Missal, 11 March 1738

Why, then, were the prefaces of Advent, the Dedication, All Saints, and even St Denis not taken from the ancient sacramentaries? Why commission the composition of entirely new ones from doctors of the Sorbonne, whose style, so prolix, so bloated, is so far from the refined cadences of St Leo and St Gelasius?

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Laurent-François Boursier (1679-1749)

Why, above all, was a heretic like Dr Laurent-François Boursier, expelled from the Sorbonne in 1720 for having written against the Council of Embrun,1 given the honour of composing such sacred prayers? To this man the Church of Paris owes the Preface of All Saints, also sung on patronal feasts. In this Preface, Boursier tells God that, by crowning the merits of the saints, He crowns his own gifts: eorum coronando merita, coronas dona tua: a very Catholic expression in one sense, and a very Jansenist one in another.

As a liturgical historian we would be remiss if we did not mention that Boursier died on 17 February 1749 in the parish of Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet, without having retracted his Appeal.2

The Curé of this parish, although an opponent of the Appeal, nevertheless administered the Sacraments to Boursier, and the Archbishop of Beaumont therefore exiled him to Senlis for his act of schism. And yet Boursier’s Preface continued, and continues, to be sung!

Dom Prosper Guéranger, Institutions liturgiques, vol. 2, p. 371.

Notes.

1. A controversial council held in 1727 that deposed the Lord Jean Soanen, bishop of Séez, one of the major baculous opponents of the papal bull Unigenitus, which condemned Jansenist propositions.

2. The appeal against the bull Unigenitus.

The Jansenist Use: Liturgical Life in Port-Royal

In his monumental Institutions liturgiques, Dom Prosper Guéranger famously castigated the Neo-Gallican liturgies that proliferated in 17th and 18th century France for, inter alia, being products of Jansenist inspiration. Setting aside the question of whether these liturgies betray a heretical notion of predestination, it is true that many figures associated with the Jansenist movement did have a keen interest in the liturgy. Contrary to what one might expect given Dom Guéranger’s accusations, these “Jansenists” prized respect for ancient custom and repudiated needless novelty. 

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The Abbey of Port-Royal-des-Champs (© RMN-GP (musée de Port-Royal des Champs) / © Gérard Blot).

The intellectual centre of Jansenism was the Abbey of Port-Royal, a community of Cistercian nuns who, after a reform in the early 17th century led by the formidable Abbess Angélique Arnauld, became noted for their exemplary religious observance and cultivation of liturgical piety. Their piety attracted a number of intellectuals who chose to settle as solitaires on the abbey grounds, leading a retired life of study and simple manual labour, including Angélique’s brother Antoine, one of the most prominent Jansenist theologians. Both the nuns and solitaries set up schools to teach neighbouring children. 

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The nuns of Port-Royal holding a conference in the solitude on the abbey grounds (© RMN-GP / © Gérard Blot).

One of those children was Jean-Baptiste Le Brun des Marettes, whom our readers will remember as the author of the Voyages liturgiques. His father had been sent to the galleys for publishing Jansenist works, and Jean-Baptiste himself once did a stint at the Bastille for his involvement in the controversy. His main interest, however, was not moral theology but liturgy. His Voyages evince his veneration for liturgical antiquity and opposition to modern developments in matters of ritual, furnishing, and vestments. Yet he found a way to reconcile such views with his enthusiasm for the Neo-Gallican reforms of the Mass and Office, ultimately sharing the hubristic certainty of most men of his age that their own putative enlightenment was able to improve upon “Gothic barbarism”. Our Aelredus has described and critiqued the seemingly contradictory tastes that Jean-Baptiste Le Brun shared with other Jansenist figures

With these remarks in mind, let us see how the liturgy was celebrated in the Jansenist stronghold of Port-Royal, in a chapter of the Voyages that Le Brun des Marettes wrote before the abbey’s suppression in 1709 and the destruction of most of its buildings. (Although the Voyages was published in 1718, Le Brun des Marettes employs the present tense in this chapter.) 

We are obliged to the Amish Catholic for his help in this translation, which he has cross-posted on his ‘blog. He has penned the following preface:

The Voyages liturgiques offers several fascinating glimpses into the communal piety of Port-Royal des Champs. Marettes pays attention to the physical space of Port-Royal. He reports that the paintings in the church are by Philippe de Champaigne. The great French classicist had a daughter at the convent, Soeur Catherine de Saint-Suzanne, and seems to have provided the monastery with several portraits of both nuns and solitaires as well as several edifying works of art. The large altarpiece depicting the Last Supper is today in the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, with a copy in the Louvre. Marretes devotes particular attention to the epitaphs in and around the church. The epitaphs for the solitaires Emmanuel le Cerf, an Oratorian, and Jean Hamon, a medical doctor and mystic, are especially moving.

Yet it is the liturgical and communal details he provides here that are most exciting for the historian of Jansenism and which, in fact, force us to take the nuns more seriously as daughters of St. Benedict and St. Bernard. Following the egalitarian reform of Mère Angélique, the Abbey did not require dowries of its postulants. Singing the office according to the use of Paris, they prayed the whole Psalter every week. The first chapter of the Constitutions of Port-Royal is dedicated to veneration of the Blessed Sacrament, a significant organizational choice. There were in fact both communal and individual devotions to the Blessed Sacrament at Port-Royal; for, “in addition to engaging in perpetual adoration … they also have the custom of prostrating themselves before the Sacrament before going up to receive holy communion.” Following an ancient usage, they only exposed the Blessed Sacrament during the Octave of Corpus Christi, and even then, only after the daily High Mass. Usually, the Sacrament was reserved in a hanging pyx, “attached to the end of a veiled wooden fixture shaped like a crosier.” The French Jansenists seem to have had a fixation with hanging pyxes; both M. Saint-Cyran and M. Singlin wrote about “suspension” of the Blessed Sacrament in this form.

The community would meet for chapter daily. The nuns engaged in an exacting and penitential adherence to the Rule, including silence, vegetarianism, abstinence from strong drink, and only a single meal per day in Lent. In their persons as in their ecclesiastical furniture, they followed the Cistercian spirit of holy simplicity; Marettes reports that “The nuns’ habits are coarse, and there is neither gold nor silver in their church vestments.” Yet they were not without the consolation of quiet reading in the garden during summertime.

Marettes reminds us that Port-Royal was not just a community of nuns, but also included male hermits and domestics. He writes, “After the Credo, the priest descends to the bottom of the altar steps and blesses the bread offered by one of the abbey’s domestics.” These servants and workers seem to have had a special participation in the liturgy through this rite, so reminiscent of the blessing of bread found even today in the Eastern Churches. The Necrology of Port-Royal includes these men as well in its roll-call of the Abbey’s luminaries, confirming the sometimes-overlooked egalitarianism of Port-Royaliste spirituality.

One of the more striking moments in the text comes when Marettes writes that “On Sundays and feasts of abstention from servile work there is a general communion; at every Mass said in this church at least one of the nuns receives communion.” The practice of lay communion at every Mass contradicts the usual picture of the Jansenists receiving infrequently or as discouraging lay communion. The nuns themselves, at least, seem to have received the Sacrament daily.

And I cannot help but see in one custom a potent metaphor for the troubled history of the monastery. Marettes writes, “On Holy Saturday, they extinguish the lights throughout the entire house, and during the Office they bring back the newly blessed fire.” The extraordinary and unjust persecution that the nuns endured under the authorities of the French Church and State – to the point of being deprived of communion during Easter, of being denied the last rites, of condemnation to a slow decline even after reconciliation with the Archbishop, and, at the very end, of having their bodies desecrated and even fed to the dogs – must have seemed like a very long Holy Saturday. Yet the blessed fire of the Holy Ghost does not abandon those who faithfully serve God in humble prayer and penitence. Where we find the Cross, Resurrection follows.

It is not for us to resurrect the nuns and solitaires of Port-Royal; historians can only do so much. But by taking the dead on their own terms, we can at least pay them the homage we owe any historical figure, and perhaps especially the defeated, the maligned, the powerless, and the forgotten. Only by doing so can we reckon with our implication in the longstanding myths that efface those voices. It is my hope that the publication of this important translation will help us in that process of revision.

Richard T. Yoder
The Amish Catholic


Port-Royal-des-Champs is an abbey of nuns of the Order of Cîteaux lying between Versailles and the former monastery of Chevreuse.

The church is quite large, and its simplicity and cleanliness inspires respect and devotion. 

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The interior of the church, with the main altar at the right (© RMN-GP / © Gérard Blot).

The main altar is not attached to the wall, since the ample and well-kept sacristy is located behind it. Above the altar hangs the holy pyx, attached to the end of a veiled wooden fixture shaped like a crosier. It is set under a large crucifix above a well-regarded painting of the Last Supper by Philippe de Champaigne.

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The main altar, bare aside from the Crucifix. Above it hangs the Blessed Sacrament inside a veiled pyx (engraving from Dom Antoine Rivet de La Grange’s Nécrologie de Port-Royal-des-Champs, 1723).

There is nothing on the altar but a crucifix. The four wooden candlesticks are set on the ground at its sides.

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There were two relic altars outside the entrance to the nuns’ choir (© RMN-GP / © Gérard Blot).

The woodwork of the sanctuary and parquet floor is very well maintained, as is that of the nuns’ choir. Indeed, the stalls are kept in such good condition that one would think they were carved not twenty years ago, when in fact they are over 150 years old.1

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The nuns’ choir.

The church contains some paintings by Champaigne, and a very well-kept holy water basin to the right of its entry.

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The cloister, where several abbesses and nuns were interred (© RMN-GP / © Gérard Blot).

Inside the cloister, there are several tombs of abbesses and other nuns. From these tombs one can garner

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Engraving of one of the tombs in the cloister, shewing a nun with a maniple (from the Voyages liturgiques).

1. that the first abbesses of the Order of Cîteaux, following the spirit of St Bernard, did not have croziers. Even today, the Abbess of Port-Royal does not use one.

2. that in this monastery the nuns used to be consecrated by the bishop. Two of them are represented on the same tomb wearing a sort of maniple.2 The inscription around the tomb reads:

Here lie two blood-sisters, consecrated nuns of this abbey, Adeline and Nicole aux Pieds d’Estampes. May their souls rest in everlasting peace. Amen. Adeline died in the year of our Lord 1288.3

There is an ancient necrology or obituary in this abbey that includes the ritual for the consecration or blessing of a nun. It describes how on these occasions the bishop celebrated Mass and gave communion to the nun he blessed. To this effect he consecrated a large host which he broke into eight particles, giving one as communion to the nun. He then placed the seven other particles of his host in her right hand, covered by a dominical or small white cloth. During the eight days after her consecration or blessing, she gave herself these particles as communion. Priests also used to give themselves communion during the forty days after their ordination or consecration.4

Under the lamp by the baluster lies a tomb dated 1327, if I remember correctly, which is worthy of description, especially given that its most interesting aspect is misreported in the Gallia Christiana of the brothers de Sainte-Marthe.

It used to be the custom for devout noble ladies to take up the nun’s habit during their last illness, or at least to be clothed in it after their death. See, for example, the tomb of Queen Blanche, mother of King St Louis, at Maubuisson Abbey near Pontoise. Here in Port-Royal we find the tomb of one Dame Marguerite de Levi—wife of Matthew V de Marly of the illustrious House of Montmorency, Grand-Chamberlain of France—buried in a nun’s habit, with this inscription:

Here rested, whose name thou shalt have there hereafter. Marguerite was the wife of Matthew de Marly, and daughter of the noble Guy de Levi. She bore six boys. After her husband died, she went to the nuns. Amongst the claustral sisters she chose to make her home. In her long rest, may she be buried in nun’s clothing. May eternal light shine upon her in peace everlasting. Year 1327.5

By the door of the church, in the vestibule, is the tomb of a priest vested in his vestments. His chasuble is rounded in all corners, not cut or clipped, gathered up over his arms, and hanging down below and behind him in points. His maniple is not wider below than it is on top, and he does not wear his stole crossed over his breast, but straight down like bishops, Carthusians, and the ancient monks of Cluny, who have rejected innovation on this point. His alb has apparels on the bottom matching the vestments: this is what the manuscripts call the alba parata. They are still used in cathedral churches and ancient abbeys.

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The Abbey viewed from the east. Note the domestics’ cemetery next to the entrance to the church (© RMN-GP / © Gérard Blot).

Next to the church door and the clock tower lies the small cemetery of domestics, where two epitaphs are worthy of note.

To God the Best and Greatest.

Here lies Emmanuel le Cerf, who, after dedicating most of his life to the education of the people, deemed the evangelical life superior to evangelical preaching and, in order that he who had lived only for others should die to himself, embraced a penitential life in his old age as eagerly as he did seriously. He embraced the weight of old age, more conducive to suffering than aught else, and various diseases of the body as remedy for his soul and advantageous provision for the journey to eternity. Humbly he awaited death in this port of rest, living no longer as a priest but as a layman, and attained it nearly ninety years old. He died on 8 December 1674, and wished to be buried in this cemetery near the Cross. May he rest in peace.6

And the other:

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Jean Hamon

Here rests Jean Hamon, doctor, who, having spent his youth in the study of letters, was eminently learned in the Greek and Latin tongues. Seeing that he flourished in the University of Paris by the renown of his eloquence, and that his fame grew daily for his skill of medicine, he feared the lure of flattery and fame and the haughtiness of life. Suddenly stirred by the prompting of the Holy Spirit, he quickly poured out the value of his inheritance into the bosom of the poor and, in the thirty-third year of his age, he dragged himself into this solitude, as he had long pondered doing. First he applied himself to the labour of the fields, then to serving the ministers of Christ, and soon returned to his original profession, healing the wounded members of the Redeemer in the person of the poor, among whom he honoured the handmaidens of Christ as the spouses of the Lord. He wore the coarsest garments, fasting nearly every day, slept on a board, spent day and night in nearly perpetual vigils, prayer, and meditation, nocturnal works everywhere breathing the love of God. For thirty-seven years he accumulated the toils of medicine, walking some twelve leagues every day, very often while fasting, to visit the sick in the villages, providing them what they might need, helping them by counsel, by hand, with medicines, with food whereof he deprived himself, living for twenty-two years on eating bran bread and water, which he ate secretly and alone, while standing up. As wisely as he had lived, considering every day his last, thus he departed this life in the Lord, amidst the prayers and tears of his brethren, in deep silence and sweet meditation of the Lord’s mercies, with his eyes, mind, and heart fixed on Jesus Christ, mediator between God and man, rejoicing that he obtained the tranquil death for which he had prayed, that he might gain eternal life, at the age of 69, on 22 February 1687.7

Heeding the spirit of St Bernard, the nuns are subject to the Lord Archbishop of Paris, who is their superior. They also sing the office according to the use of Paris, except that they sing the ferial psalms every day in order to fulfill the Rule of St Benedict which they follow, and which binds them to saying the entire psalter every week. This they do with the approbation of the late M. de Harlay, Archbishop of Paris.

At the blessing and aspersion of holy water on Sundays, the abbess and her nuns come forward to receive it at the grill from the priest’s hand.

After the Credo, the priest descends to the bottom of the altar steps and blesses the bread offered by one of the abbey’s domestics. He then announces any feasts or fasting days during the coming week, and gives a short exhortation or explanation of the day’s Gospel.

At every High Mass of the year, the sacristan or thurifer goes to the nuns’ grill at the end of the Credo to receive, through a hatch in the screen, a box from the sister sacristan containing the exact number of hosts needed for the sisters who are to receive communion. He brings them to the altar and gives them the celebrant.

At High Masses for the Dead, the sacristan goes to the grill to receive the bread, a large host, and the wine in a cruet, and brings them to the altar. He gives the host to the priest on the paten, kissing it on the inside edge, and the cruet of wine to the deacon, who pours the wine into the chalice.

At the Agnus Dei, the nuns embrace and give each other the kiss of peace.

On Sundays and feasts of abstention from servile work there is a general communion; at every Mass said in this church at least one of the nuns receives communion.

Devotion for the Most Blessed Sacrament is so great in this monastery that in addition to engaging in perpetual adoration as part of the Institute of the Blessed Sacrament (it is for this reason that they have exchanged their black scapular for a white one charged with a scarlet cross over the breast, about two fingers in width and a half-foot tall), they also have the custom of prostrating themselves before the Sacrament before going up to receive Holy Communion.8

Nevertheless, the Blessed Sacrament is only exposed during the Octave of Corpus Christi, and this every day after High Mass. For here Mass is never said at an altar where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed. We will come back to this point.

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The nuns of Port-Royal processing through the cloister on Corpus Christi. Note the sleeves of the clerics’ surplices are split, long, and trailing, as in Paris and the rest of the ecclesiastical province of Sens (© RMN-GP / © Gérard Blot).

The nuns of this monastery observe an exact and rigorous silence. Except in cases of illness, they never eat meat, and fish only rarely, about twelve or fifteen times a year. They solely drink water, and observe the great fast of Lent in its full rigour, as in the age of St Bernard, eating only at five in the evening after Vespers, which they usually say at 4 p.m., even though they wake up at night to sing Matins and perform manual labour during the day.

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The refectory of Port-Royal (© RMN-GP / © Gérard Blot).

A spiritual conference is held after lunch, during which they continue to work, and during which it is not permitted to speak aloud.

During the summer, the nuns are sometimes allowed to go into the garden after dinner, but many refrain from doing so, and those that go do so separately, taking a book to read or some work to do.

Matins are said here at 2 a.m. together with Lauds, but in winter Lauds are said separately at 6 a.m, and then a Low Mass is celebrated between Lauds and Prime. During the rest of the year, Prime is said at 6 a.m., followed by a Conventual Low Mass. Chapter follows with a reading from the Martyrology, the Necrology, and the Rule, some chapter of which the Abbess explicates once or twice a week. Then they hold the proclamation of faults, and appropriate penances are imposed.

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The nuns of Port-Royal in chapter (© RMN-GP / © Gérard Blot).

Terce is said at 8:30 a.m., followed by High Mass. Sext is at 11 a.m., and on ecclesiastical fast days at 11:45, after which they go to lunch, except in Lent when they do not dine, for in the Rule of St Benedict to lunch means not to fast. None is at 2 p.m. in winter and at 2:30 in summer.

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The nuns of Port-Royal singing the Office (© RMN-GP / © Gérard Blot).

The first bell for Vespers rings at 4 p.m., and the office begins some fifteen minutes later. It finishes at 5 or 5:15, for they sing very unhurriedly and distinctly. After Vespers in Lent, they sound the refectory bell, and the nuns go there to lunch and dine together. One sees nuns following this regime until they are 72 or 75 or even older. Not too long ago there was a priest who, in Lent, only ate in the evening, even though he was 87 years old, and lived till he was 92.

On Holy Saturday, they extinguish the lights throughout the entire house, and during the Office they bring back the newly blessed fire.

The nuns’ habits are coarse, and there is neither gold nor silver in their church vestments.

The Abbey receives girls without a dowry, and makes neither pacts or conventions for the reception of nuns, following the primitive spirit of their monastery, as is clear from the following acts:

Be it known to all men that I, Eudes de Thiverval, esquire, and Thècle my wife gave in pure and perpetual alms, for the salvation of our souls and those of our ancestors, two bushels of corn, that is, one of winter-crop and the other of oats from our tithe-district of Jouy, to the Church of Our Lady of Port-Royal and the nuns serving God therein, to be collected every day on the feast of St Remigius. Be it known that the Abbess and Convent of the said place freely received one of our daughters into their society of nuns. Not wishing to incur the vice of ingratitude, we have given the said two bushels of corn in alms to the said House of our will without any pact. Which, that it may remain ratified and fixed, we have made to be confirmed by the support of our seal. Done in the year of grace 1216.9

Another:

Renaud, by the grace of God bishop of Chartres, to all who would earlier or later inspect the present page, in the Lord greeting. We make it known to all future and present that by these presents that the Abbess and Convent of Nuns of Porrois [i.e. Port-Royal] freely received in charity Asceline, daughter of Hugues de Marchais, esquire, as a sister and nun of God. Thereafter the said esquire, lest he should give away his said daughter to be betrothed to Christ without a dowry from part of his patrimony, standing in our presence did give and grant to the Church of Porrois and the nuns serving God therein in perpetual alms for the portion of his said daughter the return of one annual bushel of corn in his grange of Marchais or Lonville to be collected every year in the Paris measure of Dourdan, and three firkins of wine in his vineyard of Marchais to be collected yearly, and ten shillings in his census-district of Marchais. That his gift may remain ratified and fixed, at the petition of the same Hugues we have made the present letters to be confirmed by our seal in testimony. Done at Chartres in the year of the Incarnation of Our Lord 1217, in the month of April.10

Another:

Be it known to all them that I, Odeline de Sèvre, gave in pure and perpetual alms to the house of Port-Royal for the soul of my late husband Enguerrand of happy memory, and for the salvation of my soul, and of all my children and ancestors, and especially for the salvation and love of my daughter Marguerite who received the religious habit in the same house, four arpents of vine in my clos of Sèvre to be possessed in perpetuity. My sons Gervais the eldest, Roger, and Simon praised, willed, and granted this donation, to whom it belonged by hereditary right. And further we offered the same donation with the book upon the altar of Port-Royal. In testimony and perpetual confirmation whereof, since by said sons Gervais, Roger, and Simon were not yet esquires and did not yet have seals, I the said Odeline confirmed the present charter by the support of my seal with their will and convent. Done on the year of our Lord 1228.11

Notes.

1. Author’s note: [After the Abbey’s suppression] the altar and choir stalls were purchased by the Cistercian nuns of Paris and placed in their church, where one can see them.

2. Translators’ note: As did Carthusian nuns.

3. Hic jacent duae sorores germanae, hujus praesentis Abbatiae Moniales Deo sacratae, Adelina et Nicholaa dictae ad Pedem, de Stampis quondam progenitae: quarum animae in pace perpetua requiescant. Amen. Obiit dicta Adelina anno Domini M. C. C. octog. octavo. 

4. Author’s note: See Fulbert. Epist. 2 ad Finard. Rituale Rotomag. ann. 1651.

5. Hic requievit, ibi post cujus nomen habebis.
Margareta fuit Matthæi Malliancensis
Uxor; & hanc genuit generosus Guido Levensis.
Sex parit ista mares. Vir obit. Petit hæc Moniales.
Intra claustrales elegit esse lares.
In requie multa sit Nonnæ veste sepulta;
Luceat æterna sibi lux in pace suprema.
Anno M. C. bis, LX. bis, V. semel, I. bis.

6. D. O. M. Hic jacet Emmanuel le Cerf, qui cum majorem vitæ partem erudiendis populis consumpsisset, vitam evangelicam evanglicæ prædicationi anteponendam ratus, ut sibi moreretur, qui aliis tantum vixerat, ad pœnitentiam accurrit senex eo festinantius, quo serius; pondusque ipsum senectutis, quo nihil ad patiendum aptius, et varios corporis morbos in remedium animæ conversos, tanquam opportunum æternitatis viaticum amplexus; mortem humilis, nec se jam sacerdotem, sed laicum gerens, in hoc quietis portu expectavit, quæ obtigit fere nonagenario. Obiit 8 Decembris 1674 et in Cœmeterio prope Crucem sepeliri voluit. Requiescat in pace.

7. Hic quiescit Joannes Hamon Medicus, qui adolescentia in studiis litterarum transacta, latine græceque egregie doctus, cum in Academia Parisiensi eloquentiæ laude floreret, et medendi peritia in dies inclaresceret, famae blandientis insidias et superbiam vitæ metuens, Spiritus impetu subito percitus, patrimonii pretio in sinum pauperum festinanter effuso, anno ætatis xxxiij in solitudinem hanc, quam diu jam meditabatur, se proripuit. Ubi primum opere rustico exercitus, tum Christi ministris famulatus, mox professioni pristinæ redditus, membra Redemptoris infirma curans in pauperibus, inter quos ancillas Christi quasi sponsas Domini sui suspexit; veste vilissima, jejuniis prope quotidianis, cubatione in asseribus, pervigiliis, precatione, et meditatione diu noctuque fere perpetua, lucubrationibus amorem Dei undique spirantibus, cumulavit ærumnas medendi quas toleravit per annos xxxvj quotidiano pedestri xij plus minus milliarum itinere, quod sæpissime jejunus conficiebat, villarum obiens ægros, eorumque commodis serviens consilio, manu, medicamentis, alimentis, quibus se defraudabat, pane furfureo et aqua, idque clam et solus, et stando per annos xxij. sustentans vitam, quam ut sapienter duxerat, quasi quotidie moriturus, ita inter fratrum preces et lacrymas in alto silentio, misericordias Domini suavissime recolens; atque in Mediatorem Dei et hominum Jesum Christum, oculis, mente, et corde defixus, exitu ad votum suum tranquillo lætus, ut æternum victurus clausit in Domino, annos natus 69 dies 20 viij Kalend. Mart. anni 1687.

8. Translators’ note: The nuns of Port-Royal began to practice perpetual adoration in 1623 to beg for protection from the Abbot General of the Cistercian order, who opposed Mother Angélique Arnaud’s reform of the abbey. Shortly thereafter, she endeavoured to found an Institute “whose principal end should be honouring the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, and to ensure therefor that there be always someone adoring It day and night” (Mémoires d’Angélique, p. 57). In August 1627, the Most Holy Lord Pope Urban VIII signified his approbation of her designs by promulgating a brief putting Port-Royal under episcopal jurisdiction and setting up the Institute of the Blessed Sacrament.

9. Noverint universi quod ego Odo de Tiverval miles et Thecla uxor mea dedimus in puram et perpetuam eleemosynam, pro remedio animarum nostrarum et antecessorum nostrorum, Ecclesiae beatae Mariae de Portu-Regio et Monialibus ibidem Deo servientibus duos modios bladi, unum scilicet hibernagii, et alterum avenae in decima nostra de Joüy, singulis annis in festo S. Remigii percipiendos. Sciendum vero est quod Abbatissa et ejusdem loci Conventus unam de filiabus nostris in societatem Monialium benigne receperunt. Nos vero ingratudinis vitium incurrere nolentes, praedictos duos modios dictae jam domui de voluntate nostra sine aliquo pacto eleemosynavimus. Quod ut ratum et immobile perseveret, sigilli nostri munimine fecimus roborari. Actum anno gratiae M. CC. xvj.

10. Reginaldus Dei gratia Cartonensis Episcopus, universis primis et posteris praesentem paginam inspecturis salutem in Domino. Notum facimus omnibus tam futuris quam praesentibus quod, quoniam Abbatissa et Conventus Sanctimonialium de Porregio Acelinam filiam Hugonis de Marchesio militis in sororem et sanctimonialiem Dei et caritatis intuitu gratis receperant, postmodum dictus miles in nostra constitutus praesentia, ne dictam filiam suam nuptam Christi parte sui patrominii relinqueret indotatam, Ecclesiae de Porregio et Monialibus ibi Deo servientibus dedit et concessit in perpetuam eleemosynam, pro portione dictae filiae suae unum modium bladi annui redditus in granchia sua de Marchesio vel de Lonvilla singulis annis percipiendum ad mensuram Parisiensem de Dordano, et tres modios vini in vinea sua de Marchesio annuatim percipiendos, et decem solidos in censu suo de Marchesio. Ut autem donum ejus ratum et stabile permaneret, ad petitionem ipsius Hugonis praesentes Litteras in testimonium sigillo nostro fecimus roborari. Actum Carnoti anno Dominicae Incarnationis M. CC. septimo decimo, mense Aprili.

11. Noverint universi quod ego Odelina de Sèvre donavi in puram et perpetuam eleemosynam domui Portus-Regis pro anima bonae memoriae Ingeranni quondam mariti mei, et pro salute animae meae, et omnium liberorum et progenitorum meorum; et maxime pro salute et amore Margaretae filiae meae quae in eadem domo religionis habitum assumpserat, quatuor arpentos vineae in clauso meo de Sèvre jure perpetuo possidendos. Hanc autem donationem laudaverunt, voluerunt et concesserunt filii mei Gervasius primogenitus, Rogerus et Simon, ad quos eadem donatio jure hereditario pertinebat. Immo et ipsi eandem donationem obtulimus cum libro super altare Portus Regis. In cujus rei testimonium et conformationem perpetuam ego praedicta Odelina, quia praedicti filii mei G. R. et Simon necdum milites erant, et necdum sigilla habebant, de voluntate eorum et assensu praesentem Chartam sigilli mei munimine roboravi. Actum anno Domini M. CC. vigesimo octavo.

Live-streamed Masses in the Use of Lyon

Many of our readers might be interested to learn that two churches in Lyon have been regularly celebrating Mass in the ancient and venerable use proper to their city and, as a consequence of the ongoing pestilence, have taken to live-streaming them online.

At the Collegiate church of Saint Just, run by the FSSP, it is celebrated Tuesdays at 18:45 local time, and at the church of Saint Georges Saturdays at 9:00 local time. FSSP Lyon has also made available a helpful guide to the Lyonese Mass, with a French translation of the ordinary.

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L’Abbé Brice Meissonnier, FSSP, celebrates Mass in the Lyonese church in the church of St-Just. Note the ash-coloured vestments, used in Lent.

A Sequence in Times of Pestilence

Rorate caeli recently proffered the laudable idea to have recourse to an ancient Marian sequence athwart the plague. We here provide a translation of the Schola Sainte Cécile’s notes on the background of this interesting piece.

“The Peddler,” woodcut designed by Hans Holbein the Younger for the “Dance of Death” series, 1523–26; in the British Museum
“The Peddler,” woodcut designed by Hans Holbein the Younger for the “Dance of Death” series, 1523–26 (Source)

Stella cæli exstirpavit,
quæ lactavit Dominum,
mortis pestem, quam plantavit
primus parens hominum.
The Star of Heaven,
who gave suck to the Lord,
hath vanquished the plague of death,
planted by the first parent of men.
Ipsa stella nunc dignetur
sidera compescere,
quorum bella plebem cædunt
diræ mortis ulcere.
May this Star now deign
to restrain the heavenly bodies
whose battles slay the people
with the dreadful sore of death.
Piisima Stella maris,
a peste succurre nobis.
audi nos, Domina, nam filius tuus
nihil negans, te honorat.
O most loving Star of the sea,
succour us from pestilence.
Hearken unto us, Our Lady, for thy son,
denieth thee naught, and honoureth thee.
Salva nos, Jesu,
pro quibus Virgo Maria te orat.
Save us, O Jesu,
for whom thy Virgin Mother prayeth thee.
℣. Ora pro nobis, piissima Dei Genitrix.
℟. Quæ contrivisti caput serpentis, auxiliare nobis.
℣. Pray for us, most loving Mother of God.
℟. Thou who crushedst the head of the serpent, help us.
Oremus.
Deus misericordiæ, Deus pietatis, Deus indulgentiae, qui misertus es super afflictionem populi tui, et dixisti Angelo percutienti populum tuum: Contine manum tuam; ob amorem illius Stellæ gloriosæ, cujus ubera pretiosa contra venenum nostrorum delictorum dulciter suxisti: præsta auxilium gratiæ tuæ, ut intercedente beata Virgine Maria Matre tua et beato Bartholomæo apostolo tuo dilecto, ab omni peste et improvisa morte secure liberemur, et a totius perditionis incursu misericorditer salvemur. Per te, Jesu Christe, Rex gloriæ, qui cum Patre et Spiritu sancto vivis et regnas, Deus, in sæcula sæculorum. ℟. Amen.
Let us pray.
God of mercy, God of piety, God of pardon, who hath pity on the affliction of thy people, and saidst to the Angel that slew thy people: Hold thy hand; for the love of that glorious Star, whose precious paps thou didst sweetly suck against the venom of our trespasses: vouchsafe the help of thy grace, that by the intercession of the blessed Virgin Mary thy Mother and of blessed Bartholomew, thy belovèd apostle, we may be safely freed from all pestilence and unexpected death, and mercifully saved from every inroad of death and ruin. Through thee, Jesus Christ, King of glory, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest, God, world without end. ℟. Amen.

The verses of this prayer in times of pestilence are taken from a homily on Our Lord’s Nativity delivered in the 8th century by St Peter, bishop of Damascus. According to tradition, the text was written on a piece of paper given by St Batholomew in an apparitionto the Poor Clares of Coimbra in Portugal when that city was ravaged by the plague in 1317. The sisters duly prayed it, and their convent was spared. This monastery had been founded in 1314 by St Elizabeth, Queen of Portugal (1271-1336), who took the veil there after the death of her husband, King Denis, and died in the odour of sanctity. She was canonized by Pope Urban VIII in 1625.

The prayer is in the form of a prose or sequence. Two choirs alternate each verse and come together to sing the last verse in unison, which is a trope: the music and text are also used in other prayers to Our Lady. The melody given by the Schola Sainte Cécile and reproduced below, is taken from the Cantuale Romano-Seraphicum (1951), with the original rhythm restored.

prose-stella-caeli-extirpavit-priere-pour-les-temps-d-epidemie

Another version, with a slightly different text, was published by Hermann Mott in Cologne in 1660:

mott.png

From Coimbra, the sequence spread throughout the West. In 1575, for example, the canons of the Collegiate Church of Sainte-Croix in Poligny decided to sing it every day before High Mass intimes of pestilence. The Ursulines of Nîmes sang it daily after Mass during the plague of 1640. It was generally sung with its versicle and collect, followed by antiphons, versicles, and collects in honour of St Roch and St Sebastian, the two main saintly patrons invoked against the plague. See, for instance, this 1781 breviary for the use of the confraternity of the White Penitents in Saint-Laurent-lès-Grenoble.

A version in Gregorian chant:

A beautiful polyphonic version, from the Jesuit missions in Paraguay:

The Destruction of the Ancient Cistercian Rite

Although in promulgating the Tridentine books St Pius V made it clear proper liturgical uses of proven antiquity were to survive,[1] a centralizing Spirit of the Council of Trent nevertheless did lead to the suffocation of many such venerable uses. The Cistercian use is one example, and Archdale King here tells the turbulent story of its vicissitudes in the wake of the Pian reform.

An excerpt from Liturgies of the Religious Orders by Archdale A. King, The Bruce Publishing Co., 1955.


0469
The beginning of the Canon, from a Missal used at Rievaulx (BL MS Add. 46203, f. 49).

The continued existence of the traditional rite of the Order was never threatened by the reforming activities of St Pius V (1566-1572). The bull Quo primum tempore (1570) expressly approved the use of liturgies which would show a continuous usage of at least two hundred years, and that of the Cistercians had been in existence for four hundred. It was not, therefore, a privilege that the Pope granted when he confirmed the Cistercian use, but rather a right that he respected.[2] The constitution Ex innumeris curis (1570), which was addressed to the Cistercians, affirmed that the Order should preserve its liturgy intact both for Mass and Office. It desired “the whole Order to celebrate the holy Sacrifice of the Mass and all the offices of the day and night according to the rite proper to the Order.”[3] Two years previously, the same holy Pontiff had informed the Congregation of Castile in the bull Intra cordis (25 October 1568) that his liturgical reform concerned only those churches and religious houses in which the Office should be, or had been, celebrated according to the rite of the Roman Church. Pius IX (1846-1878), recalling his saintly predecessor, said that it was altogether lawful (jure inde ac merito) for the illustrious Cistercian family to maintain intact its liturgical tradition:[4] an opinion confirmed by the Congregation of Rites on 8 March 1913.

Such indeed may be Rome’s views on the question, but there had been, three centuries before, a general abandonment of Cistercian liturgical formulas at the behest of religious who desired “novelty” rather than tradition.[5]

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A depiction of the celebration of Mass in the Opusculum of Jacobus Anglicus, a 14th-century Cistercian at Oxford (BL MS Royal 6E VI, f.246b).

As early as 1573 Wettingen and Marienstadt had already adopted the Roman rite as exemplified in the books of the Pian reform, although in that very year we find the abbot of Cîteaux, Nicholas I Boucherat, visiting houses in Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Belgium, and Luxemburg, in all of which he impressed upon the religious their duty to maintain the rite proper to the Order.[6] His successor, Edme de la Croix, was invited by the general chapter of 1601 to write a treatise on the Cistercian liturgy, but the “landslide” could not be averted. Several houses had already discontinued the O Salutaris after the consecration and the psalm Laetatus sum after the Pater noster in the Mass. The chapter of 1601 had made it clear that the old rite was to be maintained,[7] but love of novelty proved too strong, and the “reforming” work was accelerated.

Cisterian_Mass_Hauterive
The reading of the Gospel at the traditional Cistercian Mass celebrated in Hauterive.

Two abbots of Cîteaux stand out in respect to the so-called “reform”: Nicholas II Boucherat (1604-1625), under whom the axe was laid at the root of the traditional rite, and Claude Vaussin (1643-1670), who gathered up the fragments that remained in the liturgical books at present in use.

The general chapter of 1605 passed a number of disquieting measures which legalized various Roman practices. Nicholas II seems to have been authorized to draw up a statement on the traditional rite, but the statutes that were passed showed clearly the trend of events, and we find by way of a preface: Ut Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae, quoad fieri potest, conformetur, deinceps… The concessions included the suppression of the Alleluia in the time of Septuagesima, use of the Roman martyrology until a new Cistercian edition is forthcoming, suppression of the daily Mass for the dead on Sundays and feasts of sermon and of the Apostles, the adoption of all the Roman feasts in the calendar, and permission for those in Poland and Prussia, who say Mass outside the enclosure, to follow the Roman ordo missae.[8]

A first move in the alteration of the liturgical texts appears to have come from the Congregation of Lombardy and Tuscany, which produced a Romanized breviary at Venice in 1608, in which the three last days of Holy Week were simply and solely the Roman office. The book received the approbation, not only of the general chapter of the Congregation, but also of the abbot of Cîteaux. Changes became well-nigh universal in the Order, and the general chapter of 1609 is forced to admit that the uniformity of rite prescribed in the Charter of Charity exists no longer, save in a few houses: quod tamen paucis in monasteriis observatur.

A final attempt was made to save the traditional liturgy, and restore the broken unity: intermissam unitatem restituere cupiens. The general chapter ordered a revision of the liber usuum,[9] with John Martienne, abbot of Cherlieu, as editor, and also the insertion of the ordinarium missae at the beginning of the missal, together with a repeal of the permission to celebrate Mass according to the Roman ordo missae.[10] Ancient Cistercian missals did not have a ritus servandus in celebratione missarum,[11] and it was prescribed for the first time in 1609: Ritus missarum juxta Ordinis consuetudinuem celebrandarum excure et accurate descriptus ac initio Missalium de caetero praeponendus. The decree was never put into force, save later in the Congregation of Castile, and the ordo missae in the missal of 1617 was taken from the Roman rite.[12]

The forces of the liturgical “modernists” were too strong for the traditionalists, and the Romanizing of the liturgy proceeded without serious interruption.

In 1611, religious of the Order were permitted to say private Masses according to the Roman rubrics, and in the same year the general chapter of the Italian Feuillants (Congregation of St Bernard), held at Pignerol in Piedmont, decided to “reform” their breviary. Other members of the Order wished to adopt the monastic breviary, which had been authorized by Pope Paul V in 1612.

Permission was given by the general chapter and the abbot of Cîteaux for Mass to be celebrated juxta ritum romanum, and in 1617 a breviary and a missal appeared for the use of the whole Order. It was the last time that a liturgical book was to have so wide a circulation. The breviary was largely the same as the Lombard breviary of 1608, with the Roman office for the Triduum sacrum in place of the Cistercian office. The traditional rite was, in the main, preserved, but the book lacked harmony and unity. As for the missal,[13] the Roman rubrics were amplified, prayers before and after Mass were added, and the ritus celebrandi inserted: Ritus celebrandi Missam secundum usum Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae in gratiam illorum religiosorum Ordinis nostri Cisterciensis, hic inserti, quibus eorundem utendorum a RR. D. nostro Generali Cisterciensi aut Capitulo ejusdem Ordinis generali facta fuerit potestas.

The repudiation of the traditional rite was consummated in the following year (1618), and the general chapter formally adopted the Roman ritus celebrandi:

Henceforth it is ordered that both conventual and private Mass will be celebrated according to the Roman rite and ceremonies by all abbots and monks without exception. Wherefore, let the psalm Judica me, Deus, the Confiteor, and other things be said as described in the Roman rite. The Missal and Office of the Order, however, shall be retained, except that the psalm Laetatus sum and the collects associated thereto shall be omitted.[14]

The same general chapter ordered, also, the text of the lectionary to conform to that of the Roman breviary.

Hard and unjust things were said about the ancient liturgy, and in 1622 St. Francis de Sales, when acting as president at the general chapter of the Feuillants, openly advocated the adoption of the reformed Roman breviary. He said that the “offensive, childish, and obscure” parts of the old Cistercian texts were incompatible with the dignity of the Church.[15]    In 1623, the general chapter of Cîteaux discussed the question of the correction of the breviary, but it was decided that no substantial changes were to be made: ita tamen ut essentialia remaneant.[16] In 1626 the traditional psalter was replaced by a form of the Sexto-Clementine Vulgate.[17] Liturgical unrest was in the air, and editions of the breviary appeared in 1627, 1641, 1646, and 1648: precision, order, and harmony were sadly lacking. A new edition of the missal, sponsored by Cardinal Richelieu, commendatory abbot of Cîteaux, was printed in 1643. Feelings ran high, and the authority of the general chapter was considerably weakened by the existence of independent Congregations.

The constant liturgical changes in the time of Nicholas II had produced the greatest confusion, and it was left to Claude Vaussin, who was elected in 1645, to produce liturgical books that would be definitive and permanent. The general chapter of 1651 accepted the principle of a new reform, and appointed a commission for the purpose.[18] The Romeward trend had gone too far to admit of a return to the status quo ante, and the Congregation of Rites had encouraged houses to adopt the Pian books which were considerably shorter than those of the Order. In the first place, Dom Claude was faced with the problem, how was it possible to harmonize the Cistercian consuetudines with the Roman rubrics? The result would necessarily be a hybrid, which has been well described by a Cistercian abbot of our own times: What was carried out was not a reform but a deformation of the traditional liturgy that transformed it into a hybrid that came to be called the Cistercian-Roman Rite, the modern Cistercian rite, or the reformed rite.”[19] It would, however, be unjust to the memory of Claude Vaussin to lay the responsibility for the actual hybrid liturgy at his door, and it was thanks to him that the Order has preserved a vestige of the traditional rite.[20]

Vaussin, Claude
The Lord Claude Vaussin, Abbot of Cîteaux and defender of Cistercian custom.

The liturgical commission presented its conclusions to the general chapter of 1654,[21] and two years later (1656) the breviary was published: Breviarium cisterciense juxta Romanum. The monitum at the beginning of the book expresses the intentions of Dom Claude to maintain the Benedictine ordo of the Office and to safeguard the groundwork of the ancient Cistercian rite.[22] The missal appeared in the following year (1657): Missale cisterciense juxta novissimam Romani recognitum correctionem.[23] The ordo Missae Romanus was introduced, together with the ritus celebrandi of the Roman missal, the general rubrics (verbatim) and a new classification of feasts, while retaining the old vocabulary. A certain amount of confusion and difficulty was caused, as the ritus celebrandi was not always in agreement with the Cistercian consuetudines, and it became evident that a ceremonial of ritual was a vital necessity.

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The first edition of Vaussin’s missal.

Such was the Vaussin compromise, but, notwithstanding its tacit approval by Rome, it was in jeopardy at the hands of those whom nothing short of the actual Pian rite would satisfy. The Congregations of Lombardy and of the Feuillants bitterly attacked the new books. Hilarion Rancati, abbot of S. Croce in Gerusalemme (Rome) and John Bona, abbot of S. Bernardo (Rome), had prepared “reformed” books for the use of the Order, and it was particularly galling that they should have been forestalled by the abbot of Cîteaux. Rancati, who was a consultor to the Congregation of Rites, demanded an examination of the breviary of 1656 on the ground that its compilers had acted without the approval of the Holy See. In January 1660 the Congregation submitted the breviary to Cardinal Franciotto, but it was agreed not to give a decision till the procurator of the abbot Cîteaux had arrived. Notwithstanding this, however, a new decree suspended the breviary of Vaussin (24 July), and directed Cardinals Franciotto and d’Este to produce another edition. Rancati had won the first round, and there was the possibility that his breviary would be approved for the Order.  John Bona, who wanted neither the breviary of Vaussin nor that of Rancati, seeing that there was little hope of his own book being accepted, thereupon proposed the adoption of the monastic breviary of Paul V.

A decree was obtained from the Congregation of Rites to the effect that, while the use of the ancient breviary was forbidden, the various 17th-century reforms were also ultra vires. The Order, says the decree, was committed to the monastic breviary, with the addition of the offices of our Lady and of the dead. The procurator of the abbot of Cîteaux attempted to intervene, but a second decree, issues on 23 July of the same year (1661), merely repeated the injunction of 2 July. A year’s grace was permitted before the monastic breviary became obligatory, but the Feuillants and the Congregation of Lombardy and Tuscany adopted it immediately, and also the missal of Pius V; while the rest of the Order continued with the books of Claude Vaussin. The abbot of Cîteaux was profoundly attached to the Cistercian rite, and he applied through his procurator for an extension of the reprieve. On 3 June 1662 the Congregation of Rites directed that he could keep his liturgical books usque ad Capitulum generale in quo possit deliberari super provisione novorum codicum. The Pope disapproved of this concession,[24] but the abbot of Cîteaux was determined to continue the struggle and, in order to facilitate the retention of the books, he resolved to make the liturgical reform part of the general reform of the Order.

A brief of January 1662 declared the reforming activities of Cardinal de la Rouchefoucauld and the other commissaries who had been authorized by the Holy See to be null and void, and an assembly for the general reform of Cîteaux was summoned to the supreme tribunal of Rome. The judges were to be no longer members of the Congregation of Rites, but a commission of cardinals. The supplica presented by the Cistercian procurator was astutely worded, with the question of the liturgical books made part of the general reform. The ruse succeeded, and the Pope (Alexander VII) ordered a supersederi to the immediate execution of the decree prescribing the adoption of the breviary of Paul V and the missal of Pius V.

On 19 April 1666 the famous constitution for the reform of the Cistercian Order, In Suprema, was issued. One of the articles gave pontifical approbation to the ensemble of the Cistercian rite: prout hactenus consuevit Ecclesia cisterciensis. The liturgical reforms of Claude Vaussin were saved. “The Order of Cîteaux, thanks to the clever diplomacy of Claude Vaussin, preserved its own rite, if not in integrity, at least in a measure which still gave a richness to the Order.”[25]

The brief, among other things, directed:

  1. All should follow strictly the form established by St Benedict, which has always been observed in the Cistercian Order.
  2. Only those Roman usages should be adopted which the Order of Cîteaux has been accustomed to use.
  3. The Order is to practice the uniformity which is required by the Charter of Charity and the constitutions of Blessed Eugenius III and St Pius V, in conformity with the traditions of Cîteaux, Mother of all the churches of the Order.[26]

Papal approbation was accorded to the reformed books of Claude Vaussin because they contained the liturgical customs in use at Cîteaux: it was not the Cistercian rite as found in any particular book.[27]

In Suprema heralded an era of stabilization after a long period of confusion, agitation, and struggle. There was, however, a certain liturgical codification still to be achieved, as the Order had retained its traditional liber usuum or consuetudines. The general chapter of 1667 deliberated on the practical application of the points made in the decree of reform, and decided not to make any further alterations in the breviary, which was to be followed by all professed monks of the Order.[28] The brief Ecclesiae catholicae of Clement IX (26 January 1669) renewed the approval of Alexander VII (In Suprema), and confirmed the previous decisions of the general chapter.[29] A century later, we find Clement XIII, who wished to encourage a reform, of which the abbey of Salem in Swabia was the centre, repeating word for word the brief of Alexander VII.[30] Again in 1871 (7 February), Pius IX, in the brief Quae a sanctissimis, used almost identical terms.

We have seen how much of the traditional Cistercian rite was sacrificed on the altar of “novelty”, but as Fr Colomban Bock says, “When one sees with what levity a Cistercian of the stamp of Cardinal Bona has encouraged the suppression of the Cistercian rite and clung without regret to this line of action, one is filled with a profound gratitude for the work realized by Claude Vaussin, who was and will ever remain one of the shining glories of the Order of Cîteaux.”[31]

[…]

As we have seen, the reformed books of Claude Vaussin were adopted by the houses more or less directly under the jurisdiction of the abbot of Cîteaux, while a different breviary was used by the French Feuillants, and the Roman missal and monastic breviary of Paul V by the Feuillants of Italy. Some of the houses of the Common Observance in Italy have also the monastic breviary, and when their chapter wished to adopt the reformed Cistercian book, the Congregation of Rites (31 May 1907) refused to permit a change.

One Cistercian Congregation, the Congregation of Regular Observance of Castile,[32] maintained the traditional rite for both Mass and Office until the 19th century, although love of “novelty” had introduced certain Roman features. […] A missal had been issued for the Congregation in 1589 (Missale Sacri Ordinis Cisterciensis), 1606, and again in 1762. In the last-named edition, printed in Antwerp, the following note occurs under the paragraph Ritus servandus:

Since this our Order has always had a special book of ceremonies, vulgarly called Libro de los Usos, which sets out with the greatest clarity the general and particular rubrics necessary to the celebration of the mass, we have therefore deemed that nothing should be inserted here.[33]

An edition of the old missal appeared for the Congregation of Portugal in 1738.[34]

The religious orders were suppressed in Portugal in 1834, and in Spain the following year. Many of the dispossessed religious took refuge in France, and it said that the last Cistercian monk of the Spanish congregation, a monk of Valdigna in the diocese of Valencia, died in 1877 or 1878, and that the old mass died with him, although the Office lingered on in some of the Bernardite convents. This has been the commonly accepted opinion, but a recent history of the abbey of Veruela says that a former monk of that house by the name of Antonio José Viñes returned on a visit in 1877, after its occupation by the Jesuits, and that he was present also at the ceremony of the crowning of Our Lady of Veruela in 1881.[35] A former abbot of Sainte Marie du Désert, speaking of the retention of the old Office by the Spanish convents, says: “The traditional Cistercian rite still, therefore, exists on a corner of the earth, like a spark covered with ash. Will God allow it to be relit?”[36]

God has heard his prayer, and the “spark” has become a steady flame. In the abbey of Boquen in the diocese of St. Brieuc, a house of the Common Observance which was restored in 1936, the Divine Office is recited according to the old Spanish breviary,[37] and the Mass is celebrated with the rite of 1608, collated with that of the 12th century.[38] An indult was received from Rome for the restoration of the traditional rite, although it may be argued that this was unnecessary as it had never been formally suppressed. The monastery of Hauterive in Switzerland, which was restored to the Order in 1938, has been permitted to use the old rite at the conventual Mass on Sundays ad experimentum. Poblet, also, in Catalonia, recovered by the White monks in 1940, is working towards a revival of traditional usages.

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Midnight Mass on Christmas Day at Hauterive, 1965. See a short video hereof here.


NOTES.

[1] Dioceses with their own venerable use could only switch to the Roman with the unanimous acquiescence of the bishop and all the chapter canons).

[2] André Malet, La Liturgie cistercienne (Westmalle, 1921), part III, art. III, p. 46.

[3] Ap. Louis Meschet, Privilèges de l’Ordre de Cisteaux (Paris, 1713), p. 167.

[4] Jure inde ac merito inclyta cisterciensis familia… suos retinuit liturgicos libros. Pii IX P. M. Acta, vol. VI, part I (Rome, 1873), p. 383.

[5] Certain esprits, amateurs de nouveautés, et sans estime pour la tradition, poussaient à l’abandon des formules liturgiques cisterciennes pour adopter la nouvelle réforme romaine. André Malet, op. cit., part 2, art. IV, p. 18.

[6] Schneider, L’Ancienne Messe Cistercienne, part 2, XVIII, p. 242.

[7] Cap. Gen. 1601, VI; Canivez, Stat., t. VII, p. 204.

[8] Abbatibus et monachis Poloniae et Prussiae in itinere et extra monasteria Ordinis constitutis, more romano missa celebrare conceditur. Cap. Gen. 1605, LXXXIV; Canivez, op. cit., t. VII, p. 263.

[9] [An account of the customs of the Abbey of Cîteaux including liturgical uses, compiled very early on in the existence of that monastery, according to some by St Stephen Harding, to others by St Bernard. It was kept in its integrity until its last edition in 1643.

[10] Concessio nonnullis abbatibus et monachis praecedenti Capitulo facta ut extra Ordinis monasteria constituti romano ritu celebrare possint revocatur ne per eam solvatur Ordinis uniformitas.

[11] The rubrics for the Mass were in the liber usuum, and only general rubrics as to the nature of the Masses were inserted at the end of the missal.

[12] An ordo missae was produced by Wolfgang Aprilis, a monk of Hohenfurt, in 1576: Canon minor et major secundum usum Sacri Ordinis Cisterciensis.

[13] Missale ad usum S. O. Crist. juxta decreta Capituli generalis dicta Ordinis, Romano conformius redditum primo accentibus ornatum et auctum. Paris, chez Sebastian Cramoisy, 1617.

[14] Ordinatur ut deinceps missa tam conventualis quam privata ritu et ceremoniis romanis ab omnibus tam abbatibus quam monachis, absque ulla exceptione celebretur, quare psalmus Judica me Deus, Confiteor, et caetera alia dicentur, prout in ipso ritu romano descripta sunt. Retinebitur tamen in reliqua missale et officium Ordinis, excepto quod psalmus Laetatus sum et annexae collectae omittentur. Cap. Gen. 1618, XIV; Canivez, Stat., t. VII, pp. 332-333.

[15] Louis Lekai, The White Monks, XIV, pp. 182-183.

[16] Cap. Gen. 1623, XLIV; ibid., t. VII, p. 353.

[17] The most recent edition was printed at Westmalle in 1925.

[18] Ad reparandum in officio divino sacri Ordinis uniformitate statuit Capitulum generale ut libri Ordinis corrigantur et imprimantur, ad quod correctionis et impressionis munus deputat…dans eis plenariam potestatem addendi, tollendi et mutandi quae additione, sublatione et mutatione digna judicaverint. Cap. Gen. 1651, XXII; Canivez, op. cit., t. VII, p. 405.

[19] Ce n’était pas une réforme que l’on opérait, mais une déformation de la liturgie traditionelle pour la tranformer en un mélange qui a pris le nom de Rit Cistercien-Romain, rit Cistercien moderne, rit réformé. André Malet, op. Cit., part II, art. IV, p. 20

[20] Ibid., p. 21.

[21] Cap. Gen. 1654, VII; Canivez, Stat., t. VII, p. 418.

[22] Some members of the Order were advocating the adoption of the Roman breviary tout simple.

[23] The missal was reprinted in 1669.

[24] Decree, 8 July 1662

[25] Malet, op. cit., p. 22.

[26] In Suprema, cap. IV, circa cap. VIII usque ad cap. XIX Reg. Bened., De forma officii; Séjalon, Nomast. Cist., p. 596; Canivez, op. cit., t. VII, p. 429.

[27] Trilhe, Mémoires pour le cérémonial cistercien, p. 21.

[28] Cap. Gen. 1667, XXIII; Canivez, op. cit., t. VII, p. 447.

[29] Nomast. Cist, p. 608.

[30] Brief Impositi nobis, 8 August 1760.

[31] La Réforme du Droit Liturgique dans l’Οrdre de Cîteaux, Collect. Ord. Cist. Ref. (January 1952), p. 23.

[32] In 1425 a bull of Martin V excluded the Congregation from the jurisdiction of the general chapter at Cîteaux.

[33] Cum in nostro hoc Ordine semper fuerit peculiaris liber ceremoniarum qui vulgo Usus vocari solet, in quo Rubricas generales et particulares necessariae ad missarum celebrationem maxima cum claritate habentur, idcirco nihil hic inserendum duximus.

[34] Missale Cisterciense ad usum sacrae Congregationis Divi Bernardi in Lusitania et Algarbiorum Regnis, Antwerpiae et Architypographia Plantiniana.

[35] Pedro Blanco Trias, El Real Monasterio de Santa María de Veruela, XI, pp. 284, 290. Palma de Mallorca, 1949.

[36] Le rit Cistercien traditionnel est donc encore sur un coin de terre comme une étincelle couverte de cendre. Dieu permettra-t-il qu’il soit rallumé ? André Malet, op. cit., part II, art. IV, pp. 25-26. Missals may still be seen in some of the convents, says the abbot, but here are no priests to use them.

[37] Breviarium operis Dei ad usum sacri almi Ordinis Cisterciensis per Hispaniam, Madrid, 1826.

[38] Dijon, Bibl. municip., MS. 114 (82). Written between 1179 and 1191.