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

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**.

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 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: 

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?


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]


[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.

Lebrun: On the Sign of the Cross (and wigs!)


Beginning the Mass with the Sign of the Cross.

Image result for 18th century bishop's wig

Whatever the form of the preparation the priest has performed before he vests himself in the priestly garments, he now goes to the food of the altar and there recalls that he is full of misery, and that he has need of a very particular assistance from God to offer a victim as pure and holy as that of the adorable Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is sentiments such as these that detain him at the foot of the altar as he prepares to ask for the grace to ascend in a holy manner.

The Christian people, who ordinarily do not prepare themselves in a particular way before coming to Mass, should take care that at the beginning of this public preparation, which he shares with the priest and which belongs to him as well, he disposes himself to obtain the graces necessary to participate in the fruit of the Sacrifice.


Standing at the base of the altar, at the last step, in the middle of the altar, with head uncovered and hands joined, he makes the sign of the cross with his right hand, from his forehead to his chest, saying in an audible voice: In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.


On the practice of leaving the head uncovered; on the permission to wear a cap or wig; on the several ways of making the sign of the Cross and the reasons we begin with this sign

Bishop Richard Challoner (Source)

  1. The priest begins the Mass with his head uncovered, because the ancient custom of the Church is that men prayer with their heads bared. St. Paul recommended it,[1] and the Council of Rome presided over by Pope Zachary (743) makes it clear that this custom must be observed absolutely at Mass, and forbids the bishop, priest, or deacon to assist at the altar with head covered, on pain of excommunication.[2] It was nothing less than necessity that forced the popes and bishops to permit the wearing of the skull cap during Mass, and this permission does not include the time from the Canon to the end of the Communion.[3]
  2. The priest joins his hands, and keeps them in this position for the whole Mass, except when he needs to use them for some other task or raise them in prayer. Pope Nicholas I says that it is very fitting to have one’s hands tied, so to speak, when praying before God, and to bear ourselves in his presence as ones prepared to suffer punishment and to avoid being condemned like the wicked men in the Gospel parable.[4]
  3. The priest makes the sign of the Cross with his right hand, because this is the hand we use ordinarily, and because it has always been done this way.[5]
  4. He makes it from the forehead to the chest, thus including all the different ways the sign has been made. The ancient Roman Ordines note that it was made on the forehead.[6] This was a very common way and is still followed in some places, but it has been made also on the mouth and the heart. Now when we make it from the forehead to the chest we include all these: the forehead, mouth, and heart.

After having brought his hand to his chest, the priest brings it to his left shoulder. The Greeks bring it to the right, and the Latins once did so as well, according to Innocent III,[7] who nevertheless believes that it is more natural and easy to touch the left shoulder before the right. We bless all manner of persons and things in this way as well: after making the first line of the Cross in the air, we pass the hand from left to right.

There are also different ways to hold the fingers when making the sign of the Cross. One common practice is to lift three fingers because of the number of the divine persons.[8] The Greeks join the thumb to the ring finger, leaving the others raised.[9] Among the Latins, the custom of raising the first three fingers while crossing the other two has lasted a very long time: it is expressly recommended by Leo IV in 847 and is still used by the Carthusians and Dominicans. But due to the difficulty of holding the last two fingers crossed nearly everyone extends the hand and all the fingers.[10] One must follow current usage on this point and praise whatever is edifying in the differing customs of other times and places. Finally, the priest begins the Mass with the sign of the Cross, as it is fitting for Christians to commence any great action, and especially the act of sacrifice.

Tertullian,[11] St. Cyprian,[12] and many other ancient Fathers[13] tell us that formerly Christians made the sign of the Cross at the outset of all of their actions, either on the forehead, or the mouth, or the heart, or on their arms, so to invoke God’s help in all their needs through the Cross. We make this sign in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, i.e., on the part of and by the power of the three divine persons who desire that we should invoke them with confidence through the sign of the Cross.

In addition to these general purposes, the priest begins the Mass with the sign of the Cross because it should be his intention to recall the memory of the death of Jesus Christ, and thus he says at the same time: In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus sancti: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, to indicate that he is recalling to mind the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ to the honor of the Most Holy Trinity.

The priest and the Christian people have been consecrated to the three Divine Persons through Baptism; to the Father who has adopted them as his sons; to the Son in whom they have been adopted; and to the Holy Spirit through whom they have been adopted by receiving a second birth.[14] This adoption gives the faithful the right to approach the Holy Mysteries, and to offer the Holy Sacrifice along with the priest in the name of the three Divine Persons: in the name of the Father who who has given them his Son to be sacrificed; in the name of the Son who has been given to be immolated; and in the name of the Holy Spirit through whom he is offered.[15] To be offered through the Holy Spirit is to be offered through the spirit of charity and love.


[1] 1 Cor. 11.

[2] Nullus episcopus, presbyter, aut diaconus ad solemnia missarum celebranda praesumat cum baculo introire, aut velato capite altario dei assistere: quoniam et apostolus prohibet viros velato capite orare in ecclesia: et qui temere praesumpserit, communione privetur (Conc. tom. 6. Co. 1549; dist. 1, art. 2 de consecratione, cap. “Nullius”).

[3] The dispensation to wear a wig at the altar is based on necessity, is more dangerous, and should consequently be more rare, not only because it is granted for the whole duration of the Mass, but also because this permission should not be requested except for reasons of grave inconvenience, nor should it be granted by those competent to do so except under fitting restrictions on its length, curling, color, and worldly air, so that while introducing this new invention the rules prescribed by the canons regarding the modesty of the head will not be completely violated. Most people are of the opinion that that it would cause less evil to wear a cap throughout the Mass in order to remedy these inconveniences, rather than to wear a wig which is usually regarded as a sign of worldliness. It is certainly in order to avoid the difficulty of deciding between what is necessary and what is worldly that many cathedral chapters in France have resolved not to permit a priest, deacon, or subdeacon to officiate at the choir altar while wearing a wig, even though the permission has been granted to them by their bishops. The reader may find the Statutes, disputes, and judgments rendered on this article in M. Thiers’s Histoire des perruques (Paris, 1690), chapters 18, 19, and 28.

Love for the ancient discipline has moved the pope to be more rigorous on this point than the chapters have been. He has caused the following Ordinance to be hung in all the sacristies of Rome: “His Holiness desiring to put an end to the unbecoming practice found in sacristies and churches with regard to priests who wear wigs, orders the Rector, Sacristan, and other ministers of this church not to allow any priest to celebrate the Holy Mass nor exercise any ecclesiastical function while wearing a wig, either leaving it in the sacristy or not bringing it there in the first place, and this on pain of being deprived of their office, or of imprisonment, at our discretion. 30th September 1702, Gaspard, Card. Vic.” Today in the diocese of Avignon, which is part of the Papal States, the custom is to take off the wig in the sacristy before saying Mass.

[4] Respons. Ad Consult. Bulg.

[5] Justin. Quaest. 118.

[6] Faciens crucem in fronte sua (Ord. Rom. I and II).

[7] De sacro altaris mysterio, Book 2, Chapter 45.

[8] Honorius, Gemma Animae; Innocent III, De S. altaris myst., Book 5, Chapter 33.

[9] See Hierolexicon Macri et Genebrard on the liturgy, pg. 187. [Ed.: This claim lacks support.]

[10] The rubrics of the Missal of Trèves (1585), based on those of St. Pius V, indicate that the priest should extend all his fingers when to make the sign of the cross on himself, but only three when blessing anything else.

[11] Ad vestitum, etc. frontem crucis signaculo terimus (Coron. Mil. chapter 3 and Book 2 ad uxor.)

[12] Cypt. epist. 58.

[13] Ad omnem actum, ad omnem incessum manus pingat crucem (Jerome, Letter to Eustachius). Cum os stomachumque signaret (Idem ibid.) In fronte, ut semper confiteamur: in corde, ut semper diligamus; signaculum in brachio, ut semper operemur (Ambrose, chapter 8). Basil On the Holy Spirit. Cyril ().

[14] Renatus ex aqua et Spiritu sancto (John 3:5).

[15] Qui per Spiritum Sanctum semetipsum obtulit immaculatum (Hebr. 9:14).




Lebrun: The Prayers at the Foot of the Altar


The Public Preparation at the Foot of the Altar


This first part of the Mass contains three things 1. The desire to go up to the altar with confidence in God’s good will. 2. The confession of one’s faults. 3. Prayers to obtain their remission and the grace to ascend the altar with complete purity. These preparatory prayers take place at the foot of the altar, or often at a slight distance from the altar, since they are meant as a preparation for going there. They are mentioned in the Missals only very rarely, and are absent entirely from the first Roman Orders. The six ancient Orders printed by Fr. Mabillon tell us that the bishop, after dressing in the sacristy and signaling the choir to chant the Introit psalm, went first to the head of the choir with all his officers; that he made a bow there,[1] made a sign of the cross on his front, gave a sign of peace to his officers, and stood for some time in prayer before making the sign to the chanter to say the Gloria Patri; that then he advanced to the steps of the altar,[2] and there asks pardon for his sins;[3] that the ministers, except for the acolytes and thurifers, remain kneeling and praying with him; and that he continued to pray until the repetition of the Introit verse.[4]

None of these ancient Ordines describes the prayers of the preparation. In the Latin Church they are not found in writing before the ninth century, being left to the private devotion of the bishops and priests to say them either individually and silently[5] or with the other ministers. No council or pope prescribed the form or terms of these prayers, any more than the moment when they should take place. Some have performed them in a particular chapel, as it is done today at Tours at the tomb of St. Martin; others do it in the choir, as at Laon and Chartres, or at the entrance of the sanctuary, far from the altar, as at Soissons and Châlons-sur-Marne; others at the left or Gospel side of the altar upon entering, as the Carthusians who have taken many of their usages from Vienne and Grenoble; finally, others do them in the sacristy, as at Reims.[6] Various bishops have determined the place they are to be said and used whatever prayers were convenient for their devotion. This is why these prayers differ in their wording and content. Since the ninth century they have been included in some Missals, and more commonly in Pontificals, Manuals, or Ordinaries of the churches. We must look for them there, at least until the 14th century.

These preparatory prayers pertain as much to the assistants as to the priest, and they are said publicly at the foot of the altar, so that no one need assist at Mass without preparation.

Carthusian Rite Confiteor.jpg
Carthusian Confiteor (Source)


[1] Pertransit Pontifex in caput scholae et inclinat caput ad altare, surgens et orans (Ordo Romanus I; Mus. Ital. p. 8) In caput scholae et in gradu superiore (Ordo Romanus II; p. 43); In tribunal Ecclesiae (Ordo Romanus III; p. 56).

[2] Non prolixa completa oratione… annuat cantori ut Gloria dicat: ipse vero ductus a diaconibus pergat ante altare, inclinatisque ad orationem cunctis, stantibus acolythis cum candelabris et thuribilus, etc (Ordo Romanus V; p. 66).

[3] Inclinans se Deum pro peccatis suis deprecetur (Ordo VI; p. 71).

[4] Pontifex orat super ipsum oratorium [prie-Dieu] usque ad repetitionem versus (Ordo I; p. 8). Stat semper inclinatus usque ad versum prophetalem (Ord. II; p. 43).

[5] Pontifex concelebrat interim secreto orationem ante altare inclinatus (Ord. III; p. 56).

[6] See Meurier, writing in 1585, “Sermon 6” and the Ceremonial reprinted in 1637.

Lebrun on the Procession to the Altar

Article VII

Leaving the Sacristy and Going to the Altar
(from Pierre Lebrun’s Explanation)


The priest, clothed in all his vestments, preceded by the minister in surplice carrying the Missal, walks from the sacristy to the altar, with his head covered, with eyes downcast, in a dignified manner, and with his body erect.


1) The priest goes from the sacristy to the altar. The Roman Ordines up to the thirteenth century indicate that the celebrant, including a bishop or pope, first goes to the sacristy for preparation and vesting, then goes in procession to the altar.[1] In most of the cathedral churches of France, on solemn days, this procession is very impressive.[2] The authors writing from the ninth century to the end of the thirteenth[3] have regarded the celebrant, preceded by the deacons, subdeacons, and other ministers as an image of Christ entering the world preceded by the prophets, or even by the Apostles in their missions, while the music sung by the choir expresses the sentiments of the people attending the Mass. It is only beginning in the 14th century that this procession is sometimes suppressed, and when the Roman Order of Cajetan notes an alternative to the sacristy or sanctuary as the place where the bishops vested.[4] As for priests, they must always vest in the sacristy, except when he is in a chapter where the absence of a sacristy makes it necessary to vest at the altar.

Lyon Procession 1.jpg

2. He walks in a dignified manner. The intention of the Church is that the grave and modest manner with which the priest walks from the sacristy to the altar should announce the great action that he is about to perform.

3. The priest walks with his head covered. Seven or eight centuries ago it was always the custom to go to the altar with the head uncovered. This custom has been preserved in many churches: at Trier, Toul, Metz, Verdun, Sens, Laon, and Tournay the celebrant and ministers go to the altar with heads bared. In Cambrai, the priest alone is covered with the hood of an almuce, and among the Premonstratensians by a square biretta; the deacon and subdeacon who accompany him are uncovered, which is generally the custom for the inferior ministers and the children of the choir.

For several centuries, as a matter of our local custom, it has become a mark of authority and preeminence to be the only one covered in an assembly. As he goes to the altar vested in the priestly garments, the priest is vested also with the authority of Christ and the Church to offer the Holy Sacrifice. He has the preeminence over the whole assembly. He does not greet anyone and does not uncover himself except to genuflect when he passes before an altar where the Holy Sacrament is exposed, or the Elevation is taking place, or communion is being given. The only thoughts that occupy him are of Christ his master, and he only uncovers when he sees him.

Lyons Procession 2.jpg

4. He is preceded by a minister, because it is fitting that he doesn’t walk alone, clothed as he is with the sacred vestments. At least one minister is required to make the responses, because the Church forbids him to say the Mass alone.[5] The councils foresee that there be at least one person with him to represent the people who together with the priest form the assembly of the faithful. For the Mass is that which it was anciently called, the Synax, i.e. the Assembly. Therefore it is very fitting that when the priest says such holy and efficacious prayers as those of the Mass, we should observe what Christ said when he promised his presence among us: If two or more are gathered in my name….[6]

By a minister in surplice. The Rubric is referring to nothing more than what has been ordered expressly by the councils of the last five or six centuries, which prescribe that this minister should be a cleric wearing a vestment suitable for the altar. We may even add that it is only by toleration that a simple cleric is allowed to approach the altar. If we go back to antiquity, we find that the deacon, who is the priest’s minister properly speaking, had to accompany him to celebrate the Holy Mysteries even in a Low Mass without ceremony. During the time of persecutions, St. Cyprian sent priests into the prisons, and though he made sure they did not go there in groups,[7] to avoid making noise or being refused entry, nevertheless he ordered that the priests who went there to say Mass should always been accompanied by a deacon.[8] St. Laurence was speaking about the practice of the deacon’s assisting at Mass when he said to Pope Sixtus, as he went to his martyrdom: Where, holy priest, are you hastening without your deacon? Never were you wont to offer sacrifice without an attendant.[9]

In later times such a great number of Masses were said that it was not possible for each priest to be accompanied by a deacon. But the councils have dictated that the minister who takes the place of the deacon must be a tonsured cleric vested in a surplice. This is stated expressed in the Statues of Paris by Eudes of Sully (1200),[10] in the Council of Oxford (1222),[11] and in many others.[12] The Council of Aix (1585) orders that in churches that do not have the means to maintain a cleric, the priest should not say Mass without having obtained the written permission of the bishop.[13] Finally, the Council of Avignon (1594) prescribes that no layman should serve the Mass except in case of necessity.[14] This council is the last to have explained this rubric. Every church, therefore, must ensure that each Mass is celebrated with a cleric, if possible; or, as is done in some places by young boys of mature character, vested like clerics. If it is necessary to make use of a layman, it is at least desirable that one choose a person whose modesty and piety will inspire respect.

Carrying the Missal. At present, the cleric does not carry the Missal unless it is not on the altar already. It is put there for the High Mass and in this case the Rubric does not require the subdeacon to carry it. But according to all the ancient Roman Ordines[15] and Amalarius,[16] the celebrant always leaves the sacristy preceded by the book of the Gospels, carried with great respect. We find this practice still observed in many cathedrals, where the uncovered subdeacon carries the book and presents it to the priest to be kissed before the Mass. The Missal of Paris[17] simply indicates that on solemn feasts the subdeacon should give the book to the priest to be kissed as he arrives at the altar. The practice is to be recommended, according to which the book is always carried with respect before the priest, since it contains the power that Christ gave to priests to celebrate the Mass, saying: Do this in memory of me; hoc facite, etc.


[1] Cum vero ecclesiam introierit pontifex, non ascendit continuo ad altare, sed prius intrat in secretarium (OR I; II; III). Intrat sacrarium… et processionaliter vadunt ad altare sicut est moris (OR XII).

[2] In the church of Lyon, the archbishop is accompanied by more than forty ministers. At

[3] Amalarius 5.5; Alcuin De Divinis Officiis; Rupert 1.28; Gemma Animae 1.84.

[4] Quod si pontifex juxta altare induatur, non oportet huiusmodi processionem fieri (OR XIV).

[5] The Council of Mayence (813), c. 43. The Capitularies of France 5.159; the Council of Paris (829) 1.4; Pope Leo IV (850); the Constitutions of Riculfe of Soissons (889); and the Council of Nantes, in Buchard 3.68 and Yves of Chartres 3.70 expressly forbid the priest to say Mass alone. It is true that permission has sometimes been granted to solitaries and even to cenobitic monks, as we see in the Capitularies attributed to Theodore of Canterbury, ch. 49 of Spicil. and in Stephen of Autun de Sacram. Allar. ch. 13. But the Council of Nantes ordered this abuse abolished. Pope Alexander III also decreed that the priest can not say Mass alone (Decret. 1.17 proposuit) and it appears that it has not been tolerated since the 13th century.

[6] Matthew 18.19 and 20.

[7] Caute et non glomeratim.

[8] Ita ut presbyteri quoque qui illic apud Confessores offerunt, singuli cum singulis diaconis per vices alternent (Cypr. epist. 5).

[9] Ambrose, De Officiis, 1.41.214.

[10] Nulli clerico permittatur servire altari, nisi in superpellicis aut cappa clausa (Synod. Eccles. Paris. ch. 7).

[11] Ut qui altari ministrant, superpelliciis induantur (Concil. Exon., ch. 10).

[12] Concil. Nemaus. (1298); Council. Bud. (1279), ch. 22; Synod. Colon. (1280); Conc. Lameth. (1330).

[13] Sacerdos ne se conferat ad altare, nisi clericum in decenti habitu, et cum superpellicio mundo cum manicis sibi inservientem habuerit. Quibus vero in locis propter inopiam clericus ita commode haberi non poterit, caveat ne celebret absque huiusmodi clerico, nisi facultatem ab episcopo in scriptis impetraverit (Conc. Aqu. tit. de celebratione Missae).

[14] Laicus, si fieri potest, nullo modo ministret Altari (Tit. 23).

[15] OR I; OR II; OR III.

[16] 3.5

[17] 1685 and 1706

On the Procession Before Mass

On the Procession before Sunday Mass

(Translated from Lebrun’s Explanation)

A procession at the Abbey of Fontgombault (Source)

The word “procession” comes from the Latin verb procedere, which means to go, and for our purposes it refers to a walk made by the clergy and the people while praying for some religious object and carrying the cross before them, just as they do in the church.

The Old Testament often speaks of the processions made to transport the Ark from one place to another, and ever since the Church has enjoyed peace there have been many processions made to go to the tombs of the martyrs, to transport their relics, to gather the faithful together in the Station church on days of fasting,[1] and there to request particular graces. The origin of these processions is well known.[2] But many people do not know the reason why we make a procession on Sunday before the Mass.

This procession has a two-fold origin. The primary reason is to honor the resurrection of Christ who went from Jerusalem to Galilee, and the second is to sprinkle the environs of the church.

In the first place, we find in the Rule of St. Cesarius of Arles, in the 6th century, in many other monastic and canonical rules, and in Rupert of Deutz, that Sunday processions were made to particular Oratories or Chapels.[3] This procession took place after Matins, to imitate the holy women who went to the tomb before dawn, and at dawn,[4] to imitate the disciples to whom the women related the angel’s message that Christ would precede them into Galilee, and that there they would see him as he himself had said.[5] Rupert remarks that this is why in Sunday morning processions the prelates and superiors went in front, as if to represent Christ preceding the disciples.

The procession still takes place in many churches on Easter day.[6] The chants associated with it are Sedit Angelus, and Dicite discipulis, and many ancient Missals and Processionals note that these antiphons and responses are sung at the Sunday procession until Pentecost. Although the chants proper to Easter are not repeated at other times of the year, it is nevertheless the case that all Sundays are a sort of continuation and renewal of the Feast of Easter, and thus fitting times to honor Christ’s resurrection. Therefore the primary intention of Sunday processions before Mass is the same has that of the Easter procession.

A second reason to make a procession on Sunday before the Mass was to sprinkle the environs of the Church. At the beginning of the 9th century the Capitularies of Charlemagne and Louis the Pious ordered parish priests to make a procession around their church with the blessed water on every Sunday. Archbishop Hérard of Tours prescribed the same in his Capitularies of 858. The cathedral and collegial churches were certainly the first to observe this practice, and it was practiced from about the same time in the monasteries. An ancient Ordinary of the Benedictines, which Fr. Mabillon assigns to the 9th century, notes that on Easter they carry the blessed water throughout the whole monastery while singing.[7] The Customs of Cluny and numerous abbeys describe in detail all the places that must be sprinkled each Sunday.[8]

But starting in the 10th century in some churches, it was deemed sufficient to assign a priest and a few clerics preceded by the crucifix to perform the aspersion of the bishop and the canons’ cloister.[9] Henceforth the procession halted at the entrance of the cloister or even within the church, and the original reason for the procession was gradually forgotten.

But the practices that have been conserved in several places can remind us of the ancient purpose of the procession. At Vienne in Dauphiné, the water is still blessed with great solemnity in the nave of the church, and the aspersion is performed in procession around the cloister and cemetery. At Chalon-sur-Saône the canons make a procession around the cloister every Sunday before Terce. The Hebdomarius sprinkles the doors through which the canons entered the refectory and other rooms of the cloister in former times, when they still lived in common. They also still sing a number of responses give us to believe that salt, meat, and many other things were once blessed at that time. At Châlons-sur-Marne the procession goes to the small cloister and the celebrant sprinkles the chapter, which he enters preceded by the crucifix, holy water, the deacon, and the subdeacon. In the Premonstratensian Order, a religious in alb standing next to the crucifix sprinkles everywhere along the route of the procession. At the Cathedral of Liège, an ecclesiastique in alb does the same.[10] At the end of the Processional of the Order of St. Benedict, printed in Paris in 1659, are found all the orations said during the procession to the cloister, chapter, dormitory, infirmary, etc. for the aspersions,[11] and the Ceremonials of Saint-Vannes[12] and Saint-Maur[13] note that this aspersion must be made. The Processionals of Paris and the Missals of Rouen, Meaux, Laon, and Orléans indicate that the stoup should be carried in the Sunday morning procession: a relic of the ancient practice.

Nothing proves this second original purpose of the Sunday procession better than the prayers found in the ancient books of churches as far from one another as those of Germany and Spain. In Toledo, according to the Missal of that church printed in 1551, and at the Cathedral of Liège, the prayer “Visit O Lord and bless all that we are about to visit and bless” is used in place of the oration Exaudi nos used for asperging rooms. This oration is noted in all the ancient MIssal manuscripts of this church, of Aix-la-Chapelle, Cambrai, Sainte-Gudule de Bruxelles, Strasbourg and numerous other churches in Germany. According to the Agenda of Spire printed in 1512, and the Manual of Pamplona (1561), the following words are chanted as the procession leaves the church: Place, O Lord, the sign of salvation on our houses, so that they may be preserved from the hand of the Angel of Death.

In this we see that the intention was to preserve the houses of the faithful from the attacks of the demon by asperging them with blessed water, just as the houses of the Hebrews were preserved from the sword of the angel through the blood of the lamb that was used to mark the doorposts. This is more than enough evidence to show that besides the intention of honoring the mysteries of the resurrected Christ, the procession was also done in order to perform the aspersion of the Church environs.

In those places where its only purpose was to perform the aspersion, the procession took place immediately before the Mass, after Terce. But the churches that have always retained the ancient purpose of the procession do in the very early morning, right after Prime,[14] with the view of uniting into one the procession that formerly took place at dawn to commemorate the Resurrection and the one that took place after, before the Mass, for the aspersion.

Those who desire, therefore, to enter into the spirit of the Church in these processions, should ask God to purify them from every uncleanness, and have the intention to honor the resurrection and apparitions of Jesus Christ. The faithful who are solemnly invited to these processions should come there with a holy enthusiasm. The Council of Freising (1440) recommends the procession after the benediction of the water, according a forty-day indulgence to those who assist in it. The crucifix and saints’ banners seen at their head are for them a great cause for joy. Under these glorious standards they make a small army corps that is formidable to the Demon and that acquires a right, so to speak, to the grace of God, if they march with the modesty, piety, and recollection that befits Christ’s militia.

If the procession goes through the streets, as is done in many places, we should think about the fruit of Christ’s apparitions. He went into Galilee to show himself to more than five hundred of the brethren, and his appearance gave them great joy. The procession should also be a source of consolation for sick and for all those who cannot leave their homes, so that hearing the chanting of those marching in the procession they may be united to them and unite their desires with the holy Sacrifice that will be celebrated soon after.

In addition, since on nearly every Sunday a new response is chanted with an often very ornate melody, so that the assistants ordinarily understanding nothing at all of what is sung in the procession, it would be desirable to say the prayer recorded in so many ancient Missals, Rituals, and Processionals, the one said on re-entering the church.[15] We include it here. Each may at least say it on his own:

Viam Sanctorum omnium, Domine Jesu Christe, qui ad te venientibus aeternae claritatis gaudia contulisti, ambitum Templi istius Spiritus Sancti luce perfunde, qui locum istum in honorem Sanctorum tuorum Floridi et Amantii consecrasti ; praesta, Omnipotens Deus, ut omnes istic in te credentes obtineant veniam pro delictis ab omnibus liberentur angustiis, impetrent quidquid petierint pro necessitatibus suis, placere semper praevaleant coram oculis tuis quatenus per te, et omnium sanctorum tuorum intercessionibus mumiti aulam paradisi mereantur introire. Qui cum Patre, etc.

Lord, Jesus Christ, the way of all the saints, who have given the eternal joy of heaven to those who come to you: shine the light of the Holy Spirit in the area of this Temple which you have consecrated to the name of our saint and Patron N. We beg you that those who believe in your may obtain here pardon for their faults, that they may be delivered from their troubles, that they may be always acceptable in your eyes, so that defended by the intercession of the saints they may merit to enter the courts of heaven through you, Savior of the world, who livest and reignest God, etc.

This prayer and all our processions should cause us to think that we are voyagers upon the earth, that heaven is our homeland, that we have need of Jesus Christ to make our way there and come to rest there. He is the way, the truth, and the life; the way by which we go, the truth the place where we are going, and the way where we will remain eternally.[16]


[1] Although the Stations were held in Rome on other days of the year, the people only processed from one church to another on fasting days, when the faithful were encouraged to apply themselves to prayer at greater length. See P. Mabillon, Commentary on the Ordo Romanus, n. 5.

[2] See Serrarius, Gretser, Meurier, Traité des Processions (Rheims, 1584); Eveillon, De Processionibus Ecclesiasticis (Paris, 1641); Le Catéchisme de Montpellier; Vatar, Des Processions, etc.

[3] See the Rule of St. Cesarius, n. 69; Ap. Boll. of 12th January in the Codex Regularum and many others in P. Martenne, De antiq. Mon. Rit. book 2, chapter 2. Rupert of Deutz, De Divinis Officiis, book 5, chapter 8; book 7, chapter 20 and 21.

[4] Durandus thought that the Sunday procession was meant to honor the Resurrection. He even believed that the Church had done it originally on both Sunday and Thursday, and that Pope Agapetus (d. 536) had limited it to the Sunday alone (Rationale IV.6.21). But this opinion is based on false sources. Suffice it to say that, in the 6th century, the procession took place on Sunday.

[5] Mark 14:28;16:7.

[6] At Agde before Matins, at Clermont in Auvergne after Matins, and at Saint-Quentin at the end of Prime.

[7] Item Dominico die vadunt cum antiphona et aqua sancta per singulas mansiones (Mabillon, Vetera Analecta. vol. 4. p. 456).

[8] Spicil. tom. 4, pg. 46.

[9] See the very ancient Ordinary of the Churches of Arras and of Cambrai, written around the end of the 10th century, in the time when these two dioceses were still united. It is printed with the Codex Canonum of M. Pithough, pg. 368. See also the Ordinary of Mont-Cassin written at the end of the 11th century, kept at the Institution de l’Oratoire de Paris. According to the Dominican Ordinary written in 1254, and the Statutes of the Carthusians printed in 1509, one of the brothers is assigned to make the aspersion of the cells and the places where the religious were assembled. This practice was broken off, apparently because of the difficulty of keeping stoups around everywhere.

[10] The same was also done at Saint-Quiriace de Provins ten or twelve years ago.

[11] Diebus Dominicis circa claustrum orationes privatae. In ingressu claustri: Omnipotens and misericors Deus… quaesumus immensam clementiam tuam, ut quidquid modo visitamus, visites, etc.

[12] Caeremoniale Monasticum, Tulli Leuc. (Laurent)(1695).

[13] Caerem. S. Mauri (Paris, 1680).

[14] It takes place after Prime at Metz, Verdun, Cambrai, Arras, Noyon, etc.

[15] This is said still at Narbonne, Châlons-sur-Marne, etc. But in the Ritual of Paris there are proper responses and orations for most Sundays.

[16] Ipse est qua itur, quo itur, et ubi permanetur (Augustine, Tractates on John).