Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Mass as it was in the City of Rome, part 5


A 5th-Century Gallo-Roman Paten measuring 19.5cm x 12.5cm, and 1.6 cm deep, from the Treasure of Gourdon, presently in the Cabinet des Médailles

The Deacon returns to the Altar where an Acolyte holding a Chalice with a Corporal (which back then was big, almost as large as the Altar) lying on it. He raises the Chalice on his left arm and offers the Corporal to the Deacon, who takes it off the Chalice and lays it on the right side of the Altar, throwing the other end of it over to the second Deacon in order to spread it. Then the Chancellor and the Secretary, and the chief counsellor, with all the District-officials and notaries go up the Papal Throne; but the Subdeacon with the empty Chalice follows the Archdeacon.

The Pope then goes down to where the notables sit, the Chancellor holding his right hand and the chief Counsellor his left: and he receives the loaves of the princes in the order of their offertory.

The Archdeacon next receives the flasks of wine, and pours them into the greater Chalice which is carried by a district-Subdeacon, and an Acolyte follows him holding a bowl with his hands covered by the planeta, into which the Chalice when full is emptied. A district-subdeacon takes the loaves from the Pope and hands them to the Subdeacon-attendant, who places them in a linen cloth held by two Acolytes.

A hebdomadary Bishop receives the rest of the loaves after the Pope, so that he may, with his own hand, put them into the linen cloth which is carried after him.

Following him the Deacon-attendant receives the flasks of wine, and pours them into the bowl with his own hand, after the Archdeacon. Meanwhile the Pope, before passing over to the women's side, goes down before the Confessio, and there receives the loaves of the Chancellor, the Secretary, and the Chief counsellor (For on festivals they offer at the Altar after the deacons.) In like manner the Pope goes up to the women's side (The women are separated from the men at Church), and performs there all things in the same order as detailed above. And the presbyters do likewise, should there be need, either after the Pontiff or in the Presbytery.

After this, the Pope returns to his throne, the Chancellor and the Secretary each taking him by the hand, and there washes his hands.

The Archdeacon stands before the Altar and washes his hands at the end of the Offertory. Then he looks the Pope in the face, signs to him, and, after the Pontiff has returned his salutation, approaches the Altar.

Then the District-Subdeacons, taking the loaves from the hand of the Subdeacon-Attendant, and carrying them in their arms, bring them to the Archdeacon, who arranges them on the Altar. The Subdeacons bring up the loaves on either side. Having made the Altar ready, the Archdeacon then takes the Pope's flask of wine from the Subdeacon-oblationer, and pours it through a strainer into the Chalice; then the Deacons' flasks, and, on festivals, those of the Chancellor, the Secretary, and the Chief Counsellor as well.

Then the Subdeacon-Attendant goes down into the Choir, receives an ewer of water from the hand of the Ruler of the Choir and brings it back to the Archdeacon, who pours it into the Chalice, making a Cross as he does so. Then the Deacons go up to the Pontiff; on seeing which, the Chancellor, the Secretary, the Chief of the District-Counsellors, the District-Notaries, and the District-Counsellors come down from their ranks to stand in their proper places.

XIV. THE OFFERTORY VERSE (Ps. 75 [76]: 9-10, 2-5)
Choir: "Terra tremuit et quievit cum exsurgeret in judicium Deus, Alleluia."
Cantor: "Notus in Judaea Deus; in Israel magnum nomen ejus."
Choir: "Terra tremuit..."
Cantor: "Et factus est in pace locus ejus, et habitatio ejus in Sion."
Choir: "Terra tremuit..."
Cantor: "Ibi confregit potentias arcuum, scutum, gladium, et bellum; Illuminans tu mirabiliter a montibus aeternis."
Choir: "Terra tremuit..."

(Choir: The Earth trembled and was still when God arose in judgment, Alleluia.
Cantor: In Judea God is known: his name is great in Israel.
Choir: The Earth trembled...
Cantor: And His place is in peace: and his abode in Zion.
Choir: The Earth trembled...
Cantor: There hath He broken the powers of bows, the shield, the sword, and the battle; Thou enlightenest wonderfully from the everlasting hills.
Choir: The Earth trembled..")
XV. THE OFFERTORY (continued)

A Golden Chalice measuring 7.5 cm tall, also from the Gourdon Treasury (note particularly the handles).

Then the Pope, arising from his Throne, goes down to the Altar and salutes it, and receives the loaves from the hands of the hebdomadary Presbyter and the Deacons. Then the archdeacon receives the Pontiff's loaves from the Subdeacon-Oblationer,
and gives them to the Pope. And when the latter has placed them on the Altar, the Archdeacon takes the Chalice from the hand of a District-Subdeacon and sets it on the Altar on the right side of the Pope's loaf (the one which he will Consecrate), the Offertory-Veil being twisted about its handles. Then he lays the veil on the end of the Altar, and stands behind the Pope. The latter then bows slightly to the Altar and then turns to the Choir and signs to them to stop singing.

At this, the Bishops stand behind the Pope; the senior in the midst, while the Archdeacon stands at the right side of the Bishops and the Assistant-Deacon at the left. The rest stand arranged in a line behind the Bishops while the the District-Subdeacons go behind the Altar at the end of the Offertory and face the Pope. They make the responses to the Pope until the Sanctus.

Here is an excerpt from Ordo Romanus I (from which this series is mainly based) concerning Concelebrations:
"On festivals, that is to say on Easter Day, Pentecost, St. Peter's Day, and Christmas Day, the cardinal Presbyters assemble, each one holding a Corporal in his hand, and the Archdeacon comes and offers each one of them three loaves. And when the Pontiff approaches the altar, they surround it on the right and the left, and say the Canon simultaneously with him, holding their loaves in their hands, and not placing them on the Altar, so that the Pontiff's voice may be heard the more strongly, and they simultaneously consecrate the body and blood of the Lord, but the Pontiff alone makes a Cross over the Altar."
Here is another Ordo (which came a bit later than Ordo Romanus I) also describing the liturgical practices of the City of Rome, the Ordo of St. Amand (I might also make a series of posts on the St. Amand Ordo, though there will be some overlap between that and this series) on the same subject:
On Christmas day, the Epiphany, the Holy Sabbath, Easter Day, Easter Monday, Ascension day, Whitsunday, and the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the Bishops stand behind the pontiff with bowed heads, and the presbyters on their right and left, and each one holds a corporal in his hand; two loaves are then given to each of them by the Archdeacon, and the pontiff says the Canon so that he can be heard by them; and they hallow the loaves which they hold, just as the Pontiff hallows those on the Altar. The Deacons, however, stand with bowed heads behind the bishops; and the Subdeacons face the Pontiff with bowed heads until he says, 'Nobis quoque peccatoribus'.
Pope: "Suscipe, quaesumus Domine, preces populi tui cum oblationibus hostiarum: ut paschalibus initiata mysteriis, ad aeternitatis nobis medelam, te operante, proficiant. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, (aloud) per omnia saecula saeculorum."
Response: "Amen."

(We beseech You, O Lord, accept the prayers of Your people together with the Sacrifice they offer, that what has been begun by the Paschal Mysteries, by Yout working may profit us unto eternal healing. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit; God, (aloud) Forever and ever.
R: Amen.)


(Excerpt from the Catholic Encyclopedia article 'Corporal')

It may fairly be assumed that something in the nature of a corporal has been in use since the earliest days of Christianity. Naturally it is difficult, based on the extant records from the early church, to distinguish the corporal from the altar-cloth. For instance, a passage of St. Optatus (c. 375), where he asks, "What Christian is unaware that in celebrating the Sacred Mysteries the wood [of the altar] is covered with a linen cloth?" (ipsa ligna linteamine cooperiri) leaves us in doubt which he is referring to. This is probably the earliest direct testimony; for the statement of the "Liber Pontificalis", "He (Pope Sylvester I) decreed that the Sacrifice should not be celebrated upon a silken or dyed cloth, but only on linen, sprung from the earth, as the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ was buried in a clean linen shroud" cannot be relied upon. Still, the ideas expressed in this passage are found in an authentic letter of St. Isidore of Pelusium and again in the "Expositio" of St. Germanus of Paris in the sixth century. Indeed they lasted through the Middle Ages.

It is quite probable that in the early centuries only one linen cloth was used which served both for altar-cloth and corporal. This would have been of large size and doubled-back to cover the chalice. Much doubt must be felt as to the original use of certain cloths of figured linen in the treasury of Monza which Barbier de Montault sought to identify as corporals. The corporal was described as palla corporalis, or velamen dominicae mensae, or opertorium dominici corporis, etc.; and it seems generally to have been of linen, though we hear of altar-cloths of silk, or of purple; (a coloured miniature in the tenth-century Benedictional of St. Thelwold also seems to show a purple altar-covering), or of cloth-of-gold. In some of these cases it seems difficult to decide whether altar-cloth or corporal is meant. However, there is no doubt that a clear distinction had established itself in Carlovingian times or even earlier. Thus, in the tenth century, Regino of Pram quotes a council of Reims as having decreed "that the corporal [corporale] upon which the Holy Sacrifice was offered must be of the finest and purest linen without admixture of any other fibre, because Our Saviour's Body was wrapped not in silk, but in clean linen".

(Excerpt from the Catholic Encyclopedia article 'Paten')

[The Paten] seems from the beginning to have been used to denote a flat open vessel of the nature of a plate or dish. Such vessels in the first centuries were used in the service of the altar, and probably served to collect the offerings of bread made by the faithful and also to distribute the consecrated fragments which, after the loaf had been broken by the celebrant, were brought down to the communicants, who in their own hands received each a portion from the patina. It should be noted, however, that Duchesne, arguing from the language of the earliest Ordines Romani , believes that at Rome white linen bags were used for this purpose. We have, however, positive evidence that silver dishes were in use, which were called patinae ministeriales, and which seem to be closely connected with the calices ministeriales in which the consecrated wine was brought to the people. Some of these patinae, as we learn from the inventories of church plate in the "Liber Pontificalis", weighed twenty or thirty pounds and must have been of large size. In the earliest times the patens, like the chalices, were probably constructed of glass, wood, and copper, as well as of gold and silver; in fact the "Liber Pontificalis" speaks of glass patens in its notice of Pope Zephyrinus.


The Secret (Latin Secreta, sc. oratio secreta) is the prayer said in a low voice by the celebrant at the end of the Offertory in the Roman Liturgy. It is the original and for a long time was the only offertory prayer. It is said in a low voice merely because at the same time the choir sings the Offertory, and it has inherited the special name of Secret as being the only prayer said in that way at the beginning. The silent recital of the Canon (which is sometimes called "Secreta", as by Durandus), did not begin earlier than the sixth or seventh century, Cardinal (Giovanni) Bona thinks not till the tenth.

Moreover all our present offertory prayers are late additions, not made in Rome till the fourteenth century. Till then the offertory act was made in silence, the corresponding prayer that followed it was our Secret. Already in the "Apostolic Constitutions", VIII, XII, 4, the celebrant receiving the bread and wine, prays "silently", doubtless for the same reason, because a psalm was being sung. Since it is said silently the Secret is not introduced by the invitation to the people: "Oremus". It is part of the Proper of the Mass, changing for each feast or occasion, and is built up in the same way as the Collect. The Secret too alludes to the saint or occasion of the day. But it keeps its special character inasmuch as it nearly always (always in the case of the old ones) asks God to receive these present gifts, to sanctify them, etc...

The name "Secreta" is used in the Gelasian Sacramentary; in the Gregorian book these prayers have the title "Super oblata". Both names occur frequently in the early Middle Ages.
In "Ordo Romanus II" they are: "Oratio super oblationes secreta".
In the Gallican Rite there was also a variable offertory prayer introduced by an invitation to the people. It has no special name.
At Milan the prayer called "Oratio super Sindonem" (Sindon for the veil that covers the oblata) is said while the Offertory is being made and another "Oratio super Oblata" follows after the Creed (N.B. The Creed is recited after the Offertory and before the Preface in the Ambrosian Rite), just before the Preface.
In the Mozarabic Rite after an invitation to the people, to which they answer: "Praesta aeterne omnipotens Deus", the celebrant says a prayer that corresponds to our Secret and continues at once to the memory of the saints and intercession prayer. It has no special name.
But in these other Western rites this prayer is said aloud. All the Eastern rites have prayers, now said silently, after the Great Entrance, when the gifts are brought to the altar and offered to God, but they are invariable all the year round and no one of them can be exactly compared to our Secret. Only in general can one say that the Eastern rites have prayers, corresponding more or less to our offertory idea, repeated when the bread and wine are brought to the altar.

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