Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Spy Wednesday 2020: The Hymn of Kassiani

O Lord, the woman who had fallen into many sins, perceiving Thy divinity, having taken up the office of a myrrh-bearer, lamenting, bringeth Thee sweet-smelling oils before Thy burial, saying,  “Woe is me! for the desire for unchastity and the love of sin are become for me a dark and moonless night! Receive the font of my tears, Thou who bringest the water of the sea out of the clouds; bend Thyself down to the groanings of my heart, Thou who did incline the heavens by the ineffable emptying of Thyself! I shall kiss Thine immaculate feet, and again, I will wipe them with the tresses of my head, even those feet whose tread at dusk did so frighten Eve in Paradise when she heard it that she hid herself for fear. Who will examine the fullness of my sins and the depths of Thy judgments? Deliverer of souls, my Savior, do not overlook Thy handmaid, Thou who hast mercy without measure!” (A hymn of the nun Kassiani.)

In the Byzantine Rite, the Divine Office on the Wednesday of Holy Week is particularly occupied with two themes: the betrayal of Judas, and the anointing of the Lord’s feet in the house of Simon the Leper. This latter episode is read from the Gospel of St Matthew, 26, 6-16, at the liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, and is the subject of this extraordinary hymn, the last of Orthros, written by a nun named Kassiani (or Kassia), who lived in the first half of the ninth century.

She was born in Constantinople around 805, and as a young woman, presented as a possible bride to Theophilos, the last iconoclast Emperor. When he said to her, for some tactless reason, “from a woman came the worse things” (“ta khiro” in Greek, i.e. the fall of man, which began with Eve), she replied “And from a woman came the better things” (“ta kritto”, i.e. the redemption of man, which began with Mary). This rebuttal made Theophilos choose another, the Empress and future Saint Theodora, who played a decisive roll in putting an end to iconoclasm.

Kassiani founded a convent, of which she served as abbess, and even suffered for the faith, being scourged by Theophilus for her opposition to iconoclasm. A number of her hymns are extant, many of them still used in the Byzantine Rite to this day; she is one of the very first composers whose original scores are known and useable. A traditional story relates that as she was composing this hymn in the garden of her monastery in the late afternoon, and had gotten as far as “I shall kiss Thine immaculate feet, and again, I will wipe them with the tresses of my head,” a sister came to tell her that Theophilos had arrived. Not wishing to see him, she ran to hide, leaving behind her writing implements. Theophilos entered the garden and found them, and added the words “even those feet whose tread at dusk did so frighten Eve in Paradise when she heard it that she hid herself for fear.” When he had left, Kassiani returned to the garden, found the paper with his addition, and decided to keep it.

A concert recording of the original Greek text.

Κύριε, ἡ ἐν πολλαῖς ἁμαρτίαις περιπεσοῦσα Γυνή, τὴν σὴν αἰσθομένη Θεότητα, μυροφόρου ἀναλαβοῦσα τάξιν, ὀδυρομένη μύρα σοι πρὸ τοῦ ἐνταφιασμοῦ κομίζει. Οἴμοι! λέγουσα, ὅτι νύξ μοι ὑπάρχει, οἶστρος ἀκολασίας, ζοφώδης τε καὶ ἀσέληνος, ἔρως τῆς ἁμαρτίας. Δέξαι μου τὰς πηγὰς τῶν δακρύων, ὁ νεφέλαις διεξάγων τῆς θαλάσσης τὸ ὕδωρ· κάμφθητί μοι πρὸς τοὺς στεναγμοὺς τῆς καρδίας, ὁ κλίνας τοὺς οὐρανούς, τῇ ἀφάτῳ σου κενώσει· καταφιλήσω τοὺς ἀχράντους σου πόδας, ἀποσμήξω τούτους δὲ πάλιν τοῖς τῆς κεφαλῆς μου βοστρύχοις, ὧν ἐν τῷ Παραδείσῳ Εὔα τὸ δειλινὸν κρότον τοῖς ὠσὶν ἠχηθεῖσα, τῷ φόβῳ ἐκρύβη. Ἁμαρτιῶν μου τὰ πλήθη καὶ κριμάτων σου ἀβύσσους, τίς ἐξιχνιάσει; ψυχοσῶστα Σωτήρ μου, μή με τὴν σὴν δούλην παρίδῃς, ὁ ἀμέτρητον ἔχων τὸ ἔλεος.

The Church Slavonic version.

Господи, яже во многия грехи впадшая жена, Твое ощутившая Божество, мироносицы вземши чин, рыдающи миро Тебе прежде погребения приносит: увы мне глаголющи! яко нощь мне есть разжжение блуда невоздержанна, мрачное же и безлунное рачение греха. Приими моя источники слез, иже облаками производяй моря воду. Приклонися к моим воздыханием сердечным, приклонивый небеса неизреченным Твоим истощанием: да облобыжу пречистеи Твои нозе, и отру сия паки главы моея власы, ихже в раи Ева, по полудни, шумом уши огласивши, страхом скрыся. Грехов моих множества, и судеб Твоих бездны кто изследит? Душеспасче Спасе мой, да мя Твою рабу не презриши, иже безмерную имеяй милость.

The Palm Sunday Procession in the Reforms of 1955 and 1969

This article is the fifth in an ongoing series about the theology of the various forms of the rites of Palm Sunday. The previous articles covered the blessing of the Palms (part 1, part 2, part 3) and the procession according to the rite of St Pius V (part 4). The next group of articles will cover the Mass.

As noted in a previous article in this series, the 1955 reform makes the blessing of the Palms and procession into a completely different ceremony from the day’s Mass, isolating it from the rest of Holy Week. This is done by the use of a different liturgical color, red, which is used nowhere else in the week, and by the removal of all but one glancing reference to the Passion [12], with which the Mass that follows and the rest of the week are principally concerned. This separation is furthered by the removal of the most distinctive symbol of the liturgical season of Passiontide, the veiling of the processional cross, which a new rubric specifies is to be uncovered.

Palm Sunday at St Benedict’s Parish, the FSSP church of  in Chesapeake, Virginia; from our first Palm Sunday photopost of 2017. Note the unveiled processional cross.
Of the six processional antiphons in the rite of St Pius V, the first three, Cum appropinquaret Dominus, Cum audisset populus, and Ante sex dies, are removed. The first two of these are not only the longest, but also the most musically complex. The remaining three are supplemented by the addition of four others, taken from medieval sources: Coeperunt omnes, Omnes collaudant, Fulgentibus palmis and Ave, Rex noster. (The rite that accompanied the last of these at Sarum is described in the previous article of this series.) The first three of “new” antiphons are at roughly the same level of musical complexity as the three traditional ones that remain; the Ave, Rex noster is longer and more complex. However, none of the ceremonies that accompany these or other chants in the various medieval Uses is added to the rite. The one particular ceremony found in the Tridentine Missal, the station at the door of the church and the knocking on the door with the processional cross, are abolished.

The hymn which previously accompanied the station, the famous Gloria, laus, et honor, is therefore assigned to the procession as well, after Coeperunt omnes. The antiphon Omnes collaudant is sung with Psalm 147, clearly chosen for its opening words “Praise the Lord, o Jerusalem”; this is said with the doxology, contrary to the rule that the doxology is not said anywhere in the Masses of Passiontide. There being no station, the procession simply enters the church as the final responsory Ingrediente Domino is sung.

Folios 9v and 10r of a collection of tropes, proses and processional music made for the church of St Martial in Limoges, France, in the 10th or 11th century, with four processional antiphons for Palm Sunday: Cum audissetAve Rex nosterAppropinquante Jesu, and Occurrunt turbae. (Bibliothèque nationale de France. Département des manuscrits. Latin 1120)
At the end of the procession, an element which is found in medieval Uses, a concluding prayer, has been inserted; the text is a based on a few words and phrases of the prayer Deus qui dispersa congregas, formerly the 2nd of the blessing of the Palms. Like the blessing, this prayer is to be done versus populum; the celebrant therefore reverences the altar, then turns and stands in the middle of the top step of the altar, while an acolyte comes in front of him to present him the book. Just as the prayers of the 1955 Good Friday liturgy and Easter vigil are said in a novel manner different from that of the ordinary rite of Mass, the rubrics specify that he is to keep his hands closed; the prayer ends with the short conclusion, which is also never used at Mass.

One final novelty further separates the first part of the ceremony from the Mass; its final rubric specifically states that that the blessed palm branches are NOT to be held during the singing of the Passion, as was the custom in the earlier rite.

The cumulative effect of these changes is to erase the historical character of the Palm Sunday procession. The former rite is a penitential act, celebrated as the penitential season of Lent reaches its culmination; a prelude to the Lord’s Passion, ritually distinct from any other procession, but wholly integrated the rites of Holy Week. The character of the new rite is professedly celebratory, like that of the Corpus Christi procession, and lacks any distinctive ritual. The combination of the radical abbreviation of the blessing, the removal of any unique ceremony from the procession, and the ritual isolation of them both from the rest of Holy Week, clearly diminishes the solemnity and importance of the rite as a whole.

In the post-Conciliar Missal, the procession is fundamentally similar to that of the 1955 rite, in that it consists solely in the act of processing, and has no station or other ritual. As noted previously in this series, the color is still red, but that of the Mass has been changed to red, restoring an important sign of unity between the two parts of the rite. The use of incense is made optional; the processional cross may be veiled, since there is no longer a rubric to the contrary, and the veiling of crosses in Passiontide or Holy Week is itself now completely optional. A new rubric specifies that the deacon carry the Gospel book, a custom which was often observed in the Middle Ages.

The Palm Sunday procession at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana, celebrated according to the post-Conciliar rite; note the veiled processional cross. From our Palm Sunday photopost of 2015.
None of the traditional processional antiphons, nor those added in 1955, are mentioned in either the Missal or the Ordo Cantus Missae, the official directory of how to use the traditional chant repertoire in the modern rite. The two antiphons Pueri Hebraeorum, traditionally sung while the palms are distributed, are now assigned to the procession, since the palms are no longer distributed. In 1955, these are said with the doxology, contrary to the rule that the doxology is not said in the Masses of Passiontide; in 1969, they are said without it, in keeping with the rule that the doxology is no longer said at Mass at all. The Gloria, laus et honor and Ingrediente Domino are also retained, which is to say, all of the easiest chants. Of course, any one of these may be replaced by “another suitable chant”, but one is therefore free to determine that the antiphons which previously accompanied the procession for a millennium or more are “suitable.”

The final prayer added to the end of the procession in 1955 is now deleted, and with it, the peculiar manner in which it is said; on reaching the altar, the priest incenses it ad libitum, then changes into the chasuble if he has worn a cope for the blessing and procession. The Kyrie is optional, for some reason.

The post-Conciliar Missal also contains a rubric in four parts which explains what to do in cases where the procession cannot go outside, and says nothing that could not be said by basic common sense. This is followed by another in two parts which is labelled “the simple entrance,” which says nothing of relevance at all, since it differs in no meaningful way from the regular low Mass.

Note (continuing the numeration from the previous articles):
[12] The glancing reference is in the hymn Gloria, laus et honor, the word “passuro – about to suffer”, the future participle of the verb “patior.”

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Sanctifying Time - Guest Post by Fr. Jon Tveit

NLM is happy to bring to you this piece by guest columist Fr. Jon Tveit. 

Sanctifying Time
The crisis in which we find ourselves has changed the structure of our lives dramatically. It has stripped away many of the things which normally occupy our time. Even worse, it has made it impossible for many Catholics to participate in what is the central act of our religion, the sacrifice of the Mass. Perhaps some even feel they have too much time on their hands these days. Because of this we have to ask, how can we remain united to the Lord and to His Church during these days? What can we do to sanctify our time?

Lucky for us the Church has a ready-made answer to these questions. Even without the Mass, the Church has a part of her public liturgy in which anyone anywhere can participate. There’s a way for us to enter into the prayer of the Church, to keep us united to the Lord and to sanctify our time. It is, of course, the Divine Office or the Liturgy of the Hours. That liturgy centered upon the Book of Psalms which the Church has been praying throughout the day every day practically since the beginning.

The Divine Office is not private prayer. As one of our seminary professors liked to tell us, “Even if you’re praying night prayer in pajamas in bed, it’s still the public prayer of the Church!” The Office is not a private devotion, even when prayed privately. It is part of the liturgy of the Church, the public worship given to God the Father by Christ the Head and Christ in His members. As Fr. Eugene Boylan put it, “It is the prayer of Christ said by Christ to the Father of Christ.” [1] When we pray the Office, the Holy Spirit unites us to the whole Mystical Body of Christ in this sublime act of worship of the Father.

In order for our time truly to be sanctified, we would need to be in touch with the Lord always. We would have to “pray without ceasing” as St. Paul tells us, living always in the Divine Presence, always adverting to God with us. This will, of course, be the life of heaven. But here below “we do not know how to pray as we ought.” For reasons both practical and spiritual, most of us cannot live perpetually adverting to the presence of God. The Divine Office with its seven ‘hours’ or times of prayer fills our day with prayer, gradually accustoming us to living always in the Divine Presence, preparing us for the life of heaven.

The Psalmist tells the Lord, “seven times a day I praise thee” (Ps 118/119:164). This is literally true in the Christian tradition with the seven canonical hours of the Office. But there is a more mystical meaning to the number seven here. Commenting on this psalm, St. Augustine tells us, “The words ‘seven times a day’, signify ‘evermore’. For this number is wont to be a symbol of universality; because after six days of the divine work of creation, a seventh of rest was added (Gen 2:2); and all times roll on through a revolving cycle of seven days.” [2] Seven stands for fullness in Sacred Scripture. Praising the Lord seven times a day means praising the Lord always. As the just man sins ‘seven’ times a day (Prov 24:16), meaning quite a lot, so too should the righteous praise God ‘seven’ times a day. The seven hours of the Church’s prayer thus allow us to pray always and lift our time up into the timelessness of heaven.

The traditional hymns for the daytime hours of the Office point toward the liturgy’s function of the sanctification of time. In midmorning we ask the Holy Spirit to fill us and direct our thoughts, words, and actions in line with charity:

Terce [3]
Nunc Sancte nobis Spiritus,
Unum Patri cum Filio,
Dignare promptus ingeri,
Nostro refusus pectori.
Now for us, o Holy Spirit,
One with the Father and the Son,
Deign readily to be present,
Diffused within our breast.
Os, lingua, mens, sensus, vigor,

Confessionem personent,
Flammescat igne caritas

Accendat ardor proximos.
May the mouth, tongue, mind,
   sense, vigor,
Resound with Your praise;
May charity be inflammed
  with fire,
May its ardor enkindle
   that of our neighbors.
Praesta, Pater piissime,
Patri compar Unice,
Cum Spiritu Paraclito
Regnans per omne saeculum.
Grant this, most holy Father,
And Only Son equal to the Father,
With the Spirit, the Paraclete,
Reigning through every age.
At midday we address the Ruler of the universe, the Regulator of the times and changes of the day, from the beauty of the morning sunrise to the heat of noon. We ask Him to calm the fires of our hearts, that concupiscence which inclines us to sin, and to give us health of body and peace of mind. We see here that our right living entails our lives being brought under the rule of the One who governs all of creation:

Rector potens, verax Deus,
Qui temperas rerum vices,

Splendore mane instruis,

Et ignibus meridiem.
O ruler potent, o truthful God,
You who temper the alterations
  of creation.
Your furnish the morning with
And with fires the midday.
Extingue flammas litium,
Aufer calorem noxium,
Confer salutem corporum,
Veramque pacem cordium.
Quench the flames of quarrels,
Remove the harmful heat,
Grant the health of bodies,
And the true peace of hearts.
Praesta Pater... Grant this, most holy Father...

As the afternoon draws on and we look toward the failing of the daylight, we beseech the Lord to give us that light of divine life which never fails. We pray that we may persevere in His grace, so that His glory may uphold us when the evening of life is upon us:

Rerum, Deus, tenax vigor,

Immotus in te permanens,
Lucis diurnae tempora
Successibus determinans.
O God, the vigor upholding
Remaining in Yourself unmoved,
The hours of daylight
Determining by successions.
Largire clarum vespere,
Quo vita nusquam decidat,
Sed praemium mortis sacrae
Perennis instet gloria.
Lavish brightness in the evening,
By which life may nowhere fail,
But as the reward of a holy death,
May perennial glory be near.
Praesta Pater... Grant this, most holy Father...

The daily recitation of these prayers sets a pattern for our life. It brings our lives into the order of the Creator whose rule sanctifies our time as much as it governs earthly time.

For priests, this time of quarantine should remind us that apart from the sacraments, our praying of the Divine Office is more important, more powerful than any other work we do. Fr. Boylan, although a Benedictine, wrote profoundly on the spiritual life of secular priests. In one book he says, “A priest seldom does so much for his flock as when he prays for them, and he seldom prays for them so effectively as when he recites the Divine Office.” [4] The Office is the second most important thing the priest does every day after celebrating the Mass. “There is no other vocal prayer in which the ‘priestly’ function is so well exercised,” Boylan says. “After the sacrifice of the Mass, there is nothing a priest can do for the souls in his charge so effectively as to recite the Divine Office in their name.” [5] Do we truly recognize that praying the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours is even more important, even more priestly, than our active apostolate? Now is the time for us to embrace this aspect of our priestly ministry and sanctify our time for the good of the Church.

This semi-monastic time of quarantine reminds all of us of our need for time itself to be sanctified. How can people do so better than by entering into the Church’s own liturgy of the Divine Office? There are a number of resources today to help the faithful to participate in this liturgy of the Church. The newer form of the Office can be prayed on certain apps such as iBreviary, the older form on the app Breviarium Meum or at The liturgy of the Divine Office is not just for priests and those consecrated to the service of God. It is the liturgy of the whole Body of Christ which can and should be prayed by the laity as well for the sanctification of their lives and of the world.

[1] Boylan, The Priest’s Way to God (Newman Press, 1962), 136.
[3] I use here the traditional form of these hymns as found, among other places, in the Liturgia Horarum and in the traditional Roman Office before the reforms of Pope Urban VIII. The very literal translations are my own.
[4] Boylan, The Priest’s Way to God, 134.
[5] Boylan, The Spiritual Life of the Priest (Newman Press, 1949), 40.

Free Webinar on Chanting Monastic Compline

Join Dr. Jennifer Donelson-Nowicka, Director of Sacred Music at St Joseph’s Seminary (New York), for a free webinar on chanting monastic compline.

Easter Wednesday, April 15th, 2020
7:00-8:30 p.m. (Mountain Standard Time, 9:00-10:30 Eastern)

This live 90-minute webinar will introduce:

  • The Divine Office
  • Chant Notation
  • Chanting the Divine Office
It will close with monastic compline in Latin and English and an opportunity for Q & A.

To register for this webinar, please click here. Registrations will be accepted until noon on April 15.

Sponsored by the Sacred Arts Guild of Alberta and Sacred Heart Church in Calgary.

The Organs at Notre Dame: An Update Almost One Year After the Fire

The latest episode of Square Notes: The Sacred Music Podcast has just been released.

Our guest for this episode is the fantastic titular organist of Notre Dame, Olivier Latry, who gives us an assessment of the damage and what to look for in the road ahead. He also discusses the development of the instrument and its role in the sacred liturgy, and the development of the organ repertoire.

For more information about Olivier Latry, please click here:

For more information about the Introduction to the Organ for Pianists class this summer at St. Joseph’s Seminary, click here:

You can catch us on our website, YouTube, iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app. Please note that we have discontinued publishing on SoundCloud.

Monday, April 06, 2020

“For I Will Not Give You a Kiss as Did Judas”: On Sacred and Profane Kissing

The Roman liturgy was once filled with chaste kisses and embraces — gestures of a love that clings to the Lord with purity and reverence. “It is good for me to cleave to my God” (Ps 72:28). As Michael Fiedrowicz writes in his book The Traditional Mass: History, Form, and Theology of the Classical Roman Rite (forthcoming from Angelico):
An exchange of greetings (Dominus vobiscum — Et cum spiritu tuo), followed by Oremus, introduces the conclusion to the prayers at the foot of the altar, which the priest speaks silently as he climbs the steps to the altar and kisses it. Here in the first prayer (Aufer a nobis) the priest prays once again to be allowed to approach the holy altar with a pure heart (ut ad Sancta sanctorum puris mereamur mentibus introire). Having reached the altar, the priest speaks a final prayer for forgiveness, while he lays his hands on the altar and invokes the intercession of the saints (Oramus te, Domine, per merita sanctorum tuorum ... ut indulgere digneris omnia peccata mea). The simultaneous kiss of the altar honors this place as a symbol of Christ, and assures the priest and also the community of the assistance of those saints especially whose relics are enshrined in the altar (quorum reliquiae hic sunt). During the course of the celebration of the Mass, the priest kisses the altar a total of eight times.
Eight times, an echo of the eight Beatitudes by which we mount up to heaven, the eight notes of the octave by which we ascend to unity, the eighth day of eternal glory.

In the book In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart — The Journal of a Priest at Prayer, the Lord speaks these words, concerning the priest at Mass:
By kissing the altar, he makes himself vulnerable to My piercing love. By kissing the altar he opens himself unreservedly to all that I would give him and to all that I hold in the designs of My Heart for his life. The kiss to the altar signifies total abandonment to the priestly holiness that I desire and to the fulfilment of My desires in the soul of My priest. The holiness to which I call My priests, the holiness to which I am calling you, consists in a total configuration to Me as I stand before My Father in the heavenly sanctuary, beyond the veil. Every priest of Mine is to be with Me both priest and victim in the presence of My Father. Every priest is called to stand before the altar with pierced hands and feet, with his side wounded, and with his head crowned as My head was crowned in My passion. You need not fear this configuration to Me; it will bring you only peace of heart, joy in the presence of My Father, and that unique intimacy with Me that I have, from the night before I suffered, reserved for My priests, My chosen ones, the friends of My Heart.
In the hyperrationalistic liturgical reform, nearly all of these kisses were abolished. Only the kiss at the start and the kiss at the end were left in place.

In Henri de Lubac’s Vatican Council Notebooks, we read that Bishop Jenny of Cambrai, who had been a member of the preparatory liturgical commission and would later be an important member of the Consilium, gave a speech in the aula in which he advocated for shortening the prayers at the foot of the altar (too long; gotta getta move on, enough of this prepwork and penance and stuff), “fewer oscula altaris, signa crucis, etc.” [kisses of the altar, signs of the cross], the audible recitation of the secret and the Canon, the abbreviation of the formula for giving communion, the ending of the Mass with the dismissal (i.e., the abolition of the Last Gospel), and for an overall simplification of pontifical Mass. [1] Here was a bishop who evidently felt the wedding feast needed to be wrapped up promptly so that one could move on to more important things, like paying utility bills.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

The Palm Sunday Procession in the Missal of St Pius V

This article is the fourth in an ongoing series about the theology of the various forms of the rites of Palm Sunday. The previous articles covered the blessing of the Palms (part 1, part 2, part 3.) The next article will cover the procession in the reforms of 1955 and 1969, followed by the discussion of the Mass.

In the Roman liturgical tradition, a procession before Mass is always a penitential act, whether it is accompanied by a blessing, as on Candlemas and Palm Sunday, or not, as on the Rogation days. This understanding of the nature of processions goes back to the institution of the oldest among those which later become a fixed feature of the liturgical year, which we now call the Lesser Litanies or Rogations. In the later 5th century, when the city of Vienne in Gaul was afflicted by a series of disasters, the bishop St Mamertus declared a special series of prayers and processions to beg for God’s mercy. The Major Litanies, so-called because they were instituted in Rome itself by no less a figure than St Gregory the Gregory, were established about 120 years later in response to a plague, and likewise accompanied by a great procession of all of the orders of society.

The Procession of St Gregory the Great, by an anonymous Sienese painter of the mid-16th century. The traditional story recounts that when the seven parts of the procession converged at the bridge in front of the Mausoleum of Hadrian, which is fairly close to St Peter’s Basilica, an angel appeared over it with a drawn sword in his hand, which he then sheathed, symbolizing the end of the plague as in 2 Samuel 24.
This is why the blessing and procession of Candlemas, and the processions and Mass of the Rogations, are all done in violet, the color of penitential seasons, even though the Mass of the former and the season of the latter are celebrated in white. Likewise, the Palm Sunday procession uses the normal color of Lent and Passiontide, violet; the deacon and subdeacon wear folded chasubles, which are only used in penitential seasons.

It is true, of course, that the Corpus Christi procession is celebrated in white, and that its character is celebratory, and not penitential. In this case, however, not only is the procession done after the Mass, and thus, in a certain sense, as an extension of it; it also has no proper liturgical texts attached to it [10], and is not even mentioned in the Missal. It is obligatory, and therefore part of the liturgical year, as a matter of custom and tradition, but not as a matter of universal liturgical law, and therefore does not rank among those officially appointed by the Church specifically to ask for God’s mercy. The same holds true of the processions traditionally held in honor of the Saints on their feast days.

In the Missal of St Pius V, the Palm Sunday procession is celebrated with characteristically Roman simplicity. After the Palms have been blessed and distributed, and the concluding prayer has been said, the procession forms in the customary order, led by the clergy, with the faithful following after the celebrant. The subdeacon walks at the head, carrying a processional cross, which is veiled like all of the crosses in Passiontide. The rubrics of the Missal presume that the route goes outside the church and returns to it, but it was also common to bless the palms in one church, and process to another, where the Mass was held. Six antiphons, the first two of which are much longer than the others, are assigned to be sung along the way.

From our fourth Palm Sunday photopost of last year, the procession of the FSSP’s apostolate in Guadalajara, Mexico, based at the church of Nuestra Señora del Pilar.

Palm Sunday 2020

The Tract of the Mass of Palm Sunday, sung by the Choeur Grégorien de Paris. (Psalm 21, 2-9; 18-19; 22; 24; 32.) What makes this recording particularly good is not just the strong voices and tempo, but the way the parts which are spoken in the first person (“But I am a worm... All they that saw me...”) are sung by a single voice, a practice which imitates the division of the Passion that follows it into three parts. Also note how the beautifully the cantor does the melisma on the words “Libera me”, which deliberate strays from the normal melody of the second mode tracts to represent the Lord crying out in the midst of His Passion.

Deus, Deus meus, réspice in me: quare me dereliquísti?
V. Longe a salúte mea verba delictórum meórum.
V. Deus meus, clamábo per diem, nec exáudies: in nocte, et non ad insipiéntiam mihi.
V. Tu autem in sancto hábitas, laus Israël.
V. In te speravérunt patres nostri: speravérunt, et liberásti eos.
V. Ad te clamavérunt, et salvi facti sunt: in te speravérunt, et non sunt confusi.
V. Ego autem sum vermis, et non homo: oppróbrium hóminum et abjéctio plebis.
V. Omnes, qui vidébant me, aspernabántur me: locúti sunt lábiis et movérunt caput.
V. Sperávit in Dómino, erípiat eum: salvum fáciat eum, quóniam vult eum.
V. Ipsi vero consideravérunt et conspexérunt me: divisérunt sibi vestiménta mea, et super vestem meam misérunt mortem.
V. Líbera me de ore leónis: et a córnibus unicornuórum humilitátem meam.
V. Qui timétis Dóminum, laudáte eum: univérsum semen Jacob, magnificáte eum.
V. Annuntiábitur Dómino generátio ventúra: et annuntiábunt cœli justítiam ejus.
V. Pópulo, qui nascétur, quem fecit Dóminus.

O God, my God, look upon me: why hast Thou forsaken me?
V. Far from my salvation, are the words of my sins.
V. O my God, I cry out by day and Thou wilt not hear, by night, and it shall not be reputed as folly to me.
V. But Thou dwellest in the holy place, o praise of Israel!
V. In Thee our fathers hoped; they hoped, and Thou didst deliver them.
V. To Thee they cried, and they were saved; in Thee they hoped, and they were not confounded.
V. But I am a worm, not a man; the reproach of men, and the outcast of the people.
V. All who saw me, laughed me to scorn; they spoke with their lips, and wagged their heads.
V. He hoped in the Lord; let Him deliver him: let Him save him, since He delighteth in him.
V. But they looked upon and stared at me; they divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots.
V. Deliver me from the lion’s mouth, and my lowliness from the horns of the unicorns.
V. Ye that fear the Lord, praise Him: all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify Him.
V. There shall be declared to the Lord a generation to come: and the heavens shall show forth His justice.
V. To a people that shall be born, which the Lord has made.

Good Shepherds in the Face of Danger, Natural and Otherwise

NLM is grateful to The Wanderer for their permission to reprint this article from their March 19, 2020 issue by James Monti about the 1673 Freising Rituale and its prescriptions for pastoral care in the time of pestilence.

Good Shepherds in the Face of Danger, Natural and Otherwise

James Monti

It was little less than a year ago that the beauty of a sunny spring day in Paris during Holy Week was turned into frightening darkness when the great cathedral of Notre Dame burst into flames. The event had an apocalyptic feel to it, and coming just a day after Palm Sunday, one could not help but think that there was in this catastrophe a word of warning to a world that had turned it back not only on divine worship but on the most elemental commandments of God.

Nearly a year later, this past weekend the weather here in the New York area was bright and beautiful. Yet there is fear in the air, fear of an invisible enemy so tiny that it can only be seen under a microscope. On Ash Wednesday, a young man commented to me that he wasn’t religious and didn’t need religion in his life, but that if the coronavirus outbreak became serious he would turn to God. I gave him a pair of Rosary beads and said, “You might decide you need them.” He accepted the Rosary, but added that he hoped he wouldn’t be needing them.

Perhaps those Rosary beads are beginning to get some use now. In the nearly two weeks that have passed since that conversation, the coronavirus outbreak has become a serious epidemic in this part of the country. Coming during this penitential season not unlike the Notre Dame fire last year, it certainly seems to be yet another word of warning for all of us.  “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return to the Lord your God.”

The Church has a long history of battling against pestilence – communicable diseases – with the weapon of prayer, dating back to 590 AD, when the deacon and future pope Saint Gregory the Great organized a series of processions through the streets of Rome to beg for deliverance from the plague through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the conclusion of which the epidemic ceased.

Across the centuries that followed, epidemics were a recurrent danger for Christian Europe, with the deadliest pandemic of all, the “Black Death,” striking in 1347, in which about half of Europe’s population perished.

In seventeenth century Germany as elsewhere, the plague was still a threat. The hugely famous Oberammergau Passion Play is the fulfillment of a vow that the people of this Bavarian village made in 1633 when they prayed for protection from the plague. When in 1673 Archbishop Albert Sigismund of Bavaria issued a new edition of the ritual for his south German see of Freising, the book included detailed instructions for how a pastor should respond to epidemics (Rituale Frisingense. Munich, Johann Jaecklin, 1673, digitized text, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich, pp. 721-723).

The text begins by admonishing pastors that when faced with the threat of pestilence they cannot abandon their people and run for their lives, like the hired shepherds whom Christ condemns (Jn 10:12-13), but rather they must devote themselves more than ever to their duty as pastors, “that they might set aside their life for their sheep.”

The ritual goes on to explain how pastors should encourage and comfort the faithful, exhorting them to have recourse to God in facing the danger at hand:
… the pastor, should vigorously animate his parishioners by virtue of a sermon, driving out all fear from their souls. He should endeavor, that he might lead all men to confession, and the reception of the Holy Eucharist. For placating the wrath of God, and averting the scourge of the present necessity, they should establish on certain distinct days processions, also the prayer of the Forty Hours, with an assembly in the church daily (provided that the pestilence has not yet invaded the place, for otherwise those processions and assemblies would be ruinous, and should not be done), as well as also other exercises of piety at an opportune time and according to the capacity of the people. On certain determined days he should appoint fasts. He should take heed that almsgiving and other spiritual works of mercy both spiritual and corporal be done… The calamity of disease advancing, he should urge a vow to Saint Sebastian be made by the people.
The pastor is instructed to commit himself by a vow to inducing the people to set aside all trivial, worldly festivities, that they might turn to God:
He should gravely and continually call the same away from their sins; he should incite them to the practice of the virtues and the use of the sacraments. He should omit nothing that shall be seen in this to be expedient for the salvation of the people, the security of consciences, the reconciling to God, and supporting the necessity at hand.
Returning to the inalienable duties of a pastor, the ritual stresses that the parish priest must never deny the sacraments of baptism, confession and the Holy Eucharist to those who are worthily disposed to receive them. In the case of extreme unction, the ritual permits the pastor to abbreviate the rite to simply the essential annointings, according to the necessity of the urgent circumstances during an epidemic.

The Freising instructions continue with a section entitled, “Preservation against the Pestilence,” in which the pastor is given practical advice on how to fulfill his priestly duties to the faithful without unnecessarily putting himself at a heightened risk for contracting the contagion. Thus the priest is advised to confine his exposure to the sick to the administration of the sacraments. The reason for this is obvious: if a priest is to continue attending to the spiritual needs of his people, he must do what he can to preserve his own health for the sake of the souls who need him for what only he as a priest can do for them. The priest is also told to cleanse his fingers with vinegar or the heat of a lit candle after each administration of the sacraments to the sick, not unlike the instruction given to doctors and nurses that they should wash their hands when going from one patient to another.

The Freising ritual concludes this instruction by reminding the pastor that in such a time of public adversity he must be a model for his people:
Above all, however, the priest should be established in the grace of God; that which he teaches others by word, he himself should fulfill first by deed and example; he should keep a singular solicitude of the poor; he should pray ceaselessly to God for his salvation and for the salvation of his flock; he should surpass in all the splendors of chastity, humility, magnanimity, devotion, patience, temperance, meekness, and the other virtues.
In the rubrics that the Freising ritual provides for conducting a procession to pray for protection from pestilence, there appears the following sequence of three Collects, in which the calamity of an epidemic is perceived as a call to repentance and the need to beg for forgiveness:
Hear us, O our saving God, and with the blessed and glorious Mother of God, Mary ever Virgin, and blessed Sebastian thy martyr, and all the saints interceding, deliver thy people from the terrors of thy wrath, and make them secure in the bounty of thy mercy.

Be merciful, O Lord, to our supplications, and heal the infirmities of our souls and bodies, that with thy forgiveness having been received, we may ever rejoice in thy blessing.

Grant us, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy answer to devout supplication, and mercifully turn away this pestilence and death, that the hearts of mortals may see such scourges going forth from thee in thy wrath to cease by thy mercy (Rituale Frisingense. p. 688).
The courage and heroism in the face of danger to which the Freising ritual summoned the pastors for whom it was compiled is something that goes well beyond the threat of plagues. Amid all the worrisome news concerning the coronavirus outbreak, this past weekend brought a compelling reminder of the highest form of pastoral courage, the willingness to suffer imprisonment or worse in defense of the doctrines and truths of the Catholic faith.

A Powerful Sense of the Sacred

On Saturday I attended a very beautiful twentieth anniversary Solemn Pontifical Requiem Mass for the repose of the soul of a man who in the eyes of very many, including myself, was a living martyr, Ignatius Cardinal Kung Pin-Mei (1901-2000), the bishop of Shanghai who because of his unflinching fidelity to the supreme pontiff suffered an imprisonment of over thirty years at the hands of the Chinese Communist regime. Quite fittingly, the Mass was celebrated by a prelate we all deeply revere, His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke.

The Mass took place amid the splendor of the Basilica of Saint John in Stamford, Connecticut, in which luminescent stained-glass windows, a magnificent stone high altar and lofty vaulting above converge to create a powerful sense of the sacred.

But on this occasion what particularly captivated the eye and spoke to the soul was the catafalque erected at the crossing in the central aisle of the nave. Encircled by sixteen unbleached wax candles and draped with dark bunting as well as a red “cappa magna,” the great ceremonial cape that is one of the solemn vestments of cardinals, the catafalque bore the coat of arms of Cardinal Kung. Resting upon a pillow at the top was his cardinal’s hat.

The music for the Mass featured Victoria’s Missa pro Defunctis for six voices. With the majestic catafalque of the late cardinal before my eyes, the chanting of the Dies irae was particularly compelling.

In his homily, Cardinal Burke reminded us all of Cardinal Kung’s unfailing fidelity to Christ, to His Church and to His Vicar on earth, adding that Joseph Cardinal Zen, the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong who has become the great living voice of the underground Catholic Church in China, has been following in Cardinal Kung’s footsteps as a faithful and courageous shepherd.

With all the uncertainties we face during this season of Lent in 2020, may we trust as Cardinal Kung did in the loving providence and unfailing mercy of God.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Dom Alcuin Reid on the New Additions to the EF Missal

Yesterday, Dom Alcuin Reid, the well-known liturgical scholar and prior of the Monastère Saint Benoît in La Garde-Freinet, France (diocese of Fréjus-Toulon), published in the Catholic World Report his assessment of the CDF’s recent decrees on additions to the Missal of the Extraordinary Form: “The older form of the Roman rite is alive and well.” As always, the full article is well worth your time, but I found his concluding paragraphs to be especially useful.

“These voices, which are also those who decry any possibility of the reform of the liturgical reform, seem to be oblivious to the reality in the life of the Church at the beginning of the twenty-first century that usus antiquior is a living liturgical rite in which people—indeed significant and growing numbers of young people—participate fully, actually, consciously and fruitfully in a manner that would have brought great satisfaction to the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council and to the pioneers of the twentieth century liturgical movement which preceded it. They are oblivious to the fact that because the older form of the Roman rite is alive and well and bearing good fruit in the life of the Church, and because participation in it is growing numerically, it is more than appropriate that the Holy See—with the explicit approval of the Holy Father, Pope Francis—has made provision for the use of newly canonized saints and more prefaces (the reservations expressed above notwithstanding).

There is another element of this reform, alluded to earlier, that is not without significance. As already mentioned, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has judged it apposite to permit the celebration of the Mass of Saints whose feasts fall in Lent with the commemoration of the Lenten Mass, reversing the relevant provision of the 1960 code of rubrics published in the missal of 1962. Hitherto the Holy See has not derogated from the liturgical books in force in 1962 in a manner that ‘corrects’ previous reforms. But through this small provision it has happily shown that it is possible to recognize that not everything in the liturgical books in force in 1962 is set in stone: the correction of unfortunate elements present in them is possible. The permissions given in recent years for the use of the pre-1955 Holy Week rites (to be sure, at the correct times) show a similar, healthy openness, for which the Holy See must be praised.

‘In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture,’ Pope Benedict wrote in 2007. ‘What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place,’ he insisted.

The possibility of the celebration of new saints and of the use of more prefaces in the usus antiquior of the Roman rite is, overall, an example of such growth and progress. That their use is facultative means that they will find their proper place in worship according to the older rites, or not, according to the pastoral judgement of those responsible, avoiding any rupture with the past. Regardless of some of the particulars, the authoritative recognition these measures bring to the fact that the older form of the Roman rite is alive and well and has its rightful and proper place in a healthy diversity in the liturgical life of the Church of our times is something for which we may be very thankful indeed.”

Friday, April 03, 2020

The Stabat Mater and the Feast of the Seven Sorrows

From 1727 to 1960, the Friday of Passion week was kept on the general calendar of the Roman Rite as the feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary. This devotion originated in German-speaking lands in the early 15th-century, partly as a response to the iconoclasm of the Hussites, and partly out of the universal popular devotion to every aspect of Christ’s Passion, including the presence of His Mother, and thence to Her grief over the Passion. It was known by several different titles, and kept on a wide variety of dates. Before the name “Seven Sorrows” became common, it was most often called “the feast of the Virgin’s Compassion”, which is to say, of Her suffering together with Christ as She beheld the Passion. This title was retained well into the 20th century by the Dominicans, who also had an Office for it which was quite different from the Roman one, although the Mass was the same. It also appears in many missals of the 15th to 17th centuries only as a votive Mass, with no corresponding feast; this was the case at Sarum, where it is called “Compassionis sive Lamentationis B.M.V.” Its popularity continued to grow in the Tridentine period, until Pope Benedict XIII finally extended it to the whole of the Roman Rite in 1727.

The Virgin of Sorrows; the central panel of the Van Belle triptych by Pieter Poubus (1523 ca. - 1580); in the church of St James in Bruges, Belgium. There were different traditions as to which events in Our Lady’s life counted as Her Seven Sorrows; here they are (clockwise from lower left) the Circumcision, the Flight into Egypt, losing the Child Jesus, meeting Christ on the road to Calvary, the Crucifixion, the deposition from the Cross, and the entombment. The Roman version of the Passiontide feast contains no specific list. (Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.)
One of the greatest treasures of Latin hymnody, the Stabat Mater, is sung in two different forms on the feast. (Text and translation here.) Divided into three sections, it was sung as the hymn of Vespers, Matins, Lauds; in Italy, this version, in the 6th mode, is still very often sung when the Via Crucis is done. The same text is also sung with a different melody in the 2nd mode, as a Sequence in the Mass.

It was also commonly used as a motet for the ceremonies and devotions of Holy Week; Josquin des Prez’s version is one of the finest among pre-Tridentine composers.
Palestrina’s version was composed a few years before his death in 1594, and traditionally sung on Palm Sunday in Rome.

The Penitential Psalms in Books of Hours

The seven Penitential Psalms are a standard part of the liturgical material incorporated into Books of Hours, along with the Little Office of the Virgin Mary, the Office of the Dead, and the Litany of the Saints. Of course, many Books of Hours are filled with beautiful illustrations, and as a follow-up to a post at the beginning of Lent about the Penitential Psalms in the liturgy of Lent, here is a selection of some of the images commonly chosen to go with them.

From the Maastricht Hours, 14th century (Stowe ms. 17, British Library): Mary Magdalene, the penitent Saint par excellence, meets the risen Christ in the Garden; a woman kneels before her confessor, as the hand of God absolves her from above. The bishop on the right is probably meant to signify that the priest can absolve sins only on the bishop’s authority.

The Maastricht Hours are famous for their repertoire of strange and whimsical marginal images, most of which have no relationship to the text and are not religious in character. Here is an exception, a black bird accompanying the words of Psalm 101, “I am like a night raven in the house.”

Book of Hours according to the Use of Ghent, 14th century. (Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, 565, Bibliothèque nationale de France.) Christ in Judgment at the end of the world, with the dead rising from the earth, and a figure representing the mouth of Hell.

Book of Hours according to the Use of Paris, late 14th - early 15th century. (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Latin 18014.) The Trinity in Majesty, with the symbols of the Four Evanglists. Below, David, the author of the Psalms, in combat with Goliath, a popular subject with the Penitential Psalms.

The Hours of Brière de Surgy, 14th century. (Bibliotheque Municipale de la Ville de Laon, ms. 243q.) King David as an elderly man in prayer.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

The Feast of Saint Mary of Egypt

The feast of St Mary of Egypt has never been on the General Calendar, but it is often found in the supplements of the Missal and Breviary “for certain places.” April 2 is the most common date, but in several places it was kept on April 9, and in the Byzantine Rite it is on April 1.

The Golden Legend and the Roman Martyrology note that she is also called “the Sinner”; according to her legend, she was a prostitute or actress (in the Roman world, often more or less the same thing,) so given to the indulgence of the flesh that she often did not bother to charge her clients. After many years of a gravely and publicly sinful life, she went to Jerusalem by ship, with a crowd of pilgrims going to the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross; not, as yet, a pilgrim herself, but in pursuit of new transgressions among the sailors. In the city, she tried to enter the Holy Sepulcher, but was mysteriously prevented from doing so by some unseen power; this opened her eyes to the true nature of the life she was leading, the beginning of a complete conversion. Before an icon of the Virgin Mary, she vowed herself to a new life of penance, and was then able to enter the church. Coming outside, she went to offer thanks before the icon, and heard a voice saying to her “If you cross the Jordan, you will be saved.” She therefore crossed the Jordan into the desert, where she remained in complete solitude for nearly half a century. 

Shortly before her death, she was discovered by a monk named Zosimas, to whom she recounted the story of her early sins, conversion, and many years of penance in the desert; at first, he could not even tell that she was a woman, so emaciated was she by her fasting. She is often depicted with long wild hair, from the story that what Zosimas at first took for a garment of camel-hair like that of St John the Baptist was actually her own hair. One year after discovering her, Zosimas returned on Holy Thursday to bring her Communion, which she had received only one other time, right before going into the desert. On returning the year after that, he discovered her dead; she had written in the dirt near the place where her body lay that she had died on the day of the Lord’s Passion, just after receiving Holy Communion, and asking Zosimus to bury her. (Pictured right: Zosimas, realizing that Mary is covered only in her hair, offers her a cloak; note that he is dressed as a Cistercian. Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.)

The popularity of St Mary of Egypt was very great in the Middle Ages, especially in the Low Countries, France and the Iberian peninsula, less so in Italy and among the religious orders; stained glass windows depicting her are still seen at Chartres, Bourges and Auxerre. In Central Europe, devotion to her seems to have flourished especially in Poland, Bohemia and Hungary, that is to say, among those with neighbors using the Byzantine Rite, in which she is a very prominent figure. In addition to her feast on April 1, she is also commemorated on the Fifth Sunday of the Byzantine Great Lent. Furthermore, on the Thursday of the fifth week of Lent, her life by St Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem (530 ca. - 638), is read at Orthros before the chanting of the Great Penitential Canon of St Andrew of Crete.
A seventeenth-century Russian icon of Mary of Egypt, with stories of her life in the border. (Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.)

Collecting Information about Live-Streamed Masses

As everyone certainly knows by now, in many, many places around the world, the celebration of public Masses has ceased entirely, or almost entirely, because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Since it is now impossible for so many people to go to Mass, or even to go to a church to pray privately, many churches have begun live-streaming Masses or other liturgical services and prayers. I make bold to encourage as many priests as possible to do this, remembering the words of St Padre Pio (and many other sayings like it from many other Saints), that “the world can live without the sun more easily than it can live without the Mass.” It is important for people to know, when they cannot go to Mass, that it is nevertheless being continuously offered as a propitiatory and efficacious sacrifice for the living and the dead.

It seems like a good idea, therefore, to put together a list of these with appropriate links. Regular live-streams of the Divine Office celebrated in church will also be included. I would ask those who wish to contribute to the list to either leave a note in the combox, or send me an email (, with the name of the church, location, and time of the live-streaming, and where to find it (Facebook, YouTube, website etc.). I will update this post as warranted, and periodically change the time of the post so that it moves to the head of the blog for a while. (If readers make a bookmark of the post, the url will not change when it is updated.)

Update: Several new entries have been added; don’t forget to check specific sites for Holy Week schedules.

Live-Streamed Masses

We start with the FSSP’s LiveMass website,, which live-streams the Mass daily from 5 different apostolates: Fribourg, Switzerland; Warrington, England; Sarasota, Florida; Guadalajara, Mexico; and Los Angeles, California. The schedules of each individual church are on the website. Update: A reader informs me that the increased comsumes a good deal of bandwidth, which increases the cost of keeping the site functional. Please consider making a donation.

Eastern Rites Update: a reader alerted me to a newly created website,, a clearing house for links to live-streamed liturgies in the Eastern Rites. The links are grouped into Catholic and Orthodox, European and North American. Many thanks! (Remember to check times zones for churches in Europe!)

A London-based Catholic creative studio called Peter’s House is posting videos daily with priests speaking about the daily Mass readings (OF), offering some spiritual guidance, and leading an act of spiritual communion. Videos will be released at 10:00 (GMT) each day. (The first one, for the feast of St Joseph, featured our own Fr Lawrence Lew.)

The Institute of Christ the King has the webstreams of many of its apostolates in both the United States an Europe listed here:


The Consecration of a Small English Church in 1846: Guest Article by Sharon Kabel

Our thanks to Sharon Kabel for sharing with us this account of the 1846 dedication of an English church, in the early years of the English Catholic revival. This article includes some photos of the church’s stained glass windows of an unusual subject, as well as a complete transcription of an article about the consecration from a contemporary Catholic newspaper. Sharon also put togother a playlist, which is linked below, of the music or the ceremony. Last October, we shared some of her research on the brief-lived Bible vigils mentioned in Sacrosanctum Concilium; you can find more of her work on her website:

In the fall of 1846, construction finished for Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Spinkhill, Derbyshire, England. The event merited a nearly 2,500 word, 4-column write-up in the Catholic Telegraph.

Spinkhill, almost exactly in the middle of England, is a not-insignificant region for students of English Catholic history. It was a Jesuit mission, and a hotbed of resistance during the country’s anti-Catholic attacks. Some of the land was owned by the Pole family (of the great Cardinal Reginald Pole), and one of the teachers at the nearby Mount St. Mary’s College was Gerard Manley Hopkins.

A magnificently detailed history of Immaculate Conception Church has fortunately already been written by Paul D. Walker (Church of the Immaculate Conception, Spinkhill; 1990), and there are numerous shorter histories of the church. It will suffice here to concentrate on a few details of Immaculate Conception’s opening (September 21) and consecration (September 22), that survive because of a thorough 19th century journalist.

In attendance were at least two bishops: Nicholas Wiseman (later Cardinal), and Thomas Walsh. Wiseman, who was to fill Walsh’s episcopal sandals in a few short years, needs little introduction. Walsh lived a fascinating span of years, being jailed as a college student in 1793 during the French Revolution, witnessing Pope Pius VII’s restoration of the Jesuits in 1814 (a particularly important event for Spinkhill), and dying 1 year after the 1848 Revolutions.

Image from Wikimedia Commons by Neil Theasby: CC BY-SA 2.0
The Catholic Telegraph article provided a sumptuous level of detail, including an extensive program of the music. I have imperfectly and incompletely reconstructed the music of the consecration Mass at YouTube and Spotify, which give a taste of what must have been a gloriously triumphant day for Derbyshire Catholics.

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