Saturday, November 01, 2014

The Feast of All Saints - 2014

From the Breviary according to the use of the Roman Curia, 1529, the beginning of the sermon for the fifth day in the Octave of All Saints:
Today, our virginal mother the Church, spread throughout the whole world by the work of the Holy Spirit, rejoices with spiritual joys, crowned by the triumph of so great a solemnity. For on this day, by a decree of Pope Boniface (IV), a station is kept by the clergy in the oratory which was once known as the Pantheon, but is now called Saint Mary at the Martyrs, since he had consecrated it to the glory of the mother of God and all of Christ’s martyrs. Thenceforth it was confirmed by apostolic authority that the faithful throughout the world should be keep this day as a great feast in honor of the all the Saints, and hold it in honor every year with solemnity and joy. For it right that we should celebrate the memory of those unto whose glory we long to come; and for this reason, holy mother the Church decided to celebrate the feast of all the Saints, that she may strive to call those who keep it to imitate them, and come to share in their glory.
This is the fifth year in which we will keep the feast of All Saints by following a sermon from the Roman Breviary of 1529. On the feast itself, and each day of its octave, the sermon for Matins follows the same pattern. The first lesson is about the institution of the feast on the part of Pope St Boniface IV (608-15), when he dedicated the Pantheon in Rome as a church. The second lesson is about God, and is followed by six lessons that descend though the hierarchy of the Saints: the Virgin Mary, the Angels, Patriarchs and Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs and Confessors. (Virgins and other holy women are usually mentioned along with the Virgin Mary.) The ninth reading is taken from a homily of St Augustine on the Gospel of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5, 1-12; I do not include these ninth readings in this series, since they can easily be found in the Breviary of St Pius V.

Italy, as represented by the painter Cimabue in the crossing vault of the upper basilica of St Francis in Assisi, 1277-80. The Pantheon, one of the most distinctive buildings on the peninsula, and the best preserved ancient Roman structure in the capital of Christendom, is seen in the middle of the image, slightly to the right, with the famous hole in its dome, known as the “oculus - the eye.” The Colosseum is shown beneath it and to the right; they are not actually next to each other, nor is the Colosseum itself actually green. The pigments of Cimabue’s many frescoes in the Basilica of St Francis have decayed over the centuries, creating some very strange color effects as we see them today; this is why St Mark the Evangelist, in the upper middle, has black and green skin. The churches behind the Pantheon are St John in the Lateran and St Peter ’s.
The oculus of the Pantheon seen though the grill over the doors.
Each year, the  Fraternity of St Peter’s Roman parish, Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, covers the main altar with relics on the feast of All Saints.

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