Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Vecchioni in the classical Ambrosian rite

A guest piece by resident Ambrosian rite expert Nicola de Grandi, who lives within the archdiocese of Milan

Comments to a recent NLM piece about Ambrosian Chant mentioned the "Vecchioni" as a proper feature of the Ambrosian Rite. Here follows some more information about them, and a couple of pictures as well.

The "Vecchioni" (singular "Vecchione" lit. "elderly man") and the "Vecchione" (singular "Vecchiona" lit. "elderly woman") - officially the "school of St. Ambrose" - were a feature peculiar to the Solemn High Masses in the Metropolitan Cathedral [of Milan].

In fact, they were two distinct corporations of ten older laymen and ten older laywomen who had the task to present offerings with a special offertorial procession during Solemn High Masses in the Cathedral, including the Pontifical masses. Thus, they are explicitly mentioned in the Rubricae Generales of the last typical edition of the Missale Ambrosianum (1902), still to be used for the extraordinary form (§ 37 Ritus proprii Ecclesiae Metropolitanae in Missarum Solemnium celebratione), and by the Caeremoniale Ambrosianum.

The vecchioni are first mentioned in the testament of Archbishop Ansperto (A.D. 879) and, after more than a thousand years of faithful service, were formally, juridically dissolved in the 1990's.

Below are two pictures of a Vecchione and a Vecchiona in their proper liturgical dress, holding the offering from the Mass in their hands.



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