Monday, February 04, 2008

The Lighting of the "Faro" in the Ambrosian Rite

While looking through Archdale King's Liturgies of the Primatial Sees this past weekend, I looked again at the beautiful photographs of the Ambrosian rite liturgy that are included within.

One of those photos shows something which is, to my knowledge, uniquely Ambrosian; the lighting of the "faro" -- literally in English, "beacon".

Historically, this is how this appeared in one Ambrosian church:

According to King, this is lit on the feasts of martyrs in the Ambrosian rite:

"A curious ceremony takes place before the [Ambrosian rite] Mass on the feasts of martyrs: the celebrant sets fire to the faro (globo, cottone) of cotton, which is suspended high up at the entrance to the presbytery. This is done by means of a taper on a pole. The custom may have originated in the illumination of a martyr's tomb in the Catacombs..."

Now the historical picture above is not of the greatest quality, making it difficult to visualize what is meant by this. Fortunately, I came across another one on Cattolici Romani that takes place in the context of the post-conciliar form of the Ambrosian rite. This shows it much better:

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