Friday, June 13, 2008

Ambrosian Notes

I've spent a little bit of time going over the events of Ss. Trinita dei Pelligrini in Rome -- and I will do more of this rest assured -- but I wanted to spend a few moments speaking of my few days in Milan, the home of the Ambrosian rite.

I went to Milan for various reasons, not the least of which for my personal interest in the ancient Ambrosian rite and its customs. I had the opportunity to connect with our NLM Ambrosian rite expert, Dr. Nicola de Grandi, while there, as well as some other good folks.

Before looking at some of the Ambrosian sites, a few images to help illustrate some of the unique aspects of the Ambrosian rite.

One of these is that of the uncapped thurible. We are all quite familiar with how a thurible (or censer) looks in the Roman rite, but in the Ambrosian rite, this is how their thurible appears:

Another interesting feature that I was told about was that apparently in the Ambrosian rite, it is common for their baptismal fonts to be covered with a kind of canopy:

Further, while the rest of the Roman rite adopts the liturgical colour of green after the Feast of Pentecost, in the Ambrosian rite, red continues to be used for the time after Penetecost. Take note of the colour of the altar frontal in this Ambrosian rite Church:

While in Milan, I had the opportunity to visit with Msgr. Amodeo, known to the NLM from his celebration of the Ambrosian rite in the FSSP church in Venice, as well as the recent Roman rite Mass in St. Mary of the Martyrs (i.e. the Pantheon) this past Lent. Msgr. Amodeo is a Canon of the Cathedral of Milan. As part of this, I had the opportunity to visit the mediaeval palace which St. Charles Borromeo also lived in; an impressive structure.

While there, I noted the following historical drawings, the first of an Ambrosian Canon from approximately a century ago, and the second of an Ambrosian sacristan (apologies for the blurriness, but they were taken through glass):

The Duomo itself is impressive of course, but the opportunity arose to hear Ambrosian vespers in the private chapel of the canons, which is located directly beneath the sanctuary of the cathedral itself:

In this chapel as well is a little hallway that leads into a chapel which bears the relics of St. Charles Borromeo:

Inside the main cathedral itself can also be found the altar reliquary of Blessed Cardinal Schuster:

As impressive as the Duomo was, I was particularly edified by the Basilica of St. Ambrose, also found in Milan.

First, the exterior:

Inside, the basilica has a wonderful ciborium magnum with some interesting details, covering the altar which itself is adorned by a mediaeval covering.

(A view looking back into the nave)

(The four corners of the baldacchino are decorated with these lovely images)

(The precious altar covering)

Directly beneath the high altar is found a crypt chapel with the relics of none other than St. Ambrose of Milan himself. It was a profound moment to pray before the relics of this great bishop and Father of the Church.

(St. Ambrose is in the middle; the mitre is that of Blessed Cardinal Schuster)

Two other features of this great basilica of Christendom struck me. One is the historical ambo:

This is an ambo truly fitting of the term.

Inside this basilica as well is what is thought to be one of the earliest, perhaps the earliest if I recall correctly, existing images of St. Ambrose. It is a mosaic image and quite stunning:

All said, a very edifying few days.

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