Monday, June 30, 2008

Ss. Peter and Paul in Malta with the Canons of the Basilica of Ss Peter and Paul: Basilica Insignia and Mitred Canons [UPDATED]

The NLM was sent these pictures today (and some we dug up ourselves) coming from Malta, showing the celebrations for the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. There are some interesting details to these particular photos and some explanation may be in order.

First, a simple image of some of the procession. You'll note the solemnly coped ministers and further ahead, the conopeum (the yellow and red canopy), one of the special insignia granted to a church designated a basilica.

Here is a slightly better view of the conopeum during this procession which also shows another of the basilica insignia, the tintinnabulum -- a bell mounted atop a decorative pole, often with the crossed keys, at least from my experience:

Pictured in the following two images are the canons of the Basilica of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Pictured immediately below is the archpriest carrying the relic, who has the privilege, the NLM is told, of wearing the mitre -- you will also note a pectoral cross.

Apparently three basilicas in Malta and Gozo have this privilege. The Basilica of Nadur, Xaghra and Gharb.

Further images:

The next images also show the ordinary of the diocese in Malta where this occured, the diocese of Gozo:

One is put to mind of the ancient Ambrosian rite, where the canons of Milan held the privilege of wear pontificals and even celebrate pontifical Mass with its associated ceremonial and wearing the pontifical dalmatic, mitre, gloves, ring and buskins, slippers and pectoral cross.

To this very day, when one sees one of the canons of Milan in formal choir dress, they wear the pectoral cross and vesture similar to that of bishops. A remnant, albeit, of their ancient ceremonial privileges.

Pictured below are two Ambrosian canons (one of whom, to the left, is Msgr. Amodeo who has been featured on the NLM before). Here you can see the present day vesture of the canons of Milan:

All of this puts me to mind of the fact that a request came into the NLM in the past months to do a feature on the place of canons in the life of the Latin rite. Indeed, for those outside of Europe, it might seem quite foreign indeed and is likely worth some further exploration. We will look to do something about that shortly if we can.


The issue of Paul VI abolishing pontificals on canons has arisen in the comments and it seems worth addressing in the main post.

Evidently, I want to make clear the NLM is not suggesting ignoring the Church's liturgical law (even if it would make a prudential argument that the law in this case need to be re-evaluated by competent Church authority -- and I would).

At the same time, I am also aware that what seems at times to be universal and absolute in church law can very often also be found to have later been riddled with legitimate exceptions.

What therefore is not clear is whether these are actually contrary to the liturgical law, or whether there are indults or exceptions that were later granted to particular canons.

Prior to posting this piece, I researched this, but unfortunately could turn nothing up on the matter. However, if anyone else has any knowledge, do feel free to contribute in the comments.

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