Monday, May 25, 2009

A View into the Pontifical Archiepiscopal Mass in the Ambrosian Rite

While recently writing a brief excerpt here on Blessed Cardinal Schuster, I came across this rather interesting photograph which shows the beatified Ambrosian rite Cardinal at the high altar of the Cathedral of Milan.

Some of you will no doubt find it of historical and ceremonial interest, particularly as it relates to the venerable Ambrosian liturgical tradition. (You will want to click upon the photo to enlarge it.)

(Click to Enlarge)

I asked Nicola de Grandi, the NLM's resident Ambrosian rite expert, if he could give a ceremonial description of what was occurring, so that it might serve as an insight for us into that liturgical tradition:
In this picture you can see the final benediction of the Pontifical Archiepiscopal Mass in the Metropolitan cathedral.

From the position of the silver statue of St. Charles on the Gospel side, we can guess that it must have been the Pontifical Mass for the Feast of St. Charles Borromeo. [For those not familiar, St. Charles Borromeo is buried within this cathedral, himself being a former Archbishop of Milan. Accordingly, this would have been an important local feast.]

Surrounding the Cardinal Archbishop you can see the seven major ministers of the Pontifical Archiepiscopal Mass: the Archpriest, the Archdeacon at the sides of the Pontifex; then the two Subdeacons hebdomadarius. Then the two deacons assistants to the throne, who are wearing rochet instead of the albs, and no maniples.

Kneeling in front of the Archbishop you can see three minor ministers with copes.

Down the steps of the altar is another "pivialista" who is carrying the archiepiscopal cross and two acolytes with candles ("cantàri").

The five clerks are all from the seminary of the cathedral and wear a red soprana over their cassock.

On the altar you can see the Pontifical Canon and the reliquiary of the Twelve Apostles, which was put on the altar for the final blessing on the most solemn occasions.

On a credence on the left, you can see the cappa magna folded.

Behind the altar, you see the "padiglione," which is white because of the feast of a Confessor.

In the choir stalls you can see three Major Metropolitan Canons wearing vestments proper of their order (they must belong to the order of the deacons, because normally only two Canons belonged to the order of the Subdeacons, and they are seen serving this Mass). In front of them, one can see their mitres.

Thank you Nicola. I hope these presentations help to stir your interest in the various liturgical traditions to be found within the Church, as well as in our rich liturgical history generally.

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