Thursday, September 02, 2010

A New Blog on Spanish Liturgical Tradition and a Fantastic Spanish Rood Screen

“Inter vestibulum et altare” is the title of a new blog on Spanish liturgical tradition which I would like to bring to your attention. The blog is connected to the excellent Spanish forum Ceremonia y rúbrica de la Iglesia española which I have mentioned several times (cf. here, here, or most recently here). The aim of this forum is to collect and preserve in memory the old ceremonies and liturgical as well as paraliturgical customs of Spain and the Hispanic world, the particularities of Spanish ecclesiastical vesture, sacred music, vestments, vessels and church furniture etc. etc. With the collaboration of many - among whom a special recognition is due to the inexhaustible fountain of knowledge that is the venerable priest Monsignor Martínez de Irujo - this forum, in its barely one and a half years of existence, has become an invaluable treasure trove (there are 673 topics being discussed with over 15,000 posts) safeguarding the knowledge of Spain's liturgical heritage while it is still there. A similar effort would be highly desirable in other languages and cultures, too; my hope is that this may serve as an inspiration. Whereas the collection of information and images in the forum is impressive, it is - in its intricate structure, and given the nature of the different topics, which are discussions, where different ideas are being aired, only partial aspects added by different persons, and a general image only slowly emerges - not easily accessible. Hence the new blog, which is written by the founder of the forum, my friend Pablo Pomar Rodil, to whom great thanks are owed for both these inestimable efforts, intends to present the fruit of these discussions in a filtered, condensed and easily accessible, yet as far as possible exhausting fashion, treating one item at a time, beginning with the alb.

The title of the blog is taken from Joel 2:17: "Between the porch and the altar the priests the Lord's ministers shall weep, and shall say: Spare, O Lord, spare thy people: and give not thy inheritance to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them." This verse - which in the usus antiquior is also one of the two antiphons sung while the blessed ashes are sprinkled on Ash Wednesday - was chosen because it was used in Spain to defend the traditonal arrangement of the choir - in the middle of the nave - against the posttridentine model proposed by St. Charles, and is thus emblematic for the purpose of the blog, to preserve, at least in memory, the particularly hispanic identity of the Latin Rite in Spain. To illustrate this, a striking trascoro was chosen, which you can see at the top of this post. The trascoro is the backside of the choir in the middle of the nave and thus the Spanish variant of the English rood screen, German lettner, and French jubé. For some more examples from Spanish cathedrals, go to the respective entry on Ceremonia y rúbrica de la Iglesia española here.

The particular trascoro pictured above is from the Spanish monastery of San Millán de Yuso, which together with its predecessor San Millán de Suso (yuso=deorsum=below; suso=sursum=above), has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and preserves great treasures such as Romanesque ebony carvings or its medieval chant books. The monastery was originally a Benedictine monastery founded by Saint Emilian (San Millán) in the 5th c. The Benedictines were finally driven out at the Ecclesiastical Confiscations of Mendizábal in 1835, but the house was reinhabited by the Augustinian Recollects in 1878 who remain there until today. Have a closer look at the monastery here.

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