Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Feast of All Saints: the Patriarchs and Prophets

From the Breviary according to the use of the Roman Curia, 1529, the continuation of a Carolingian homily commonly read on the feast of All Saints in the Middle Ages.
(This) is also the feast of all the Saints who have been begotten in honor upon the earth from the beginning of the world; of whom the first were the patriarchs, reverent men, the fathers of the prophets and apostles, whose memory shall not be forsaken, and their name shall abide forever, … The descent of their rule ceased not until from their offspring Christ, through the womb of the untouched Virgin, He that is the hope of all nations, being born in the world appeared in glory, and retained to Himself the dominance and sole rule of the entire world. Upon these follow the chosen prophets, with whom God spoke, and showed them His secrets, so that they, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, might be able to know things which were to come as if they were present, and declare them, having become the princes of the people by foretelling the future. Some were known to God and sanctified in the womb, some in their youth, some as young men, some as old. They were found to be full of faith, greatest in devotion, …constant in holy meditation, fearless in the sight of death.

The Tree of Jesse Window of the church of St. Stephen, Beauvais, France, by Engrand Le Prince, 1522-24.

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