Thursday, September 06, 2012

Online Liturgical Resources: Martyrologies on Googlebooks

In one of my regular searches through the wilds of googlebooks, I recently came across a few interesting examples of old Martyrologies. The first of these was published in 1520 for the use of Benedictine monks, without indication of the congregation. The title page is missing, but the type is a nice example of the printed liturgical works of the period. Many of the individual entries are much shorter than those of the Roman Martyrology revised by Cardinal Baronius in the later 16th century, which aimed to be a more universal catalog of Saints for the Universal Church. Also notice that the calculation of the phases of the moon is delineated by only 19 letters of the alphabet, where the post-Tridentine Martyrologies incorporate the Gregorian Calendar reform, and count the moon though 31 phases delineated by various upper and lower case letters.

The canonical hour of Prime is divided into two parts. The first part consists of the the hymn, the psalmody, the chapter, a short responsory, and a prayer. (In monastic breviaries, this prayer is preceded by Kyrie eleison and the Lord's Prayer; in the non-monastic breviaries, by a series of versicles called "Preces", but these are often omitted.) The second part of Prime is known as the Chapter Office, consisting of the Martyrology, and then a series of prayers for the sanctification of the day's work. Among Benedictine monks, a chapter of the Rule of St. Benedict is read at the end of the Chapter Office; therefore, many editions of the Martyrology include the Rule at the end, as this one does.

The edition noted above contains no indications of how much of the Rule is to be read or on which days; on the other hand, this 1689 Cistercian Martyrology divides the Rule into roughly 90 sections so that one can be read each day, and the whole four times a year. It was the custom of the Cistercians to follow the reading of the Rule with a section of the Order's Constitutions, which are not, however, included in this book. Each entry of the Martyrology is followed by another entry in small type with notices of Cistercian Saints and Blesseds, including the name of the abbey where they lived. The first reading of the Rule begins each year not on January 1st, but March 21st, the feast of St. Benedict and the anniversary of the founding of Citeaux in 1098 by St. Robert of Molesmes.

The third book is called "The Martyrology of the Church of Milan", but is not (sadly!) a complete Ambrosian Martyrology. It is rather a catalog of Saints associated in one way or another with the see of Milan, including their entries as they appears in the Roman Martyrology or one of its derivatives, and extensive notes about the life of the Saint.

For those who are interested, there is a wealth of such things to be found on googlebooks. Any search criterion such as the name of a liturgical book ("Martyrologium", "Missale" etc.) often turns up very interesting results if you add the word "ordinis" or the name of a particular church, such as "Sarum". Happy hunting!

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