Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Compendium of the 1961 Revision of the Pontificale Romanum - Part 15: Suppressed Blessings (1595 & 1961)

In its varying revisions over the centuries, the Pontifical has often had removed from it material considered obsolete or otherwise no longer necessary. To give just one example, the edition of 1520 contains in the second part, that with which this series has been concerned, the blessings of a thurible, of a ciborium, (i.e. a fixed canopy over an altar,) of a credence table, and of a baptismal font. None of these are included in the 1595 Pontifical of Clement VIII.

Likewise, the revision of 1961 saw the complete removal of the last four blessings of the second part: the blessing and imposition of a cross on a crusader, the blessing of armor, the blessing of a sword, and the blessing and consignment of a military banner.

The first of these has already been described in part 10 of this series, since it was reworked to serve as the blessing of a bishop’s pectoral cross. Each of the remaining three begins with the versicles “Adjutorium nostrum” and “Dominus vobiscum”.

The blessing of armor consists of two prayers.
Let us pray. May the blessing of Almighty God, the Fa+ther, the + Son and the Holy + Spirit, descend upon this armor, and upon him that weareth it, that he may defend justice. We ask Thee, Lord God, that Thou protect and defend him, that livest and reignest, one God for ever and ever. R. Amen.
Let us pray. Almighty God, in Whose hand rests full victory, and who gave marvelous strength to David that he might subdue the rebel Goliath, we ask for Thy clemency in this humble prayer, that of Thy great holiness Thou may deign to + bless this armor, and grant to Thy servant who desires to wear it, that he may use it freely and victoriously for the protection and defense of Holy Mother the Church, of orphans and widows, against the assaults of enemies visible and invisible. Through Christ, our Lord. R. Amen.
The armor is then sprinkled with holy water.
The blessing of armor; illustration from a 1595 edition of the Roman Pontifical. (Permission to use this image, and the one below of the blessing of a military banner, has been very kindly granted by the Pitts Theological Library, Candler School of Theology at Emory University.)
The blessing of a sword consists in the following prayer.
Let us pray. Deign Thou to + bless this sword, we ask Thee, Lord; and with the guard of Thy holiness defend this Thy servant, who at Thy inspiration desires to receive it, and keep him from every harm. Through Christ, our Lord. R. Amen.
The bishop sprinkles the sword with holy water, then hands it to the person who is to receive it as the latter kneels before him, saying:
Receive this sword, in the name of the Fa+ther, the + Son and the Holy + Spirit, and may thou use it for thy defense, and that of the Holy Church of God, and to the confounding of the enemies of the Cross of Christ, and of the Christian faith: and as far as human frailty shall permit, may thou harm no one with it unjustly. And may He deign to grant this to thee, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit etc.
The Imperial Sword (Reichsschwert), part of the regalia given to the Holy Roman Emperor at his coronation. Believed to have been made for the coronation of the Emperor Otto IV in 1198, it is now kept in the Imperial Treasury of the Hofburg Palace in Vienna. On the cross-guard is written “Christvs • Vincit • Christvs • Reignat • Christvs • Inperat - Christ Conquereth, Christ Reigneth, Christ Commandeth.”
The prayer for the blessing of a military banner is as follows.
Let us pray. Almighty and everlasting God, Who art the blessing of all, and the might of the triumphant, look in mercy upon our humble prayers, and sanctify this banner, that is prepared for the use of war, with a heavenly bless+ing; that it may be mighty against opposing and rebellious nations, and surrounded by Thy protection, and be terrible to the enemies of the Christian people, the strengthening of them that trust in Thee, and certain confidence of victory. For Thou art God, that puttest an end to wars (Judith 16, 3) and grantest the help of heavenly defense to them that hope in Thee. Through Thy only Son our Lord etc.
The bishop sprinkles the banner with holy water, then hands it to the person who is to receive it as the latter kneels before him, saying:
Receive this banner, sanctified by a heavenly blessing, and may it be terrible to the enemies of the Christian people, and may the Lord give thee grace, that at His name, and to His honor, with it thou may pass in might both safe and sound through the bands of the enemies.
He then gives the man the kiss of peace, saying “Peace to thee”; he that has received it kisses the bishops hand and departs.
The blessing of a military banner; illustration from a 1595 edition of the Roman Pontifical.
This article concludes the descriptions of the various blessings of the Pontifical, and the changes made to them in the revision of 1961. The series will continue with excerpts from the official published notes of Frs. Bugnini and Braga on their work of revision, already referred to in the previous article in this series regarding the blessing of the bells.

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