Thursday, January 02, 2020

Medieval Variants of the Saints in the Canon

As a follow up to Peter’s recent post on the addition of St Joseph’s name to the Canon, this article will sum up the historical precedents for this as attested in the manuscript tradition. This information is taken from the critical edition [1] of the Canon by Eugene Moeller, Jean-Marie Clément, and Bertrand Coppieters ’t Wallant, published by Brepols in 1997. [2]

This edition begins with 51 pages of basic information about over 175 manuscripts and a few early printed missals which bear witness to the text of the Canon, ranging in date from the 8th century [3] to the early 16th, and originating from all over western Europe. (It is not, of course, a comprehensive list of all available sources, and therefore also not a comprehensive list of all variants.) Among these, there are no examples of names omitted from the traditional list found in the Missal of St Pius V in either the Communicantes or the Nobis quoque. In fifteen of these sources [4], names are added only to the former, in five, only to the latter, and in twelve, to both.
Folio 23v of the Echternach Sacramentary, 895AD; in the fourth line, the names of Ss Hilary, Gregory, Jerome, Benedict and Willebrord are added to the Communicantes after Ss Cosmas and Damian. The last of these was the founder of Echternach Abbey, where the manuscript was made. (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Latin 9433)
In six cases, names are interpolated into the standard list in the Communicantes. The most common is the addition after St Lawrence of the very popular martyr St Vincent, which is attested in four sources of various periods and locations. One 11th century Spanish missal adds the Evangelists Ss Luke and Mark after the twelve Apostles, and seven martyrs after St Lawrence; a mid-11th century Bavarian missal adds the name of St Quirinus after St Chrysogonus.

More often, additions are made to the end of the list after Ss Cosmas and Damian. Of the sixteen such cases listed, four add names of martyrs, seven add names of confessors, four add both, and in one, the additional name was later erased and is now illegible. In seven of these, the names of the same six confessors appear in the same order, which suggests that they all depend on the same source, which may be the oldest among them, or its archetype. Two early Gelasian Sacramentaries contain the same mixed list of martyrs and confessors; in every other case, the specific list of added names is attested in only one manuscript. The confessors most commonly added are Ss Hilary and Martin, usually in that order, followed by Ss Gregory, Augustine and Jerome (in varying order; Ambrose is very rare), and Benedict, who is usually at the end of the list.

Many of these additions were unmistakably made because the Saint in question was particularly venerated in a specific place; and indeed, the presence of such an addition is often a strong indicator of the manuscript’s origin. For example, the 11th century Drummond Missal, which adds the name of St Patrick, was, not surprisingly, copied out in Ireland. All of the notation needed to catalog these variants fits on 2 pages of the critical edition.

In the Nobis quoque, one very ancient Irish sacramentary traditionally known as the Stowe Missal, from the late 8th or early 9th century, adds Ss Peter, Paul and Patrick before St John the Baptist. A Spanish missal of the 10th or 11th century adds Ss Mark and Luke after Barnabas, and a missal from the abbey of Fulda adds the name of its founder, St Boniface, after Peter the exorcist. In five missals, the traditional list of the seven female Saints is varied in order. There are a total of five cases in which two names of female Saints are added after St Anastasia, and ten where only one is added. Again, these are for the most part very obviously localized additions, such as the inclusion of St Brigid in the Drummond Missal. The most common among them is the rather obscure St Eugenia (five occurrences), followed by St Benedict’s sister Scholastica (four), and the martyrs Euphemia and Eulalia (two each); the rest occur in only one. All of the notation needed to catalog these variants fits on one page of the critical edition.

From this it is quite apparent that the two lists of Saints’ names were regarded as a part of the received tradition from which no one dared remove anything, and to which very few people thought it proper to add anything. This makes for a particularly interesting contrast with the Hanc igitur, the variants to which cover 56 pages in the aforementioned critical edition, or the Prefaces, to which five volumes of the same series of critical editions are dedicated. These were clearly features in which it was regarded as part of the received tradition that the text could be varied for specific liturgical occasions.

Folio 158v of a missal written at the abbey of Saint-Vaast d’Arras in 1041-60; on the right side of the page, the rubric INFRA (actionem) introduces a proper Hanc igitur for a Mass for the Dead. (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Latin 9436)
[1] A “critical” edition of a text is a scholarly edition which lists the variants of it attested in various manuscripts or printed editions. In many cases, especially those of works whose origin is known, the purpose of such an edition is at least partly to identify readings which do not form part of the original version of the text. However, in the case of a work like the Roman Canon, the origin of which is not precisely known, its purpose is simply to catalog variants.

[2] This edition is one volume (the tenth), within a much larger catalog of all the prayers of the historical Roman Rite. Each section of the Canon, and each major variant thereof, is given its own number, ranging from 6122, the Te igitur, to 6739, the prayer before the Peace “Domine Jesu Christe, qui dixisti.” The Communicantes without the interpolations for specific days (“Communicantes, et noctem sacratissimam celebrantes” etc.) is number 6138 (pp. 15-17), and the variants in the list of Saints’ names are given with it; the Nobis quoque is number 6273 (pp. 87-88).

[3] For the sake of precision, I note here that a single fragmentary manuscript of the 6th century, and four of the 7th, two of which are fragmentary, are also included; the 8th century is the first from which we have a significant number of manuscript witnesses.

[4] For the purposes of this article, the formal distinction between a “sacramentary”, which contains only the priest’s part of the Mass, and a missal, which contains all the parts, is irrelevant.

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