Friday, January 31, 2020

The Gospel Book of the Royal Chapel at Versailles

Most of the liturgical books which I have featured from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France are of the Medieval or Renaissance periods, but today I came across this Gospel book which was made in 1776, and used at the French royal chapel at Versailles (Département des manuscrits, Latin 8897). No further information about it is given on the BnF website, but almost every page has at least one illustration of some kind; here is a selection of some of the more interesting ones. The French court adopted the Roman Use in 1580, and never took on any of the neo-Gallican reforms, so this book is pure Roman; there is an accompanying Epistle book, which I will post about next week.

“(The book) of Gospels for the use of the royal chapel of Versailles.”
The disturbance of the lights of heaven, after the Gospel of the First Sunday of Advent, Luke 21, 25-33. “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars.”
The end of the Gospel of the Immaculate Conception, which before the new Mass promulgated by Bl. Pope IX in 1867, was the same that of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, Matthew 1, 1-16. This image refers to Her title in the Litany of Loreto, “Foederis arca – Arc of the Covenant.”
Christmas Day
The feast of St Stephen
The feast of St John the Evangelist, with one of his traditional symbols, a serpent rising out of a chalice, at the bottom of the page.
The Annunciation
Palm Sunday
Holy Thursday
The washing of the Apostles’ feet, the Gospel of Holy Thursday, John 13, 1-15
The women at the empty tomb, after the Gospel of Holy Saturday
Easter Sunday
The Ascension
The feast of the Holy Trinity
The “consummation of the world”, i.e., the French monarchy.
Corpus Christi
“The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” From the Gospel of Ss Peter and Paul, Matthew 16, 13-19.
In France, St Vincent de Paul has a completely proper Mass, the Gospel of which is Matthew 9, 35-38, ending with the words “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth labourers into his harvest.”
“Unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, itself remaineth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” From the Gospel of St Lawrence, John 12, 24-26.
The traditional Gospel of the Assumption, Luke 10, 38-42, “Mary hath chosen the better part...”
The Assumption as victory over death.
St Louis IX, King of France, receiving Holy Communion on the battlefield.

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