Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Life of St Jerome, by Alessandro Allori

In 1577, the Florentine painter Alessandro Allori (1535-1607) was commissioned to decorate the ceiling of a chapel recently added by a nobleman named Niccolò Gaddi to the left transept of Santa Maria Novella, the principal Dominican church of their native city. Gaddi had studied Latin and Hebrew in his youth, and certainly chose to honor the great Doctor in this fashion particularly because he had given the Church the Latin translation of the Hebrew Bible which we now call the Vulgate. The central octagon of St Jerome in the Glory of Heaven is surrounded by eight episodes of his life, which are not arranged in chronological order; I shall therefore show them here starting from the one at the bottom of this photograph, and going counter-clockwise. The pendentive shields are filled with symbolic figures of the Virtues; the intrados is decorated with three more episodes from the end of the Saint’s life, and two more symbolic figures. (All images from Wikimedia Commons by Sailko, CC BY 3.0)
St Jerome served for a time as secretary to Pope St Damasus I (366-84), and is therefore traditionally represented as a cardinal, which the papal secretary normally would be from the Middle Ages on, although the cardinalate per se did not exist in his own time. Here he is represented very anachronistically receiving a red galero from the Pope at a consistory; the Pope is also dressed in the contemporary garb of his office in the later 16th century. – In Allori’s time, the prevalent artistic tendency was what we now call Mannerism, which emerged in the mid-16th century from a general feeling that Raphael (who died in 1520) and Michelangelo (who died in 1564) had effectively exhausted the Renaissance. The Mannerists’ habit was to break all the rules established by their Renaissance predecessors, particularly in regard to the proportions of the human form, which had been something of an obsession with earlier Florentine painters. Here we see the fruit of this in the excessively large figures at the two corners. (An art history professor of mine once described this habit of deliberately distorting proportions by saying, “The Mannerist has only one thought in his little head: ‘This is going to drive the ghost of Leonardo da Vinci up a tree!’ ”)

St Jerome the Penitent, the most common way of representing him in the Counter-Reformation. The torso here is modelled after that of a broken ancient sculpture (now in the Vatican Museums) known as the Belvedere Torso, which was the model for the most important figure of the last Renaissance painting, Michelangelo’s Last Judgment. This represents another important shift between the Renaissance and Mannerism; where the former sought to imitate the most beautiful things in nature, the latter sought to imitate the most beautiful things in art. The lion is a symbol of Jerome because of the story that the Saint had once healed a lion with a thorn in its paw.

In one of his most famous letters, St Jerome recounts that in his youth, during a severe illness, he was brought in a dream before the throne of God, who reproved him for his excessive devotion to the study of the great pagan authors like Virgil, Plautus, and above all Cicero. “Asked who and what I was, I replied, ‘I am a Christian’. But He who presided said, ‘Thou liest. Thou art a Ciceronian, and not a Christian.’ ” The Saint then made an oath to never again possess the books of the pagan authors, but nevertheless, continued to read and study them, and indeed, cite them in his works. This of course represents a long-standing tension among humanists throughout Europe, but especially in Gaddi and Allori’s native city of Florence, where many great scholars of the classics fell into severe excesses during the Renaissance.

The Baptism of St Jerome
St Jerome presents his Biblical translations to the Pope. While he was in Rome, he was in fact commissioned by Pope Damasus to revise the Latin text of the Gospels, but the rest of the Vulgate New Testament is not his work. It was not until Jerome had gone to the Holy Land and learned Hebrew from the local Jews that he translated those books of the Bible originally written in Hebrew (with the Deuterocanonical additions to Esther and Daniel), plus Tobias and Judith. (The Vulgate versions of Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch and the two books of Maccabees are also not his work.) – Note again the exceedingly large figures in the two lower corners. Mannerism is also a very busy style, as evidenced by the fact that there is a total of 13 figures in this fairly small painting. Nowadays, we tend to think of the Baroque style that came after it as a very busy one, but in point of fact, the artists of the Baroque generally reduce the number of figures in scenes like these, and thought of themselves as the creators of a much simpler and clearer style.

Follow-up on Maronite Liturgy: An Example from the Feast of the Birth of John the Baptist

Earlier this week I spoke of the corruption of the Maronite liturgy under the influence of the errors of the cancer-phase Liturgical Movement. I thought it would be helpful to give a very clear example of a liturgical text that has been eviscerated.

On June 24, the Maronites, as do other rites, celebrate the Birth of John the Baptist. Below is a comparison of the texts for the Hoosoyo (Prayer of Forgiveness). The left column represents the Syriac source text and the right is the current English version in the 2005 missal.

Without extended commentary, several severe issues leap to attention. The first is the obvious textual impoverishment. Beyond simply removing large portions of the traditional text, the poetic language is completely excised and replaced with banal indicative statements. The attempt at retaining any dumbed-down poetry actually comes close to creating problems (to put it lightly): the new text claims that John is the conclusion of the old covenant and the beginning of the new (which we know is not John but Christ). Lastly, the new text betrays an unfamiliarity with the parts of Syriac prayer. The incense offering is intended for God, yet the new text oddly interjects the mention of incense in addressing John in the second half of the sedro.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Divine Worship Mass of Our Lady of Walsingham in NYC

Last Friday, the Durandus Institute for Sacred Liturgy and Music--which debuted with the Sarum Vespers of Candlemas Eve in Philadelphia, and assisted with the recent Pontifical Latin Mass of the Assumption in the Philadelphia cathedral--organized the first-ever Mass celebrated in New York City according to the Divine Worship Missal of the Ordinariates, formerly known as the “Anglican Use.” An assortment of Ordinariate, Dominican, and diocesan clergy, and about 250 of the faithful, came to the church of Saint Vincent Ferrer in Manhattan to attend this historic celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham, enhanced by a special program of sacred music--including the Communion Service from Herbert Howells’ Collegium Regale, Alec Redshaw’s “I sing of a maiden”, Anglican chant psalmody, and proper chants from the Plainchant Gradual by Burgess and Palmer. (The complete program can be see here.) We are happy to share a video of the complete ceremony, and pictures by one of our favorite photographers, Mr Arrys Ortañez. (Arrys informs me that he used a grainier filter than usual to give the photos a more dramatic feel, one which suits the Gothic style of St Vincent’s very nicely. Thanks also to Mr James Griffin of the Durandus Institute for the write-up).

Michaelmas Day and its Customs

A 14th-century Russian Icon of St Michael
The following article originally appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of The Latin Mass 27:3 magazine (pp. 42-46); many thanks to the editors for allowing its publication here.

Feast days are typically assigned on or near the date that a Saint passes from this world to the next, but what happens with a heavenly spirit? For the feast of Saint Gabriel on March 24, it was the Archangel’s role in asking the Blessed Virgin to become the Mother of God that inspired the Church to honor him on the day before the feast of the Annunciation. For Saint Raphael, it may have been the relative proximity of the feasts of St. Michael (September 29) and the Guardian Angels (October 2) that led to his feast falling on October 24--though truth be told, the reason why that date was chosen remains something of a mystery.

For Saint Michael’s primary feast on September 29, the answer lies in a different logic. But before we discover what it is, let us learn more about the humble angelic prince whose name means “Who is like God?”
Prince of the Heavenly Hosts
Along with Gabriel and Raphael, Michael is one of only three Angels mentioned by name in the canonical Scriptures, and the only one explicitly called an Archangel (see Jude 1, 9). [1] In Greek, archangelos can mean “chief Angel” as well as “Archangel,” the second lowest of the nine angelic choirs. Opinions have therefore varied as to Michael’s exact rank and essence. The Church Fathers saw him as head of all heavenly spirits. Several, drawing from Jewish apocrypha, thought he was the cherub who guarded Eden “to keep the way of the tree of life” (Genesis 3, 24); they referred to him as the Praepositus Paradisi or Overseer of Paradise. [2] Centuries later Saint Bonaventure would go even further and posit that Michael is the chief among the Seraphim, the highest angelic order. Saint Thomas Aquinas, on the other hand, places him among the Archangels, the order directly above the Angels but below the Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, and Principalities. [3]
Perhaps the resolution to these diverging accounts is that Michael was an Archangel promoted by God from the lower ranks to defeat Lucifer, who is believed to have been one of the Cherubim. [4] If so, Lucifer’s defeat at his hand would have constituted a special humiliation for the arrogant upstart; it would be like a haughty colonel getting routed by a staff sergeant who was suddenly made, as the Byzantine tradition calls Michael, Archistrategos or “Highest General.” Just as the Blessed Virgin Mary is Queen of the Angels by grace but not by nature (as a human being, she is inferior to the spirits above), so too may Michael be “Prince of the Heavenly Hosts” by a divinely-appointed elevation above his natural status.
St Michael Defeats the Devil, by Guido Reni, 1630-35 ca.; from the church of St Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Rome. (Public domain image from Wikimedia.)
Michael in Scripture and Tradition
Michael appears explicitly only five times in the Bible, three in the Old Testament and two in the New.
The Book of Daniel mentions him by name thrice. In Daniel 10, 13, we read, “The prince of the kingdom of the Persians resisted me one and twenty days: and behold Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me.” The princes in question are ostensibly guardian Archangels of nations; the “prince” of the Persians is the guardian Archangel of Persia who, seeking the spiritual good of the people entrusted to him, resists the effort to remove the Jews from Persia. Michael, however, sides with the Jews, for in Daniel 10, 21, he is called “your prince,” that is, prince of the prophet Daniel and by extension the people of Israel.
Similarly, in the third and final Old Testament reference to Michael, when an angel speaks of the end of the world, he declares, “At that time shall Michael rise up, the great prince, who standeth for the children of Thy people” (Daniel 12,1). The “children of God’s people” are again a reference to ancient Israel, but they also signify the Church, the new Israel, guarded by Michael in these last times. Based on this protection, there is even a tradition that he is the guardian angel of the Pope.
In the New Testament, one of the most curious references to Michael inside the Bible or out is found in Jude 1, 9.
When Michael the Archangel, disputing with the devil, contended about the body of Moses, he durst not bring against him the judgment of railing speech, but said: “The Lord command thee.”
Nicolai Abraham Abildgaard, Archangel Michael and Satan Disputing about the Body of Moses (ca. 1782)
According to early Christians like Gelasius of Cyzicus and Origen, Saint Jude is alluding to a Jewish tradition found in the apocryphal text The Assumption of Moses in which Satan wished to make known the tomb of Moses in order to seduce the Hebrews into idolatrous hero-worship, while Michael fought successfully to keep its location hidden.
Finally, in the Book of Revelation we read:
And there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels: And they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduceth the whole world; and he was cast unto the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him (12, 7-9).
Saint John speaks here of the end of time, but because his apocalyptic visions also describe events from earlier in sacred history (such as the Blessed Virgin Mary giving birth to the Son of God in Apocalypse 12, 1), the passage about Michael and the dragon is also seen as describing a battle that occurred at the beginning of time--or rather, before time even began. Thus, the deed for which Michael is most famous, casting the Devil out of Heaven, is only hinted at indirectly in Sacred Scripture.
The Church Fathers inferred Michael’s presence in other biblical passages as well. For some, as we have already noted, he was a cherub keeping man out of Eden with a flaming sword (Genesis 3, 24). For others, he was the angel through whom God revealed the Ten Commandments to Moses, the angel who blocked Balaam (Numbers 22, 22ff.), and the angel who routed the army of Sennacherib (2 Kings 19, 35).
The sacred liturgy mentions additional accomplishments. In the traditional Roman rite, the incense prayer Per intercessionem identifies Michael as the angel who stands near the altar of the temple with a golden censer (Apocalypse 8,3). [5] And the Epistle reading for his Mass (Apocalypse , 1-5) suggests that hel is the angel who gave Saint John his vision of the Last Days. The Magnificat antiphon for First Vespers of the feast even includes a direct quote from Michael not found in the Bible, in which he pleads for forgiveness on behalf of God’s people to the Lamb of God who was found worthy of opening the book and loosening its seals (Apocalypse 5, 5-8). The importance of Michael in the Roman Rite is also attested in the Confiteor, which places him behind the Blessed Virgin and ahead of John the Baptist.
Finally, the usus antiquior invokes Michael as a protector of the Elect not only on earth but in Purgatory. In the third antiphon for Lauds and Vespers on Saint Michael’s Day, the Church sings words that are ascribed to God: “O Archangel Michael, I have appointed thee prince over all souls to be received into eternity.” And in the Offertory Verse at every Requiem Mass, the Church prays that “Michael the standard-bearer may put them [the souls of the faithful departed] into the presence of the holy light which Thou once promised to Abraham and his seed.” He also has the office of Seelenwäger or “Weigher of Souls” and can be found in artistic portrayals of the Last Judgment holding a pair of scales containing the deceased. Consequently, cemetery chapels in Europe were routinely dedicated to him, and Masses offered there once a week in his honor and for the souls in Purgatory. [6]
Master of Messkirch (1500–1543), Der Erzengel Michael als Seelenwäger
Michael’s conducting of the dead may even have extended to the Blessed Virgin. In one version of an early Christian genre of literature known as “The Passage of Mary,” Our Lord gives the soul of His deceased mother to Saint Michael for safekeeping and her body to Saint Peter for entombment. Later, our Lord commands him to return with Mary’s soul and remove the stone from the entrance to her tomb. When Michael does so, Jesus reunites His mother’s body and soul moments before she is assumed into Heaven. [7]
Patron of the Sick
In the Jewish apocryphal text The Apocalypse of Moses, Michael denies a request from Eve and Seth for some oil from the Tree of Life, but promises to distribute the healing ointment at the end of time. It is perhaps this colorful legend that inspired the early Church to look to him as a patron of the sick.
His cult began in the Near East, where medicinal springs dedicated to him at Chairotopa near Colossae (present-day Khonas, Turkey) were said to cure all who bathed there while invoking the Blessed Trinity and Michael. There were also miraculous springs in Colossae itself. According to a Greek tradition, which is immortalized in a Byzantine feast on September 6, pagans redirected a stream against a sanctuary dedicated to him, but the Archangel split a rock with lightning to change the stream’s course and forever sanctify it.
Michael and water were often intertwined in early Christian imagination; hot springs, for example, were dedicated to Michael throughout Asia Minor. In Constantinople, a famous dedicated church to him was built at the thermal baths of the Emperor Arcadius; the Byzantine rite’s principle feast to Michael was celebrated there on November 8. Egyptian Christians, in turn, adapted this feast vis-à-vis their most important river. On June 12, “they keep as a holiday of obligation the feast of Michael ‘for the rising of the Nile.’ ” [8]
Rome also honored Michael as a healer, though without the aquatic element. After leading a procession through the city to stop a plague, Pope Saint Gregory the Great saw him atop the Mausoleum of Hadrian sheathing his sword as a sign that the pestilence was over. The grateful Romans renamed Hadrian’s tomb Castel Sant’Angelo, and to this day a bronze statue of the Archangel adorns its summit.
Statue of Michael the Archangel atop Castel Sant’ Angelo (also named after the angel) by Peter Anton von Verschaffelt
Patron of Defenders
Michael’s violent expulsion of Satan and his manly defense of the Church (if an angel can be called manly) also made him an ideal candidate for a different kind of patronage: protecting Christian soldiers from pagan or heretical armies.
On May 8, 663, the Lombards of Siponto were attacked by Greek Neapolitans, who at the time were monothelite heretics. Mindful of the sanctuary of Monte Sant’Angelo nearby, the Lombards invoked Michael and carried the day. In the traditional calendar, the feast of the Apparition of Saint Michael honors his appearance in A.D. 492 on Monte Gargano (when he commissioned Monte Sant’Angelo to be built), but the date of May 8 was chosen not because it is the anniversary of the apparition but because it is the anniversary of the battle.
In 933 and 955, imperial troops in Bavaria invoked his intercession through prayer, song, and battle cry when they successfully repelled the invading Magyar heathen. [9] He was made patron saint of the Holy Roman Empire and later of Germany.
It was Michael who informed Saint Joan of Arc of her divine mission and guided her in her military victories over the English during the Hundred Years War (1337-1453).
In the East, Michael is said to have saved the city of Constantinople twice (in 626 and in 674-678), while Grand Duke Dmitry Ivanovich Donskoy (a saint in Eastern Orthodox churches) defeated the Mongols at the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380 with the help of an icon of him. [10]
Michael was also the patron saint of several knightly orders such as the French Ordre de Saint-Michel (1469) and a Bavarian order by the same name (1693). England retained him as a patron even after the Reformation, instituting in 1818 the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George for leaders in the Mediterranean territories acquired by the British Empire during the Napoleonic Wars.
He is a patron of sailors and invoked against dangers at sea because of an ancient devotion at the famous Mont Saint-Michel on the coast of Normandy, France. In modern times, he is the patron saint of fencing, battle, paratroopers, police, security forces, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. armed forces. One of the reasons that “Michael” was, with the exception of 1960, the most popular boys’ name in the United States from 1954 to 1998 was because the warrior Archangel who defeated Satan and his minions had been invoked to protect our troops against the wicked legions of Hitler and Tojo during World War II. The returning GIs remembered Michael’s patronage and gratefully named their sons after him.
Other Patronages
Modern devotion has kept the Archangel busy in other ways, too. In addition to England and Germany, he is a patron saint of France, Papua New Guinea, American Samoa, the Basque people (who observe Michaelmas with great festivity), and over a dozen cities and municipalities. One of those is Arkhangelsk in northwest Russia, named after him. According to legend, Michael slayed the Devil nearby and continues to watch over the city to prevent his return.
The Coat of Arms of the city of Arkhangelsk, Russia
Because he is a healer and coachman of souls, he is invoked by those who transport the sick such as EMTs, paramedics, and ambulance drivers. In 1941, the Holy See made him patron of radiologists and radiotherapists, explaining that radium treatments pose dangers to the health care workers who administer them. In 1957, Pope Pius XII named Michael the heavenly patron of bankers, perhaps because they are in danger of being attacked by robbers. And it may be for this reason that grocers turn to him as well. But why he is the patron saint of haberdashers and hat-makers is far from clear. Could it be because he is the “head” angel? [11] Catholic folk piety is not always based on sophisticated etiology.
Finally, the Archangel’s role in the End Times received renewed attention after Pope Leo XIII had a terrifying vision of the Church being subjected to demonic assault for a hundred years. The Pope subsequently composed a prayer to Saint Michael and included it in the “Leonine Prayers” recited after every Low Mass from 1886 until 1962. [12]
Michaelmas Day
As for the primary feast of Michael in the Roman Rite: in A.D. 530, Pope Boniface II consecrated a basilica in his honor on the Salarian Way about seven miles from Rome, with the ceremonies beginning on the evening of September 29 and ending the following day. Subsequent celebrations of this dedication were held first on September 30, and later on September 29. In the 1962 Roman Missal, the feast maintains the title “The Dedication of Saint Michael the Archangel,” even though the basilica it commemorates disappeared over a thousand years ago. For most English-speaking Christians, however, the feast was known as “Michaelmas” (MICK-əl-məs), an abbreviation of “Michael’s Mass.”
From the Middle Ages until the eighteenth century, Michaelmas was a holy day of obligation and a much-anticipated feast. Parades, fairs, and plays in honor of Michael were common. Michaelmas became a convergence of the sacred, the astronomical, and the practical. Its proximity to the fall equinox made it a magnet for autumnal and harvest observances. Among these were “quarter days,” one of the four times of the year when freemen in England, Ireland, Wales, and Germanic nations assembled to draw up laws, settle their financial accounts, make land deals, and hire servants. To this day the more traditional universities in the U.K. and Ireland call their Fall semester “Michaelmas term,” and courts in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland call the first of their four annual seasons by that name as well.
Besides “Michaelmas,” the feast of Saint Michael had at least two other nicknames. One was “Goose Day” because of a custom of feasting on geese and holding “goose fairs” in which farmers brought their geese to market. A Michaelmas goose was an appropriate way to celebrate the end of the harvest in Ireland and England, especially when the bird in question was a “stubble-goose,” an adult goose that had grown plump on the stubble of autumn wheat fields. A large winged creature makes a fitting tribute to an angel, and a nice fat goose auspiciously evokes the financial hopes of the quarter days. Hence the old superstition:
Eat a goose on Michaelmas Day,
Want not for money all the year.
Michaelmas geese were popular in Ireland and England and have recently experienced a minor comeback in Great Britain, [13] but in Scotland the treat of the day was St Michael’s Bannock or Struan Micheil. This large scone-like cake is traditionally “made from cereals grown on the family’s land during the year, representing the fruits of the fields, and is cooked on a lamb skin, representing the fruit of the flocks.” When the eldest daughter of the family made the Bannock, she prayed, “Progeny and prosperity of family, Mystery of Michael, Protection of the Trinity.” [14]
Michaelmas was also known as “Devil’s Spit Day.” When Lucifer was cast out of Heaven, he is said to have fallen on a blackberry bush and angrily spat on it. Consequently, one can eat blackberries on but not after either Michaelmas Day (September 29) or Old Michaelmas Day (October 4 or 11 in those parts of England that unofficially held on to the Julian calendar).
Of course, Michaelmas revelers need something to wash down all that food. Michelsminne or “Michael’s Love” was the name given in parts of northern Europe to any wine consumed on Michaelmas. The custom was especially popular in Denmark.
Finally, there is an old English custom of giving someone a Michaelmas Daisy (an aster) as a way of saying farewell. As Ben Johnson speculates, associating Michaelmas Daisies with goodbyes is perhaps an echo of saying farewell to a productive year. [15] Michaelmas Daisies are so named because they are one of the few flowers that bloom around this time of year. Hence the old poem:
The Michaelmas Daisies, among dede weeds,
Bloom for St Michael’s valorous deeds.
And seems the last of flowers that stood,
Till the feast of Saint Simon and Saint Jude [October 28].
Michaelmas in Modernity
Although Michaelmas has always been formally dedicated to Michael alone, the feast implicitly celebrates all angels, as the propers for the Mass and Divine Office attest. In 1670, Pope Clement X added the feast of the Guardian Angels to the universal calendar on October 2, the first available day after Michaelmas. And in 1921, Pope Benedict XV added separate feasts celebrating the “divine mission” of the Archangels Gabriel and Raphael in order to “increase piety” and because of their relation to the Holy Family: Gabriel announced the Incarnation, which began the Holy Family, and Raphael blessed all families when he blessed the family of Tobias. [16]
In the 1969 new Roman Missal, September 29 is the combined “feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels.” No official reason was given for what Peter Kwasniewski calls this “almost rabid smushing together” [17] of feasts, but it may have had something to do with the antiquarian tendencies of Archbishop Bugnini and his colleagues, who disdained relatively recent additions to the calendar.
Whatever the rationale, together with the 1962 demotion of the Leonine Prayers to optional status, the exclusion of Michael from the revised Confiteor and the prayers of the new Mass of Christian Burial, and the deletion of the incensation prayer mentioning him, this “smushing” has taken some liturgical luster off Michael’s cult. Lord knows when the end of the world will come, but it does seem odd that the Church should lessen her devotion to the Archangel of the Apocalypse as the Apocalypse draws nigh. Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle.

[1] In the Book of Tobias/Tobit, Raphael states that he is one of the seven Angels “who stand before the Lord” (12, 15). Filling in the blanks, Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Christians identify the other four Archangels as Uriel, Jegudiel or Jehudiel, Selaphiel or Salathiel, and Barachiel. The names of these angels, however, are taken from Jewish and Christian apocrypha and not from the Bible.
[2] See Transitus Mariae in The Elucidarium, ed. J. Morris Jones (Clarendon Press, 1894), 231.
[3] Summa Theologiae I.113.3.
[4] Tradition applies Ezekiel 28, 14—a verse originally referring to the King of Tyre—to Lucifer.
[5] See also the Offertory verse for Saint Michael’s Mass (September 29).
[6] See Francis X. Weiser, The Holyday Book (Harcourt, Brace, and Company, 1956), 190.
[7] Transitus Mariae, 234.
[8] Holweck, Frederick. “St. Michael the Archangel.” Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 10 (Robert Appleton Company, 1911), 21 Jan. 2018 .
[9] See Weiser, 188.
[10] See “Heiliger Michael,”
[11] See Michael Walsh, Butler’s Lives of Patron Saints (Burns & Oates, 1987).
[12] See Kevin J. Symonds’ Pope Leo XIII and the Prayer to St. Michael (Preserving Christian Publications, 2015).
[13] Michelle Warwicker, “Are we ready to embrace the Michaelmas goose once again?” 29 September 2012, BBC Food,
[14] Ben Johnson, “Michaelmas,” Historic UK,
[15] Ibid.
[16] AAS 13 (1921), 543.
[17] Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness (Angelico Press, 2017), 222.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Photopost: House Chapels, Oratories and Prayer Corners

Our photopost of readers’ home altars, oratories, etc., has a really good variety to it, including some Byzantine prayer corners, a chapel with a large collection of devotional statues, and another with a Tenebrae hearse. As always, we are very grateful to everybody who shared these with us, continuing the good work of evangelizing through beauty!
Kristoffer Sloth-Kristensen – Denmark
A movable chapel in a cabinet, similar to one in a noble house in Malta which we had a quiz about 4 years ago.
Parish of St Charles – San Diego, California
Chapel in the rectory; courtesy of Fr Burt Boudoin
Tom van den Elzen – Brussels, Belgium

Join Us This Thursday for a Webinar on Art, Education and Cultural Renewal

Co-Sponsored by the Scala Foundation and the McGrath Institute for Church Life (Notre Dame University)

I will be interviewed this coming Thursday, September 30th, by Margarita Mooney Suarez, Executive Director of the Scala Foundation. You can register in advance to attend live, here. The interview starts at 12 noon EDT and lasts for an hour.

The Scala Foundation was founded by Margarita Mooney Suarez to promote the renewal of culture in America through the integration of beauty and wisdom in the liberal arts.

It is difficult to know precisely where the conversation will go in the course of the webinar, but the aim is to help viewers see why art is so crucial to a classical liberal arts education that aims to foster creativity and scientific innovation. We will also reflect on practical ways to incorporate beauty into educational curricula and faith communities. By pairing classical understandings of art like Vitruvius, Boethius, Bonaventure, and Palladio—all of whom saw a connection between mathematics and art—with modern voices like Pope Benedict the XVI and (much to my delight) my old mentor, the late Stratford Caldecott, we will explore what makes the study of visual art crucial to human happiness, cultural renewal, and social order, and therefore a necessary, though often neglected, aspect of a Catholic formation.

I am looking forward to this greatly. Margarita, who is on the faculty at Princeton University, is a skilled and penetrating interviewer with a deep understanding of this field, and so it promises to be a lively and interesting conversation.

The webinar is co-sponsored by the McGrath Institute for Church Life, which is at the University of Notre Dame. The mission of the Institute is to partner with Catholic dioceses, parishes, and schools to address pastoral challenges with theological depth and rigor. By connecting the Catholic intellectual life to the life of the Church, they aim to form faithful Catholic leaders for service to the Church and the world.

Monday, September 27, 2021

The Maronite Liturgy’s Corruption under Modern Western Influence

A Maronite altar ad orientem—something rarely seen
It is often assumed by Roman Catholics that the Eastern Catholic rites have been “preserved intact” and that the destructive aspects of the liturgical reform took place only in the sphere of the Latin-rite Church. It is sometimes even suggested that Roman Catholics may find a “refuge” in the East if things in the West continue to go in the downward direction that Pope Francis and his new officers are proposing to enforce. As both Joseph Shaw and I have argued (see here, here, and here), there is no good reason to think that Traditionis Custodes will lead to substantive improvements in the Novus Ordo; on the contrary, it is more likely to lead to the suppression of elements that look anything like the Tridentine rite, in the effort to enforce a progressive liturgical vision.

While it is true that the most wanton destruction did, in fact, take place in the Roman Rite (with similar depradations in the Ambrosian Rite), Western-educated liturgists within Eastern Catholicism have too often shown themselves eager to follow the path of false antiquarianism and modernization, usually in the form of dramatic abbreviations and simplifications, as well as the abolition of traditional features.

The Maronites are perhaps the most notorious example of this Western-influenced self-destruction: their liturgy has evolved into the Novus Ordo of the East. For example, in “The Transfer of Gifts” (which corresponds to the “Great Entrance” in the Byzantine Liturgy), traditionally a deacon or subdeacon transferred the gifts from the side altar to the main altar. In the parishes now, lay people are employed to make the transfer, in imitation of the Novus Ordo offertory procession—a thing that was introduced on antiquarian grounds as a revival of ancient practice, although better scholarship has shown that it is no such thing: the modern offertory has little to do with the ancient one (see here and here).

A knowledgeable correspondent once gave me an outline of the bigger picture, so that I could understand how one kind of Latinization, which had had its positive aspects, had simply given way to another kind, which occasioned severe damage.

“The Maronite Church has gone through several periods of Latinization since the 16th century, most especially at the Synod of Mt Lebanon in 1736 where a papal legate was instructed to ‘correct’ our practices. Adoption of these Latinizations were not uniform or universal, and often were manifested in externals (e.g., vestments); yet we retained our sacral language and the vast corpus of our distinctive liturgy and prayers. In the 1940s, Patriarch Arida wished to restore our tradition and a liturgist by the name of Chorbishop Michel Raji began thorough research to restore our tradition. His sacramentary was the major fruit of his work; it preserved ancient liturgies such as a ca. fifth-century baptismal liturgy.

“The intimate and longstanding connection between France and Lebanon/Syria meant, however, that the liturgists who studied in France began to internalize and imitate the Western Liturgical Movement; Maronites began to hold reformatory ideas, which culminated in a book in 1965 called Avant-messe maronite by Pierre-Edmond Gemayel, who would later become archbishop and chair of the liturgical commission. Gemayel’s approach was essentially that everything he didn’t like was or must have been a fifteenth-century accretion, ‘Jacobite’ or authentic but not pastoral. It is difficult to respond to such baseless and subjective claims charitably; an example of this is Gemayel’s claim that the prothesis (which all Eastern liturgies and some Western liturgies have in common, equivalent to the offertory) is a 15th–16th century accretion; to this, all Baby Varghese (a present-day West Syriac liturgical scholar) can say is that ‘Gemayel’s analysis of the contents of various manuscripts was not always accurate’ (give that man an award for understatement).

“Regarding ‘Jacobite’ elements, Gemayel attacked anything that made us West Syriac, such as the antiphonal doxology that previously began all liturgies—‘P: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit from our beginning and until our concluding; R: and may mercy and compassion be poured forth upon us weak sinners in this world and the next. Amen.’ As for supposedly ‘non-pastoral’ elements, an example is the recitation of Psalm 50 at the beginning of the liturgy, which was undeniably the practice of the Maronite Liturgy for a millennium and a half; but they say it is redundant to ask for forgiveness multiple times. Prayers that are ‘self-deprecative’ were also removed—e.g., for the imposition of incense, the priest now says ‘To the glory and honor of the glorious Trinity,’ whereas previously it was ‘My weak sinful hands impose incense for the glory and honor of the holy and glorious Trinity. Let us all ask for mercy and compassion from the Lord’; prayers from the various anaphorae were similarly redacted.

“Given the Lebanese Civil War that lasted from the seventies into the early 90s, a new missal was never promulgated to replace the 1596. In 1992, however, Gemayel finally enacted his Bugninian vision, removing all but three lines of the prothesis and any ideas of sacrifice, cutting the fore-liturgy in half, greatly truncating or entirely removing rubrics, infantilizing language, removing anything that refers to the liturgy as sacrifice, and introducing various Novus Ordo ideas (e.g., whereas previously the lections were all read from the center, two podiums are now mandatory, the southern one for the epistle and the northern one for the Gospel). Laypeople often serve as deacons. The sacerdotal office has no particular significance; prayers from the fraction in which the priest offers the Eucharist back to God were made to be recited by all. A previous trope in Syriac prayer is that priest prays on behalf of all: ‘Lord God, make us worthy to do X...’; before communion and, with the new book of rubrics, before the reading of Scripture, everyone recites these prayers in common. The anamnesis must be recited by all the concelebrants. I have personally asked for sources or evidence of any of these practices, but my requests never meet with a response; rubrics at this point are simply arbitrary. Individuals who have neither studied theology nor gained familiarity with the history of the faith continue to contribute to liturgical reform! An example is Guilnard Moufarrej, who wrote on the reform of our funerary rites. She purports that we removed verses that are exact citations of Ephesians 2:2 because they do not ‘agree with Roman dogmas’ (conveniently not citing which ‘Roman dogmas’ they disagree with).

“Reform continues arbitrarily, and to the denigration of our tradition. There is now a steady stream of proposed rites, which all replace the first half of the Eucharistic liturgy and have an Anaphora tacked on the end because Mass has come to be seen as the only real form of prayer (whereas a sixteenth-century Jesuit commented on how surprised he was at the ubiquitous lay attendance at the divine offices in the Maronite Church). The byword of the liturgical reform continues to be ‘progress,’ though without any definition. Ultimately, the catchall term ‘pastoral’ is given as justification for all changes.

“At least the Novus Ordo is based upon the Latin tradition, however denigrated. The current Maronite Missal from 2005 does things incredible and incomprehensible to the ordo for any Eastern. As mentioned, the Prothesis/Preparatory Rite (equivalent of the offertory) has been completely excised. One of the two canonical hours has been removed. Psalm 50 [51], whose inclusion in the Syriac liturgy is attested to from at least the 6th century, has been removed. The first canonical hour of the Eucharistic liturgy has been replaced with propers ‘inspired’ by offices. The propers for the Season of Pentecost are made up almost wholesale.

“There’s been extreme rubrical simplification; no secret prayers remain. Versus populum is essentially mandated (at this point, I’ve seen more ad orientem Novus Ordos than Maronite ones!). It was introduced to the Maronite Church in the US in the 1960s, around the same time as it entered the mainstream of the Latin Church. It is purely innovative. Many of our traditional prayers refer to facing the rising sun—alluding to both the physical East and the expectation of the eschaton—and these have been excised to accommodate the new (dis)orientation. A dubium on this topic was submitted to the Congregation for Oriental Churches. Archbishop Cyril, the Secretary, responded that Oriental bishops do not even have the competence to permit, let alone mandate, versus populum. This, however, makes no difference, because official internal literature makes it clear that ‘reform’ will be pursued at all costs.

“As in the old Roman rite, in the Maronite liturgy there were many more signs of the cross—one could write a treatise on the sign of the cross in Syriac theology; it is of such utter importance that the East Syriacs include it in the list of sacraments!—and not just during the Institution Narrative. The West Syriac tradition has many special doxologies accompanied by signs of the cross: at the beginning of the Anaphora, the paten, the chalice, then both were signed, each time saying a doxology that professed the indivisibility of the Holy Trinity. There were signs of the cross during the post-Sanctus. There were more signs of the cross during the fraction. They are of such antiquity that St. Jacob of Sarug (5th century) gives us the number of signs of the cross to be made throughout the liturgy. They were all eliminated in virtue of Bugnini’s fixation on eliminating ‘duplication’ and ‘accretion’; this has become a driving force in eliminating lots of different things unique to our Syriac tradition.

“In my view, what underlies this idea of the redundancy of the sign of the cross is simple: the liturgists do not believe the ancient words ‘By Your cross, Your mysteries are accomplished’ which peppers all our prayers. Everything is simply reduced to a pedagogical sign or communal engagement—very Calvinist. However, in Lebanon these things are not seen as Protestant simply because they are done by Maronites, as absurd as that sounds. I have personally expressed my frustrations with their Protestantism to them but it’s completely incomprehensible to them because being ‘Maronite’ is a sociopolitical/ethnic identity as much as (if not more than) it is religious. Perhaps you have seen how the cedar even supersedes the cross at times.

“Polyester vestments are effectively required. Sanctuary veils and ripidia have been prohibited for a long time. The Anaphora has been needlessly changed (e.g., you must sit for the rite of peace); two prayers of peace are moved to after the sign of peace; there is a significant truncation of prayers, removal of diaconal litanies, removal of a fifth-century portion of the fraction rite, removal of rubrics, removal of traditional “major elevation” with accompanying hymn, removal of graded communion (i.e., communion of clergy, faithful, dead). We have even become the freaks of the Apostolic Churches: we removed all hand washings from our liturgy, so we’re the only liturgy of an Apostolic Church without a ritual ablution.

“In all this, the Maronite liturgy was changed to resemble the Latin liturgy. A new offertory was created. The liturgy was split into the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist (not coherent with the traditional Syriac paradigm). Two podiums have been introduced, to mimic the way the Novus Ordo handled readings in the 70s, etc.

“A professor in Lebanon insisted to me (reciting almost verbatim P. Gemayel’s Avant-messe maronite) that there was no manuscript proof before the sixteenth century of a preparation rite beyond just plating a piece of bread and pouring wine into a cup—which is patently false. A few days later I had the opportunity to mention this claim to Sebastian Brock, the foremost Syriac scholar in the world. He responded that it is not only erroneous, it is off by about a millennium (i.e., we have evidence of a larger preparation rite in the sixth century!). But the liturgists will continue to lie and make things up because hardly any of them can actually read Syriac, so they can make any claims they’d like—in fact, they often claim our liturgical language is no longer Syriac, so it’s a moot point.

“The Liturgical Commission is not comprised of educated men. Not one of the persons who contributed to the English missal has any formal training or even understanding of the liturgy. It shows mostly in the hymns they produced, which are often incoherent. Even very basic things like why we used the exact same wording of the Latin Church’s creed (when the Arabic follows the Syriac, such as Christ shall come in great glory, and the Holy Spirit has spoken through the prophets and apostles), the response I received was that uniformity is unity. When I asked why we retained ‘we believe’ in the Creed, the individual just scoffed at me and told me I don’t know what I’m talking about. Likewise, I asked why, in the Lord’s Prayer, we move from hieratic to contemporary English as we go from the main prayer to the doxology, and the individual didn’t understand why that would be an issue. There are a multitude of holes one can poke simply in its language—like the use of sentence fragments as complete sentences in hymns. Our liturgy has been in shambles since we decided the Novus Ordo was the proto-liturgy of all traditions, and its getting exponentially worse. The problem is compounded by the fact that the patriarchal university in Lebanon purposefully doesn’t allow open access to manuscripts, and because Syriac is not as widely studied or translated as Latin. As a result, teachers, scholars, liturgists, bishops, can say whatever they like and there are too few people who can challenge their ignorance and errors. An example would be the uncritical, superficial, revisionist arguments one finds at a blog like ‘,’ which today seems to be on the cutting edge—of the 1960s. They are blissfully unaware of any scholarship from the past half-century that challenges their narrative.”

To all of which I, as a Roman Catholic, could only respond: “Sounds awfully familiar.” I was shocked to hear about all of this corruption. It made me realize that authentic Christian liturgy is endangered throughout the entire Christian world to the extent that it is allowed to fall under the influence of the liturgical progressivism of Western educational institutions and, crucially, to be treated as the plaything of any powerful individual, be he a pope or patriarch.

What follows is a comparative chart between the 1908 Maronite missal (which is a reprint of the 1596) nd and the current 2005 missal. There is a lot that can be said about the details, but for our purposes it is enough simply to look at the enormous difference, which is arguably even greater than that between the Tridentine Roman rite and the modern rite of Paul VI.

A downloadable PDF of these four pages may be accessed at this Google drive link.

So, before anyone thinks that “going East” will be a solution, he will need to do some homework in order to find out which Eastern rites have been corrupted by the Novus Ordo influence, and which ones have retained their integral tradition in spite of pressure and temptation from the West.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Abbey of Grottaferrata

Today is the feast of St Nilus, who founded the important Byzantine Rite monastery of Grottaferrata, about 13 miles to the southeast of Rome, fairly close to the famous Papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo. He was originally from a town called Rossano in the southern Italian region of Calabria, and lived an ordinary life until he was about 30 years old, when his wife and daughter both died within a short time of each other, and then he fell serious ill. These events set him on the path to a religious conversion, and the embracing of monastic life in one of the many Byzantine communities in southern Italy, in which state he earned a great reputation for sanctity and learning. The political vicissitudes of the era brought him north to Rome; in 1004, while passing through the Alban hills, he had a vision of Our Lady, from which it was made known to him that he was to found a community in that place. Nilus is reckoned the first abbot and founder of the monastery because he obtained from a local nobleman the grant of land in Grottaferrata on which it was built, and established the community, but he did not live to the see building of it even begun. This was accomplished by his successor Bartholomew, who is also a Saint. I recently stumbled across the following documentary about the abbey, which tells some of its history and shows many of the church’s interesting artistic and architectural features. (It was posted only a year and a half ago by the Italian Basilian monks, but it seems to have been made some time ago, and is rather grainy.)

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Blessed Hermann the Cripple

Blessed Hermannus, whose feast day is kept in some Benedictine houses on September 25, is usually called “Hermann the Cripple” or “the Lame” in English, but his Latin appellation “Contractus - the deformed” (literally ‘the contracted one’) is really more accurate, as is so often the case with Latin. The combination of congenital defects from which he suffered made him “not simply a cripple, but ... practically helpless”, writes Alban Butler. Born in 1013 to a noble family in Swabia, modern southern Germany, he survived childhood by some miracle of God’s providence, and was entrusted at the age of seven to the Benedictine abbey on Reichenau Island on the lake of Constance. He was professed at the age of twenty, and lived as a monk for twenty years more.

Although he was barely able to move without assistance, he was a polymath and a genius, well-versed in theology, music, astronomy, mathematics, Latin, Greek and Arabic. Students came to learn from him from many parts of Europe, and his intellectual achievements were such that he was known as the wonder of his age. Among his works are the earliest surviving medieval chronicle of the whole of human history, and a treatise on mathematics and astronomy; he was also able somehow to build both musical and astronomical instruments. Above all, however, his name will live in blessed remembrance as that of the composer of the Marian antiphons Alma Redemptoris Mater and Salve Regina. His cultus was officially approved by the Holy See in 1863. Beate Hermanne, ora pro nobis!

A manuscript illustration of one of Bl. Herman’s treatises on astronomy.

Friday, September 24, 2021

The St Ann Choir Celebrates Its 58th Anniversary

Thanks to one of our long-time guest contributors, Roseanne Sullivan, for this tribute to Dr William Mahrt (who is also our publisher) and the St Ann Choir, for the extraordinary work they have done over almost six decades to preserve the great tradition of Catholic liturgical music.

Lovers of the traditional music of the Roman Catholic liturgy may want to stop a moment and marvel about the St Ann Choir’s unique achievement: fifty-eight years of continual performance of Gregorian chant and polyphony at weekly liturgies in diocesan churches—even while this kind of music was out of favor in the Church.
Dr William Mahrt and the St Ann Choir
This coming Sunday, September 26, will be the choir's fifty-eighth anniversary; they began singing on the last Sunday of September in 1963, and have almost miraculously managed to keep chant and sacred polyphony alive as it should be performed, as part of sacred liturgies, during the long decades since then when the Church’s traditional sacred music was virtually banned. The choir now sings at St Thomas Aquinas Church, which is located at 751 Waverly St. in Palo Alto, California. Every Sunday at noon, the choir and congregation sing the ordinary chants of the Mass, at Latin Masses in the Ordinary Form, and the choir also sings the proper chants for the day of the Church year —in addition to polyphonic motets from great Renaissance composers, with organ preludes and postludes. For special feasts, the choir also sings polyphonic Mass settings by Renaissance composers for the ordinary, along with chanted propers for the feast. All are welcome to these Masses with their unique musical enrichment.
A poster advertising the choir’s patronal feast in 2018, with music by Josquin des Prez.
The choir is directed by Stanford Professor William Mahrt, who also leads the Stanford Early Music Singers, is president of the Church Music Association of America, and editor of the CMAA journal Sacred Music. Mahrt joined the St Ann Choir when he was a Stanford graduate student, and has directed it, with some breaks totaling about five years breaks, since 1964, its second year of existence.
“The main achievement of our choir is to have maintained the traditional music of the Roman Catholic Church. We began singing Gregorian chant and classical polyphony and included organ music in liturgies before the council, and our program is pretty much the same as it was when we started,” says Prof. Mahrt. “Our choir started one year before the language changed [from Latin to the vernacular]—if we had tried to start one year later, we might not have been able to do it.”
The choir got its name because they originally sang at the St Ann Chapel in Palo Alto, which was the Stanford University Newman Center at the time. In 1998, the diocese decided to move the Newman Center to Stanford Memorial Church and an on-campus office. After efforts to keep the chapel as a place for Catholic worship failed, it was sold to a conservative Anglican group in 2003.
The chapel has a remarkable history of its own. It was built by Clare Booth Luce as a memorial for her daughter Ann, who was a Stanford senior when she was killed in a car accident while returning to campus in 1944 after Christmas vacation. The loss of her daughter precipitated a crisis that showed Luce the meaninglessness of her own life. After months of instruction and counsel from then-Monsignor Fulton J. Sheen, Luce converted to Catholicism.
Luce intended the chapel to illustrate her conviction that modernity and sacred art are compatible. She commissioned artists to decorate the chapel with expressionistic (and experimental) painted windows instead of stained glass, painted Stations of the Cross, a cubist-inspired mosaic of the Madonna, and a steel mesh flat baldachino decorated with mosaics and Cubist-inspired angels. It was dedicated in 1951. For years after the chapel was sold to the Anglican group, the choir was allowed to sing Vespers and some occasional liturgies there, until COVID precautions suspended those arrangements. Prof. Mahrt says, “I anticipate that we will go back, not for the expressionism and cubism, but the acoustics.”
As Susan Benofy wrote in Adoremus 20 years ago, “It is rare to hear chant in Catholic churches, and it is rarely taught in Catholic institutions. Catholoics who are familiar with the chant and polyphonic repertoire are more likely to have gained this familiarity from listening to recordings than to have experienced this music as an integral part of the solemn liturgy.” (Adoremus Online: March 2001) Another very telling commentary comes from René Girard, Stanford Professor Emeritus, and one of only 40 members, or ‘immortals,’ of the Académie Française: “When I first attended, I assumed that the Catholic Church and the University actively supported this unique contribution to the spiritual and cultural life of the community. The truth is that ever since 1963, Professor Mahrt has been very much on his own in this enormously time-, talent- and energy-consuming enterprise.” 

“The Devil in Music” - A Myth Debunked

Here is a video which I found very interesting and enjoyable: musician Adam Neely thoroughly debunks one of the sillier legends about the medieval Church, namely, that it banned a particular musical interval called a “tritone”, because people thought it sounded so bad that it could summon the devil. For this reason, the interval is popularly known as “diabolus in musica – the devil in music”, although as Mr Neely explains, this nickname is not very old, and did not originally mean what people think it means. Along the way, he offers some useful thoughts about HOW people came to accept such silly and essentially baseless ideas about the Middle Ages, its culture and society, thoughts which are very much worth paying attention to, and applying more broadly to our history as a Church.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Basilica of Saint Vitalis in Ravenna

After a pause of over a month, we finally conclude our series of Nicola’s photographs from his visit to Ravenna at the beginning of the summer; in the meantime, he has recently been traveling again, and before this series is over, he will undoubtedly have many more pictures of beautiful Italian churches to share with us.
St Vitalis was the father of the Milanese martyrs Gervasius and Protasius, and said to have suffered martyrdom at Ravenna; he is named in the Communicantes of the Ambrosian Canon, right after St Apollinaris, the founder of the church of Ravenna and its patron Saint. The church which bears his name is one of the most important early Christian churches in Italy, particularly because of the magnificent mosaics in the main sanctuary, which are not only very well-preserved, but also contain a very precious testimony to the early history of the Roman liturgy. Founded by a man named Julianus Argentarius, who was both a banker and an architect, the building was begun in 526 under the bishop of Ravenna Ecclesius, and consecrated in 548 his third successor, Maximian. The main body of the church is octagonal (a shape normally used in that era for baptisteries), surmounted by a cupola.
A view of the external ring of the basilica and its mosaic pavement.
The main sanctuary; the various parts of the mosaics are shown in detail in the photos below.
The main apse: a young and beardless Christ is accompanied by two angels, and on the left, St Vitalis, on the right, bishop Ecclesius, who offers the church to Christ. The naturalistic representation of the ground, with greenery, rocks and flowers, is typical of the older tradition of Roman mosaics, while the gold background, which represents heaven, and gives the viewer the sense of looking into the sacred place where Christ dwells with his Saints, is more in keeping with the then-emergent conventions of Byzantine art.

A New Recording from the FSSP’s European Seminary

The FSSP’s International Seminary of St Peter, located in Wigratzbad, Germany, will soon be releasing a recording in both chant and polyphony of Christmas Matins, which is traditionally sung before the Midnight Mass of Christmas. The YouTube channel of the distributor, DeMontfort Music, published this trailer a few days ago; you can find more information about the recording, which will be available as of next Tuesday, on their website:

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Photopost Request: House Chapels and Oratories

Following up on Peter’s post this past Monday, let’s do a photopost of your house chapels, oratories and prayer corners. Please send your photographs, along with any information you think pertinent, to If you would prefer that your name and location not be published, that’s certainly not a problem, just make sure to let me know that in your email.

I got the idea to do this from a spontaneous submission which we received on our Facebook page from Fr Rinaldo Damian, who is semi-retired and living in the diocese of Providence, Rhode Island. When he moved back there after serving for many years in Miami, he acquired the former convent of St Augustine’s parish, and restored it to use for the celebration of Mass. The chapel has several artifacts from churches that were closed in Paris. Bishop Robert McManus of nearby Worcester, Massachusetts (who was ordained a priest for Providence, and then served as its auxiliary bishop) consecrated the chapel last year and dedicated it to St Damien of Molokai. Our thanks to Fr Damian for sharing these pictures with us.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: