Thursday, November 04, 2021

Ambrosian Pontifical Mass Celebrated During Vatican II

On November 4, 1962, during the first session of the recently convened ecumenical council, Giovanni Battista Cardinal Montini, the archbishop of Milan, celebrated a solemn Pontifical Mass in the Ambrosian Rite in St Peter’s Basilica for the feast of St Charles Borromeo. This was done as a Mass coram Summo Pontifice, on the fourth anniversary of St John XXIII’s coronation, at the temporary altar set up for solemn celebrations during the council, since the use of the high altar is reserved to the Pope.
The Pope’s solemn entrance into the basilica.
Card. Giulio Bevilacqua recounts in his memoires that at the consistory held on December 15, 1958, Pope John had said to the newly created Card. Montini that among his duties as the first of his new cardinals, he was to come to Rome each year and sing a Mass for the Pope on the anniversary of his coronation. (This, however, would be the last such occasion, since John XXIII died the following June 3.) The Pope delivered a homily on the sermons of St Charles during the diocesan synods and provincial councils which he held, recommending them for reading and meditation. As a sign of his gratitude, the Pope also gave Card. Montini a diamond and aquamarine pectoral cross, now kept in the treasury of Milan Cathedral, together with a photograph of the Pope signed thus: “Pro Missa bene cantata Ritu Ambrosiano a venerabili Fratre Archiepiscopo Mediolanensi in die natalis Papæ IV Nov. 1962”. (For a Mass well-sung in the Ambrosian Rite by our venerable brother the archbishop of Milan, on the Pope’s (coronation) anniversary, Nov. 4, 1962.) A year later, as a reminder of Pope John’s aforementioned homily, the former archbishop of Milan, now elected Pope with the name Paul VI, had the sermons of St Charles republished, and given as a gift to the Council Fathers. (Many thanks to Nicola de’ Grandi for sharing these photos and write-up with us.)

Any Mass sung in the Ambrosian Rite (whether pontifical, solemn or just a missa cantata) normally begins with a procession. The celebrant and ministers enter to the singing of a chant called a Psallendum, which is repeated from the end of Lauds. At the entrance to the sanctuary, the bearer of the processional cross (who would be just outside this photograph to the right) stops and turns towards the celebrant, while the servers and assistants form two rows facing each other between him and the cross. A hymn is sung, then 12 Kyrie eleisons (6 low and 6 high), and another Psallendum, with Gloria Patri, Sicut erat; at Gloria Patri, all bow to the Cross, at Sicut erat, to the celebrant, and the procession enters the sanctuary as the Psallendum is repeated. (In this unusual case, things would have been arranged somewhat differently, so that the Cardinal would not turn his back to the Pope.)
The prayers at the foot of the altar; Mons Enrico Dante, long-time Papal Master of Ceremonies, is seen kneeling next to the Pope.
Incensation of the altar
At the beginning of the Mass, either the reading of the Ingressa (the Ambrosian equivalent of the Introit), or the chanting of the first prayer. 
The boy’s choir sings the Hallelujah (as it is written in Ambrosian liturgical books) before the Gospel.
Before the Offertory
The booklet prepared for those in attendance to follow the liturgy.
The pectoral cross given to Card. Montini.

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