Thursday, May 30, 2024

Corpus Christi 2024

In those days: Elijah rising up went whithersoever he had a mind: and he came to Bersabee of Juda, and left his servant there. And he went forward, one day’s journey into the desert. And when he was there, and sat under a juniper tree, he requested for his soul that he might die, and said, “It is enough for me, Lord, take away my soul, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he cast himself down, and slept in the shadow of the juniper tree: and behold an angel of the Lord touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” He looked, and behold there was at his head a hearth cake, and a vessel of water: and he ate and drank, and he fell asleep again. And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said to him, “Arise, eat: for thou hast yet a great way to go.” And he arose, and ate, and drank, and walked in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights, unto the mount of God, Horeb. (3 Kings 19, 3-8, the first reading of the Mass of Corpus Christi in the Ambrosian Rite.)

Elijah and the Angel; folio 65v of the Hours of Henry II of France, Bibliothque nationale de France, Lat. 1429
When the holy Elijah was growing weary on the way, did he not walk for forty days, in the strength of (that) food), and the angel gave it to him? But if Jesus shall feed thee, and thou shalt keep the food received, thou shalt walk non for forty days and for forty nights, but (I make bold to say this, supported by examples from the Scriptures) for forty years, and thou shalt go forth from the bounds of Egypt, until thou come to a broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, which the Lord swore He would give to our fathers. Thou must seek after the strength of this land, which the meek man possesseth. I do not speak of this land, which is arid, but that which is strengthened by the food of Christ, which is established under the rule of the eternal King, and frequented by those who dwell among the Saints. (St Ambrose, Commentary on St Luke, 6.75; PL XV 1688A)
Saint Thomas Aquinas with Saints Ambrose, Augustine, Pope Gregory the Great and Jerome contemplating the Blessed Sacrament, by Erasmus de Bie (1629-75). Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.
Here are a few other Ambrosian items of interest related to today’s feast, with thanks to Nicola. This illuminated letter decorates the Ingressa (the equivalent of the Introit) on the feast of Corpus Christi in the Arcimboldi Missal, ca. 1495 (Bibl. Cap. Metr. II.D.1.13); a cleric and a layman adore the Blessed Sacrament. The cleric is probably Guido Antonio Arcimboldi, who commissioned the book on the occasion of the investiture of Ludovico Maria Sforza as Duke of Milan by the Emperor Maximilian I.

The first page of the Mass of Corpus Christi from an Ambrosian Missal printed in 1522. In the illustration after the rubrics (next to the Ingressa), a bishop carries the Blessed Sacrament in procession; notice that the monstrance is cylindrical, rather than flat, and he is still wearing his miter, customs which are both still observed to this day. - The traditional Ambrosian Mass of Corpus Christ is that composed for the Roman Rite by St Thomas Aquinas, with the necessary adjustments to the form of the rite, including the Prophetic reading given above; the Lauda Sion is not said, since the Sequence was never adopted in the Ambrosian Rite.
The main sanctuary of the Duomo of Milan, decorated for Corpus Christi in 1963.
Details of a painting which shows the Corpus Christi procession in the Duomo in the 1830s, during the reign of Archduke Rainer Joseph, the second Viceroy of the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, who is seen in the procession together with his wife, Princess Elizabeth of Savoy.

The archbishop carrying the Sacrament is Cardinal Carlo Gaetano di Gaisruck, an Austrian (hence his very non-Italian last name) appointed to the see of Milan in 1816 by the Hapsburg Emperor of Austria, the ruler on whose behalf Milan, and a large part of northern Italy, were governed by the Viceroy.

A few photos from a photopost of six years ago of Corpus Christi at the church of Santa Maria della Consolazione in Milan. The vestments are red, which in the Ambrosian tradition is the liturgical color of the whole season from Pentecost until the third Sunday of October, on which the dedication of the cathedral of Milan is celebrated. A decorative collar called a cappino is attached to the top of a chasuble, dalmatic or tunicle at the back.

During the incensations, the chasuble is held up higher than is typical in the Roman Rite, parallel to the floor. The thurible has no top, and is swung in circles in a manner than keeps its contents from flying out. (This takes some practice.)

The acolytes bowing at the conclusion of the Oratio super populum, the equivalent of the Collect.

The Mass was celebrated coram Sanctissimo; note the form of the monstrance, which is smaller than a typical Roman one, and cylindrical, a type which was very common in the Middle Ages, as may be seen in innumerable illustrations in medieval liturgical books.
Benediction after the Mass.

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