Cabrol F. Chapter X. The rites derived from the Roman Mass from ninth-sixteenth centuries
THE MASS OF THE WESTERN RITES By the Right Reverend Dom Fernand Cabrol
THE RITES DERIVED FROM THE ROMAN MASS FROM NINTH-SIXTEENTH CENTURIES
The rite of Lyon. — The Carthusians. — Benedictine liturgy. — Cistercians, —
Carmelites. — Dominicans. — Franciscans. — Praemonstratensians. — The Roman
liturgy in England.
If a special place has been given in these chapters to the Roman Mass, it
is not only because this liturgy is that of the whole Latin church with the
few exceptions mentioned; it is also because it is the most ancient of all,
or at least that about which exist the most ancient and numerous documents.
Again, it appears incontestable that the Roman liturgy excels all others in
its dogmatic authority, and even in its literary beauty.
If the Mozarabic, Gallican, and Eastern liturgies show a trace of lyrical
inspiration; if they are more dramatic in character, more fervent in piety
than that of Rome; if this latter has perhaps less originality and
brilliance, it makes up for it by the possession of qualities which are
those of the Roman genius; those which strike us in the architectural
monuments of Rome: solidity, grandeur, strength, and a simplicity which
excludes neither nobility nor elegance.
This remark is especially deserved by the ancient Roman liturgy of the
fifth-seventh centuries, for this was its Golden Age. Two hundred years
after the time of St. Gregory, in the ninth century, the scepter had passed
to other lands: to France, England, Switzerland, Germany, and Spain. It was
in those countries that liturgical initiative was found, that new Feasts
and fresh rites were created, new formulas composed, a more rational system
instituted for the distribution of liturgical books, as well as fresh
technical methods of decorating and illuminating them. In consequence of
political circumstances Rome was about to lose all she had gained as to the
liturgy; and it was not for two or three hundred years that she would
recover her scepter.
But by a rather curious stroke of fortune all the new customs originated in
the countries just mentioned came back to Rome. They returned there under
the covers of the Missal, the Pontifical, Ritual, Breviary, and those other
books called Roman, but which are really and more justly Gallicano or
Germano-Roman. And, from the eleventh century onwards, Rome got back all
her advantages. The reawakening of her liturgical activity was manifested
by the efforts of Pope Alexander II (1061-1073), and later by those of St.
Gregory VII (1073-1085) to establish the Roman liturgy in Spain instead of
the Mozarabic. This episode is instructive; the latter Pope in his letters
on this subject to the Kings of Aragon, Castile, and Navarre reminds them
energetically of the Papal right to the charge of Divine worship, and also
to that of establishing the Roman liturgy in all Catholic countries,
especially in Spain.
Another indication of the supremacy of the Roman liturgy is that it was
adopted by the new Orders, Carthusians, Praemonstratensians, Dominicans,
Franciscans, and even by the Carmelites, who had an ancient liturgy of
their own; and very soon all these Orders were to become active agents for
its spread through all the countries of the West; not, however, without
having occasionally modified it. In this great work the Franciscans played
the most important part.
The Roman Curia, which until then had celebrated the same Offices as those
of the Roman Basilicas, notably of that of the Lateran, which was the
cathedral church of Rome, and considered the mother and mistress of all
churches, separated itself from these at the beginning of the twelfth
century, and fixed its own Office for the Breviary. The substance of this
Breviary was actually that of the Lateran, but it differed on several
points, and, above all, it was very much abridged. The same thing happened
in the case of the Missal. The subsequent history of these books is rather
curious. Innocent III (1198-1206) revised them. In 1223 St. Francis of
Assisi ordained that the Franciscans should henceforth adopt the Roman
Office; for hitherto they had simply followed the Office of whatever
province they had chanced to find themselves in. This was a means of
establishing amongst the Friars Minor that liturgical unity which had
previously suffered a great deal. But the liturgy they adopted both for
Mass and Office was neither that of the Lateran nor of the Roman Basilicas,
but actually that of the Roman Curia, established at the beginning of the
twelfth century. This fact was big with consequences for the future. The
activity of the Franciscans at that time was prodigious; and in all the
countries through which they passed as missionaries they established this
use of the Missal and Breviary which they themselves followed; though they
slightly modified it, especially in the case of the Franciscan Feasts. In
1277 Nicolas III ordered it to be used by the Roman Basilicas; Gregory IX,
from the year 1240, had thought of imposing it on the Universal Church; but
that important duty devolved on St. Pius V (1566-1572). In the sixteenth
century the Council of Trent, having declared that the liturgical books
required revision, confided the task to the Pope, who undertook a work at
once difficult and complicated. In 1568 the correction of the Breviary was
completed; in 1570, that of the Missal. Every church which could not prove
a local use of at least two hundred years was obliged to adopt the Breviary
and the Roman Missal.
But long before this date, since the thirteenth, and even the eleventh
century, the Religious Orders, both new and old, had adopted a liturgy
directly derived from the Roman, especially for Mass.
This point deserves an explanation. We speak sometimes of the Dominican or
Franciscan liturgy, or again, that of Lyon, or of the Carmelites, as well
as of the English "Uses" of Sarum, Hereford, York, etc. But these terms are
rather misleading, for such liturgies are not autonomous, with clearly
defined characteristics, like those described in Chapters III-VIII. Not
only are they all derived from the Roman liturgy, but some of them are
purely and simply that liturgy just as it existed from the eleventh-
thirteenth centuries before it underwent certain reforms or suffered the
changes imposed upon it subsequently. The Orders and churches in question
did not accept these changes, so that the student to-day finds himself in
presence of a liturgy which is that of Rome between the eleventh and
thirteenth centuries, with a few insignificant exceptions. And as we are
about to see this is specially the case with regard to the Mass.
THE RITE OF LYON. — It is unnecessary to say that we reject the hypothesis
according to which this rite was brought from Asia by St. Pothinus and St.
Irenaeus. In studying the origins of the Gallican liturgy we have stated
that this "Johannic" thesis has no solid foundation. Nor can it be said
that this is the old Gallican liturgy, better preserved in this church than
in others. Like all the other Gallican churches, Lyon was obliged to accept
the reforms of Pepin and Charlemagne, and to adopt the Roman liturgy, with
the addition of certain ancient local uses. But to-day it is generally
agreed that the part played by Gallican influence in the rite of Lyon may
be increasingly reduced, as indeed is the case with all the other Franco-
Gallican rites from the tenth century onwards.
History tells us that towards 789 Charlemagne caused Leidrade, one of his
"Missi Dominici," to be elected Archbishop of Lyon; and that he charged him
to reorganize public worship on the lines of the customs of the Palatine
chapel at Aix-la-Chapelle. The cause of the difference which still exists,
on a few points, between the rite of Lyon and those of some other churches,
is that the ecclesiastics of Lyon jealously preserved the liturgy given
them by Leidrade, without accepting the changes and reforms adopted in the
course of the centuries by the Roman Curia. It was not till the eighteenth
century that De Montazet, Archbishop of Lyon (1758-1788), unfortunately
replaced the venerable liturgy of his church by a neo-Gallican one.
Therefore in the nineteenth century Lyon, like all the other churches which
had adopted these liturgies, had to come back to that of Rome, though she
succeeded in saving some of her ancient usages. Thus she has more numerous
Proses: to the fifteen Prefaces of the Roman Mass Lyon adds eight. The
prayers at the beginning of Mass, the "Suscipe Sancta Trinitas" and some
others, present a slightly different text; the "Libera nos" after the
"Pater" is sung at High Mass, as on Good Friday, while after this prayer a
blessing is given, as in the old Gallican rite; the beautiful chant of the
Fraction "Venite, populi" has been preserved; Pontifical Mass is celebrated
with especial solemnity, etc.
THE CARTHUSIANS. — It is a rather curious fact in liturgical history that
the Carthusians have preserved the ancient rite more faithfully than the
Lyonnais themselves. The liturgical revolution mentioned as having taken
place in the eighteenth century was not felt by the Carthusians. This
Order, founded in 1084 by St. Bruno, in the mountains of the Chartreuse,
had taken the liturgical uses of Grenoble, Vienne, but specially those of
Lyon. Its founder, who at first had followed the Rule of St. Benedict, kept
some of its practices. These different usages were codified at various
periods in the Constitutions which have been preserved, and of which the
most complete are the "Statuta Antiqua." The prayer "Pone, Domine,
custodiam ori meo," and another, "De latere Domini," recited at Mass, are
derived from the rite of Lyon. On certain Feasts three Lessons at the Pre-
Mass have been retained. The wine is poured into the chalice at the
beginning of Mass, as in the Dominican rite. The oblations of bread and
wine (after they have been offered) are covered with the Corporal, as was
the custom before the use of the "Palla" had been introduced. "Domine, Jesu
Christe" is the only one of the three prayers said before the Communion;
those present in choir remain standing during both Consecration and
Communion; the Mass terminates with "Ite, Missa est." Before the fourteenth
century the Mass of the Dead had a different text from the "Requiem." Some
Benedictine uses have been preserved in the Breviary; while others seem to
have been derived from the rite of Lyon. For a long time the Carthusian
calendar remained the same as the old Roman one; it was only after a very
long period that Feasts instituted after the thirteenth century were
admitted, and then not without difficulty. In the sixteenth century some
reforms were brought about, either as to the correction of the ancient
books, or as to bringing them into line with the new rules.
BENEDICTINE LITURGY — On the whole it may be said that the Benedictines have
always followed the Roman practice for the Mass. Instituted in the first
part of the sixth century, it appears probable that they first followed the
Gelasian Sacramentary, adopting the Gregorian in the next generation; this
latter being the work of St. Gregory, who was himself a disciple of St.
But for the daily Office it is quite a different matter. St. Benedict,
while doubtless borrowing a certain number of customs from the Roman Office
then in use, organized the Psalter and the Day and Night Hours according to
a particular plan which has been followed by the Benedictine Order
throughout the centuries, till the present day. Liturgiologists are still
discussing what has been the respective influence of one use upon another;
but this question cannot be entered into here.
CISTERCIANS. — As is well known, the Cistercians are a reform of the
Benedictine Order. Their founder, St. Robert of Molesmes, wished to return
to the primitive observance of the Rule in 1098. To this end he rejected
all constitutions or additions made since the sixth century. His principle
was the same for the liturgy: to bring back the Office as St. Benedict had
instituted it. This principle was a good one, but difficult in application,
for it was not exactly known in what the "cursus" of St. Benedict's time
consisted. Therefore from the beginning there was a good deal of
uncertainty. Then scandal was caused by certain suppressions, and in the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries they came back to their first attempts as
far as the Office was concerned.
As to the Mass, it has been said that the Benedictine Order followed the
use of Rome from the beginning. But the Cluniac monks had accepted
modifications made since the ninth century, and had introduced a very great
solemnity into both Mass and Office. The Cistercian reform consisted in the
suppression of all which seemed superfluous, and as concerned the sacred
vases and ornaments, in the return to the greatest simplicity. Thus it was
not till quite late, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, that the
different liturgical colors were admitted. A certain number of Feasts was
also suppressed in the calendar. In the seventeenth century the General
Chapters ordered a general revision of the liturgical books, and more
ancient rites were abandoned.
CARMELITES. — This rite presents a special case. It is that of the church of
the Holy Sepulcher at Jerusalem, which was imposed on the Carmelites about
1210 by St. Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and which they kept for a long
time. It is nothing but a Gallicano-Roman use, brought to Jerusalem by the
Crusaders. The Office gave a particular place to all which could recall the
Holy Land, such as the Mystery of the Resurrection, or devotion to Our
Lady, and had besides several other special customs. In the course of ages
the Carmelite liturgy underwent various modifications. The Ordinal of
Master Sibert de Beka (d. 1332), which has been most carefully published,
preserves all the ancient uses conformably to the rite of the Holy
Sepulcher. It is in this document that the Carmelite liturgy should be
DOMINICANS. — This Order had no special liturgy at its beginning, but
adopted that of the provinces through which the Friars first spread. To
prevent the inconvenience of this variety the Order sought, from the year
1245, to establish liturgical unity. To this end efforts were made in 1244,
1246, and 1251. Finally Humbert de Romans, the Master-General (1254-1263),
was charged with this revision. He accomplished an enormous work; and in
fourteen volumes published the Lectionary, Antiphonary, Psalter, book of
Collects, Martyrology, Processional, Gradual, a Missal for the high altar
and one for the other altars in the church, a Breviary for the Choir and a
portable Breviary, a book of the Epistles and another of the Gospels. When
in 1568 and 1570 St. Pius V imposed the corrected Missal and Breviary on
the whole Church, the Dominicans were allowed to retain their own use,
which dated back more than 200 years.
This liturgy is not, as has been thought, a Gallican, and more
specifically, a Parisian liturgy. It is simply Roman, dating from the
thirteenth century, and has not evolved as the actual Roman liturgy has
done; thus retaining all the ancient customs elsewhere fallen into disuse.
Thus a thesis which at first sight appears paradoxical has been advanced,
to the effect that the Dominican liturgy is more Roman than that of Rome
herself. This, however, is the case with the greater number of these rites,
which did not accept the transformations of the Roman liturgy.
FRANCISCANS. — It has been already explained how the Franciscans adopted the
liturgy which was that of the Roman Curia at the opening of the thirteenth
century. To this they added certain special uses, beginning with the Feasts
of the Saints of their Order: St. Francis first; then St. Clare; St.
Anthony of Padua; St. Louis, King of France; the Stigmata of St. Francis;
St. Elizabeth of Hungary; St. Paschal Baylon; St. Bonaventure. Some of the
Feasts of Our Lord and of Our Lady owe, if not their actual institution, at
least their speedy popularity to the Franciscans. Such are the Holy Name of
Jesus, the Immaculate Conception, the Visitation, and the Presentation.
Each Religious Order, each diocese has its own Feasts, its own Patrons,
which they celebrate with great solemnity; they are the "Proper," as it is
called, of the diocese or Order.
What should be particularly noted about the Franciscans is that, having
adopted the liturgy of the Roman Curia, they made a "second edition of it,"
as Mgr. Batiffol remarks; and this was almost the same as that imposed upon
the whole Church for Breviary and Missal by St. Pius V.
PRAEMONSTRATENSIANS. — The Order of St. Norbert, being an Order of Canons,
was bound to give special attention to the liturgy. Its Founder adopted
that of Rome, just as it was practiced in France at the beginning of the
twelfth century, at Premontre, in the diocese of Laon. Until the eighteenth
century they kept it piously; and their books are mentioned as being one of
the purest sources of the Roman liturgy of the twelfth century. Thanks to
this antiquity they too benefited by the exception made by St. Pius V in
1570 in favor of ancient customs. Unfortunately, in the eighteenth century
the French Praemonstratensians succumbed to the general temptation, and
modified their books in the neo-Gallican sense. In other countries,
however, the ancient books were preserved.
THE ROMAN LITURGY IN ENGLAND. — Celtic rites had dominated in England until
the arrival of St. Augustine of Canterbury (596). But with the Roman monks
the Roman liturgy was established without difficulty wherever Christianity
was firmly settled in the land; and the Anglo-Saxons followed it
faithfully. Their Bishops and Abbots made frequent journeys to Rome, either
to procure the necessary singing-books and those of liturgical interest, or
to study the rites more closely. The Norman Conquest of 1066 changed
nothing in this regard, for, like all the other French provinces, Normandy
had long been conquered by the Roman liturgy. Thus the various rites called
the Use of Sarum (Salisbury), York, Bangor, Hereford, and other places,
are, like those of the different Orders we have just been studying, only
the Roman liturgy previous to the fourteenth century, with a few rare local
customs added to it.
"Liturgia, Encyclopedie populaire des connaissances liturgiques" (paris,
1930),contains a chapter on the different Western liturgies and on those of
the Carthusians, Carmelites, and other Religious Orders.
DACL, cf. the articles "Carmes," "Chartreux," "Cisterciens," and also
"Bretagne (Grande)," "La liturgie de la."
ARCH, A.King, "Notes on the Catholic liturgy" (London, 1930), on the Roman
and various Eastern and Western rites.
Our articles "Missel" and "Missel romain" in DACL.