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Bragan rite


The origins of the ancient liturgical rite of the archiepiscopal see of Braga, the primatial see of Portugal, are very obscure; it is most difficult to trace the history of any particular practice or custom. Little is known of liturgical practices before the 6th century when Bishop Profuturus consulted Rome about the rite of BAPTISM, the formula of CONSECRATION, and the date of EASTER. Even though there exists documentation of Pope VIGILIUS ’s (6th century) reply touching Baptism and the Canon of the Mass according to the Roman usage, it is not known to what extent the Roman usages were subsequently followed at Braga. Vigilius sent only suggestions; he did not impose the Roman usage. A century later the MOZARABIC liturgy became common in most of the Iberian peninsula, prescribed as it was by the Visigoths. In contrast, the Roman rite was imposed by Rome in the 11th century. But since the Roman rite was brought to the peninsula at this time by the monks of CLUNY, it was well mixed with Gallican customs. The Bragan rite was rooted in this varied background and there is no evidence with which to relate with certitude its special practices to any historical moment. The ancient roots and character of the rite have always been stressed by official documents confirming its continuance. As late as 1918 it was necessary for a diocesan synod to insist that the liturgical books of the rite were of obligation. A new edition of the Breviary was approved by the Holy See in 1919, and a new Missal in 1924. The Bragan rite was one of the exceptions cited by Pius V in 1570 in the bull Quam primum imposing the Roman Missal on the churches of the West. In the wake of the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, the use of the Bragan rite is now restricted to a few special occasions.

There are few particulars to be pointed out concerning the historical Bragan rite. The preparations for Mass and the final prayer after Mass included Marian elements. The Calendar was closely patterned after that of the Roman rite, the greatest variations being in the feasts of the saints. In the Mass ritual, the chalice was prepared with wine and water before the introductory prayers at the low Mass, while at the high Mass it was prepared between the Epistle and Gospel at the bench. Offerings from the people were received after the incensations in the Offertory rite. The rubrics prescribed the sermon at the same place, between the incensations and the washing of the hands. There were three Elevations, one after the Consecration, a second at the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer, and a third just before the Communion of the celebrant. Not surprisingly, many scholars regard the Bragan rite as a mere variant or ‘‘use’’ of the Roman Rite. The most reliable sources for the rite of Braga are the Missal of Mateus, discovered in 1925, and a Pontifical that dates from the 12th century. The Missal of Matous is of 15th-century usage and dates probably from the 10th or 11th century.

Bibliography: A. A. KING, Liturgies of the Primatial Sees (Milwaukee 1957) 155–285. J. A. FERREIRA, Estudos históricolitúrgicos: Os ritos particulares das Igrejas de Braga e Toledo (Coimbra 1924). A. G. RIBEIRO DE VASCONCELOS, Notas Litúrgico-Bracarenses: Congresso litúrgico nacional (Braga 1927) 177–255.


New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2003. Vol. 2. P. 579-580.

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