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Mozarabic rite


The name that designates the autochthonous liturgical system celebrated by Christians in Spain. The rite has been variously called the Visigothic or Gothic rite because of its greatest development under Visigothic rule beginning in the 5th century, and the Mozarabic rite because of its celebration by Christians in areas under Islamic control from 711 to 1492. These Christians were called mozárabes (‘‘like Arabs’’ or ‘‘Arabicized’’). The rite is also referred to as the Old Spanish rite or the Hispanic rite. With its official reestablishment in 1988, the rite was renamed the Hispano-Mozarabic rite in order to designate its origin, Hispania, and to honor the ethnic Mozarabs who have continued to celebrate it over the centuries.  

History. The Hispano-Mozarabic rite is one of several Latin language liturgical systems developed in the West after Christianity had been implanted and began to spread throughout the Roman empire in the first centuries of the Church. Only three Western rites have survived to this day, namely the Roman, the Milanese (Ambrosian), and the Spanish.  

The rite has experienced various vicissitudes as well as periodic renewals throughout the course of its history. A charge of Adoptionism stemming from the Council of Frankfurt (794), the Europeanizing efforts of Alfonso VI (1065–1109), and the program of liturgical unification of Gregory VII (1073–1085) contributed to the rite’s suppression in 1080 by the Council of Burgos. However, when Toledo was retaken from Islamic control in 1085, Christians there were permitted to retain their rite solely in the then-existing six parishes. Only two of these parishes survive today, namely Santa Eulalia y San Marcos and Santas Justa y Rufina. The ancient liturgy of Spain has been celebrated in these two parishes on a continuous though limited basis. After the Roman rite was decreed for Spain, the Hispano-Mozarabic rite began a long period of decline. This decline was partially stemmed by the humanist Cardinal Francisco XIMÉNEZ DE CISNEROS (1436–1517) after he became Archbishop of Toledo (1495). He saw the rite as part of the ancient Spanish heritage stemming from the classical Roman era. In order to save this heritage he had editions of the Missal and Breviary prepared. Furthermore, he founded a cadre of Mozarabic chaplains and installed them in the Corpus Christi chapel of Toledo’s Cathedral, where the rite is celebrated on a daily basis. The publication of liturgical books and the establishment of a chaplaincy helped to conserve and perpetuate the rite. The rite is also celebrated once or twice a year at the Talavera chapel in Salamanca and on special occasions at other sites throughout Spain. Even so, only the Eucharist and the Divine Office in the Hispano-Mozarabic rite tend to be celebrated outside of Toledo. Baptism, Confirmation, and Marriage are celebrated on a periodic basis in the Mozarabic parishes of Toledo. The other sacraments are yet to be revived. At an unofficial level, elements of the Hispano-Mozarabic rite survived in popular devotions.  

Renewal. Vatican Council II, in its call for the reform of the liturgy in the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, paid particular attention to liturgy’s pastoral aspect. The need for adaptation of the liturgy was especially accentuated. Instead of rigid uniformity in the celebration of liturgy throughout the Catholic world, room was made for legitimate differences. As a facet of this, the Council explicitly fostered diversity in the celebration of the liturgy by calling for the incorporation of the genius and talent of the various peoples who comprise the Catholic Church. Behind this principle is the perception that diversity in the celebration of the liturgy in no way harms unity but instead displays the universality of the Church. As a consequence, all the rites celebrated by Catholics in East or West are recognized as enjoying the same dignity and privileges as the Roman rite. Therefore, the ancient Spanish rite enjoys renewed status and life.  

Prior to its renewal, the rite was subjected to the same principles and norms of reform as the Roman rite. Thus, the Spanish church undertook efforts to revitalize its ancient rite by studying the available liturgical sources. In this way the church preserved the rite’s authentic structure and content to the extent possible. The ‘‘masses’’ or sets of eleven variable prayers used in the celebration of the Eucharist underwent a careful theological review and were revised as needed according to the Church’s doctrine. The prayers are the Oratio Post Gloriam, Oratio Admonitionis, Alia, Oratio Post Nomina, Oratio Ad Pacem, Illatio, Oratio Post Sanctus, Oratio Post Pridie, Ad Orationem Dominicam, Benedictio, and Completuria. Cardinal Marcelo González Martín established a commission of fourteen members in 1982 for the purpose of reforming the rite’s liturgical celebrations. The Commission prepared the new Ordo Missae for the Eucharist and published it in 1985. The Ordo was approved by the Spanish Episcopal Conference in 1986 and received confirmation ad interim from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in 1988. That same year the restored rite became an optional liturgy for Spain under certain stipulations. The official Latin text of the Ordo Missae iuxta ritum HispanoMozarabicum appears in the new Missale HispanoMozarabicum of 1991. In January 1992 Cardinal González Martín decreed the obligatory use of the Missale for use at Eucharist in the Hispano-Mozarabic rite. In addition, an ad experimentum Spanish translation of the texts has been made for use in Toledo.  

Sources. The extant manuscripts date from the 8th to the 14th centuries. Dom Jordi Pinell, OSB (1921–1997), considered the premier expert on the rite during its restoration, catalogued 250 liturgical texts emanating from this era. The recovery and study of the ancient manuscripts have led scholars to identify two distinct traditions, simply named A and B. Tradition A comprises the majority of the recovered texts, dated to the 8th through 12th centuries; these have been linked to the ancient Roman provinces of Tarraconensis and Carthaginensis and include the cities of Narbonne and Toledo. This group of manuscripts were conserved primarily by the parish of Santa Eulalia. Tradition B texts are later and are as late as the 14th century; they are associated with the Roman province of Betica and its capital Seville. These manuscripts were conserved by the parish of Santas Justa y Rufina. Nonetheless, in Pinell’s assessment the Tradition B texts contain the more ancient elements. The frequent indications of the authors of hymns and liturgical texts are an interesting feature of the HispanoMozarabic manuscripts. These include the brothers Leander (d. 600) and Isidore of Seville (d. 636) as well as Ildephonse (d. 667) and Julian of Toledo (d. 690).  

Pinell and other members of the Commission relied heavily on the previous work of Marius FÉROTIN. Interest in the Mozarabic codices in the contemporary era was initiated at the end of the 19th century. Through his work on ancient Spanish sources discovered at Silos and San Millán de la Cogolla (near Burgos), Férotin was able to identify two codices of a ritual entitled the Liber Ordinum. He produced the first critical edition in 1904. Férotin produced in 1912 a critical edition of ancient manuscripts found in various places in Toledo that he compiled and identified as the Liber Mozarabicus Sacramentorum. His ground-breaking work aided further analysis of the textual sources, which resulted in clarifications as to their origin, purpose and transmission. José Janini, in his analysis of the texts of the Liber Ordinum, for example, was able to make distinctions between them that Férotin did not make and thus identified Codex A as destined for episcopal use and Codex B for presbyteral use. Janini updated the critical edition of Codex A and called it the Liber Ordinum Episcopal. Other critical editions have been published as well. These include the Sacramentary of Vich, the Office, which represents the oldest extant text of the office of the Hispano-Mozarabic liturgy, and, an updated critical edition of the Liber Missarum. In addition, Janini published a critical edition of the Liber Misticus for Lent and Easter in 1980.  

The texts used by the parishes of Santas Justa y Rufina and of Santa Eulalia were continuously recopied until the beginning of the 14th century. However, due to the movement of peoples as well as the eventual blending of the Mozarabic community with the Castillians and Franks, and the limited number of clergy and parishioners who knew how to celebrate the rite, it was in danger of disappearing by the 15th century. Cardinal Cisneros assigned Alfonso Ortiz, a canon of the cathedral, the task of preparing an edition of the missal and breviary, which appeared in 1500 and 1502 respectively. The missal was reedited in Rome in 1755 along with a commentary by Alexander Lesley. Cardinal Francisco Antonio Lorenzana reedited the breviary in Madrid in 1775 and published a corrected version of the missal in Rome in 1804.  

Based on the publication of the extant sources in critical editions and the work of Cisneros and Lorenzana, the new Missale Hispano-Mozarabicum for the Eucharist appeared in 1991. Published to date are the two volume Missale (sacramentary), two volume Liber Commicus (lectionary), the Liber Offerentium (the book of the altar containing the Ordo Missae published in a Latin version and a Spanish translation), the General Calendar, and a bilingual (Spanish-Latin) worship aid for the assembly.  

Eucharist. The eucharist reflects a tripartite structure of proclamation of the Word, anaphora, and communion. These are elements common to other Western and Eastern rites. How these are executed, however, distinguishes the rite from others. Two distinctive features of the eucharistic celebration are the initial rites or prayers and actions of the liturgy, and the transition from the proclamation of the Word to the beginning of the anaphora. The two Hispano-Mozarabic traditions, identified by Pinell, reveal an important difference in how the eucharistic celebration commenced. Probably in the second half of the 7th century, an introductory section was added to the structure of the Mass, apparently due to the influence of other rites. Tradition A (Toledo) maintained this addition for Mass throughout the year. Tradition B (Seville), however, omitted this introductory part on ferial days and on the Sundays of Lent. Tradition B provides the core of the restored rite though augmented by Tradition A.  

When the Mass begins with the introductory rites they consist of an antiphon called Praelegendum, the hymn Gloria in excelsis, and an Oratio Post Gloriam. In addition, on solemnities the Trisagion is sung between the Gloria and the oration. The last part of the introductory rites is the prayer Oratio Post Gloriam. This prayer roughly corresponds to the Roman collect (opening prayer). A characteristic aspect of Hispano-Mozarabic prayers is that they tend to echo preceding texts. The Oratio Post Gloriam does this by reiterating themes from the Gloria, the Trisagion or from both. Consequently, the Oratio Post Gloriam completes the introductory rites rather than initiates the Liturgy of the Word. The restored rite follows the practice of Tradition B (Seville) during ferial days and the Sundays of Lent. On these occasions the Praelegendum, the Gloria, the Trisagion, and the Oratio Post Gloriam are omitted. When this occurs, the priest enters, kisses the altar, bows to say a private preparatory prayer, goes to the chair, and greets the people. The Liturgy of the Word then commences.  

An ancient feature of the Hispano-Mozarabic Liturgy of the Word is the proclamation of three scriptural pericopes during the Ordinary Sundays of the year. There are two distinct distributions of readings and chants for most of the solemnities and some liturgical seasons. Nevertheless, the readings may be chosen from either cycle during certain times of the year. Some of the pericopes for the eucharist are marked by centonization rather than the lectio continua of the Roman rite. Centonization is the practice of putting together a variety of passages drawn from different parts of the Bible and assembled into one reading.  

The first reading is titled Prophetia and is taken from the Prophets or the Law. It is replaced by a reading from the Wisdom books and an additional reading from the Historical books during Lent, resulting in four readings during this season. During Eastertide, the Prophetia reading may be substituted by a reading from Revelation. After the first reading, the Psallendum is sung. This is the name given to the repertoire of psalm texts used as a response to the reading. The Threni are chanted in place of the Psallendum on the Wednesdays and Fridays of the first five weeks of Lent in the Hispano-Mozarabic calendar. The Threni texts are penitential in character and dramatically express the Church’s repentance as well as recount the suffering of Christ. The texts are based on various passages from Lamentations, Job, and Isaiah.  

The second reading is called Apostolus and refers to the readings from the epistles, both Pauline and catholic. The Apostolus may be preceded by a reading from the Acts of the Martyrs on the feast day of a martyr. Therefore, on these days, there are four readings. After the reading from the martyr’s life, a portion of the Bendictiones or Canticle of the Three Children from the Book of Daniel (Dn 3:51–90) is sung and leads to the Apostolus.  

The Evangelium, a reading from the Gospel, completes the scriptural readings. This is marked off from the others by the greeting Dominus sit semper vobiscum as in the Roman rite. The Liturgy of the Word is concluded by the Laudes, an antiphon of praise which includes singing the Alleluia, except in Lent. This is always chanted after the Gospel, never before. In addition, if there is a homily, Laudes follows it.  

The prayers and actions that take place between the Liturgy of the Word and the anaphora are a second distinctive feature of the Hispano-Mozarabic Eucharist. These consist of the Offering, Diptychs, and Sign of Peace, three elements that are linked together by four variable prayers, namely the Oratio Admonitionis, Alia, Oratio Post Nomina, and Oratio Ad Pacem. Throughout this intermediary ritual, the prayers are divided among the presider, the deacon, and the assembly. The usual interjection of the assembly is Amen but also included are phrases that echo what has been said before. The intermediary ritual begins with the Sacrificium, an antiphon that recalls the sacrifices of Old Testament figures such as Abel, Abraham and Melchizedek. It accompanies the offering, which consists of the preparation of the bread and wine as well as their placement on the altar by the ministers. Sacrificium, with its theme of sacrificial offering, sets the tone for what follows. After the antiphon, the priest prays the Oratio Admonitionis, a unique prayer in that it is addressed to the assembly. It also reflects the motif of the feast or liturgical season being celebrated. This prayer is followed by the admonition Oremus, the first of only two times this appears. The choir or assembly responds by singing or reciting Hagios, Hagios, Hagios, Domine Deus, Rex aeterne, tibi laudes et gratias.  

The Diptychs or Solemn Intercessions are the next element in the celebration. The title refers to a litany of intercessions for the needs of the Church and of humanity in the course of which the names of the living and the dead are introduced. They assume the character of a solemn profession of unity in faith and love with the universal Church which encompasses the clergy, the faithful, the saints, and the faithful departed. They also include petitions for temporal needs such as for the ill, prisoners, and travelers. Two of the four variable prayers comprising the intermediary ritual occur in the midst of this formal supplication: the Alia and the Oratio Post Nomina. The Alia echoes the earlier offering by asking God to accept the gifts of the Church, the bread and wine, as well as what they signify, namely the submission of the Christian community to God’s saving action. At the same time the intercessions are joined to the bread and wine as part of the offering. The Oratio Post Nomina concludes the Diptychs by reiterating their content. The text of the oration frequently relates the proclamation of the names in ordinary prayer to their inscription in the heavenly Book of Life. The last phase of this intermediary ritual consists in the fourth variable prayer, the Oratio Ad Pacem, as well as a Trinitarian blessing, the Sign of Peace, and the antiphon Pacem meam do vobis.  

Upon completion of the intermediary ritual, the Liturgy of the Eucharist commences with the anaphora. The anaphora follows a fixed structure consisting of Dialogue, Illatio, Sanctus, Oratio Post Sanctus, Institution Narrative, Oratio Post Pridie, Doxology, and Amen. It should be noted that there is no set content to the prayers of the anaphora per se in the Hispano-Mozarabic liturgy. That is, they vary in content, length, and subject of address, seemingly according to the specific season or feast being celebrated. The underlying motive for the difference in length and content appears to be the principle of variability. This principle allows for the articulation of different themes by means of Mass-sets, that is, groups of prayer formulas destined for specific celebrations. Only the Dialogue, Sanctus, Institution Narrative, and Amen have invariable content. The anaphora begins with a Dialogue between presider and assembly which is very similar to the Roman Preface Dialogue. The HispanoMozarabic Dialogue begins with Introibo ad altare Dei. The incipit is identical to the antiphon from Psalm 43:4 used in the entrance rites of the Roman rite. The next element in the eucharistic prayer, the Illatio, is equivalent to the Preface of the Roman rite and like it, is variable in content. Even so, its focus tends to be thanksgiving for salvation. The Illatio is directed to both the Father and Son though this can vary according to the main idea expressed in the body of the prayer.  

The heavenly hymn as found in Isaiah 6:3 with its Christian modification now follows. This element is invariable, but unlike the Roman Sanctus, the Spanish version adapts the conclusion of the second phrase from ‘‘full of your glory’’ to ‘‘full of your glorious majesty.’’ As for the third, fourth, and fifth phrases, a unique feature of the Hispano-Mozarabic version is its dependence on the Vulgate Matthew 21:9 which says: Hosanna filio David. Benedictus, qui venit in nomine Domini. Hosanna in altissimis. In the Hispano-Mozarabic version, in excelsis replaces in altissimis in the last acclamation. Finally, the Sanctus concludes with the Greek version of the opening acclamation: Hagios, Hagios, Hagios, Kyrie O Theos. This is the second time Hagios is used in the Spanish liturgy as a regular congregational response in the revised celebration; it also occurs in the midst of the Diptychs. The Trisagion also incorporates Hagios during the opening rituals when it is chanted by the choir.  

The Oratio Post Sanctus is the next element in the Spanish liturgy. It is a prayer that varies in length and content according to the liturgical season or particular feast being celebrated. The prayer’s main function is to transition from the Sanctus to the Institution Narrative. The Institution Narrative of the Hispano-Mozarabic liturgy is taken almost literally from 1 Cor 11:23–26 with minor adaptations to the incipit and the Pauline gloss at the conclusion. The use of the Pauline version distinguishes the Institution Narrative from other Catholic rites both in East and West. Also, distinctive is the use of Amen as the congregational response to two of the three sections of the Narrative. The next variable prayer, the Oratio Post Pridie, corresponds to the anamnesis and epiclesis of the Roman rite though its content rarely elaborates remembrance or the invocation of the Spirit. Instead the prayer tends to be addressed directly to Christ and makes explicit the object of memory: his saving work and life-giving power. The anaphora concludes with a doxology. As can be expected, the text is variable with only the first few words and the saecula saeculorum leading to the Amen fixed.  

The Hispano-Mozarabic liturgy commences communion with four distinct elements of preparation including the Creed, Fraction Rite, Lord’s Prayer, and Blessing. The two Spanish traditions ordered these elements differently. Tradition A began with the Fraction Rite and then followed with the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, whereas Tradition B began with the Creed followed by the Fraction Rite and then the Lord’s Prayer. The reformed rite of 1988 has opted for the order of Tradition B. A sacerdotal admonition, Fidem, quam corde credimus, ore autem dicamus initiates the communal recitation of the Creed in unison by the community. In this way a link is made between the Sic credimus which follows the Institution Narrative and the reception of communion. The Spanish liturgy was the first in the West to introduce into the eucharist a version of the Creed following the form of Nicaea I (325) as amended by Constantinople I (381). This was done in 589 shortly after the conversion of the VISIGOTHS to Catholicism and was dictated for the churches under their jurisdiction, including those in Gaul. The text used in the liturgy today is the version promulgated by Toledo III (589). The recitation of the Creed is followed by the Fraction Rite during which the host is broken into nine pieces. The fraction is accompanied by a very brief acclamation. Upon being broken, the pieces are arranged on the paten in the form of a cross. As the presider places them on the paten, he names the nine mysteries of Christ celebrated throughout the Hispano-Mozarabic liturgical year: Corporatio, Nativitas, Circumcisio, Apparitio, Passio, Mors, Resurrectio, Gloria, and Regnum. After a variable introduction, the presider begins the prayer with Oremus and then divides the Lord’s Prayer into eight petitions. After each petition, the assembly responds with Amen. This is the second and last time Oremus is used in the Eucharist. The Lord’s Prayer and its responses are usually chanted. An embolism, similar to the current Roman version though lengthier, follows the Lord’s Prayer. An important difference though is that the assembly responds Amen to the embolism instead of a doxology.  

The presider then elevates the paten and chalice declaring Sancta sanctis (Holy things for holy people). This is the only elevation in the ritual. Afterwards the presider takes the ninth particle, titled Regnum, and deposits it into the chalice saying a prayer that refers to the reconciliation wrought by the Body and Blood of Christ. Before the presider consumes the various particles, the deacon instructs those present to bow their heads for the blessing. The assembly responds Deo gratias to the instruction. The presider then invokes the blessing. It is a unique prayer, though, in that it consists of three variable verses generally directed to those present; they respond Amen to each verse. A stereotyped formula referring to God in the third person follows. Toledo IV (633) fixed the position of the blessing prior to communion.  

Communion takes place under both species and is accompanied by the Cantus Ad Accedentes, an antiphon based on Psalm 33:6. After the distribution, another antiphon is sung expressing thanksgiving. The Post Communionem antiphon is followed by a final oration titled Completuria. The celebration is finalized with a greeting by the presider and dismissal by the deacon.  

Church Building. The earliest type of church buildings identified as Mozarabic give evidence of Visigothic influence with their distinctive horseshoe arches, compartmentalized spaces, and columns with carved capitals decorated with animal and plant motifs. The building is usually divided into three naves. The apse at the end of the center nave is often separated from the nave by a low wall forming a type of iconostasis. Illuminations indicate that a curtain was also used to separate the sanctuary-apse from the nave. Some buildings follow a Greek cross floor plan with a rectangular sanctuary while others follow a basilical plan. Later Mozarabic church buildings show evidence of distinctive Arabic influences such as inlaid ceilings and merlons on roof lines. The use of richly ornamented frescoes and plaster decorative elements influenced by Islamic practice are also evident. Mozarabic architecture is associated with this ‘‘mixed style’’ of Visigothic and Islamic elements.  

Bibliography: Archdiocese of Toledo, Missale HispanoMozarabicum (2 vols.) (1991); Ordo Missae-Liber Offerentium, (1991); Ordinario de la Misa del Rito Hispano-MozarabeOferencio (1991); Liber Commicus (2 v.) (1994); Rito HispanoMozarabe Ordinario de la Misa (1996). X. BARRAL I ALTET, The Early Middle Ages: From Late Antiquity to A.D. 1000 (Taschen’s World Architecture series; Cologne 1997). H. LECLERQ, Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie 12.1:309–491. M. FÉROTIN, Le Liber ordinum en usage dans l’église Wisigothique et Mozarabe d’Espagne du Ve au IXe siècle (Monumenta Ecclesiae Liturgica 5; Paris 1904); Le Liber Mozarabicus sacramentorum et les manuscrits mozarabs (ibid. 6; Paris 1912). J. JANINI, Liber Missarum de Toledo (2 v.) (Serie Liturgica Fuentes III; Toledo 1982). J. PINELL, Liturgia hispánica (Biblioteca Litúrgica 9; Barcelona 1998). Vatican II documents: Sacrosanctum Concilium (1963), DOL 1; Orientalium Ecclesiarum (1964), DOL 5; Instruction (First) Inter Oecumenici (1964), DOL 23; G. RAMIS, ‘‘Pervivencia y actualidad del Rito Hispano-Mozarabe’’ Notitiae 20 (1983) 282–6; G. RAMIS, ‘‘Liturgia Hispano-Mozarabe. Boletín Bibliográfico (1993–1998)’’ Ecclesia Orans (1999) 123–131; V. A. LENTI, ‘‘Liturgical reform and the Ambrosian and Mozarabic Rites’’ Worship 68 (1994) 417–426.

[R. GOMEZ]  

New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2003. Vol. 10. P. 42-47.

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