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Leonine Sacramentary


The popular, though incorrect name for the earliest surviving collection of Roman Mass formularies and ordination prayers that scholars have called the Sacramentary of Verona (Sacramentarium Veronense). The name ‘‘Leonine Sacramentary’’ is misleading, since it is neither a sacramentary, nor was it composed by Pope Leo I. More accurately, it is a compilation of individual LIBELLI MISSARUM in a single manuscript. It is a unicum, i.e., it exists in a single MS, Codex LXXXV (80) of the Chapter Library at Verona. E. A. Lowe dates it, on palaeographical grounds, as written in the first quarter of the 7th century. J. Bianchini published it in 1735, in v.4 of his Anastasius Bibliothecarius, under the title Sacramentarium Leonianum. In 1748 L. A. Muratori reedited it under the same title, but in 1754 J. A. Assemani, who gave it the title Sacramentarium Veronense, vulgo Leonianum, edited it again. In 1896 C. L. Feltoe published a handy, but inaccurate, edition, with the old title. The most recent edition is that of K. Mohlberg, who has rightly again called it Sacramentarium Veronense (Rome 1956).  

Description. The contents of this book are exclusively Roman, at least in origin. They are not a wellordered whole, but a random collection of Mass prayer formularies, grouped under the months of the year. The first part of the MS is missing, and as it is today, it begins in the middle of April. It contains more than 1,300 formularies, but for relatively few occasions. The feast of SS. Peter and Paul, for instance, has no fewer than 28 Masses, while that of St. Lawrence has 14. Although the material is Roman, the Sacramentary was not compiled for use at Rome.  

Authorship. Various theories have been put forward to explain its origin. E. Bourque and A. Stuiber, in Libelli Sacramentorum Romani (Bonn 1950) conjectured that it is a collection of Roman Libelli Missarum preserved in the Lateran Archives. Many of these may well have dated from the pontificate of Damasus. More recently, Schmidt has put forward the hypothesis that one of the immediate sources of this Sacramentary is a somewhat elusive collection of prayers that he calls the Sacramentarium Tabularii Papalis and that he attributes to Pope Gelasius. Interesting as this theory is, some may well think that it supposes a too logical development. The more common view is that the Veronense is a collection of Roman Libelli Missarum put together by a provincial bishop anxious for Roman formularies. G. Lucchesi has suggested that its calendar is that of the See of Ravenna and that its compiler may have been Maximianus, archbishop from 546 to 557. But Lowe thinks that Verona is possibly its place of origin.  

Bianchini gave his edition the title Sacramentarium Leonianum because he was convinced that Leo I was its author. However, C. Callewaert (d. 1943) has made a comparison of the literary parallels between the text of the Sacramentary and the writings of Leo. He has shown that some parallels do exist, but the difficulty is to interpret these. There are three possible explanations: (1) that in his writings Leo is making use of liturgical texts familiar to him from use, (2) that someone familiar with Leo’s writings made use of phrases from them in composing the prayers, and (3) that in fact Leo wrote the prayers. Callewaert preferred the third explanation, but in this he may have been a little hasty, since F. L. Cross has shown that the first solution might be considered equally probable [‘‘PreLeonine Elements in the Proper of the Roman Mass’’ Journal of Theological Studies 50 (1959) 191–197]. Nor is the second explanation impossible: in at least two places in the Gregorian Sacramentary someone has used the language of St. Gregory the Great in composing (after his lifetime) prayers for liturgical use. Callewaert observed that not all the formularies in the Veronense could be attributed to Leo, but he maintained that Leo was the creator of the style of liturgical prayer found in the Veronense. J. H. Crehan, in reviewing the excellent study of Leonine formularies by A. P. Lang, was inclined to the opinion that Leo did, in some instances, quote from earlier liturgical prayers in his writings. Further scrutiny of the text of the Veronense and the literary output of Popes Gelasius and Vigilius (537–555) has led such scholars as B. Capelle, C. Coebergh, and A. Chavasse to attribute much of this Sacramentary to these popes. How much of the actual material in the Veronense can be attributed to Leo is, therefore, still not known with certainty.  

C. Vogel summarizes the scholarly consensus as follows: (1) the Veronense is not a sacramentary, properly, speaking, but a private collection of libelli missarum deriving, in the first instance, from the Lateran archives. Several of the libelli appeared to have been rearranged and adapted for use in the various Roman tituli. (2) Most of the libelli were composed in the 5th or 6th centuries. (3) The apparent disorganized state of the collection stems not so much from the compiler’s carelessness or inexperience, as from his obsession with keeping intact the various groupings of masses as he had found them. (4) The compiler worked outside Rome. (5) The libelli reveals the oldest prayer formularies of the Roman Rite: preces (consecratory formulae), oratio fidelium (prayer of the faithful) and orationes (brief prayers after the chants, the readings and at the conclusion of morning and evening prayer). (6) The Veronense was compiled at a time when the desire to collect all the documents of the popes was manifesting itself in the Latin Church (Vogel, Medieval Liturgy, 43).  

Bibliography: Critical Edition. Sacramentarium Veronense (Cod. Bibl. Capit. Veron; LXXXV: formerly LXXX) ed. L.C. MOHLBERG, L. EIZENHÖFER, P. SIFFRIN, Rerum Ecclesiasticarum Documenta, Series Maior, Fontes 1 (Rome 1956, 1966). Commentaries. P. BRUYLANTS, Concordance Verbale du Sacramentaire Léonien (Louvain 1948). D. M. HOPE, The Leonine Sacramentary: A Reassessment of Its Nature and Purpose (Oxford 1971). A discussion of the problems concerning St. Leo the Great and the Leonianum together with the relevant bibliog. is in E. DEKKERS, ‘‘Autour de l’oeuvre liturgique de s. Léon le Grand,’’ Sacris erudiri 10 (1958) 363–398. G. LUCCHESI, Nouve note agiografiche Ravennati: Santi e riti del Sacramentario Leoniano a Ravenna (Faenza 1943). A. P. LANG, Leo der Grosse und die Texte des Altgelasianums (Steyl 1957); ‘‘Leo der Grosse und die liturgischen Texte des Oktavtages yon Epiphanie,’’ Sacris erudiri 11 (1960) 12–135; ‘‘Anklänge an Orationen der Ostervigil in Sermonen Leos des Grossen,’’ ibid. 13 (1962) 281–325. For overview and further bibliographies, see: C. VOGEL, Medieval Liturgy: An Introduction to Sources (Washington, DC 1986); and E. PALAZZO, A History of Liturgical Books: From the Beginning to the Thirteenth Century (Collegeville, Minn. 1998).  


New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2003. Vol. 8. P. 500-502.

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