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Richard Chonak
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Assumption 2017 Photopost (Part 2)

Sat, 08/19/2017 - 14:37
This second part of our Assumption photopost has just as much interesting variety as the first; we have plenty of Marian blue, another Pontifical Vespers, this time at the Cistercian abbey of Heiligenkreuz in Austria, the traditional blessing of flowers, a bit of the Byzantine Rite, and a beautiful Offertory chant. We start, however, with something absolutely unique, a Low Mass celebrated according to the Use of Lyon at the Fraternity of St Peter’s church in that city. Evangelize through beauty!

Collegiate Church of St Just - Lyon, France, (FSSP)
As in most medieval Uses, the priest stretches his hands out in the form of a Cross at the Unde et memores.After the Consecration of the chalice, the corporal, which is very much longer than a modern Roman one, is used to cover the consecrated elements.
Heiligenkreuz Abbey - Lower AustriaPontifical First Vespers celebrated by the Abbot. (Photos courtesy of Fr Edmund Waldstein O. Cist., from his blog Sancrucensis.)

Cathedral Basilica of Ss Peter and Paul - Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaThe annual Assumption Mass organized by Mater Ecclesiae parish in Berlin, New Jersey

Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Grazia - Palazzo Adriano, SicilyThis is one of the churches of the Greek-Catholic Albanian community in Sicily, which has its Eparchy at Piana degli Albanesi. On the August 13th, the Sunday before Assumption, the eparch, H.E Giorgio Gallaro, installed the new parish priest; a shroud representing of the Dormition of the Virgin is already set up in the church for the upcoming feast.

Cathedral of St Eugene - Santa Rosa, CaliforniaFr Jeffrey Keyes, who sends in the much-liked photos of the designs made from amice ties, blessed a new Marian vestment before celebrating the EF Mass of the Assumption.

Pontifical Shrine of Our Lady of Mt Carmel - Manhattan, New York City
The blessing of flowers after Mass.
St Charles Parish - Imperial Beach, California

St Joseph Oratory - Detroit, Michigan (ICKSP)

St Anthony - Des Moins, Iowa

Parish of Bl. John Henry Newman - St Aloysius Church, Caulfield North, Australia

The Feast of St Louis of Toulouse

Sat, 08/19/2017 - 03:31
Since the early 14th century, the Franciscans have kept August 19th as the feast of St Louis, bishop of Toulouse and son of Charles II of the royal house of Anjou. In the year 1285, when he was eleven, his father received the crown of Naples from the Pope, but at that time, was being held as a hostage by the King of Aragon. To obtain his freedom, Charles’ three sons, of whom Louis was the second, took his place, and were kept for seven years in the Franciscan house at Barcelona. Louis was deeply impressed by the Friars, so much so that he adopted their life as far as was possible for a man of rank being then held in honorable captivity. Two members of the community lived with him in his apartments, and he not only kept to their prayer regimen, but also undertook the study of philosophy and theology, preparatory to joining the order in fulfillment of a vow he had made during a serious illness.
St Louis of Toulouse, by Antonio Vivarini, 1450. St Louis is represented in art as a young man in the robes of a bishop, but with the habit of a Franciscan underneath.In 1295, he was set free, but in that same year, his elder brother passed away, leaving him heir to the throne. Like another famous nobleman before him, St Thomas Aquinas, Louis had to overcome significant opposition from his family in order to enter the religious life, and for a time, the Friars Minor dared not admit him. While living in a castle near Naples, he became a friend and benefactor to a scholar from France, one Jacques D’Euse, who later on, at the recommendation of his father, was appointed bishop of Fréjus in 1300.

Before very long, Louis was able to abdicate his title in favor of his younger brother Roger, and follow the Poor Man of Assisi. For a variety of complicated political reasons, he was made not only a priest, but also bishop of the see of Toulouse in France, with a special dispensation granted by Pope Boniface VIII to receive these orders at the age of only twenty-three. A man of his position might very easily have followed the common bad practice of the era, and appointed a vicar to perform most of his episcopal duties; Louis chose not only to take personal position of his see, but also to continue living the life of a poor friar, even wearing a old and patched up Franciscan habit, celebrating Mass daily, and preaching frequently.

Like many holy men thrust into such positions of power, St Louis found the burdens of the episcopal office quite overwhelming, and expressed his desire to resign. His “resignation”, as it were, was accepted by God Himself, since St Louis died on August 19th, 1297, less than eight months after his episcopal consecration.

In 1316, Jacques D’Euse, by then a Cardinal, was elected Pope, taking the name John XXII, and the following year, canonized his old friend and benefactor as a Saint. (He would also canonize St Thomas six years later, and towards the end of his reign, bring the Papal name “John” into bad odor with his heretical teachings on the Beatific Vision.) That same year, Louis’ brother King Robert, now known to history as “the Wise”, commissioned the altarpiece seen below from one of the best painters in Italy, Simone Martini; it is now in the Capodimonte Museum in Naples. In the main panel, St Louis himself is represented being crowed as a Saint by two angels, as he passes his earthly crown down to his brother. The predella shows a series of events from his life: Louis accepts nomination to the See of Toulouse; Louis takes his vows and is consecrated bishop; as bishop, he feeds the poor with his own hand at table; his funeral; Louis miraculous raises a dead child to life.

Public domain image from Wikipedia.

Assumption 2017 Photopost (Part 1)

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 11:43
My favorite photoposts are the ones which show not only the beauty, but also the great variety and richness of the Catholic liturgical tradition, and the submissions which we received for the Assumption this year are a great example of this. We have Masses of the feast in the EF and OF, as well as the OF vigil Mass, the blessing of a statue of the Virgin Mary, Benediction, and Pontifical Vespers. The photos have come in from all over the world, and we have enough to make two posts out of them; the second will appear tomorrow, with a few other things. Our thanks and best wishes to all those who sent them in - Evangelize through Beauty!

Monastère Saint-Benoît - La-Garde Freinet, FrancePontifical First Vespers of the Assumption, celebrated by His Eminence Raymond Card. Burke, in the presence of the local ordinary, His Excellency Dominique Rey, bishop of Fréjus-Toulon, assisted by Dom Alcuin Reid, and members of the Fraternity of St Joseph the Guardian. (This event was part of the Fourth Intl Sacra Liturgia Summer School.)

Prince of Peace - Taylor, South Carolina

Tradition is for the young!
Chapel of St Andrew’s School - Parañaque City, Manila, PhilippinesFirst EF Mass in the chapel since 1970

Annunciation Catholic Church - Houston, TexasSt Gianna Oratory - Tucson, Arizona (ICKSP)

San Giovanni Battisti - Grottammare, ItalyFifth annual pilgrimage and Mass, beginning at sunrise (5:15 a.m.)

The Adriatic Sea at dawn. The historical center of Grottammare is on a rather high hill; on clear days, you can see the Dalmatian coast on the other side.

St Benedict - Chesapeake, Virginia (FSSP)

St Mary’s - Kalamazoo, MichiganVigil Mass of the Assumption, celebrated by His Excellency Paul Bradley, Bishop of Kalamazoo, who afterwards blessed a new statue of the Virgin Mary.

EF Mass on the feast day, followed by a procession with the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction
Sanctus candle!

Culmen et Fons Conference, Sept. 18-22, Peabody, Mass.

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 06:00
Saint Adelaide Parish in Peabody, Massachusetts (Archdiocese of Boston) will host a conference on liturgical formation and sacred music, with Dom Alcuin Reid as the featured speaker. For schedule and registration information, click HERE. Those interested in sponsoring the conference or underwriting the cost of priests or religious to attend should e-mail HERE.

The Council of Trent on the Silence of the Canon

Thu, 08/17/2017 - 14:00
As a follow-up to Matthew Hazell’s post earlier today on the GIRM and the silent Canon, this is what the Council of Trent has to say on the matter, in session 22, celebrated on September 17, 1562, in the reign of Pope Pius IV.

Chapter 5. On the solemn ceremonies of the Sacrifice of the Mass
And whereas such is the nature of man, that, without external helps, he cannot easily be raised to the meditation of divine things; therefore has Holy Mother Church instituted certain rites, to wit that certain things be pronounced in the Mass in a low, and others in a louder, tone. She has likewise employed ceremonies, such as mystic benedictions, lights, incense, vestments, and many other things of this kind, derived from an apostolical discipline and tradition, whereby both the majesty of so great a sacrifice might be recommended, and the minds of the faithful be excited, by those visible signs of religion and piety, to the contemplation of those most sublime things which are hidden in this sacrifice.

Among the disciplinary canons which follow, canon 9 states, “If any one say, that the rite of the Roman Church, according to which a part of the Canon and the words of consecration are pronounced in a low voice, is to be condemned; or, that the Mass ought to be celebrated only in the vulgar tongue; or, that water ought not to be mixed with the wine that is to be offered in the chalice, for that it is contrary to the institution of Christ; let him be anathema.”
The Canon cited above, from an edition of the Decrees of the Council of Trent printed in Bavaria in 1565; the last session of Trent was held in early December of 1563.

GIRM 32 and the Roman Canon: The Power of Silence?

Thu, 08/17/2017 - 06:00
Robert Cardinal Sarah, in his recent book The Power of Silence, raises once again the question of a silent Canon in the Ordinary Form:
I am familiar with the regrets expressed by many young priests who would like the Canon of the Mass to be recited in complete silence. The unity of the whole assembly, communing with the words pronounced in a sacred murmur, was a splendid sign of a contemplative Church gathered around the sacrifice of her Savior. [...]Nevertheless, the intention of the liturgical reform was commendable: the Council Fathers wanted to rediscover the original function of the Eucharistic Prayer as a great public prayer in the presence of God. But we notice also a strong temptation to look for variety by introducing improvisations into the Canon. The liturgy now runs the risk of trivializing the words of the Eucharistic Prayer... [Cardinal Ratzinger] had proposed practical solutions and forcefully declared that the audible recitation of the Eucharistic Prayer in its entirety was not the only means of getting everyone to participate in this act. We must work for a more balanced solution and offer the possibility of intervals of silence in this area. [1]However, one of the obvious obstacles to the Cardinal’s “more balanced solution” is paragraph 32 of the current General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), which reads as follows (my emphasis):
32. The nature of the “presidential” parts requires that they be spoken in a loud and clear voice and that everyone listen to them attentively. Therefore, while the Priest is pronouncing them, there should be no other prayers or singing, and the organ or other musical instruments should be silent. [2]What precisely is it about the “nature” of the presidential parts that requires them to be spoken out loud? This is a question that has puzzled me for some time, and that I was reminded of upon reading Cardinal Sarah’s book. So, as the GIRM has a footnote in this paragraph, I thought I would take a look at the reference to see if that provides any answer to this question.

Footnote no. 44 directs us to paragraph 14 of Musicam sacram (EnglishLatin), the Instruction on sacred music issued by the Sacred Congregation of Rites on 5 March 1967, which reads as follows (my emphasis):
14. The priest, acting in the person of Christ, presides over the gathered assembly. Since the prayers which are said or sung by him aloud are proclaimed in the name of the entire holy people and of all present, they should be devoutly listened to by all.Sadly, this says nothing about the “nature” of the presidential parts; it only says that those prayers proclaimed aloud by the priest should be devoutly listened to by the assembly - and, at this point, this stipulation would not have included the Canon. Two months later, Tres abhinc annos (4 May 1967) would give permission for the Canon to be said aloud, but this remained optional (pro opportunitate) until the promulgation of the new Ordo Missae. [3] 

Musicam sacram does, however, reference Sacrosanctum Concilium 33 in a footnote in this paragraph - so, does the Constitution on the Liturgy shed any light on the question? Unfortunately, the answer is no. In fact, we move even further away from GIRM 32 (my emphasis):
33. Although the sacred liturgy is above all things the worship of the divine Majesty, it likewise contains much instruction for the faithful. For in the liturgy God speaks to His people and Christ is still proclaiming His gospel. And the people reply to God both by song and prayer.Moreover, the prayers addressed to God by the priest who presides over the assembly in the person of Christ are said in the name of the entire holy people and of all present. And the visible signs used by the liturgy to signify invisible divine things have been chosen by Christ or the Church. Thus not only when things are read “which were written for our instruction” (Rom. 15:4), but also when the Church prays or sings or acts, the faith of those taking part is nourished and their minds are raised to God, so that they may offer Him their rational service and more abundantly receive His grace. The underlined section of SC 33 is used in GIRM 30 to define the “presidential prayers” of the Mass. But there is no indication in SC itself that it pertains somehow to the “nature” of these presidential prayers that they be proclaimed aloud. This is a later, rationalistic assumption which has been superimposed onto the text of both SC and Musicam sacram, and is seemingly just asserted to be true. It is also inconsistently applied in the OF Missal itself: the Benedictus es, Domine prayers at the Preparation of the Gifts are normally prayed submissa voce, but if the Offertory Chant is not sung, they may be prayed elata voce. Are they, then, defined as public prayers or private prayers?

GIRM 32 also raises serious questions about continuity and rupture. If, as a presidential prayer, the very nature of the Canon demands (exigit) that it be spoken aloud, then what does that say about the organically-developed, centuries-long tradition of the Western Church?

In proposing this particular instance of mutual enrichment of the two forms, Cardinal Sarah is channeling Cardinal Ratzinger’s well-known thoughts on the reintroduction of the silent Canon into the Pauline Missal. [4] However, it would seem that GIRM 32, and the assumptions underlying it, [5] urgently need revision in any future “liturgical reconciliation.”


[1] Robert Cardinal Sarah, The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise (Ignatius Press, 2017), pp. 129-130.

[2] Note that, with the exception of the numbering and the footnote (added for the editio typica in 1969), this paragraph of the GIRM has not been changed in any of its versions (draft or otherwise) from 1968 through to 2002. See the Synopsis of the various versions of the Latin IGMR in Maurizio Barba, Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani. Textus - Synopsis - Variationes (MSIL 45; Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2006), pp. 389-667 (specifically pp. 422-423).

[3] Cf. Tres abhinc annos, 10 (EnglishLatin). For a very interesting examination of how a trace of this paragraph of Tres abhinc annos persisted in the rubrics of the U.S.A. vernacular OF Missal until 2011, see Matthew S. C. Olver, “A Note on the Silent Canon in the Missal of Paul VI and Cardinal Ratzinger”, Antiphon 20.1 (2016), pp. 40-51.

[4] For example: “it is not essential for the entire canon of the Mass to be recited aloud on every occasion. The idea that it must rests on a misunderstanding of its nature as proclamation.” (The Feast of Faith: Approaches to a Theology of the Liturgy [Ignatius Press, 1986], p. 72).

[5] Notwithstanding this attempt by Fr Ryan Erlenbush to read the GIRM as excluding the Canon from the “presidential parts”, which I ultimately find unconvincing.

Lay Readers at Funerals and Weddings: Feedback Sought

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 15:52
After the Second Vatican Council, permission was given for lay men and women to proclaim the readings from Sacred Scripture (except the Gospel) at liturgical celebrations.1 Lay readers are found in nearly all parishes. While some perform this task better than others, all should have received careful training.2 No conscientious pastor would knowingly depute a reader who attends Sunday Mass only when he or she is scheduled to read, or who notoriously flouts the Christian faith, or who is obviously incapable of suitably proclaiming the word of God.

So, why is it that when it comes to weddings and funerals, the family members and friends of the bridal couple or, as the case may be, of the deceased, are routinely invited to serve as readers, with no questions asked about their competence or even, for that matter, their standing with the Church?3 I expect the answer has everything to do with a well-meaning but wrongheaded application of the principle of “active participation” — a subject of great concern to the old Liturgical Movement as well as the New. Experience has taught me that people should not be invited to proclaim the readings at weddings and funerals, with the possible exception of those who already regularly carry out the ministry of lector (whether formally instituted or not).4 At the very least, the lay reader should be a practicing Catholic5 who believes what he or she is reading and can bring people’s attention to it.6 I am curious to know, by means of the combox, what policies my priestly confreres implement with respect to non-instituted readers at funerals and weddings. (Please refrain from stating the obvious by pointing out that we need not concern ourselves with lay readers in the usus antiquior. I know, I know.)
__________________________1 Pope Paul VI's Apostolic Letter Ministeria Quaedam (15 August 1972) reserves the formal installation of lectors to men.2 General Instruction of the Roman Missal, third typical edition (2002), no. 101; Introduction to the Lectionary for Mass, second typical edition (1981), nos. 52, 55.3 Most funeral directors I know have their own copy of the Order of Christian Funerals. As a matter of course, they provide their clients with the biblical readings that may be used in the funeral liturgy and invite them not only to choose the readings but also to appoint readers, after which they inform the priest (!) as to who will be reading what. I have asked my local funeral directors not to mention readings or readers, but rather let the family itself, on its own initiative, bring up the topic, in which case I will involve myself accordingly. I do not mind letting family members select appropriate readings should they care to do so, but when someone presumes to tell me that so-and-so is “doing the readings,” my reply is (in these or similar words): “I’ll be the judge of that, thank you.”4 I say “possible exception” because, at funerals especially, the reader’s emotional state often makes it difficult to carry out this liturgical function.5 “The reading of Scripture during a Eucharistic celebration in the Catholic Church is to be done by members of that Church. On exceptional occasions and for a just cause, the Bishop of the diocese may permit a member of another Church or ecclesial Community to take on the task of reader” (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism [25 March 1993], no. 133). Leaving aside the question of how often bishops are asked to grant such permission, I would wager that weddings involving parties of mixed religion are the most common “just cause.” (Which raises the question of whether such ceremonies should take place within Mass.) As one would expect of this ecumenical (not interfaith) Directory, there is no mention of allowing the absurdity of an unbaptized person to exercise this or any other liturgical (and thus inherently ecclesial) ministry.6

The Feast of St Roch

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 14:52
Among the Saints listed in the Roman Martyrology on August 16th is St Roch, one of the most popular Saints to invoke in times of plague. According to the supplement to the Golden Legend, he was born in 1295, the son of the governor of the French city of Montpellier. (Modern scholarship tends to place his birth in the middle of the 14th century.) On the death of his parents, he distributed the considerable patrimony which they left him to the poor, and became a full-time pilgrim.
St Roch Among the Victims of the Plague, and the Virgin Mary in Glory, by Jacopo Bassano, ca. 1575. The inclusion of the Virgin Mary above refers to the fact that Roch’s feast is celebrated the day after the Assumption.The hospices which built near many major pilgrimage centers to receive the pilgrims also served as hospitals for the poor (hence the two versions of the same word, deriving from the Latin word for guest); in Roch’s time, plague was running rampant, and he encountered many sufferers in these places, as he traveled to Rome and through various cities of northern Italy. Many of these he healed simply by making the sign of the Cross over them, until he himself became infected. Not wishing to impose any further burden on the local hospital, he went out into the woods to die, but was miraculously brought food by a dog, until its master found him and took care of him. On recovering, he continued to cure many people of the plague.

When he returned to Montpellier, however, he was not recognized, and therefore arrested as a spy and imprisoned, remaining in captivity until his death five years later. When they came to take care of his body, he was recognized as the son of the city’s former governor from a cross-shaped birth-mark on his chest. A plaque was found next to the body with these words written on it: “I indicate that those who suffer from the plague, if they flee to Roch’s protection, will escape from that most cruel contagion.” A magnificent church was built, and his body laid to rest therein, where many miracles continued to happen at his intercession.
A statue of St Roch made in Normandy in the early 16th century. The richness of his clothing indicates his status as the son of a nobleman; his pilgrim’s hat is adorned with the keys of St Peter, indicating Rome as his destination; the dog which brought him food is traditionally shown at his side. Roch is also typically shown lifting up his garment to reveal a sore or injury on his leg from which he was miraculously healed. (Public domain image from the website of the Cloisters Museum in New York City, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.)Devotion to St Roch spread very rapidly over the course of the later 14th and early 15th century. Although his feast is rarely found on liturgical calendars, votive Masses in his honor are very commonly included among those dedicated to healer Saints. In the Missals of Sarum, Utrecht and elsewhere, his votive Mass is found in the illustrious company of those of Saints Sebastian, Genevieve, Erasmus, Christopher, Anthony the Abbot, and the Archangel Raphael. One common version even includes a proper Preface, something almost unheard of in the pre-Tridentine period; it refers, however, to God’s mercy in sparing the Ninivites, and asks for His merciful deliverance from the plague, but makes no mention of Roch. The somewhat clumsy collect reads as follows: “O God, who are glorious in the glory of the Saints, and to all those that flee unto their protection, grantest the salutary effect of their petition; by the intercession of Thy blessed Confessor Roch, grant to Thy people, who hold forth their devotion in his festivity, that they may be delivered from the sickness of that plague which he suffered in his body for the glory of Thy name, to which may they ever be devoted.”

The supplement to the Golden Legend also mentions that his body was stolen by the Venetians in 1475, and enshrined in a “most renowned” church they built dedicated to him, which still exists. The seat of a pious confraternity named for him is located close by, and is justifiably known as the “Sistine Chapel of Venice”, filled with paintings by the great Venetian master Tintoretto. As one of the busiest ports in Europe, in regular contact with the East, Venice was a city to which new plagues (or new strains of old ones) were continually arriving; over twenty outbreaks are recorded there between the mid-14th and mid-16th centuries. It may be that the Venetians acted from sheer desperation in stealing St Roch; on the other hand, pious thefts of this sort were a specialty of theirs, and over the years, they also managed to nick St Mark the Evangelist and St Athanasius from the Copts of Alexandria, St Lucy from the city of Syracuse, and one of St Peter’s chairs from Antioch.
The altar of the church of San Rocco in Venice; the relics are in the urn with plaque on it in the middle. (Public domain image from Wikipedia by Didier Descouens.)

EF Votive Mass of St Francis de Sales in Brooklyn, August 21

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 10:00
The Visitation Monastery in Brooklyn will have its first traditional Latin Mass since the post-Conciliar liturgical reform on Monday, August 21, starting at 7:30 p.m. The monastery is located at 8902 Ridge Blvd. It will be a Sung Votive Mass of St Francis de Sales, co-founder of the Visitandine Order, on the 450th anniversary of his birth, with the commemoration of the other founder, St Jane-Frances de Chantal, on her traditional feast day.

Temporary Profession for the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 06:00
On the feast of St Alphonsus Liguori, August 2nd (EF), Fr Celestine Maria made his temporary profession of the vows of religion, poverty, chastity and obedience, as a member of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, the traditional Redemptorist community based on the Scottish island of Pap Stronsay. Our thanks to them for permission to reproduce these photos from their blog and Facebook page.

The novice is questioned by the superior regarding his desire to give his life entirely to God in Holy Religion, and his firm resolve to persevere therein.
Prostrate on the ground and covered with the funeral pall, while the Veni Creator Spiritus is chanted by the community, the novice prepares to die to the world.
Fr Celestine Maria, F.SS.R. pronounces his vows, kneeling before the exposed Blessed Sacrament.He receives the pallium (cloak) of the professed.All kneel while the newly-professed recites a prayer of thanksgiving.
Our congratulations to Fr Celestine Maria and his whole community, and prayers for the prosperity of all their good work. Ad multos annos!

November 1, 1950: The Dogmatic Definition of the Assumption

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 14:00
From the archives of British Pathé, a report on the dogmatic definition of the Assumption made by the Ven. Pope Pius XII on November 1 of the Jubilee year 1950.
And here is a wonderful photo taken during the Mass of that day from inside the dome of St Peter’s Basilica.

Reports of the Death of the Virgin Mary...Are True!

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 06:00
Did Our Lady die? Until recently, I would have said no; She was assumed into heaven because of Her purity. I must admit I had not investigated the idea thoroughly, but for a long time, I was under the impression that this meant that she underwent a transition from earth to heaven that was like a sort of Marian Ascension.

This impression was reinforced by paintings such as the one below in which She is elevated by angels, while, it appears, very much alive. And, furthermore, this special transition through a stage of between earth and heaven has a special name in the Eastern churches, which refers to her “Dormition - falling asleep.” Or so I thought.

To my knowledge there is nothing wrong theologically with the painting above, which is by the great Italian baroque artist Guido Reni. (1575-1642) However, it doesn’t tell the full story. Have a look at this painting of the Assumption by the Italian painter, Annibale Carracci (1560-1609).
At the top, we have the familiar scene of Our Lady being drawn up to heaven by angels, but at the bottom, we see in addition a group of onlookers who surround a tomb. This scene begs the question, if Our Lady didn’t die, why have a tomb? We see the same in the painting below by another Italian, Giovanni Battista Piazetta (1682-1754). Here, not only do we see the tomb, but also there is great shock, revealed by a dramatic gesture, at the fact that the tomb is empty.Clearly, the reason for this is that Our Lady did die at the end of Her earthly life, or at least these artists believed so. In fact, this always been the tradition of the Church, East and West. It can be traced back as far as the fourth century, the period to which is attributed a document called The Account of St John the Theologian of the Dormition of the Mother of God. The word “dormition” means literally “falling asleep,” but is used to mean a peaceful death. The tradition says that three days after her death, She was not in Her sarcophagus, which instead was full of fragrant flowers, as we see here in this painting by Francesco Granacci, made in 1515.
Below we see two iconographic representations in which the death is more apparent. There is a separation of body and soul, which is received by Christ himself, even before the Assumption. It is represented by the white clad figure he is holding. 

Above: a mosaic in Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome XIII century; and below: a modern icon of the Eastern Church. 
So it seems I was wrong in thinking that She didn’t die. Well...probably. While tradition says that Our Lady did die, the dogmatic statement of Pius XII is ambiguous. In the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, published in 1950, he states that her body was incorrupt and was assumed into heaven, but doesn’t explicitly state that She died before the Assumption. So one might argue, I am not bound to believe that she died.
However, I am happy to go with tradition and accept that She did die, and am greatly encouraged by this thought. For what Our Lady experienced is bodily resurrection, a participation in the bodily resurrection of Christ, which is offered to all of us. For most of us, unlike Our Lady, there will be bodily corruption beforehand, but ultimately, we have the chance of going to heaven too.

This is one of a series of articles written to highlight the great feasts and the saints of the Roman Canon. All are connected to a single opening essay, in which I set out principles by which we might create a canon of art for Roman Rite churches and schema that would guide the placement of such images in a church. Read it here. In these I plan to cover the key elements of images of the saints of the Roman Canon - Eucharistic Prayer I - and the major feasts of the year. I have created the tag Canon of Art for Roman Rite to group these together, should any be interested in seeing these articles as they accumulate.

For the fullest presentation of the principles of sacred art for the liturgy, take the Master's of Sacred Arts, www.Pontifex.University.

Update on Mater Ecclesiae's Assumption Mass

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 08:18
Tomorrow, August 15th, The 17th annual Mater Ecclesiae Assumption Mass will take place at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Philadelphia, PA. The Mass will begin at 7:00 PM.
For those who cannot attend, the Mass will be live streamed on the internet. You can find the link on Mater Ecclesiae's Facebook page.

A Visit to Innsbruck (5): A Marian Miracle Shrine with an Unusual Image of Our Lady

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 06:00
One of the most charming places we visited in Innsbruck is the little parish church of Amras, dedicated to “unserer Lieben Frau Mariä Himmelfahrt,” that is, “the Assumption of our dear Lady Mary.” Evidence exists that this part of Innsbruck began as a village at least 3,000 years ago. It acquired political significance in the 12th century AD. A romanesque church was built here in 1221 in honor of the saints Pancras and Zeno. The first description of the church as dedicated to Our Lady comes in 1408. Around 1480 the church was rebuilt in late gothic style, with three altars being consecrated in 1482. The church was baroquified in 1733-1756, with stucco by the local artist Joseph Gratl and frescoes by Joseph Adam Mölk.

The venerated statue of Our Lady over the high altar is from around 1490. This image has been cherished for centuries as a wonder-working image (wundertätiges Gnadenbild). One also sees the same statue depicted colorfully outdoors on the facade of the church, with pilgrims approaching to it.

My friend who was hosting me related two stories in connection with it. The first explains the unusual image of the Virgin Mary holding her child upside-down, as if catching him. Once a young man fell out of a high place. He called on Mary and found himself caught and lowered safely to the ground. He reported later seeing a lady who assisted him. The other story is of a man from Bavaria who confessed his sins to the priest. They must have been rather serious or numerous or both, since the priest told him to make a pilgrimage on foot to Amras as his penance (no short distance). When the man arrived in the church, he looked up at the image, and the baby Jesus turned His head away from him. He heard a voice saying: “Go into the town, tell the people to repent, and then return.” The man did as he was told, and by God’s grace brought many back to the church. When he himself came back, the child Jesus looked at him and said: “Your sins are forgiven.”

The atrium of the church is filled with votive plaques or tablets of thanksgiving with paintings of Our Lady of Amras and a year. Nearly all of these are from right after World War II.

Back inside the church, we have, drum roll please, the elevated Baroque pulpit, which, here, might actually get used, since the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter sends a priest to celebrate Mass in this parish every Sunday. (This is one of two locations in town for the usus antiquior on Sundays and feastdays; the other location is the SSPX priory closer to the old city, which has daily Mass.) Next to the pulpit is a banner of just the sort that needs to be revived for Corpus Christi processions, and at the foot of the pulpit is a wooden Madonna sculpture on a pole for processions, also an art form worth rediscovering.

The wooden relief carving of the lamentation over Christ is from around 1500.

Along the right side of the church we find a prominent statue of the much-loved St. Notburga, a peasant girl from Tyrol, who, when her master told her to keep working instead of going to Mass, threw her sickle up in the air and said: "Let God judge between you and me" -- and the sickle hung, suspended in the air, until she returned from church.

One of the most beautiful of all Austrian places is, strange to say, a Catholic cemetery. The graves are crowded right around the Catholic church, and the people take care of them with great pride and love for the departed, planting lots of flowers around ornate crucifixes or statues. Here are some typical sights from the cemetery at Amras:

The cemetery features a large crucifix scene erected in 1765, a wooden cross commemorating a parish mission, and a late Gothic outdoor chapel with a fresco of the Last Judgment from 1600. Today it is the memorial for those killed in both World Wars.

Our Lord and Our Lady riding in a chariot together at the Last Judgment
As we saw earlier with the famous Madonna and Child painting of Lucas Cranach in the cathedral church, so too with Our Lady of Amras: all throughout the district of this parish, houses may be seen featuring this particular image, which can be recognized by the mother holding the child upside-down, as if she has just caught Him.

May Our Lady intercede for the parish of Amras, the entire city of Innsbruck, and all of us!

EF Solemn Mass at St Theresa’s Shrine in RI, August 20th

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 02:32
St Theresa’s Shrine in Nasonville, Rhode Island, will hold a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form during their annual feast day on August 20th. Founded on August 23, 1923, just four months after her beatification, it has the distinction of being the first shrine / parish in the world dedicated to St Thérèse. The day will include Prayers at the Holy Stairs, Stations of the Cross, a concert, procession with the statue of St Thérèse, a Living Rosary, and the Solemn High Mass. Food and refreshments will be available. All events will be held outdoors. Clergy are welcome to sit in choro vested in cassock and surplice. The church is located at at the intersection of Routes 102 & 7 in Nasonville. More information is available at: 401-568-0575 or 401-568-8280, email:

10:00 am - Prayers at Holy Stairs
11:00 am - Stations of the Cross
12:00 pm - Lunch & Concert directed by N. Peter Lamoria
1:00 pm - Procession with St Theresa
1:30 pm - Outdoor Living Rosary
3:00 pm - Solemn High Mass In the Extraordinary Form (Fr. Albert Marcello, J.C.L. Celebrant and Homilist); Blessing with St Theresa’s Relic.

Photopost Request: Assumption 2017

Fri, 08/11/2017 - 16:00
Our next major photopost will be for the feast of the Assumption, this coming Tuesday, August 15th; please send your photos (whether of the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form) to for inclusion. We are always very glad to include photographs of celebrations in the Eastern rites, as well as Vespers and other parts of the Divine Office, blessings, processions, the vigil Mass etc. Please be sure to include the name and location of the church, and always feel free to add any other information you think important. Evangelize through beauty!
From last year’s Assumption photopost, the high altar of the Piarist church of Our Lady in Krems, Austria.

The Second Vatican Council and the Lectionary—Part 3: The First and Second Sessions of the Council (1962-1963)

Fri, 08/11/2017 - 06:00
Note: This is the final part of a three-part series. Part One, on the antepreparatory period, can be found here, and Part Two, on the preparatory period, can be found here.

The Second Vatican Council was solemnly opened on 11 October 1962, with Pope John XXIII's declaration Gaudet Mater Ecclesiae. [1] Discussion on the Constitution on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium (hereafter SC), began on 22 October 1962, and would continue throughout the first and second sessions of the Council until its solemn promulgation by Pope Paul VI on 4 December 1963. For the purposes of this short series, we are not so concerned with the history of the Council itself, or of all the discussion that was had over SC; there are many books and articles that examine various aspects of both of these. [2] We will be looking specifically at what the Fathers had to say about the lectionary, and the question of its potential reform.

Before we begin our brief examination, it should be noted that the Acta Synodalia Sacrosancti Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani II for the first two sessions (ten volumes) are absolutely vital reference material for anyone wishing to read exactly what was said on the Council floor about the constitution on the liturgy (along with any written submissions of the Fathers). I have previously made these freely available at NLM: the Acta Synodalia (hereafter AS) for the first session can be found here, and those for the second session can be found here.

The opening of the Second Vatican Council (October 1962)Using the AS, I have also prepared a compilation of the interventions of the Council Fathers on what would become SC 51 (as well as paragraphs 24 and 35):

Lectionary Reform at the Second Vatican Council: The Latin Text of the Interventions of the Council Fathers Regarding Sacrosanctum Concilium 51, 24 and 35 (PDF)

The draft of SC presented to the Council Fathers at the 4th General Congregation (22 October 1962) had the following to say about the lectionary:
38. [Lectiones in Missa]. Ut fidelibus cum mensa eucharistica etiam ditior mensa verbi Dei paretur, thesauri biblici largius aperiantur, ita ut, decursu plurium annorum, praestantior pars Scripturarum sanctarum populo praelegatur.[38. [Readings at Mass]. In order that a richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s word together with the eucharistic table, the treasures of the bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that, through the running of more years, a more representative part of the sacred Scriptures will be read before the people.]We have already seen that, in the Central Preparatory Commission, this paragraph of the draft schema was not particularly controversial, and not much commented upon. The same could be said of this paragraph at the Council. There were a total of six in aula interventions at the 10th General Congregation [3] and two at the 12th General Congregation [4], along with 13 written submissions that mention this section of SC. [5] Other issues, such as the proposed reform of the Ordo Missae and the use of vernacular languages in the liturgy, understandably got far more attention from the Fathers. Be that as it may, there is still some interesting variation in these interventions, as not all of them are uniformly positive, and there are multiple proposals about the suggested reform.

Stanislaus Lokuang, bishop of Tainan (Taiwan), suggested that plurium annorum be changed to unius anni, for the very practical reason that otherwise the Missal would either have to be published in multiple volumes or it would be very large, and this would be "very difficult for the missions" (valde difficile pro missionibus). [6] In the course of a longer intervention, Agostinho Lopes de Moura, C.S.Sp., bishop of Portalegre-Castelo Branco (Portugal), said that, although paragraph 38 seemed good in principle, it did not seem to please all sides (non videtur undequaque placere). [7]

Though a couple of Fathers made specific reference to how many years they thought plurium annorum should be (always two or three) [8], there were differing opinions on what this would mean in practice. Alexandros Scandar, bishop of Lycopolis (Egypt), suggested a three reading system, with the first reading being from the Pauline Epistles, the second from the Catholic epistles, and the third from the Gospels, thereby excluding the Old Testament from consideration [9]. However, José Souto Vizoso, bishop of Palencia (Spain), suggested the three reading system that would later be implemented (Old Testament, Epistle, Gospel), commenting that "it seems opportune to me to restore this former custom" (opportuna mihi videtur restauratio pristini moris). [10]

Simon Landersdorfer, bishop of Passau (Germany), suggested something very much like Heinrich Kahlefeld's proposal in the Preparatory Commission on the Liturgy (which we have seen in Part 2 of this series):
Regrediunter ad antiquissimam Ecclesiae Romanae consuetudinem, quae tempore S. Gregorii Magni in evangeliario suo pericopas posuit non pro die dominica tantum, sed etiam pro feria 4, feria 6 et pro sabbato. [11][There could be a return to a most ancient Roman custom, that of St Gregory the Great, where Gospel pericopes are assigned not only for that Sunday, but also for the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.]Several other Fathers were happy to leave most of the specifics to a post-Conciliar commission, to bishops' conferences, or to individual bishops themselves. [12]

Council Fathers and periti leaving St Peter's Basilica (c. 1965; photo: Lothar Wolleh)At the second session of the Council, an amended version of chapter 2 of the draft liturgy schema was presented to the Fathers (8 October 1963; General Congregation 43), with the paragraph on the lectionary now numbered 51 and in the form we know it today in Sacrosanctum Concilium:
Quo ditior mensa verbi Dei paretur fidelibus, thesauri biblici largius aperiantur, ita ut, intra praestitutum annorum spatium, praestantior pars Scripturarum Sanctarum populo legatur.
[The treasures of the bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s word. In this way a more representative portion of the holy scriptures will be read to the people in the course of a prescribed number of years.]The two main changes are the deletion of the words cum mensa eucharistica etiam, and the replacement of decursu plurium annorum with intra praestitutum annorum spatium. In the relatio given to the Fathers by Jesús Enciso Viana, bishop of Mallorca (Spain), [13] these changes are explained as follows:
Difficultates vere paucae, quae huic articulo oppositae sunt, procedunt ex timore nimis protrahendi Missae celebrationem. Non tamen agitur de multiplicandis lectionibus in eadem Missa, sed de maiori varietate lectionum per annum vel per annos obtinenda. Et ne expressio « plurium annorum » videatur periodum nimis longam, scripsimus « intra praestitutum annorum spatium ».
Verba « cum mensa eucharistica etiam » omissa sunt, ne ideam de duplici mensa iteraremur. [14][There were few true difficulties here; those that there were against this article proceeded from the fear that the celebration of Mass would be exceedingly prolonged. Still, this [article] does not urge the multiplication of readings in the same Mass, but rather to obtain a greater variety of readings during the year or years. So, lest the expression "more years" be seen as a very long period, we have written "in the course of a prescribed number of years".
The words "together with the eucharistic table" have been omitted, so that the idea of the two tables is not repeated.]
[Cf. SC 48]Since these amendments were not substantial, they did not receive an individual vote on the Council floor. The emended chapter 2 as a whole received 1,417 placet votes, 36 non placet votes, and 781 placet iuxta modum (i.e. "yes, but...") votes at the 47th General Congregation (14 October 1963). [15] This was 78 placet votes short of the required two-thirds majority, and therefore the chapter had to be reworked once more. Paragraph 51 was unchanged by the time the Fathers again voted on the chapter as a whole at the 71st General Congregation (20 November 1963), this time receiving 2,112 placet and 40 non placet votes. [16]

In conclusion, it is worth noting that, among all these interventions, not one Father seems to have any radical rearrangement of the existing cycle of readings in mind, or that they thought that the existing cycle would disappear completely in any future reform. Granted, it could be argued that some of their suggestions tend towards that direction, but the mind of the Council Fathers seems to be that a pastoral augmentation and expansion of the existing readings was desirable, especially for the catechetical benefit of the Christian faithful [17], and perhaps also allowing for some flexibility on certain occasions and at certain times of year. This is also, as we have seen in the preceding parts of this series, in keeping with the general feelings of the bishops and prelates as expressed before the Council.

As Dom Alcuin Reid rightly points out:
[R]egardless of what experts may have hoped that the Council would approve, or may even have read it as approving, then or afterwards, an accurate reading of the Constitution is one that is in accord with the Council Fathers' intentions expressed in aula and the consequent explanations and redactions of the Conciliar Liturgical Commission which were again considered by the Fathers before the text was finally approved and promulgated. [18]In this light, then, the post-conciliar reform of the lectionary may be in accord with the letter of SC 51 on a very basic level, but it would seem to be an open question as to whether it is truly in the spirit of SC 51 and in accord with the intentions of the Council Fathers.


[1] An English translation by Joseph Komonchak can be found here (PDF).

[2] For example (and this short list is by no means exhaustive!): Agostino Marchetto, The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: A Counterpoint for the History of the Council (University of Scranton Press, 2010); Giuseppe Alberigo (ed.), History of Vatican II (5 vols.; Peeters, 1995-2006); Ralph M. Wiltgen, The Inside Story of Vatican II (TAN Books, 2009); Roberto de Mattei, The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten Story (Loreto Publications, 2012); Serafino M. Lanzetta, Vatican II: A Pastoral Council (Gracewing, 2016). Recent bibliographical surveys of works on Vatican II have also been carried out by Massimo Faggioli: "Council Vatican II: Bibliographical Survey 2010-2013", Cristianesimo nella Storia 34.3 (2013), 927-955; "Vatican II: Bibliographical Survey 2013-2016", Cristianesimo nella Storia 37.3 (2016), 675-716.

[3] From the following Fathers: Augustin Cardinal Bea, S.J. (President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity), Custodio Alvim Pereira (archbishop of Lourenço Marques, Mozambique), Stanislaus Lokuang (bishop of Tainan, Taiwan), Paulus Rusch (apostolic administrator of Innsbruck-Feldkirch, Austria), Karmelo Zazinović (auxiliary bishop of Krk, Croatia), Bernhard Stein (auxiliary bishop of Trier, Germany).

[4] From the following Fathers: André Perraudin, M. Afr. (archbishop of Kabgayi, Rwanda), Agostinho Joaquim Lopes de Moura, C.S.Sp. (bishop of Portalegre-Castelo Branco, Portugal).

[5] From the following Fathers: Pedro Arnoldo Aparicio y Quintanilla, S.D.B. (bishop of San Vicente, El Salvador), Marino Bergonzini (bishop of Volterra, Italy), Raphaël Bidawid (bishop of Amadiyah [Chaldean], Iraq), Joseph Fady, M. Afr. (bishop of Lilongwe, Malawi), Charles Henry, C.S.Sp. (archbishop of Onitsha, Nigeria), Simon Konrad Landersdorfer, O.S.B. (bishop of Passau, Germany), Sergius Méndez Arceo (bishop of Cuernavaca, Mexico), Eduard Nécsey (apostolic administrator of Nitra, Slovakia), Dragutin Nežić (bishop of Poreč i Pula, Croatia), Alexandros Scandar (bishop of Lycopolis [Coptic], Egypt), José Souto Vizoso (bishop of Palencia, Spain), Cesar Gerardo Maria Vielmo Guerra, O.S.M. (vicar apostolic of Aysén, Chile), Antonio Gregorio Vuccino, A.A. (titular archbishop of Aprus).

[6] Cf. AS I.2, p. 34.

[7] Cf. AS I.2, p. 125.

[8] Namely André Perraudin (per spatium duorum vel trium annorum: AS I.2, p. 123) and Dragutin Nežić (per cyclos 2-3 annorum: AS I.2, p. 257).

[9] Cf. AS I.2, p. 269.

[10] Cf. AS I.2, p. 274. On the question of whether three readings was ever the custom in the Roman Rite, see Gregory DiPippo, "The Ambrosian Lectionary and the Reform of the Roman Rite" in Joseph Briody (ed.), Verbum Domini: Liturgy and Scripture. Proceedings of the Ninth Fota International Liturgical Conference, 2016 (Smenos Publications, 2017), pp. 212-225; also idem"Did the Roman Rite Anciently Have Three Readings" (17 November 2013).

[11] Cf. AS I.2, p. 244. Landersdorfer does not specify whether the cycle would work in a multi-year manner similar to Kahlefeld's proposal, but this can probably be inferred from his ex corde assentio to paragraph 38.

[12] For example: Custodio Alvim Pereira (Conferentia episcopalisAS I.2, p. 32), Paulus Rusch (Conferentias episcoporumAS I.2, p. 36), Karmelo Zazinović (Liceat episcopo ergoAS I.2, p. 41), Bernhard Stein (Commissio exsecutivaAS I.2, p. 50), Gregorio Vuccino (Ordinarium, with the rationale that they would libidinosas inventiones praecavendas (!): AS I.2, p. 286).

[13] Cf. AS II.2, pp. 290-308. A synopsis of the proposed draft and the emended text of chapter 2 can be found before the relatio, on pp. 280-289.

[14] Cf. AS II.2, p. 301.

[15] Cf. AS II.2, p. 520. Note that there were also 8 null votes. The votes on the individual amendments to chapter 2 can be found in AS II.2, pp. 329, 335, 338, 342, 360, 384, 435.

[16] Cf. AS II.5, p. 631. As this was, in effect, the final version, placet iuxta modum was not given as an option for this vote: it was a straight yes or no.

[17] This comes out especially in some of the longer interventions; that of Karmelo Zazinović or Bernhard Stein, for example.

[18] "After Sacrosanctum Concilium - Continuity or Rupture?" in Alcuin Reid (ed.), T&T Clark Companion to Liturgy (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016), p. 305.

The Cathedral of Pistoia

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 15:08
As a follow-up to a recent post on the relic of St James the Greater kept at the cathedral of St Zeno in Pistoia, here are some photos of the main church which I took during a wonderful nighttime tour last November. These hardly show all of the church’s artistic treasures, some of which could not really be photographed in the low light.
The Romanesque bell-tower and façade, both of the mid-twelfth century, with considerable alterations and additions made in subsequent centuries.The high altar, with the Sacrament chapel on the left. The whole medieval sanctuary, including a 13th-century apsidal mosaic by Jacopo Torriti, was demolished between 1598 and 1614 and replaced in the Baroque style. Interventions of this sort were sadly very common in Medicean Tuscany.The left aisle. The monument seen on the right commemorates Pope Leo XI, né Alessandro de’ Medici, bishop of Pistoia for just over 10 months, from March 9, 1573 to January 15, 1574, before his appointment as Archbishop of Florence. During his 31 year reign in the latter See, the Carmelite Saint Maria-Magdalene de’ Pazzi predicted to him that he would be elected Pope, but that his reign would be brief. This prophecy was realized in 1605; elected Pope on April 1st, and choosing the name Leo in honor of the first Medici Pope, Leo X (1513-21), he was crowned on April 10th, he died on the 27th. His papal reign is the eighth shortest.A Madonna of the 15th century.On the counterfaçade, a 13th century fresco of the cathedral’s titular Saint, Zeno, who was a bishop of Verona in the 4th century, and evidently holy enough to be adopted by a city 150 miles away. The tomb of St Atto, shown more clearly in the next photo, is on the lower left.The tomb of St Atto, bishop of Pistoia from 1134-53, who obtained the cathedral’s famous relic of St James the Greater. His relics were discovered in the church of St John in Corte, and enshrined in this tomb in 1337. In 1786, the tomb was transferred to the cathedral, and the colored marble panel added.In the right aisle, a triptych of the Crucifixion, with the  Madonna, and Ss John, James and Jerome, (author unknown, 1424), and a copy of the Annunciation by Passignano.
Preaching pulpit designed by the famous art historian Giorgio Vasari (1560).Some bare remains of medieval frescoes in the clerestory.Several pieces of the balustrade which formerly surrounded the medieval presbytery are preserved in the cathedral crypt.
A sculpture of the Visitation; St Zachary is shown on the right with a cane to indicate his old age.The Last Supper and the Arrest in the Garden.

Assumption Celebration at St Mary’s in Norwalk, Connecticut, August 19

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 12:49
St Mary’s in Norwalk, Connecticut, will celebrate a Solemn Mass High on Saturday, August 19th, for the external solemnity of the church’s patronal feast, the Assumption, in the presence of the local ordinary, His Excellency Frank Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport. The Mass will begin at 4 pm, followed by a procession through the local streets, and dinner at the parish hall. (For information about tickets to the dinner, see the parish website.)
St Mary’s is well-known for its excellent music; this Mass will include, in addition to the Gregorian propers, Mozart’s Spatzenmesse (Missa brevis in C- major) and motets by Elgar, Guerrero, Mozart and Victoria.

St Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, August 10th

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 06:00
For the latest in our occasional series on the Saints of the Roman Canon, here are some pictures of St Lawrence. He was one of the seven deacons of the Roman church under Pope St Sixtus II, who was martyred only a few days before him, in the reign of the Emperor Valerian (253-260). He is one of the most celebrated Roman martyrs.

Lawrence is generally shown wearing the deacon’s vestment, the dalmatic, and holding a book of psalms, and alms for the poor. He also appears with the general symbol of martyrdom, the palm branch, and his specific symbol, the grid iron on which he was tortured to death. You can read about his life on New Advent here.
Above, St Lawrence painted by Spinello Aretino, (Italian, 14th century), and below, by Bernardo Strozzi, (Italian, 17th century). The Strozzi painting is called The Charity of St Lawrence, since as part of his duties as deacon, he distributed alms and the treasures of the church, that were coveted by the Emperor. Lawrence continued to distribute alms, and told the Emperor that the poor themselves were the real treasures of the Church.
And finally, in the Niccoline Chapel in the Vatican, there is a series of frescoes painted by Fra Angelico.
This is one of a series of articles written to highlight the great feasts and the Saints of the Roman Canon. All are connected to a single opening essay, in which I set out principles by which we might create a canon of art for Roman Rite churches and a schema that would guide the placement of such images in a church, which you can read here.

In these essays, I plan to cover the key elements of images of the Saints of the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I) and the major feasts of the year.

For the fullest presentation of the principles of sacred art for the liturgy, take the Master’s of Sacred Arts: www.Pontifex.University.