Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The kiss of peace


Did you know that every 31st of March is International Hug a Medievalist Day? I didn't, until a few days ago, but since hugs weren't forthcoming for yours truly, I instead thought to write about that curious public display of affection known to all of our medieval forebears: the kiss of peace. Does it sound strange and foreboding? On the contrary, many of you are already familiar with it, in a way. So before we travel back to the past, let’s take a look at our present surroundings.

On any given Sunday at your typical suburban Catholic parish down the street (or Episcopal, or Lutheran, depending), right before the moment of Communion, we’re treated to someone solemnly announcing: "let us offer one another a sign of peace". Then, to prepare to receive God almighty in the form of bread and/or wine, we turn to all the corners of the earth; north, south, east, and west; to display all around us our best Christian faces and administer the sign. In this country, we default to the venerable handshake of antiquity, but other local traditions make use of the back-pat, the first-bump, the brotherly mansqueeze, or, for the more chaste among us, the hoverhand. The traditional salute, "peace be with you", can then serve as an opening to delve further into the mysteries of Christian fellowship. "Beautiful day out, eh?", or "did you catch last night’s game?" The silent nod of understanding between two believers who know precisely which game is dwelt upon completes the preparation for modern man’s Communion.

That’s the narrative that the powers-that-be want us to believe, anyway. The "sign of peace", as we know it today, was introduced to Catholics in 1970, courtesy of the reformed order of Mass. Most ordinary believers in the pews probably had no idea what to do or even what the significance of the rite was. I can only imagine priests in those first years of the new liturgy goading their flock on by leading by example: descending from the altar of sacrifice to smack palms with everyone in the first rows. Some forty-odd years later, they still haven’t been able to convert us all. A few of the most liturgically conservative priests who still celebrate the new Mass exercise the little-known option of omitting the peace entirely. Other believers bask in the peacelessness of the traditional Latin Mass communities, gloating to the plebs stuck in Novus Ordo land that they didn’t have to make physical contact with anyone else that Sunday. Other traddies who get stuck in a modernized church to please grandma have been known to shove their hands in their pockets or kneel and play the role of the suffering servant, mentally transporting themselves onto the cross amidst the jeers and shouts of the vulgar crowds at Calvary, by all appearances as forlorn and engrossed in the great mysteries as possible.


But, what if I told you that the sign of peace is traditional? The crucial distinction is that I speak not of just any sign; not the handshake of peace, nor the bro-hug of peace, nor the fistbump of peace; but the kiss of peace. In the traditional Latin Mass's solemn form, the priest must still, after kissing the altar, embrace the deacon, who in turn embraces the subdeacon, the subdeacon the master of ceremonies, each member of the choir, and so on in a great chain of succession. It's even performed in the same place as in the modern form of Mass, after the Lord's Prayer and before the Communion. But what a difference in the spirit of the act! Gone are the awkward handshakes and jumbled "peace be with you's". In their place, the two traditional rite calls on the one giving the peace to soberly place his hands on the receiver's shoulders, lean in close to the receiver's right ear, and say, Pax tecum ("peace be with you"). The receiver answers, Et cum spiritu tuo ("and with thy spirit"), then turns to pass the peace to the next minister. And here, we learn why the rite is traditionally not called the "sign" of peace or even the "kiss" of peace, for there is no actual kiss, nor is it merely a symbol of a thing that already exists: it is an actual conferral of peace, in an unbroken line from Christ at the altar to the last receiver. It is the pax.


The origins of the pax

The kiss has been used in the Church since the first days. So Saint Paul tells the Romans, "salute one another with a holy kiss", and Saint Peter writes in his first epistle, "greet ye one another with a kiss of charity". By the second century, the kiss was a part of the liturgy. Saint Justin Martyr described divine service in his day: "when we have completed the prayers we salute one another with a kiss, whereupon there is brought to the president bread and a cup of wine". Here, and elsewhere throughout early Christendom, the kiss of peace was exchanged between the faithful before what would later come to be called the Offertory of the Mass. The reasoning is obedience to the teaching of Christ in the Gospel: "if, therefore, thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath anything against thee; leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother: and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift".

But in Rome, perhaps after Pope Gregory the Great’s reordering of the Canon, or even earlier, the pax was moved to its current place after the Lord’s Prayer and before Communion, and given a new significance. No longer was the pax merely an act of reconciliation to one's brother, though it was still that. But now, it led directly into the paschal mystery, forming part of the preparation for Communion. In those early medieval days, the pax was still clearly intertwined with the act of receiving the body and blood of the Lord. Michael Foley's abstract on the pax cites two examples: first, a homily from Gregory the Great of some monks who are convinced they are about to be shipwrecked, then make to exchange the pax and receive Communion in preparation for their deaths. And second, the example of Saint Mary of Egypt, who gave the monk that brought her the Eucharist the pax. Until recently, the pax was omitted at the requiem Mass and the Good Friday liturgy, probably because the Communion of the faithful, too, was absent on these days.

In those first centuries of Christianity, the pax was a kiss on the lips. The fact that such a gesture between two men in our society today is inescapably homoerotic is a major reason why the architects of the Vatican II liturgical reforms suggested the handshake in its place. But in the 1st century AD, it was not so. When the Passion says that Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, we can know that Christ Himself wasn't averse to the practice. But as the years went on, and the first fire, the innocency of Christians' faith waned, problems arose. The kiss on the lips was still considered an intimate act between either family members (of which the entire Church was considered one's spiritual family then) or lovers. Saint Clement of Alexandria complained of what the kiss had become in his day: disruptive and lascivious when exchanged between men and women. The pax was then forbidden to be exchanged between the sexes. By the Middle Ages, it had become customary to see this enforced by keeping men and women on separate sides of the church. I'm not sure when this practice fell out of use in the west, but the 1917 Code of Canon Law still recommends it. And, of course, many eastern rite churches maintain the separation of the sexes, with men on the right and women on the left, to this day.



The pax had a second period of decline at the turn of the second millennium, when Christians in the west gradually fell out of the habit of receiving Communion every Sunday. Whether this was out of increasing reverence for the sacrament's purity and a heightened sense of their own unworthiness, a spirit of toward the act of actually receiving the Eucharist, or a combination of both, I can't say. But as regular communing of the faithful declined, so too did the pax since, at this time, it was still viewed chiefly as an act of preparation. But, whereas the medieval Church made no serious measures to promote regular Communions, it did make great efforts to keep the people exchanging the pax. The English introduced a new way of exchanging it: the pax-brede, an icon of the lamb of God, which the people could come forward to kiss at the rood screen almost in lieu of receiving Communion. The paxbredes were typically of silver, but could also be made of ivory or other precious materials. Poorer churches that couldn't afford to order one would substitute a crucifix or book of the Gospels in its place. The English pax-brede caught on quickly and thence spread to the rest of western Europe.


Alas, man's fallen nature got the best of him yet again, and there was yet another period of abuse and decline in the 15th and 16th centuries, at the eve of the Reformation. You'll recall earlier how I described the hierarchical order of the pax in the traditional Latin Mass today: priest, deacon, subdeacon, and so on through the rest of the sanctuary according to rank. This was true in the medieval world, too; but when an entire congregation is to exchange it, now it suddenly becomes a lot more complicated. Who's to say whether the baker ought to kiss the pax before the miller's daughter? What was meant to establish peace between the members of Christ's Church instead became a point of division. So Eamon Duffy writes in his essential work, The Stripping of the Altars:
'In 1494 the wardens of the parish of All Saints, Stanyng, presented Joanna Dyaca for breaking the paxbrede by throwing it on the ground, "because another woman of the parish had kissed it before her." On All Saints Day 1522 Master John Browne of the parish of Theydon-Garnon in Essex, having kissed the pax-brede at the parish Mass, smashed it over the head of Richard Pond, the holy-water clerk who had tendered it to him, "causing streams of blood to run to the ground." Brown was enraged because the pax had first been offered to Francis Hamden and his wife Margery, despite the fact that the previous Sunday he had warned Pond, "Clerke, if thou here after givest not me the pax first I shall breke it on thy hedd."'

The pax-brede fell out of the mainstream later into the Counter-Reformation, and in the few places where it's still used today, it tends to be restricted only to the clergy or special dignitaries.


Sacralizing the secular, secularizing the sacred

Before we shake our heads at this litany of failure and consign the pax forever into the dustbin of liturgical history, I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention how this rite transformed medieval society itself. The kiss found its highest expression in the pax, but it permeated other rites as well. The new initiate into the faith was given the kiss after baptism. The newly ordained priest, or the consecrated bishop, completed his elevation to holy orders with the kiss. But then, the secular world started to adopt it, too. Alongside the priest, the newly dubbed knight completed his oath to his lord with the kiss of peace. The kingdoms and principalities of this turbulent era also adopted the kiss of peace as an alternative to taking an oath to end hostilities. When King Henry II and Saint Thomas Becket finally came to a settlement after years of fighting over the rights of the see of Canterbury, Thomas demanded that they, and his safe passage back to England, be guaranteed not by oath, but by a kiss of peace.Even though everything was arranged, Henry backed out over this one condition, saying that he had sworn an oath never to give the kiss of peace to Becket ever again. For whatever reason, Henry wouldn't relent, even though the Pope offered to absolve the king of his oath, and so, the reconciliation was stalled for over a year over what would call a trifling matter of ceremony today. Eventually, Becket consigned himself to return to Canterbury without the kiss. Days later, without the guarantee of security that the kiss granted by sheer power of social custom, he was murdered by four of Henry's knights in his own cathedral.

In our modern world, as with so many other things, it looks like we've got this one backwards now. The medieval Church brought the truce of God to the tables of kings and sanctified diplomacy with the kiss of peace. The modern Church, following the Second Vatican Council reforms, chose to restore this tradition in a debased form by substituting the common handshake (or bow, or other secular gesture of respect) in the kiss's place. The effects, as I described in the beginning of this post, are apparently intentional. (See this article by Father Thomas Reese, who writes with approval, "The kiss at the end of the Liturgy of the Word symbolizes the community acceptance of the message they have just heard. They are 'shaking on a deal.'"

G.K. Chesterton once said, "The reformer is always right about what is wrong. He is generally wrong about what is right." The liturgical progressives were right that we couldn't possibly go back to full kiss on the lips in this culture; but they were wrong to artificially restore this rite by imposing it upon the laity in a dumbed-down fashion. Even in the Church's first years, it was spoken of as the "holy kiss", set apart from the salutations of the world. 

The pre-conciliar Church isn't entirely without fault. The rubrics of the old Missal mandated the pax by amplexus (the embrace) only at solemn high Mass, but by the 20th century, this form was rare enough that many Catholics lived and died without ever having attended one. It permitted the choir and lower ministers to receive the pax by use of the pax-brede at sung and low Mass, the more commonly attended forms, but it was rarely ever taken into action. What did the Church's leaders after Vatican II think would happen to the peace if the vast majority of laypeople had never seen it exchanged properly, other than total chaos?

My solution is simple. It's based on the premise that a venerable tradition like the pax ought to be preserved. First, for traditional Latin Mass communities, to celebrate solemn high Mass as often as possible and see that the pax is exchanged by all vested ministers and choristers in the sanctuary. But, if sung or low Mass is offered, take advantage of the old Missal's permissions and see that the pax is exchanged between the priest and all other ministers by the use of a pax-brede (or crucifix or similar icon) at all Masses, even if there's just the one lowly server present. Second, for the reformed order of Mass, omitting the pax entirely seems like a mere stopgap solution, a temporary fix for that seems good in the short term, but ultimately amounts to another total removal, just like the prayers at the foot of the altar, the Last Gospel, and a whole host of other so-called medieval accretions (as though that were a bad thing). Omit the deacon's invitation for all to "offer one another a sign of peace", yes. But let the priest and all the ministers be taught to exchange the pax just as in the traditional order of Mass, as though there were nothing abnormal about it at all. Then, after the course of years, when the people have seen the gravity and solemnity of the traditional pax as a step in the paschal mystery, emanating from Christ's peace at the altar, perhaps we would all walk away with a better understanding of those words of the liturgy: 
"O Lord Jesus Christ, who saidst to Thine Apostles, 'Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you': regard not my sins, but the faith of Thy Church: and vouchsafe to grant her peace and unity according to thy will"

Monday, March 30, 2015

Palm Sunday 1461: the bloodiest battle of the Middle Ages in England


For the people of Towton, the bloody red cope of the Palm Sunday procession has another significance; for on that day, in 1461, the armies of York and Lancaster met on the battlefield amidst a snowstorm in a contest for the English crown. By its end, an estimated 28,000 men altogether were dead. Both sides announced no quarter was to be given. The fleeing Lancastrians filled the rivers with their dead, both from drowning and from being cut down. Only when they were filled to the brim could the retreating soldiers cross, stepping over the corpses of their fallen comrades. The waters flowed red with blood for days afterward.

Before the battle, the Yorkist commander Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, called the Kingmaker, is said by legend to have killed his horse, saying "Let him fly that will, for surely I will tarry with him that will tarry with me". This told his men that he was going to fight on foot beside them, and that by killing his horse, he'd have no chance to flee the field if the battle went sour. According to local tradition, this was the reason that, for several centuries afterward, a large patch of ground in south Warwickshire was cut in the shape of a horse every Palm Sunday. Since the soil underneath was of red clay, this was called the Vale of the Red Horse.



Palm Sunday in Sarum

From the Benedictional of Saint Aethelwold.
Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week. For most people, the most memorable aspect is the blessing and distribution of palms. It commemorates Christ's entry into Jerusalem a week prior to the Resurrection, with the faithful laying palm branches; a symbol of victory (and of sacrifice); at His feet. It's a powerful message that even many mainstream Protestant churches have either maintained or, perhaps, revived after several centuries of suppression on the basis of it being seen as idolatrous pomp. When the English Reformation began under Henry VIII, even though pilgrimages were suppressed and saints' shrines destroyed, the lusty king did not feel he could go so far as to take the palms away from the people: 
"On Palme Sunday it shall be declared that bearing of palmes renueth the memorie of the receivinge of Christe in lyke manner into Jerusalem before his deathe"
So widespread and cherished was the custom of bearing palms that it was said in England, "he who hath not a palm in his hand on Palm Sunday must have his hand cut off".

For me, though, the first thing that always comes to mind first on Palm Sunday is not the vegetation, but the reading of the Passion. You're always going to be in for a long day at church because, even if the procession is omitted, the entire account of the Passion will be read (traditionally, that of Saint Matthew). The custom of reading the Passion on Palm Sunday goes back at least as far as Saint Augustine, so we're talking about a tradition that precedes even the fall of the western Roman Empire!

The first Palm Sunday Mass I ever attended was at my neighborhood Catholic parish church, shortly after my conversion to Catholicism. One of my very best friends was considering converting, too, but I felt that I had to be honest with him and take him to church at an "average" suburban parish where Mass is offered as it is in about 99% of Catholic churches in this country today, rather than one of the few preserves of liturgical sanity that I had hitherto showed him exclusively. The reading was divided between the celebrating priest, a couple of laypeople, and the congregation reciting the parts of the crowd. This arrangement was pretty tame compared to some other wacky configurations I've heard, though since the Passion at this church was recited and not sung, the entire thing felt like it just went on and on unto the ages of ages, amen. (It was also a little unnerving for the entire congregation to say "crucify Him! Crucify Him!" But that's another story.)

Later, I found out that the Passion is traditionally sung in three voices: the Chronista (narrator) in a middle voice, the Christus (all the words of Christ) in a bass, and the Synagoga (the "synagogue", but truly, all the dialogue lines other than Christ's) in a tenor. Hearing them together, at once we see a glimpse of the medieval Church's flair for the dramatic, for it was around the 12th century that the Passion began to be divided among several voices, in the same period that mystery plays and other religious dramas were coming to the fore. The deep voice of the Christus shows forth the sheer masculinity of a God-man ready to sacrifice Himself without complaint, like all dutiful fathers who go endure the travails of daily life to provide for their loved ones without once complaining of their lot or seeking thanks. It contrasts with the whiny trill of the Synagoga: the cowardly shrieks of Peter denying any association with his master, the fickleness of the crowd, a governor's meek surrender to injustice. Not to mention, the variety of voices also makes a very long text go by faster in an already-prolonged Mass.

The Palm Sunday Passion with three deacons at Saint Peter's Square, in the Benedict XVI era.

The Roman Missal supposes that three deacons are present to sing the Passion (and sometimes, the schola cantorum would sing the parts of the turba, the crowd). Even at the height of clerical vocations in medieval Europe, it's hard to imagine that this arrangement was ever possible save for the great basilicas of the eternal city. The Sarum Missal, as in Rome, held the three-deacon arrangement. The rubric goes:
"Then followeth the Passion. And it is to be noticed that it is to be sung or recited in three tones—high, low, and middle. Because all the contents of the Passion are either the words of the Jews, or the disciples, or the words of Christ ; or the words of the Evangelist who tells the story. Therefore know that where you find the letter (a) prefixed, the words following are the words either of the Jews or the disciples which are to be recited in a high [alto] tone. Where you find the letter (b) prefixed, the words following are the words of Christ, which are to be recited in a low [bass] tone. Where you find the letter (m) prefixed, the words following are the words of the evangelist, which are to be read or sung by a middle [tenor] voice. This rule is to be observed in all the recitations of the Passion."

The Sarum tradition adds another dramatic touch. At the words "yielded up the ghost", the Roman Rite only has everyone kneel for a moment. In Sarum, the chronista prostrated before the altar at that point and was directed to pray the Pasternoster, Ave Maria, and the words, "Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit ; Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, Thou God of truth".

What other peculiarities can we see in the Sarum observance of Palm Sunday? First of all, there were no palms as far north as England. This isn't to say that the English didn't know what palms were; for, especially in pre-Reformation times, they were a well-travelled people and made pilgrimages to Rome, Spain, or Jerusalem, where the traditional leaf abounded. Still, back home, provisions for alternate flora had to be made, so the Sarum Missal instructs the priest to bless "flowers and leaves". (The Roman Missal liberally phrased the blessings as palmarum [seu olivarum aut aliarum arborum] ("palms [or olives or other trees]".) So for the English, the day was also sometimes called Willow, Yew, or Blossom Sunday.

Many folks in the traditional Catholic community lament Pope Pius XII's revisions of the Holy Week services in 1955, which cut out a tremendous number of prayers, antiphons, readings, and other ceremonies. With the exception of the revised times (like having the Mass of the Last Supper and the Easter Vigil at night), I too share their laments. I can't imagine, for instance, why anyone would think it was a good idea to strike out the rite whereby the procession would end upon arriving at the door of the church by knocking upon it with the foot of the processional cross. But the Sarum order of Palm Sunday was even richer than its Roman counterpart. The blessing of palms began with an exorcism:
"I exorcise thee, O creature of flowers and leaves, in the name of God the Father almighty, and in the name of Jesus Christ His Son our Lord, and in the power of the Holy Ghost. Henceforth all power of the adversary, all the host of the devil, all the strength of the enemy, all assaults of demons, be uprooted and transplanted from this creature of flowers and leaves, that thou pursue not by subtlety the footsteps of those who hasten to the grace of God. Through Him who shall come to judge the quick and dead, and the world by fire. R. Amen."

From the Hours of the Duc de Berry.
The processional order could clearly only be used in full at Salisbury Cathedral itself, since it describes a detailed path through the cloisters and a total of four stations where readings pertaining would be proclaimed. I'm unsure of how lesser churches would have adapted them for their own use. Nonetheless, the Missal calls for two processions at the start. The first, larger procession was led by the celebrating priest and his ministers, and a large, red cross. The bulk of the congregation would follow this path. The second procession was made up of a smaller band of clerks, lifting high a pyx carrying the Blessed Sacrament. Thus, the first procession represented the crowd awaiting Christ in Jerusalem, and the second stood for Christ Himself, surrounded by His small group of disciples. The two processions began going in opposite directions, but then met together at the first station. The two processions then joined together, as the first escorted the second in triumph through the other three stations around and within the church. A special scaffold or platform was erected over the great portal of the cathedral so that choir of boys could sing the hymn Gloria laus (as in the Roman Mass) as the procession came to the door, with the crowd responding in turn.

In the last few editions of the Sarum books, we see a curious new addition: a boy designated to play the part of a prophet, complete with sackcloth robes, fake beard, and wig, to signal to the larger procession that the smaller procession, bearing Christ in Eucharistic form, was in sight. He sang, "O Jerusalem, look to the East and see; lift up thine eyes, O Jerusalem, and see the power of thy King". This was really the culmination of a century-old tradition, not sanctioned by the liturgy but prevalent nonetheless, of adult men playing the parts of prophets to herald the arrival of the Eucharistic procession. Many records survive of churches hiring these men for the part, and furnishing them with costumes. What's fascinating is how these prophets, which would surely be considered bizarre and condemned as a liturgical abuse today, were actually the product of a surge in devotion to the Eucharist. The prophets first cropped up in the 1400's in response to the Lollards, who accused the Catholics of committing idolatry by worshipping the Eucharist, treating the elements as though they were God Himself. And here we have the prophets, ordinary men rising up to emphasize that worship, directing the people to turn east and acclaim the Lord in triumph: Hosanna in the highest.

The Lenten array in action: the veil falling from the great rood of the Anglican Saint Mary's, Primrose Hill. See more here.

One last bit of dramatic flair. From the beginning of Lent, the people's view of the high altar and sanctuary has been further obscured by the curtain hanging over the rood screen. This formed part of the "Lenten array" where all images in the church were covered not only from the start of Passiontide (beginning the week before Palm Sunday) but the entire period of Lent. On Palm Sunday, the great rood, the cross suspended over the screen separating the choir and the people, was to be unveiled. The procession stopped at the entrance to the choir, under the rood. The priest began the hymn Ave, Rex noster ("Hail, our king") by singing "Hail" three times. Each time was louder than the last, and at the last, the veil, suspended by hooks, would suddenly be tugged down to the astonishment of the people, revealing the cross which had been hidden away for so many weeks. The choir would then resume the rest of the hymn: 
"our King, Son of David, Redeemer of the world, whom the prophets have proclaimed to be the Saviour of the house of Israel that is to come. For thee the Father sent into the world to be the saving victim, whom all the saints expected from the beginning of the world, and now expect. Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest."


Modern Medievalism.... in medicine?

This is the first time I've ever considered medicine to fall within the purview of Modern Medievalism. But yes, an old Anglo-Saxon treatment (from a work called Bald's Leechbook, no less) works effectively against MRSA. See link here.


"Take cropleek and garlic, of both equal quantities, pound them well together… take wine and bullocks gall, mix with the leek… let it stand nine days in the brass vessel…"

Friday, March 27, 2015

Anatomy of a prayer: a collect from a medieval rite of reinterment

 
 
I've been following the blog called How to Rebury a King with great interest. This site is maintained by Dr. Alexandra Buckle, a musicologist and consultant for the committee that created the Anglican liturgies for the reinterment services at Leicester Cathedral this week. Not long ago, Dr. Buckle discovered an old manuscript detailing the rite of reinterment as it was used for Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick (whose tomb made an appearance in my recent article on hearses and hearse-cloths). While manuscripts detailing medieval burials abound, this particular document is the only one in known existence that outlines the order of service for a reburial.
 
That blog's entry for today (here) shared a collect for reinterment which draws on the imagery of Ezekiel's valley of bones, but which is not known to exist anywhere else, period. Unfortunately, that prayer had a section that was purged for its overly medievalist, overly Catholic material for Thursday's service; but Dr. Buckle was gracious enough to at least post the full prayer and translation for the rest of the world to see. I'll also reproduce it here, but in reverse order.
 
 
Here's the prayer used at the service on Thursday, contemporized and purged (as seen on page 16 of the order here):
"Almighty and eternal God, creator and redeemer of souls, who by the prophecy of Ezekiel deigned to bind together dry bones with sinews, to cover them with skin and flesh, and to put into them the breath of life: as we return the bones of your servant Richard to the grave, we beseech you to grant him a peaceful and quiet resting place, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever."
 
 
Now, here's the full prayer in translation, with the excised portion in colored text:
"Let us pray. Omnipotent and eternal God, creator and redeemer of souls, who through the prophecy of Ezechiel are worthy to bind together truly dry bones with sinews, to cover them with skin and flesh, and to put into them the breath of life, we supplicants pray to you for the soul of our dear [INSERT NAME] whose bones we now place in the grave that you may deign to grant him a peaceful and quiet resting place and, that having remitted all his sins of worldly heedlessness as conceded to him by a pardon of full indulgence, that, through your ineffable mercy, you erase and wash away all of it, whatever he has erred in this world by his own or another’s guilt. Who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, God through all for ever and ever. Amen."
 
 
And finally, for reference for the scholars among you, the original Latin text:
"Oremus. Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, animarum conditor et redemptor, qui per Ezechielis vaticinium ossa vehementer arida nervis compingere, pelle et carnibus superinduere, ac in ea spiraculum vitæ intromittere dignatus es: te supplices deprecamur pro anima in cari nostri N [nomine], cuius ossa iam denuo tradimus sepultura, ut ei tribuere digneris placidam et quietam mansionem et remittas omnes lubrice temeritatis offensas, ut concessa sibi venia plenæ indulgentiæ quicquid in hoc seculo proprio vel alieno reatu deliquit, totum ineffabili pietate tua deleas et abstergas. Qui cum Deo Patre et Spiritu Sancto vivis et regnas, Deus per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen."
 
I don't blame Dr. Buckle for whatever role she had in excising the prayer. The Church of England's doings aren't any of my business; indeed, such medievalisms as "a pardon of full indulgence" and "by his own or another's guilt" would feel quite out of place there. No doubt Archbishop Cranmer came to many of the same conclusions back in the 1540's and 1550's when he took the axe to all the Catholic funerary rites as much as the populace would allow him to without rioting.
 
What's more tragic, I say, is that this sort of bowdlerization was exactly the same as that systematic process of destruction that Archbishop Bugnini applied with his liturgical jackhammer to the Missal, Breviary, and other sacred texts in use by the Roman Church in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. Yikes!



-Today in history: Henry IV: the man whose claim to the crown started the troubles that led to the Wars of the Roses

-The first day: Richard on tour: select photos from the procession on Sunday, and the cardinal-archbishop of Westminster's Compline homily

-The Bible in Richard's day, and, was Richard a proto-Protestant?: on the king's reading habits and what to make of his Wycliffe New Testament

-A requiem for Richard: on the Requiem Mass, the king's faith, his book of hours, the cult of purgatory, and the chantry chapels of Richard's age

-Of hearses and hearse cloths: looking at Richard III's funeral pall and dressing the dead in medieval times

-Richard III's claim to the throne: sanguinity, statue, or sacrament?: Examining Richard's dynastic claims and what makes a king the king

-O God of Earth and Altar: a hymn by G.K. Chesterton, used at the reinterment on Thursday

-The poet laureate on Richard III: the poem at the reinterment. Also, Benedict Cumberbatch.

At last, a requiem fit for a Catholic King: solemn Latin Mass

 
The church of Saint Catherine Labouré in Leyland hosted a solemn Requiem Mass on the same day as his reinterment in Leicester. It was according to the Missal of 1962. Here are some images from the blog of Father Simon Henry, whose original post may be found here. The good priest says that after the Mass, the congregation enjoyed "a themed buffet with such tasty morsels as Yorkshire pudding with venison sausage or duck in port sauce, Pye of pork meat made with paest royall, Ribbes of beef, Quail eggs and roasted chicken calf." I'm jelly now.

Also, an interesting observation: a commenter on Father Simon's blog notes that the Greyfriars; that is, Franciscans; who originally buried King Richard would have probably used the Roman Missal, rather than the Sarum Missal or any other local use. So, the Requiem Mass as celebrated in the 1962 books would be almost identical to any Mass the friars may have celebrated when they received Richard's body.



Chanting the Gospel

 

Just look at that wonderful, wooden Gothic reredos


Communion of the servers; note the banner with Richard's personal sigil, the white boar, at left
 
A catafalque for the king





Other entries during "Richard III Week":

-Today in history: Henry IV: the man whose claim to the crown started the troubles that led to the Wars of the Roses

-The first day: Richard on tour: select photos from the procession on Sunday, and the cardinal-archbishop of Westminster's Compline homily

-The Bible in Richard's day, and, was Richard a proto-Protestant?: on the king's reading habits and what to make of his Wycliffe New Testament

-A requiem for Richard: on the Requiem Mass, the king's faith, his book of hours, the cult of purgatory, and the chantry chapels of Richard's age

-Of hearses and hearse cloths: looking at Richard III's funeral pall and dressing the dead in medieval times

-Richard III's claim to the throne: sanguinity, statue, or sacrament?: Examining Richard's dynastic claims and what makes a king the king

-O God of Earth and Altar: a hymn by G.K. Chesterton, used at the reinterment on Thursday

-The poet laureate on Richard III: the poem at the reinterment. Also, Benedict Cumberbatch.

The poet laureate on Richard III

 
I'm sharing this mainly because this is the only full segment of Thursday's reinterment that's been posted online so far; not because I'm part of the Benedict Cumberbatch Fan Club. Nonetheless, it's a good poem, and Cumberbatch actually has a couple of good reasons for being involved (namely, for being the latest actor to take up the role of Richard III in the next Hollow Crown series, and also for being a descendant of the House of York).
 
And, I admit, BBC's Sherlock is pretty good.




 
'Richard', by Carol Ann Duffy (Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom)
 
My bones, scripted in light, upon cold soil,
a human braille. My skull, scarred by a crown,
emptied of history. Describe my soul
as incense, votive, vanishing; your own
the same. Grant me the carving of my name.

These relics, bless. Imagine you re-tie
a broken string and on it thread a cross,
the symbol severed from me when I died.
The end of time – an unknown, unfelt loss –
unless the Resurrection of the Dead …


or I once dreamed of this, your future breath
in prayer for me, lost long, forever found;
or sensed you from the backstage of my death,
as kings glimpse shadows on a battleground.





Other entries during "Richard III Week":

-Today in history: Henry IV: the man whose claim to the crown started the troubles that led to the Wars of the Roses

-The first day: Richard on tour: select photos from the procession on Sunday, and the cardinal-archbishop of Westminster's Compline homily

-The Bible in Richard's day, and, was Richard a proto-Protestant?: on the king's reading habits and what to make of his Wycliffe New Testament

-A requiem for Richard: on the Requiem Mass, the king's faith, his book of hours, the cult of purgatory, and the chantry chapels of Richard's age

-Of hearses and hearse cloths: looking at Richard III's funeral pall and dressing the dead in medieval times

-Richard III's claim to the throne: sanguinity, statue, or sacrament?: Examining Richard's dynastic claims and what makes a king the king

-O God of Earth and Altar: a hymn by G.K. Chesterton, used at the reinterment on Thursday

-The poet laureate on Richard III: the poem at the reinterment. Also, Benedict Cumberbatch.