Saturday 15 December 2012

Liturgical Fragments from the Early Celtic Church II: The Stowe Missal

Following yesterday's posting on the Book of Deer, now we come to the second item in the series which examines the Stowe Missal. The Missal includes a complete copy of the Gospel of Saint John, the Ordo of the Mass, The Ordo Baptismi, and an Old Irish tract on the Mass. The article features a discussion of each of these elements, and Orthodox readers will be interested to see that the original text of the Creed did not include the filioque, but that this was added by a later hand. There is also an account of the fate of one of the patrons associated with the Missal, Donnchadh, son of the famous king Brian Boru, who was said to have brought both his father's royal crown and a copy of the ancient canons of the Irish church on his penitential pilgrimage to Rome. I wonder what became of those items?



THE venerable MS. of the early Irish Church, known as the Stowe Missal, formed part of the Stowe collection, and is now preserved in the rich library of Lord Ashburnham. Like other MSS. which were written by our sainted fathers, or at least were hallowed by their touch, it has been from a very early time regarded with religious veneration, and enshrined in a cumhdach, or costly covering, adorned with silver plates and precious stones. The latest antiquary who had the privilege of examining the venerable shrine in which it is enclosed, thus writes: "It is a stout oaken box, overlaid every- where with silver plates curiously wrought, garnished with niello ornamentation, and inscribed with several names, telling of the royal personages who, by their munificence, contributed to its adornment, or of those who lent their individual handicraft for that purpose."

For all details regarding the ornamentation of the ancient cumhdach I must refer the reader to the valuable papers on the subject by Dr. O'Conor, in his "Stowe Catalogue," and Dr. Todd in the "Transactions of Royal Irish Academy."

The older inscriptions on the shrine date from the middle of the eleventh century. They begin with invoking " THE BLESSING OF GOD ON EVERY SOUL WHO DESERVES IT." Then they ask "A PRAYER FOR DONNCHADH, SON OF BRIAN, KING OF IRELAND." " AND FOR MAC-RAITH-HU-DONNCHADHA. KlNG OF CASHEL." Only one other of the ancient inscriptions is now legible. It is "A PRAYER FOR DUNCHADH O'TACCAIN, OF THE MUINTIR OF CLUAIN, WHO EXECUTED THIS WORK." The word muintir, which literally means family, here, as invariably in similar construction, signifies a religious community, or monastery. The name of Donchadh O'Taccan, or O'Tagan, does not occur elsewhere in our religious annals. "Of this Donchadh O'Tagan," writes Dr. Todd, " we know nothing except what we learn from this inscription, that he was of the religious society of Clonmacnoise, and that he was the artist by whom this ornamented and costly box was made for the preservation of the venerable MS., which it contains."

King Donnchadh, son of the celebrated Brian Boroimhe, not satisfied with the royal diadem of Munster, assumed the title of King of Ireland in the year 1026, in which year he invaded Leinster and carried off hostages from Meath and Bregia, as also from the Danes of Dublin, and the men of Ossory. Many of our annalists, however, refuse him this title of King of Ireland, partly on account of his crimes; partly, too, because there were throughout his reign other claimants to the chief kingship of our island. In the year 1064 he was not only deprived of this title, but was moreover driven from his own kingdom of Munster, as we learn from the following entry of the Annals of Tighernach : " Donnchadh, son of Brian Boroimhe, King of Munster, was deposed, and went to Rome in pilgrimage, where he died after the victory of penitence, in the monastery of Stephen''. This monastery of St. Stephen, in Rome, stood on the site of the old pagan temple of Cacus, close by the modern Minerva, and was specially allotted to the pilgrims who from distant countries flocked to Rome to offer their prayers at the shrines of the Apostles. At the time of which we speak the monastery was in charge of the Benedictine monks, but soon after passed into other hands.

At present there is no memorial there to mark the spot where rests the son of the great monarch Brian. The Annals of Ulster also mark the year 1064 for the deposition of Donnchadh : "Donnchadh O'Brien, deposed from his crown, went to Rome in his pilgrimage." The " Chronicon Scotorum" places this event in 1061 : "Donnchadh, son of Brian, was dethroned, and he went to Rome on his pilgrimage, and died in penitence, viz., in the monastery of Stephen''. The "Annals of Clonmacnoise" assign the year 1063 : " Donnogh MacBrian Boroimhe was king, as some say, and was soon deposed again, and he went to Rome to do penance, because he had a hand in the killing of his own elder brother, Teig MacBrian. He brought the crown of Ireland with him thither Donnogh MacBrian died in pilgrimage in the abbey of St. Stephen the Protomartyr". It is the tradition, that together with the royal crown of his father, Donogh O'Brien brought with him to Rome a copy of the ancient Book of Canons of the Irish Church.

MacRaith, King of Cashel, mentioned in the above inscription, succeeded Donnchadh as King of Cashel, when the latter assumed the sovereignty of Ireland. The annalists who refuse to Donnchadh the title of King of Ireland, refuse also to style MacRaith the King of Cashel, giving him only his earlier rank of king, or chieftain of the Eoghanacht-Caisil. Tighernagh, when commemorating his death, gives him the title of heir apparent to the throne of Munster: " A.D. 1052, MacRaith O' Donnchadha, King of the Eoghanacht of Cashel, heir apparent, King of Munster, died." MacRaith in the inscription, as in the entry just referred to, is called Mac-Donnchadha, i.e., grandson of Donnchadh, King of Munster, who died in the year 962.

That the inscriptions on the shrine of which we speak were made during the lifetime of Donnchadh O'Brien and Mac-Raith, may be assumed as certain. No prayer is asked for their souls, as is usual in such inscriptions for deceased benefactors ; and moreover, as Dr. Todd remarks, " it is not very likely, from their subsequent history, that so costly a relic would have borne mention of them with their regal titles, after their death." Thus, then, we may safely conclude that this rich case was made for the Stowe Missal between the years 1023, when Donnchadh assumed the title of King of Ireland, and 1052, when MacRaith died.

Three hundred years from the death of Donnchadh the shrine was repaired and re-adorned. One of the later inscriptions asks "A PRAYER FOR PHILIP O'KENNEDY, THE KING OF ORMOND, WHO COVERED THIS SHRINE, AND FOR AINI, HIS WIFE." The death of this royal chieftain of Ormond is thus registered in the "Annals of the Four Masters:"A.D. 1381, Philip O'Kennedy, Lord of Ormond, and his wife Aine, daughter of MacNamara, died." Another inscription of the same date adds: "A PRAYER FOR GILLARUADHAN O' MACAN, THE COMHARB, BY WHOM THIS WAS COVERED." The omission of the name of the monastery to which Gillaruadhan belonged as well as his own name, servant of St. Ruadhan, seems to imply that he was Abbot in the district of which O'Kennedy was chieftain that is to say, he was comharb of St. Ruadhan, in the famous monastery of Lothra (now Lorha), situated in Lower Ormond, which was also called O' Kennedy's country.

When the outward shrine, with its silver plates and other precious ornaments, has come down to us from the first half of the eleventh century, we may justly conclude that even at that remote date the MS. which it contained was considered a venerable relic of our early Church an heirloom of the great founder of the monastery in which it was preserved. The intrinsic evidence and the style of writing of the MS. itself, confirm this conclusion : " It is by no means impossible," writes Dr. Todd, " that the MS. contained in this box may have been the original Missal of St. Ruadhan himself, the founder of the monastery of Lothra, who died A.D. 584. . . . The original MS. was written in an ancient Lombardic character, which may well be deemed older than the sixth century" (loc. cit, page 16). This distinguished antiquarian has also observed that portions of the MS. are written in a second and much later hand ; and at page 71 of the MS., at the end of the Canon of the Mass, the name of this second scribe is given : " Maolcaich." "This name," adds Dr. Todd, " is certainly Irish, and belongs to an early period of our history, when the names of Paganism were still retained" (page 18). Subsequently, commenting on a statement of O' Conor, in regard to a particular passage which should necessarily be referred to the eighth century, he writes :

" He has omitted to notice the fact that it is not in the original hand of the MS., but in the later handwriting, of which I have several times spoken. The date, therefore, which is thus obtained, applies to all these additions, made, as we have seen, by one Maolcaich; and, as they must, therefore, be referred to the eighth century, they furnish a strong additional evidence of the very high antiquity of the original Missal" (page 34).

The name of the original scribe is given, as is usual in the old MSS., at the end of the Gospel of St. John, as follows :

" Deo gratias ago. Amen. Finit, Amen. Rogo quicumque hunc librum legeris ut memineris mei peccatoris scrip toris, idest, SONID peregrinus, Amen. Sanus sit qui scripserit et cui scriptum est, Amen''. The name Sonid is in Ogham characters, and its precise reading cannot as yet be fixed with certainty. Dr. Todd, however, contends that the above reading is correct, and that it corresponds with the more modern name, Sonadh, which means "happy or prosperous" If so, the concluding words would contain an illusion to the name, for, the Latin phrase which follows, viz., sanus sit, as closely corresponds to it as any other that the scribe could easily discover.

The MS. begins with a complete copy of the Gospel of St. John, illuminated according to the type of the early Irish school. Dr. O' Conor has given a facsimile of the two first pages one representing the Evangelist, who is surmounted by the symbolical eagle ; the other giving the first verses of the Gospel. The text of the Gospel is that of the Latin Vulgate, though with many important variations, as is usual in the old Biblical MSS. of the Celtic Church.

The Gospel of St. John is followed by the Ordo of the Mass, which begins with the Rubric " Letania Apostolorum ac Martirum Sanctorum virorum et virginum incipit." Then follows the antiphon Peccavimus and the Litany. Dr. O' Conor has given a facsimile of the page containing the antiphon :

" Peccavimus Domine peccavimus : parce peccatis nostris et salva nos ; qui gubernasti Noe super aquas diluvi exaudi nos : qui Jonam de abiso verbo revocasti libera nos qui Petro mergenti manum porrexisti auxiliare nobis Christe."

" We have sinned, O Lord, we have sinned : pardon our sins and save us : thou who didst preserve Noah on the waters of the deluge, hear our prayer : thou, who by thy word, didst recall Jonas from the abyss, deliver us : thou who didst stretch forth thy hand to Peter, sinking in the waves, assist us, O Christ."

The Litany is followed by the hymn Gloria in Excelsis, and then several Collects are added, being prayers for the priests, the people, the universal Church, the peace and prosperity of princes and kingdoms, the givers of alms, &c. This order is very much the same as was in use in Rome in the fifth century. At a later period, probably in the ninth century, the Confiteor took the place of the ancient Litany. The Gallican Liturgy adopted a different usage, and commenced with an antiphon, which was followed by the Sanctus and the Kyrie.

I may here incidentally remark, that in the library of the famous monastery of St. Gall, there is still preserved one small fragment of some venerable MS. of our Celtic Church of the sixth or seventh century. It begins with the antiphon: "Peccavimus Domine, peccavimus, parce nobis "... And on the verso begins the Litany:

" Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis.
Sancte Petre, ora pro nobis.
Sancte Paule, ora pro nobis."

Westwood, in his magnificent work, "Facsimiles, &c., of Anglo-Saxon and Irish MSS." (London, 1868), page 68, refers to this passage, and thinks it must have belonged to some ancient Penitential of our Church. From its analogy with the beginning of the ordo of the Mass in the Stowe Missal, I think we should rather conclude that it formed part of an Irish Missal, perhaps the very Missal used by the great missioner, St. Gall, himself.

The custom of introducing several Collects in the Mass was regarded in Gaul as in a special manner characteristic of the Irish liturgy. In a Synod held at Matiscon in the year 623, objections were raised by a monk named Agrestius, against the disciples of St. Columban on account of this peculiarity of their Missal : "Quod a caeterorum ritu ac norma desciscerent et sacra missarum solemnia orationum et collectarum multiplici varietate celebrarent" St. Eustasius, a disciple of St. Columbanus and abbot of the Columban monastery of Lisieux (Luxovium), who was present at the Council, admitted the fact, but added " Orationum porro multiplicationem in sacris officiis multum prodesse quis neget? Cum et orationi sine intermissione vacari nobis ex divino praecepto incumbat et quo plus Dominus quaeritur, plus inveniatur, nihilque cuivis Christiano et maxime poenitentibus salubrius sit, quam Deum multiplicatione precum et orationum assiduitate pulsare."

One of the Collects in the Stowe Missal is entitled Oratio prima Petri, and runs thus :

Deus qui culpa offenderis, poenitentia placaris, afflictorum gemitus respice, et mala quae juste inrogas misericorditer averte. Per Dominum, &c.

O God, who by sin art offended, but art appeased by penance, look down upon the anguish of the afflicted, and in thy mercy avert the scourges which thy justice requireth, through our Lord, &c.

A lesson is added from I, Corinthians, chapter xi., beginning " Fratres quotiescunque manducabitis" with the prayer : "Omnipotens sempiterne Deus qui populum tuum, &c. ;" and then follows the versicle:

" R. Quaerite Dominum et confirmamini. Fortitude mea et laudatio mea usque in salutem."

" Sacrificio praesentibus Domine quaesumus intende placatus, ut devotioni nostrae proficiat ad salutem."

Then follows the Rubric : " Deprecatio Sancti Martini pro populo incipit. Amen. Deo gracias. Dicamus omnes : Domine exaudi et miserere''

At page 14 of the MS., the Lesson from the Gospel of St. John, sixth chapter, is introduced with the Rubric : "Lethdirech rund. Dirigatur Domine usque vespertinum, tunc canitur. Hic elevatur lintearnen de calice. Veni Domine sanctificator omnipotens et benedic hoc sacrificium praeparatum tibi, Amen. Tunc canitur locus Evangelii secundum Johannem : Dominus noster Jesus Christus dixit : Ego sum panis. Et oratio Gregorii super Evangelium : Quaesumus Domine omnipotens, &c."

The Irish words, Lethdirech rund, imply a half uncovering here, and a corresponding phrase is met with after the Gospel of St. John, i.e., landirech rund, a full uncovering here. This shows that the chalice was partly uncovered before, and was fully uncovered after the chanting of the Gospel. This double uncovering of the chalice is thus referred to in an ancient Irish Tract on the ceremonies of the Mass, preserved in the Leabhar Breac, fol. I26a:

" The two uncoverings, including the half one, of the Chalice of the Mass, and of the Oblation, .and what is chanted at them, both of Gospel and Alleluja, is the figure of the written law in which Christ was manifestly foretold, but was not seen until His birth. The elevation of the Chalice of the Mass and of the Paten, after the full uncovering, at which this verse is sung ; Immola Deo sacrificium laudis, is the figure of the birth of Christ, and of His manifestation through signs and miracles : this is the beginning of the New Testament."

The words which follow in the Rubric are very easily explained. The Dirigatur Domine is still used in the liturgy, during the incensation of the Altar : " Dirigatur, Domine, oratio mea, sicut incensum in conspectu tuo : elevatio manuum mearum sacrificium vespertinum."

The Veni Domine Sanctificator agrees in substance with the prayer that follows after the Offertory in the present Roman Missal : " Veni sanctificator omnipotens aeterne Deus, et benedic hoc sacrificium tuo sancto nomini praeparatum." The corresponding prayer in the Sarum Missal approaches still nearer to the Irish form: "Veni sanctificator omnipotens et Domine Deus : benedic et sanctifica hoc sacrificium quod tibi est praeparatum."

Dr. Todd suggests, and probably with reason, that the prayer of St. Gregory, subsequently referred to in the Rubric, is that which occurs at the end of the Liber Sacramentorum of that great Pontiff: " Quaesumus omnipotens Deus, ne nos tua misericordia derelinquat, quae et errores nostros semper amoveat et noxia cuncta depellat. Per Dominum."

The Creed forms part of the order of the Mass, and agrees in substance with the Nicene Creed. The filioque does not form part of the original text, but was added by the more recent hand. A facsimile of the following passage is given by Dr. O'Conor :

" Cujus regni non erit finis. Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificatorem, ex Patre procedentem, cum Patre et Filio coadorandum, et conglorificandum."

Dr. O'Conor tells us that the ceremony of mixing water with the wine for the Holy Eucharist is wholy omitted, as are also the Lavabo and the prayer Suscipe Sancta Trinitas. In enumerating the orders of the Hierarchy, three only are mentioned in this Missal, viz., bishops, priests, and deacons.

The festivals commemorated are the following :

1. Natale Domini, Christmas day.

2. Kalendas, the 1st of January, Feast of the Circumcision.

3. Stellae, the Epiphany.

4. Dies Natalis Calicis Domini Nostri, the beginning of the Passion of our Lord, i.e., the First day of Lent.

5. Pasca, Easter.

6. Clausula Pascae, the Octave of Easter. Low Sunday.

7. Ascensio, Ascension-day.

8. Pentacoste, the Feast of Pentecost.

There is one common preface assigned for all these festivals, into which, on each feast-day, an additional clause might be introduced, having special reference to such festival. Hence the preface is twice interrupted by rubrics in the Irish language, which have been thus translated:

1. " Here the preface receives the addition, if it be followed by Per Quem:

2. " Here the preface receives the addition, if it be followed by Sanctus" i.e., the special portion of the preface was to be inserted either where the Per Quem or where the Sanctus occurs in the ordinary text.

The Canon of the Mass, which is marked with the Rubric Canon Dominicus Papae Gilasi, presents the following very remarkable passage, which shows that it was compiled before the total abolition of idolatry in our island:

" Hanc igitur oblationem servitutis nostrae Ecclesiae sed et cunctae familiae tuae quam tibi offerimus in honorem Domini nostri Jesu Christi, et in commemorationem beatorum martirum tuorum, in hac ecclesia quam famulus tuus ad honorem nominis gloriae tuae aedificavit, quaesumus Domine ut placatus suscipias, eumque atque omnem populum ab idulorum cultura eripias et ad te Dominum Patrem omnipotentem convertas."

" We beseech, O Lord, that mercifully thou wouldst receive this tribute of our duty of the church, and of all thy people, which we offer in honour of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in commemoration of thy blessed martyrs, in this church which thy servant erected unto the honour of Thy name and Glory, and that Thou wouldst deliver him and all the people from the worship of idols, and convert them to the Lord, the Father Omnipotent."

The form of consecration and the subsequent prayers correspond literally with those still used in the Roman Missal, down to the Memento for the dead, which assumes a form altogether peculiar as follows:

" Memento etiam Domine et eorum nomina, qui nos praecesserunt cum signo fidei et dormiunt in somno pacis. Cum omnibus in toto mundo offerentibus sacrificium spirituale Deo Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto, Sanctis et venerabilibus sacerdotibus offert senior noster N. praesbiter, pro se et pro suis, et pro totius aeclesiae cetu Catholico, et pro commemorando anathletico gradu venerabilium Patriarcharum, Profetarum, Apostolorum et Martyrum et omnium quoque Scotorum,* ut pro nobis Dominum Deum nostrum recordare dignentur:

Sancte Stefane, ora pro nobis.
S. Martine, ora pro nobis.
S. Hironime, ora pro nobis.
S. Augustine, ora pro nobis."

*This was probably a mistake of the scribe for Sanctorum.

And then twenty-eight names of other saints are added by the more modern hand, which, as I have already remarked, Dr. Todd considers to belong to the eighth century. These names are, " St. Gregory, St. Hilary, St. Patrick, St. Ailbhe, two SS. Finnian, two SS. Kieran, two SS. Brendan, two SS. Columba, St. Comgall, St. Canice, St. Findbarr, St. Nessan, St. Fachtna, St. Lugid, St. Lacten, St. Ruadhan, St. Carthage, St. Coemghen, St. Mochonna, St. Brigid (written Brigta in the MS.), St. Ita, St. Scetha, St. Sinecha, St. Samdine."

The two SS. Finnian invoked in this Litany are St. Finnian of Clonard, who died in the year 549, and St. Finnian of Moville, whose death is recorded in our Annals in the year 579. The two SS. Ciaran, both died before the middle of the sixth century. St. Brendan, of Birr, died in 572, and St. Brendan, of Clonfert, in 577. There were many Irish saints of the name Columba; the two here referred to are probably St. Columba, i. e. Columbkille, of Iona, who died in 595, and St. Columba, i.e. Columbanus, of Bobbio, who died in 615. St. Mochonna, the latest name in the above list, died in the year 704.

This Litany is followed by the Agnus Dei, and then by a short prayer which is ascribed to St. Ambrose ; after which another commemoration begins of all the principal saints of the Old Testament, followed by Apostles, Martyrs, &c, down to our own Apostle St. Patrick, with whom are linked forty- six names of Irish saints, the latest of whom is St. Kevin of Glendalough.

In addition to this "Every-day Mass" (Missa Cotidiana) there is also a special Mass for the feasts of the Apostles and Martyrs and Holy Virgins (Missa Apostolorum et Martirum et sanctarum Virginum), another Mass for Penitents (Missa pro poenitentibus vivis), and one for the Dead (Missa pro Mortuis).

Were no other monument of our early Church preserved to us, this Missal alone would suffice to show the conformity of the Catholic Church of to-day in doctrine and discipline with the ancient Church of our fathers. The Mass itself agrees in all essential matters with the Liturgy of the present day, and clearly sets forth in the form of consecration and following prayers, the doctrine of the Real Presence. Thus, the Irish priests, thirteen hundred years ago, when offering the Holy Sacrifice, breathed forth the same sweet prayer that is repeated by the priest of to-day : "Humbly we beseech Thee O Almighty God, direct this offering to be carried by the hands of Thy holy Angel unto Thy heavenly altar in the presence of Thy Divine Majesty, that all of us who receive through the participation of this altar, the most holy Body and Blood of Thy Son, may be filled with every heavenly blessing and grace, through the same Christ our Lord." Again, we find the holy Apostles and Martyrs and Virgins, and other saints solemnly commemorated, and their intercession invoked that they may be mindful of us before the throne of God. A memento was also made every day for the repose of the faithful departed, and even a special Mass was offered up praying the Divine mercy for those who had been faithful during life, and had gone before us with the sign of Christ and slept in peace.

At page 70 of the MS. the Missal terminates, and the Ordo Baptismi (occupying 41 pages) begins, giving the rites and ceremonies of Baptism as practised in our early Church. The order of Baptism commences with a prayer that Satan may be banished with all his evil works from the person about to be baptised. The exorcism of the salt then follows, agreeing almost verbally with that in use at the present day. After the interrogatory Abrenuntias Satanae? "Do'st thou renounce Satan ?" comes the ceremonial opening of the ears: "Efeta, quod est aphertio in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti." A phrase similar to that which we have already met with in the Canon of the Mass occurs in the Baptismal prayer: "Quem liberasti de err ore gentilium" ''whom thou hast freed from the errors of idolatry," and supplies an additional proof that when this Sacramentary was compiled many of the Irish people were still heathens and unbelievers in the Faith of Christ. Then follows the first anointing, after which we have the Rubric:

" Huc usque catachominus incepit olearioleo de crismate in pectus et inter scabulas (scapulas) antequam baptitsaretur : deinde letania circa fontem canitur : deinde benedictio fontis ; deinde duo salmi sitivit anima mea y &c. Deinde benedictione completa mittit sacerdos cresmaria in modum crucis in fontem et quicumque voluerit implere vasculum aqua benedictionis ad domus consecrandas, et populus aspergitur aqua benedicta."

Here, again, everything serves to identify more and more the early Church of Ireland with the Catholic Church which still flourishes in our island. The anointing of the Cathechumen, with chrism, on the breast and between the shoulders the chanting of the litany around the fountain the pouring of the sacred chrism into the font, in the form of a cross the people bearing away with them the hallowed water to impart blessing to their homes the aspersing of the congregation with holy water ; all prove that the doctrine and practices of the Irish, as far back as the sixth century, were in all essential matters the very same as those of the mother Church of Rome.

Immediately before the Baptism, the Catechism, or questions asked upon articles of faith, is set forth. According to the Rubric, which is added, the Priest then accompanied to the font the person or persons to be baptized, descendit in fontem. Some have supposed that these words imply that the Priest himself entered the fountain with the person who was about to receive baptism ; but without further proof we cannot accept this as the meaning of the Rubric.

After the form of Baptism, the Ritual thus continues:

" Oleatur cresmate in cerebrum in frente, et dat vestem candidam Diaconus super capite et fronte et dicitur, (a) Presbitero Domine Sancte Omnipotens, Domine noster Jesu Christe qui te regeneravit ex aqua et Spiritu Sancto, quique tibi dedit remissionem omnium peccatorum, ipse telineat crismate salutis. Ungo te de oleo de chrismate salutis, &c., et dat vestem candidam diaconus super caput in frontem et vestitur manto candido, tegitur(a) presbitero. Tunc lavit pedes accepto linteo, Dominus et salvator noster Jesus Christus pridie quam pater etur, accepto linteo splendido et sancto et immaculato precinctis lumbis stds fudit aquam in pelvem, lavit pedes discipulorum suortim, &c."

This rite of washing the feet at the end of the baptismal ceremony, though not practised in Rome, was followed in many of the continental churches. At Milan, in the days of St. Ambrose, and throughout the Churches of Gaul, the practice was universal. The Council of Elvira (a.d. 301) in its 48th canon, enacted that this ceremony of washing the feet in Baptism should be performed not by the celebrant, but by one of the assistant clerics : "Placuit . . . neque pedes eorum (qui baptizantur) lavandi sunt a sacerdotibus sed clericis"

In the ancient Liturgy of Gaul, published by Mabillon, we have, immediately after Baptism, the Rubric "Dum pedes ejus lavas, dicis : Ego tibi lavo pedes. Sicut Dominus noster Jesus Christus fecit discipulis suis, tu facias hospitibus et peregrinis, ut habeas vitam aeternam." In the famous Bobbio Missal, used by St. Columbanus and his disciples at Luxieu, a similar Collect is assigned to be recited whilst performing this ceremony. After the newly-baptized has been clothed in the white garment, the Rubric has " Collectio ad pedes lavandos" with the prayer : "Ego tibi lavo pedes ; sicut Dominus noster Jesus Christus fecit discipulis suis, ita tu facias hospitibus et peregrinis. Dominus noster Jesus Christus de linteo quo erat praecinctus, tersit pedes discipulorum suorum, et quod ego facio tibi, tu facies peregrinis, hospitibus et pauperibus."

St. Cesarius, Archbishop of Aries, who died A. D. 542, also makes reference in his sermons to this baptismal rite : "Hoc itaque admoneo, Fratres dilectissimi, ut quotiens Paschalis sollemnitas venit, quicumque viri, quaecumque mulieres de sacro fonte filios spiritaliter exceperunt, cognoscant se pro ipsis fidejussores apud Deum extitisse, et ideo semper illis sollicitudinem verae caritatis impendant. Admoneant ut auguria non observent . . . peregrinos excipiant et secundum quod ipsis in baptismo dictum est, hospitum pedes lavant."

I have dwelt the more particularly on this rite, though in itself so unimportant, because it presents the only point of divergence of the Irish Baptismal Ritual from the practice of Rome. The writer contemporary with St. Ambrose, to whom we have just now referred, expressly tells us that in Rome the washing of the feet was not observed in his time, probably on account of the number of Catechumens who flocked to the sacred font in that central See of the Catholic world : "Non ignoramus quod Ecclesia Romana hanc consuetudinem non habeat, cujus typum in omnibus sequimur et formam. Hanc tamen consuetudinem non habet ut lavet. Vide ergo ne forte propter multitudinem declinarit." The ceremony, at all events, was an unessential one, and as it was practised in the Church of Milan, which " followed in all things the rule and example of Rome," so it might well be observed for a time at least in Ireland, without in any way lessening the ardour of the devotion and reverence of our Fathers for the Holy See.

After the Ordo Baptismi is inserted a tract in very ancient Irish extending over the three or four last pages of the MS. This tract is supposed by Dr. Todd to be " a general explanation of the Mass," but it has not as yet been deciphered by our antiquarians.

Such, then, is the Liturgical monument of our early Church, which from the days of St. Ruadhan, has been handed down to us with devotional reverence by our fathers. If the religious of Lothra achieved no other work than that of preserving to us this precious record of the faith of our fathers, they would yet have well deserved our gratitude. More than once that monastery was plundered by the Danes in their incursions of the eighth and following centuries. About the year 832, writes Dr. Todd (Wars of the Danes, xlviii), "Turgesius plundered the ecclesiastical establishments of Connaught and Meath, namely, Clonmacnoise in Meath; Clonfert of St. Brendan in Connaught; Lothra, now Lorrha, a famous monastery founded by St. Ruadhan or Rodan, in the county of Tipperary; Tirdaglass, now Terryglass, in the same county; Inisceltra, an island on which were seven churches, and all the other churches of Lough Dearg in like manner." Again, in 920, new hordes returned from the Scandinavian coast and "plundered Inisceltra, and cast into the lake its shrines, relics, and books : they plundered also Mucinis Riagail (i.e., Hog-island of St. Riagal or Regulus), and other churches on the islands of the lake : on the mainland they plundered Tirdaglass, Lothra, Clonfert, and Clonmacnoise" (Ibid, xciv, n. i). It was no easy task amid such scenes of devastation, to preserve intact the precious heirloom of St. Ruadhan. Probably at that time, however, the original case in which the venerable Missal was enshrined was damaged or destroyed, and hence, when the monastery was restored to peace, it became an anxious care of the religious community to have a cumhdach prepared for it worthy of the precious relic to be encased.


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