Easter Vigil - Old Rite

I took this from my blog posting for convenience - as I have to be off the PC soon :slight_smile:

I have just found some pictures which were taken on the Easter Vigil I attended in the Old Rite: The whole Triduum was in the chapel of the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth (in London), which is the chapel of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta (the Knights of Malta).


I am actually one of the servers, and look disproportionately large, as the cassock was around 5 inches too big. I forgot to bring my own thinking I wouldnt actually be serving.

Enjoy :slight_smile:

Press-ganged? :slight_smile:

Hehehe :slight_smile:

I was told when I went into the Sacristy ‘you’re serving!’. I wanted to serve anyway, I just didn’t bring my Cassock!

Nice slideshow, Nick. Very beautiful pics. Is that ICRSS?. Also wondering if Scott goes to the same church as you. Now that I know you’ve updated your blog, I’ll have to go have a look. :wink:

I believe thats an indult. There is only one ICRSS priest in the whole of England if I’m correct.

And you will be able to find Scott in several of the pictures (I must say however, that those surplices are rather plain :p).

Caesar, you will have to post a pic of your much grander surplice, then. :wink:

Wow-- that’s a *hospital *chapel?? It’s gorgeous!

Nick, what is the tradition behind the Holy Fire?

I’m hoping that someone will take pics of our Mass post them on the FSSP site.

Then we can see your much grander surplice. :wink:

Pah… :wink:

Nick, can you tell me about the tradition of the Holy Fire?

Aren’t round neck surplices Anglican?

I am unsure about the specific details. However, Msgr Conlon in his homily explained that it is a tradition that came from the British and German missionary monks and arrived in Rome centuries ago.

Someone more knowledgeable (AJV for example) could probably expound more on it. :slight_smile:

Oh, yes. AJV, where are you? :slight_smile:

Sound asleep.:slight_smile:

The theory is that it originated in Germany and among the Franks, when the missionaries “Christianised” the custom of burning fires in honour of Odin to get good harvest . And therefore all the ritual, before the reform of 1951, was Frankish. In Rome there was no exact ritual with prayers until the 12th century. But the fire supplanted and added to another earlier Roman custom, that still was/is present in the Tenebrae rituals- the hidden candle. On Maundy Thursday all the lamps were extinguished and only one candle remained that was hidden, for complete darkness on Good Friday and then used again (later relit) on Easter to light lamps.

And later it became very mystical (the prayer survived in the newer Vigil) that the candle be struck from flint- because the flint stone represented Christ (from St. Paul’s reference in Corinthians “and the rock was Christ”) and elaborate interpretations were attached to it. For example, that it symbolized Christ being struck for the sins on the cross (hitting the flint) but rising again to new life (getting the fire). Another one is present in the collect for the blessing. St. Boniface letters say that in Germany originally, it was done by lens. The interpretation being of fire from heaven.

ah, now I know why we have the boy scouts standing by when we light the fire, in case the charcoal lighter fails they can use flint and steel or a lens. (I don’t know the theological basis for charcoal lighter, except men love to use it, and only men can be priests). good thinking. I also heard a comparison in a sermon to the fire in the courtyard near which Peter sat as he denied Christ, and the fire on the beach where Jesus cooked fish after the resurrection.

Thanks, AJV! :slight_smile:


The new fire is one of the oldest Christian traditions and has its roots in the Old Testament practices of the Jews.

The early Christians continued the Jewish practice of lighting lamps in the evening, at the end of the Sabbath, but as a well-established Saturday night ritual, they used it to start their Sunday observances on Saturday night. This became the basis of the Lucernarium, a vigil rite that consisted of scripture readings and psalms, followed by Holy Mass. This was associated with a number of feast days, and possibly even every Sunday in some places, according to selected scholars.

Eusebius tells us that these lights became associated with the Easter Vigil as early as the third century, and also says that in the fourth century, Constantine set lamps throughout the city in observance of the Easter Vigil. St. Gregory of Nyssa suggests a similar practice in Cappdocia at the same time, and there are reports of Milan following suit. Like so many wonderful symbols of the Easter Vigil that tie the Old and New Testaments together, the fire was simultaneously an image of the pillar of fire that had led the Hebrews out of Egypt and also the light of the Paschal Lamb emerging from the darkened tomb during the night. The use of the new fire was not universal, as some bishops forbade them because they resembled the bonfires lit by pagans as part of their spring solstice celebrations. As ancient paganism died out, so did objections to the new fires.

From this the paschal candle arose as a singular symbol of the resplendent light emerging on Easter morning. Light was needed by which to proclaim the sacred scriptures and sing the paschal praises, and thus the light of the fire developed into the paschal candle, which carried the light into the church and among the faithful, and then functioned as the light by which the Exsultet, prophecies and gospel were proclaimed.

The large size of the paschal candle later developed into yet another custom, that of carrying several flames away from the new fire, lest the single flame of the paschal candle be blown out or lost while being carried into the church. This caused the creation of the triple-flamed reed, which was lit from the new fire and carried into the church, then used to light the paschal candle once inside. The reforms of the 1950’s did away with the reed and restored the paschal candle as being directly lighted from the new fire.

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