I remember hearing somewhere that Eucharistic Prayer 2 (Lord, You are holy indeed, the fountain of all holiness…) is very ancient. Does anyone have any info about its history? The Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer 1) has been in use for centuries, but when EP2 was introduced in the Liturgy of Paul VI, it was apparently a re-introduction, so where did it originally come from?
Hello! I too have read this somewhere in one of many books on the Roman Liturgy that I have read. I know it is based on the Anaphora of Hippolytus. I did a quick google search and found this site which compares the contemporary Eucharistic Prayer II with the ancient one of Hippolytus
Hope this helps. If I find the info in one of my books, I’ll post again later.
Kiechlin, thanks for linking to my blog post. (I might have been a bit over-zealous about the unchangingness of the Roman Canon, but the modifications to it since Pope St. Gregory the Great have been few and far between, to the extent that when Bl. Pope John XXIII added St. Joseph’s name, some people gasped for air as if to say, “If the Roman Canon can be changed… then anything can!”)
E.P. II is based on one of the anaphoras (Eucharistic prayers) found in chapter 4 of the Apostolic Tradition attributed to St. Hippolytus of Rome (who was an antipope for a time before being reconciled back to the Church). It was not copied word-for-word: certain things were omitted (some of which I think should have been retained) and certain things were added (to bring E.P. II more in line with the Roman Canon and the other Eucharistic prayers being invented at the time). There was, however, an antiquarian faction that wanted to re-introduce this anaphora as is, without the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) after the Preface, without mention of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and without mention of the Eucharist being offered in union with the local Bishop and the Pope. That antiquarian idea was, thankfully, suppressed. But there are still some who prize E.P. II because it’s based on such an old prayer, and older must mean better, to them.
It should be noted that the anaphora, as found in the Apostolic Tradition of St. Hippolytus, was presented as a sample, as a model (see chapter 9:3-4) for what a newly ordained bishop would pray at the Mass of his ordination (see chapter 4:1-2)! Maybe that’s why it’s so short?
E.P. II was not designed to be used as the everyday prayer over the Eucharist; it was meant to be one possible prayer used by a newly ordained bishop. And there’s no actual evidence that such a prayer was ever used. I think this document is the only source for it we have. It might have been what “Pope” Hippolytus was trying to legislate. I don’t know.
Aside from the oldest Eucharistic Prayer 1; The Roman Canon
I too had heard that the original Eucharistic Prayer 2 was very old. In fact it’s just shy of 2000 years old. Eucharistic prayer II comes from one of the early Church Fathers, Hippolytus, who wrote some of the first descriptions of the liturgy in the Apostolic Traditions of 215 AD. . His writings gave scholars insight into the way the early Church celebrated the Mass …The Tridentine Mass used only one Eucharistic prayer (Eucharistic prayer I). In the New Mass, however, there are nine Eucharistic prayers: four for Sunday and weekday use, two for Masses focusing on reconciliation and three for Masses with children…
The Roman Rite, starting from around the year AD 400, used one Eucharistic prayer, the “Roman Canon”. St. Ambrose recorded some of it in his De Sacramentis. Pope St. Gregory the Great “codified” the Roman Rite, and it was essentially the same since the 7th century through the 20th. The Roman Canon was the one Eucharistic prayer, almost untouched, for possibly 1500 years.
Now there are lots of Eucharistic Prayers, which is not characteristic of the traditional Roman liturgy.
I always thought that Eucharistic Prayer 1 was the older than Eucharistic Prayer 2
seems obvious ? Anyways; I heard some Catholics say that nine Eucharistic Prayers in the Novus Ordo Mass was excessive. Eucharistic prayers #1 to #4 are usually the ones most often heard in the New Mass.
Well, it’s said by some that St. Peter himself wrote the Roman Canon, but I think that’s a stretch. St. Ambrose quotes the Canon in a way that leads us to believe it already existed (before the 4th century), but we don’t know how long. Pope St. Gregory the Great said some scholasticus (“scholar”, probably not a person’s name) wrote it.
There’s more than nine, actually.
Thanks all and the nine are those in the Roman Missal in the US. If memory serves me correctly, there are almost as many anaphorae in the Roman Rite as there are in the Maronite Rite, but those other than EP 1-4 are rarely used.
The Roman Rite, starting from around the year AD 400, used one Eucharistic prayer, the “Roman Canon”.
Not so. The so-called Roman Canon was composed by Pope St. Gelasius, who reigned in the late 5th century.
I was wrong about De Sacramentis being ascribed to St. Ambrose (it’s pseudo-Ambrose), and its date is later than AD 400. However, the Catholic Encyclopedia says the evidence favors that the Canon was already around before Pope Gelasius.
Not so. It is true that the Stowe Missal for example, says that it i the “Canon of the Lord Popr Gelasius” but this can mean that he only had an influence on it. Various scholars have all speculated on his role, but this was in a large part based on the supposition that the Anaphora of Hippolytus represented a primitive Roman usage. I liked Bouyer’s treatment of the issue in “Eucharist”; unfortunately, I’m travelling and don’t have access to it, or I’d have typed it out. There’s also the question of whether the Apostolic Traditions are actually Roman at all. Fr. Baldovin wrote a good summary about this in either Worship or Theological Studies–I forget which one.
That used to be the prevailing opinion for many centuries but now it is actually ascribed to St. Ambrose and can be dated to c. 400 or earlier. Botte wrote an excellent summary in Des Sacrements, Des Mysteres in which he reversed his position in his book with the critical edition of the Canon. He concluded that despite very different styles, this can be attributed to St. Ambrose. A few of the errors were also caused by using a certain copy of De Sacramentis, which was heavily “corrected” in certain key areas. I think he concludes that if it was someone other than Ambrose (and he present very good evidence that it was St. Ambrose) then it had to be someone extremely close geographically and time-wise. I believe that the authorship to St. Ambrose is generally accepted by liturgical scholars now.
I usually break it down:
Prayer I - “High Holy Days”, i.e. Christmas, Holy Week, Easter, Corpus Christi
Prayer II - Weekdays
Prayer III - usual Sundays (and funerals)
Prayer IV - only when the Gospel tells of Jesus reading Isaiah in the synagogue
Reconcililation Prayers - 1st and last weeks of Lent
Children’s Prayer II - parish school masses