Holy Week as it was in Rome

And by the title, I mean that: we’re going to look at the ceremonies performed during Holy Week as described in the Gelasian Sacramentary, with more emphasis on the Easter Triduum. Yes, this is a sister of THAT thread. How fitting, since that was a description of the Easter Sunday Mass.

To Mods: I’m going to post it here in the Traditional Catholicism forum first as I’m not really sure where to post it. If it doesn’t fit here, please move it where appropriate.

**Palm Sunday

Dominica in Palmis (De Passione Domini**)


Three of the earliest Roman liturgical books, the Gelasian Sacramentary (7th c.), and both the Paduan (7th c.) and the Hadrian (8th c.) editions of the Gregorian Sacramentary already call the Sunday before Easter Dominica in Palmis (“Sunday for Palms”) or Die dominico ad Palmas. Even so, none of these documents explicitly mention any observances of palm rites, which were by the time already being performed in various parts of Christendom. The references to palms is absent in the propers, and in all the Roman Epistolari and Evangaliari of the period - in fact, the original title for the day probably did not mention palms at all, since the rite did not probably reach Rome until about the tenth century. In Rome, Palm Sunday was simply Passion Sunday, due to the fact that the Passion account from Matthew’s Gospel was read on this day. After the Gospel is read, the pope then usually gave a sermon on the first half of the account, postponing his explanation of the remainder to the following Wednesday.

Such ceremony had already existed in Jerusalem as early as the 4th century, as testified to by the pilgrim Egeria; in the West, it appears for the first time in the Liber Ordinum, a liturgical book of the Mozarabic Rite containing practices of the fifth to seventh centuries; both the blessing of palms at the altar and a subsequent procession with palms are mentioned. In the North Italian-Celtic Bobbio Missal (7th-8th century) a prayer for “the Blessing of Palms and Olives on the altar” is provided, but it says nothing about a procession afterwards; it does, however, indicate that the laity took palms home with them “piously with devotion.” In the next century, the liturgist Amalarius of Metz apparently described the custom in his native Gaul: “In memory of this [our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem] we are accustomed throughout our churches to carry branches and to cry Hosanna.” It was during this same period that Theodulf, Bishop of Orléans (ca. 750/60-821) composed the hymn Gloria, Laus et Honor. A procession is described in the tenth-century Regularis Concordia, a document produced in Winchester detailing the practices of English Benedictine monasteries:

…the gospel Turba multa [John 12:12-19] shall be read by the deacon as far as the words “Behold, the whole world is gone after him”: the blessing of the palms shall follow. After the blessing the palms shall be sprinkled with holy water and incensed. While the children begin the antiphons Pueri Hebraeorum the palms shall be distributed. Then the greater antiphons shall be intoned and the procession shall go forth. As soon as the mother church is reached the procession shall wait while the children, who shall have gone on before, sing Gloria laus with its verses, to which all shall answer Gloria laus, as the custom is. When this is finished the cantor shall intone the respond Ingrediente Domino and the doors shall be opened.

It is more likely that the arrival in Rome of the Romano-Germanic Pontifical compiled in in St. Alban’s Abbey, Mainz, under the reign of William, Archbishop of Mainz, in the mid-tenth century, would have led to the introduction of the Procession of Palms into the Roman liturgy, for just such a ceremony is described at great length in this work (Ordo de die Palmarum). The pontifical itself had a decisive influence over the Roman liturgical books of the twelfth-thirteenth centuries - such ceremonies already appear in the and Roman Ordines 11**12.

From the Gelasian Sacramentary:

De Passione Domini.

(Omnipotens sempiterne) Deus, qui humano generi ad imitandum humilitatis exemplum, Salvatorem nostrum et carnem sumere et crucem subire fecisti, concede (nobis) propitius ut et patientiae eius habere documentum et resurrectionis eius consortia mereamur, Christi Domini nostri. Qui tecum vivit et regnat Deus in unitate Spiritus sancti, per.
Deus, quem diligere et amare iustitia est, ineffabilis gratiae tuae in nobis dona multiplica: et [ut] qui fecisti nos morte Filii tui sperare quod credimus, fac nos, eodem resurgente, pervenire quo tendimus. Per.

Ipsa maiestati tuae, Domine, fidelis populus commendet oblatio, qui per Filium tuum reconciliavit inimicos, Iesum Christum Dominum nostrum. Qui tecum uiuit et regnat Deus in unitate Spiritus sancti, per omnia saecula saeculorum.

Sacro munere satiati, supplices te, Domine, deprecamur, ut qui debite servitutis celebramus officio, salvationis tuae suscipiamus augmentum. Per.

Ad Populum.
Purifica, quaesumus, Domine, familiam tuam, et ab omnibus contagiis pravitatis emunda, ut redempta vasa sui Domini passione, non spiritus immundus rursus inficiat, sed salvatio sempiterna possideat. Per.

From the Hadrian Sacramentary:

Ad Sanctum Iohannem in Lateranis.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui humano generi ad imitandum humilitatis exemplum, Salvatorem nostrum carnem sumere et crucem subire fecisti, concede propitius ut et patientiae ipsius habere documenta et resurrectionis consortia mereamur, Per.

Super oblata.
Concede, quaesumus, Domine, ut oculis tuae maiestatis munus oblatum, et gratiam nobis devotionis obtineat, et effectum beatae perennitatis acquirat. Per.

Ad completa.
Per huius, Domine, operationem mysterii: et vitia nostra purgentur, et iusta desideria compleantur. Per.

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