How old is the reading cycle?


I’m not sure I’m phrasing this correctly. But I’m doing some research, and cannot find this information. I know the daily readings go on a 3 year cycle, and it’s possible to look up the reading for any day of the year at various sites. But what if I wanted to know what the daily reading was for a day in February 1315? Would the cycle we use today have been in effect that far back? If not, how would I find out what the readings would have been for particular days in that time?

There are two forms of the Mass in current use.

If we’re talking the NO Mass (the most commonly used form, where the priest will usually face the congregation, pray mostly or entirely in the vernacular language rather than Latin and so forth), well that (and its associated cycle of readings) has only been around since 1970.

The second form, the EF, has been around since the 1500s, so even knowing its reading cycle wouldn’t necessarily help for 1315.

Is the date a particular feast of some kind? A saint’s day or something? That might help narrow it down.

The three-year Sunday cycle and the two-year weekday cycle were developed after Vatican II, so they only go back a few decades.

I don’t know how far the one-year cycle of readings (as found in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass) goes back. However, generally speaking, weekdays that were not feast days simply used the previous Sunday’s readings.

That’s an interesting question!

As noted above, the 3-year reading cycle came in with the current Ordinary Form of the Mass. Prior to that, we were on a 1-year cycle, with the Prodigal Son coming up the same Sunday every year, instead of the current cycle where he only comes up every third year because we only go through the Gospel of Luke every third year.

The liturgical texts gradually started to be prescribed in the 7th century or so, but I don’t think the exact readings were laid down until the Council of Trent (1563). I think before that time, the Epistle and Gospel would have been read or chanted in Latin during Mass, but not necessarily translated, and if there was an exact set of readings laid out, the Church wasn’t policing whether these were followed or not.

You may be able to find a period Lectionary online, though.

The person who set up this page about lectionaries, for instance, might be a wealth of information; he has put contact information on the site:

He does Anglican lectionaries, too, so you’ll need to be clear not only about what lectionary period you’re interested in, but also for what denomination or rite within Christendom.

Thank you for a wealth of information! I have just learned a lot about Catholic history that my online research had not so far turned up. I found the bombaxo site very helpful and sent him an e-mail. Thank you again.

Also, were all readings, universally, without fail done in Latin? The time and place I’m looking at is the Scottish Higlands fourteenth century. Is there any chance the readings would have been done in the vernacular? (I’m wondering now if I’m remembering wrong, but I thought the few times I went to a Tridentine Mass, the readings were in English.)

Well, the readings might’ve been repeated in the vernacular, but I think even that is a relatively recent (past 100 years) thing… but that’s just conjecture on my part.


None whatosever.

Good luck with your search. You will first have todetermine what Missal was used there at the time. In England the Rites of Herfordshire, and Sarum along with some other rites that do not exist were in use. The Gallican Rite from France also influenced the Missals of what is now the United Kingdom. Local uses, also existed, and the Bishop would oversee the Missals and feasts. Some Religious Orders also had their own Liturgies, and they varied from the Roman Use. In many places there were many fewer feasts than we have today. The custom developed when daily Mass became common to offer the Mass of the previous Sunday when there was no feast. So finding out where in Scotland, and what use would be a starting point. If you can find a copy of Liturgies of the Past, by Archdale King, (I’ll look for my copy) it may help in the search.

While the Roman Rite has been basically unchanged from at least the time of Pope Gregory the Great, the Feasts and readings have changed. I have a couple of Altar Missals from the 1600’s and on the Feasts of the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception the Masses are different from the 1961 Missal.

Actually before Trent there was some variation, and even after Trent

None whatosever.

There might be a small chance - the bishop of St. Asaph (Wales) argued at Trent for an extension of the vernacular to other parts of the Mass “than the Gospel” implying that part of the readings might have been repeated in the vernacular.

It would seem from Archdale King’s Liturgies of the Past that up until the Council of Trent and the Reformation in England the Sarum Missal was used for most of England and Scotland. York, Hereford, and Bangor were for the most part not found far outside their own Diocese. So finding a Sarum Missal, would be the first step. There are a couple of English Translations of the Sarum Missal that Anglican Scholars have published, and there are a few Old Catholics who have done their own Translations, but they are from what most scholars have judged inferior. Two or three are used by “Western Rite Orthodox” groups, each holds the other to be inaccurate, but the “Western Rite” among the Russian Orthodox are for the most part self educated Old Catholics who have backrounds that are suspicious.

So back to the subject, an early variant of the Sarum Rite was used in Scotland at the time, definatly in Latin. I’ll read some more King tonight and see what else I can find out.

An extension that was summarily declined…Besides, that was already more than two and a half centuries after the date in question. I’ll stick with no chance whatseover. :nerd:

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