« PreviousContinue »
me,' while the Catholics, to use the words of Bishop England, believe it to be an unbloody sacrifice, in which, by the power of God, the institution of Christ, and the ministry of the priest, the body and blood of our blessed Saviour are produced upon the allar under the appearance of bread and wine, and are there offered to the Almighty as a propitiation of the sins of mankind, and in testimony of the adoration or homage which is his due. Hence, the more masses there are, the more sacrifice is offered for the propitiation of sin, and hence too the reason why, in the mass, there is not always, nor commonly, a distribution of the consecrated elements to the faithful. In a great proportion of cases, there are none but the priest who partakes of the consecrated elements. * The nature of this,' says Bishop England, ' is fully understood and appreciated by those who assist, even though they should not hear a word that is spoken, or, if hearing, should not understand the exact meaning of the language that is used.' On this account the priest takes no pains to be generally heard or understood. The service is in Latin, and the whole performance, almost, is either muttered by the priest, or chanted. In either case, it is equally unintelligible; yet, strange to tell, while the Catholic Church is so perfectly indifferent as to the intelligence of the language, she is very careful as to the pomp and extent of the ceremony of the mass, both as it respects the number of the performances in high mass, and the variety and exactness of the gesticulations and mani. pulation. I will briefly notice each of these. First, then, is the celebrant, or the priest or bishop, who leads in the consecration,then the deacon, the sub-deacon, the priest who is styled master of ceremonies, two acolyths, who carry lights, and another who is the thurifer, or censor-bearer, the sacristan, who has charge of the sacred vestments, besides the musicians, &c. Each of these have a peculiar dress, most of which are derived from the robes of state among the Romans, or from the robes of the ancient Roman priests. The author already quoted acknowledges that the antiquarian will discover the greatest portion to consist of the ancient Roman robes of state.' They are chiefly the toga, or robe—the trabea, which is thrown over the shoulders, with an aperture for the head, and a cross generally on the back-the amyct, for the neck—the alb, or white garment, and the cincture, or girdle. When a bishop officiates, he has tunic and a dalmatic : he also wears a hollow gold cross, hanging down in front, which is filled with sacred relics, in imitation of the bulla, or garden ball, which the ancient Roman patricians used to wear. He must celebrate mass fasting: he washes his fingers before he commences, and then they put a pair of gloves upon his hands, and a ring with a precious gem upon his finger. They put upon him the sacrificial vestments,-a mitre is placed upon his head, with two fillets hanging down behind. He has a golden crosier, which is a staff, with a turn at the upper end, like a shepherd's crook. Thus habited, and thus attended, he proceeds to his duties. The ceremony is very complicated, and the master of ceremonies stands by, to give directions, and to see that every thing is performed in due order. The acolyths hold the lights to illumine the book, although it is midday !-the thurifer attends to the incense, which is used sometimes by him, and some
times by the celebrant, in different parts of the service—the sacris. tan attends to the vestments, and to the wine and bread for consecration, &c.—the assistants hold the book, change it from side to side, hold up the vestments of the bishop, take off and put on his gloves, change his mitre for a cap, and again replace the mitre, &c., &c. The celebrant reads the service, chants, turns round, waves his hand, kneels, rises, prays to himself; sometimes faces the altar, sometimes the people, kisses the altar, the book, and other things, performs a variety of genuflections, and manipulations, and ceremonies, which, it seems to me, requires a long study and practice to understand or perform. At length, when the entire transformation of the bread and wine is effected, and the body and blood of Christ is supposed to be produced, then follows the elevation of the host, as it is called: that is, due notice being given, the celebrant raises up the wafer as an object of worship, whereupon all the people fall upon their knees in profound adoration, and then in like manner the cup, before which, as before the wafer, the people bow. The priest divides the wafer, and puts a part of it into the wine, that the blood and body of Christ may be commingled; he then eats one part, and afterward drinks the entire contents of the chalice. This in most cases closes the mass ; for, as before remarked, it is not common, compared with the number of masses celebrated, to distribute the elements to others: when this is done at all, which I witnessed in only one instance, the bread only is given-no one partaking of the wine but the priest.
In the present instance, to wit, on Maundy Thursday, the celebrant was a bishop, although the pope was present, and took some part of the ceremony. The customary honors were paid to him when he came in, and he opened the exercises. There were on this occasion, also, two portions of the elements consecrated-one being consumed by the celebrant, as usual, and the other reserved to be disposed of as will be seen in the following description of the
Procession. Twelve esquires, dressed in red, came from the sacristy with candles: these are distributed to those who are to join the procession, and are lighted. The procession consists of the same persons as on Palm Sunday, but the pope is not now carried in state,-he walks, with his head uncovered. The choir sung beautifully-incense smoked—the pope, wrapped in a veil, and covering the host with the same veil, follows the cross that is borne before him, and proceeds to the pauline chapel, which is in a different part of the vatican, to deposit the consecrated wafer in a kind of sepulchre, which is there prepared for it. The multitude all fall upon their knees as it passes for it is their god. It is desired, also, that all spectators should bow in like manner ; but for myself I could not conscientiously prostrate myself before what I believed to be as truly and literally a wafer as it was when it came from the hands of the manufacturer.
This place of deposit is called a sepulchre, though the ceremony is more properly an anniversary of the passion in the garden than of Christ's death, the anniversary of which is the next day. This disregard, however, of the unities of time and place is not uncommon in Italy, either in the ceremonies of the Church or in the exhibitions of the acts. Here the host reposes in state until the next day; the altar in which it is deposited is splendidly adorned, and lit up, in a beautiful manner, with six hundred wax candles.
Benediction. After the procession, our ladies were hastened into the church of St. Peter's, to secure good places for seeing the washing of feet, while most of us went to the front of that church to witness the benediction. This is a splendid exhibition, to form any correct conception of which one must have some idea of the place and of the multitudes present. The pope is in a lofty gallery of this magnificent church, opening into the great area of the matchless piazza in front. This piazza, vast as it is, seems but a moving mass of living men and women. Every eye is turned upward to watch the coming of the pope. At length, borne in state, he approaches the gallery from the interior, attended by his liveried retinue and the waving fabelli, which are a pair of magnificent fans, of peacock's feathers. A short service is read, and the pope spreads out his hands; the multitude fall upon their knees while he pronounces the benediction. The vast height of the pope--the devotion with which he gives and the people receive this blessing—the multitudes that compose the assembly, from every nation, and of every description of character—the prostration of the people upon their knees—the sounding of the bells, and the firing of the cannon of St. Angeloaltogether make this a very imposing ceremony.
Washing of the Feet. From the balcony the pope retires to prepare himself for the ceremony of washing the feet of persons selected for that purpose, in imitation of Christ's washing the feet of the disciples,-for in all things practicable by him, it behoveth the pope, it seems, to act the part of Christ, whose vicegerent he professes to be.
Here another scene of running and crowding occurred to secure good positions to witness this ceremony, which was to be performed in St. Peter's.
On a staging, elevated for the purpose, thirteen persons were placed, who had been selected to participate in this honor. It is not necessary, I believe, that they should hold any office in the Church,* but they are admitted or selected in an honorary way, to act a part for the time being in this ecclesiastical drama. It has been a question which has been answered in various ways, by Catholics themselves, and the subject is still unsettled, why they are thirteen instead of twelve, which was the number of those whom our Saviour washed. Some say the thirteenth represents St. Paul, others St. Matthias, others the host at whose house Christ celebrated the passuver.
But the more plausible conjecture is, that this thirteenth person was introduced to commemorate a remarkable event in the life of St. Gregory the Great. He was in the habit of feeding twelve poor persons daily; and on a certain occasion an angel appeared and seated himself in the company. On the Cælian Hill,
* Bishop England calls them priests.
in one of the chapels of the church of St. Gregory, we were shown a table, at which these poor persons were fed, on which was the following inscription :
· Bisenos hic Gregorios pascebat egenos angelus et duimus tertius accubuit.'
Here Gregory fed twelve persons and an angel ; the thirteenth came and seated himself with them.'
It is in commemoration of this event, it is supposed by many, the thirteenth individual was introduced into this ceremony, and into the one that follows of being fed and waited upon by the
pope. It is not necessary or profitable, however, to inquire too critically, into the reason for all the Catholic ceremonies.
The selection of these is made in the following. manner, viz: ? by(); the ambassadors of Austria, France, Spain, Portugal, and Venice; each one: one by each of three cardinals: one by the protector of Poland, the secretary of state, and the camerleng ; by the majordomo, by the captain of the Swiss guard : the cardinal prefect of the propaganda names two, and an Armenian priest is selected by the cardinal protector of that nation.'* The stockings were cut so as to admit of laying the foot bare with ease. The pope descended from his throne, robed gorgeously, and gírt with a towel trimmed with lace, attended by various officers, to hold the golden basin and ewer, to bear up his train, to hold up the foot that was to be washed, to bear the book and the lamps, to incense the pope, &c. The pope knelt, poured on the water, and rubbed the foot with the towel ; after which he kissed the foot, and it was again covered. The treasurer followed, and gave a purse and medals of gold and silver to each. Each also was presented with a towel and a nosegay.
Thus the exercise, with a concluding prayer, &c., was ended.
Immediately following this ceremony was the greatest crowd of all, in an attempt to witness the feeding of the pilgrims. But as I have already extended my letter to an unusual length, I will cease here, and defer the account of the remaining ceremonies until another time. I remain as ever yours,
From Blackwood's Magazine.
I had no idea of the warm interest of the new and exciting prospects, of the delightful hopes which this subject unfolds, till I came upon the spot where I am now. From Chalons sur Saone, to the Lower Alps, taking in the departments of the Isere, the Drome, and the Ardeche, there has been of late years a religious movement among the inhabitants of a very peculiar and most hopeful character. To these departments I shall limit the tour of observation I am now making, and to Lyons and the new churches within a day's journey therefrom, I shall confine my present communica
* Bishop England Vol. VII.-April, 1836. 19
Instead of presenting a general picture of the Protestant population and its ecclesiastical establishments in these districts, as I had intended to do, I shall follow the more interesting track of the new religious excitement which has recently taken place. I shall commence by announcing a fact of which I feel quite sure my readers were previously ignorant-a fact which will give them as much delight as surprise, viz: that Reformed Churches have been established within the last two years and a half at Chalons, Macon, Turnus, Luhans, and Givry, towns varying in their population from fifteen to four thousand inhabitants, whereas before that time almost every individual residing in those places was a Roman Catholic. Besides this, at Lyons and St. Etienne where there had always been Protestants, a correspondent movement has taken place, and a multitude of conversions have been made. In fact, there is a spirit abroad which has not been known in France since the time of the Reformation. At present it is creeping quietly along the ground and nestling itself in the humblest settling places; but by and by gathering strength and growth in these small resting spots, it may expand, I hope, its influence, and mount into higher places. The manner in which this spirit was first excited is very remarkable, and very striking and touching from the simplicity of the means used. Colporteurs, or hawkers, whose business it is to sell Bibles and tracts, in excursions made for that purpose over the country, introduced themselves, a little more than two years ago, into the house of a most bigoted Roman Catholic at Turnus. Almost all the inhabitants of that place are of the lowest rank of life, and the family alluded to was of this class. The reading of the Bible, however, and the conversation especially of one particular colporteur, converted the whole family. A conversion of this kind, it may well be imagined, where there was no advantage to be gained, but much persecution to be sustained, which indeed followed, could only have sprung from the liveliest convictions. There was one family there, consisting of four persons, ardent and enthusiastic for the Gospel in the midst of a population of five thousand inhabitants. This was a beginning; the colporteurs had thereby a pied a terre: they could read the Bible publicly, and speak to those who, out of curiosity, came to hear them. This they did with some effect, till an audience being prepared, a preacher was sent to ad. dress them. I am told that the first time the Gospel was regularly preached in the town, crowds flocked to hear it, and that a very great sensation was produced. There is at present a permanent Church established, and I saw myself a congregation assembled, though on a week-day evening, of about fifty persons. I must mention that this work, commenced originally by the humblest instruments, had not owed its spread and its success to that impulse which very rare and superior gifts and talents may sometimes, in a happy moment, communicate to a mass. If there had not been a secret disposition towards, and a want of religion previously existing, the Gospel could not have been received as it has been received, especially in the midst of all obloquy and reproach, for such is the gross ignorance of the people of this town, that the only true Christians in it are called, and by many believed to be, Saint Simonians. An anecdote was told me of a lady formerly residing