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Non-Roman Latin or Western rites
Question from frankiemujica on 8/10/2004:

Dear Mr. Donovan Do you know of a good wesite in the Internet with excellent photos of the main parts of the Western rites of the Catholic Church which are seldom used or in disuse such as the Gallican, Mozarabic (Spanish), Ambrosian and Celtic. I think the Celtic Rite is in total disused even in Ireland. I haven seen pictures of the Ambrosian Rite in the Internet. It looks like the Tridentine Roman Rite. I would like to see photos of those rites to see if they are really different from the Roman Rite. Frankie Mujica

Answer by Colin B. Donovan, STL on 8/12/2004:

I know of no such websites. Sorry.

Of the rites you mention only the Mozarabic (Toledo, Spain) and Ambrosian (Milan, Italy) are lawfuly celebrated. The other surviving Latin rites are Bragan, Domininican, Carmelite and Carthusian.

Below I have summarized the non-Roman Latin Rites from the New Catholic Encylopedia (1960s edition). I will continue to refine it from other sources and post it among the liturgy FAQs. Keep in mind that these surviving, and in most cases barely surviving, Latin Rites are representative of the great diversity of rites in the West prior to the Council of Trent. Those younger than 300 years were swept away in its reforms.

I am likewise working on a summary of the Roman Rite to be included in the FAQs. It will take considerable effort to do it justice. Please be patient.

Ambrosian or Milanese Rite - While probably almost identical to the Roman Rite of the 4th century during St. Ambrose’s time, developments of the next millennium caused it to depart from Roman practice. Some of the notable features were a procession (instead of prayers at the foot of the altar), Kyrie after the Gloria, instead of before, the altar facing the people, three lessons on Sunday (instead of the two of the Tridentine), another Kyrie at the beginning of the Offertory, the Credo after the Offertory prayers, the washing of hands before the Consecration (done silently; probably a late medieval feature), Our Father and Communion Rite much like Rome, though Communion under both species survived longer in Milan, and another Kyrie after the Communion prayers. The Ambrosian Rite is also known for a chant tradition distinct from the Gregorian. In regard to the other sacraments, the New Catholic Encyclopedia notes that they ware almost identical to Rome, except for Baptism which had some differences, including baptism by immersion. This was written at a time (the 1960s) when such baptism was uncommon in the Roman Rite. At the time of the Vatican Council this rite was used in Milan (Pope Paul VI), Bergamo (John XXIII) and Novara in Italy, as well as Lugano in Switzerland. I believe it is relatively unused today, although the right to its use remains.

Bragan (Portugal) Rite – While the archepiscopal See of Braga has at various times followed the Roman Rite, including since Vatican II, it retains the right to celebrate the Mass according to customs dating from at least the 11th century and mixing Roman, Gallican (specifically the monastery of Cluny) and Mozarabic practices. It is considered, however, a variant of the Roman Rite, distinctive in having the preparation of the gifts before the prayers at the foot of the altar in a low Mass (unsung), and between the epistle and Gospel at a high Mass (sung). Some other differences are invocations of the Blessed Mother within the Mass prayers, and three elevations (a single one after the consecrations, at the beginning of the Our Father and before the Communion of the celebrant).

Carthusian Rite – The order of the Mass proper to the Carthusian Order founded by St. Bruno in 1064 and which lives a solitary life in community. The predominant influence from probably the Rite of Lyon, France. The Mass begins at the foot of the altar with a sung versicle. The Confiteor and Kyrie follow. During the singing of the epistle, the deacon prepares the gifts, then the Gospel follows. The offertory includes a single offering of both gifts (paten and chalice together), and is both preceded and followed by the celebrant washing his hands. The Eucharistic Prayer is said by the celebrant with arms extended in the form of a Cross, except when he is required to use his hands for some part of the rite. The deacon receives with the priest on great feasts. There is no blessing at the end of the Mass.

Carmelite Rite – The rite of the Carmelite Order. Originally a Jerusalem rite it became adapted to more universal usage when the Order put down roots in Europe. In this the Dominican Rite’s influence is considered important, with the Ordinary (the unchanging parts) being similar to the Dominican, and the propers (the daily changing prayers) retaining the Jerusalem influence (such as an emphasis on the resurrection) and a Carmelite spirituality (the Marian element). After some post-Tridentine adaptation of the rubrics to the Roman Rite, the popes, from Pius X’s time, have encouraged a return to proper Carmelite practices. As of the 1950s a reform of the liturgy was envisioned. I do not know where that stands today. Nor do I have any information of the specifics of the order of the Mass, beyond what the New Catholic Encyclopedia mentions.

Dominican Rite – The rite proper to the Order of Preachers. Dates probably from about 1220, and is said to be a short, uniform rite based upon the longer, varied practices in general use in that day. A reform of that original rite from 1267 was adopted by many dioceses and orders. Among its differences from the Roman are a preparation of the chalice before the Confiteor, a briefer Confiteor than the Roman, reading only (i.e. non-singing) of the Gloria and Credo, a single offering of the host and chalice at the Offertory, at the consecration elevation of the Host only (however, this has changed to both species today), use of the cruciform arm posture during some prayers, a last blessing only if it is customary in the particular place.

Mozarabic or Rite of Toledo – the rite proper to the archdiocese of Toledo, believed to be the rite of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) during much of the first millennium. It shows both Western and Eastern influences. It went into decline after the Council of Burgos (Spain) decreed in 1080 that the Roman Rite be used. The rite was permitted to be retained by six parishes of Toledo where it was particularly honored. It eventually died out in favor of the Roman Rite even there, with only occasional celebration today. As far as its form, there are formal preparatory prayers said during vesting and at the altar (resembling but more extensive than the Tridentine), followed by the preparation of the bread and chalice, then the Introit, Gloria, and Collect, which unlike the Roman Opening Prayer does not usually relate to the feast or season. There are three readings, OT, NT epistle, without an intervening responsorial, and the Gospel, followed by a Psalm, Alleluia, and a song of praise, during which the offertory prayers are recited by the celebrant. A distinctive feature of the Mozarabic is the structure of the last part of the Mass in 7 “prayers”: 1) call to prayer, 2) prayer asking for God’s acceptance of the offering, 3) intercessions, 4) “peace prayer” asking for reconciliation with each other (the celebrant kisses the paten and hands it to the deacon, and they exchange the kiss of peace), 5) Preface Dialogue, Sanctus, post-Sanctus, and the formula of Consecration, 6) a number of prayers including epicleses (invocations of the Holy Spirit to transform the gifts), followed by a second elevation, the Creed (Sundays and certain feasts), fraction into exactly nine parts, which represent nine mysteries of Christ’s life and commemoration of the living, and 7) The Our Father, with the people responding Amen to each phrase, except “Give us this day our daily bread”,” to which they respond “because You are God,” followed by an expansive prayer on the last petition (as in the Roman Rite), the commingling, a pre-communion blessing, Communion of the priest, of the people, a thanksgiving prayer, the dismissal, a prayer in honor of Mary and a final blessing (of 16th century addition).


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