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    Sunday June 12th will mark the 400th anniversary of the dedication of the church of the Most Holy Trinity of the Pilgrims, (Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini), which has been since 2009 the Roman Parish of the Fraternity of St Peter. To mark the occasion, the parish will welcome Archbishop Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, for the celebration of a Solemn Pontifical Mass at 11:00 a.m., followed as usual by refreshments in the parish hall.

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    Here are some more photos of Corpus Christi Masses and Processions from around the world. The first is a video from our good friends of the Schola Sainte Cécile; enjoy the beautiful singing of the Sequence Lauda Sion with instrumental accompaniment.

    Church of Saint-Eugène - Paris, France

    Christ the King - Kansas City, Missouri

    Holy Innocents - New York City

    Holy Trinity - Gainsville, Virginia

    Church of St Francis Xavier - Singapore

    Eucharistic Procession in Vilnius, Lithuania
    The procession went through the old city from the Cathedral of Ss Stanislov and Vladislov to the Gate of Dawn, the eastern gate of the city. At the church of St Casimir (3rd photo) a Gospel was read. Benediction was given from the window of the Chapel of the Holy Mother of Mercy over the Gate of Dawn.

    Church of St Joseph, Mother of Divine Mercy Parish - Detroit, Michigan

    St Stephen - Portland, Oregon

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    From the Diocesan Museum of the city of Vicenza come these photos of a magnificent cope and reliquary. The cope is traditionally said to have been a gift of St Louis IX, King of France (1214-70) to the Dominican Blessed Bartholomew of Breganza, who was bishop of Vicenza from 1256 until his death in 1271, and whom St Louis had met in the East during his ill-fated crusade. Our Ambrosian correspondent Nicola de’ Grandi, who took the photos, informs me that the embroidered silk is actually Sicilian-Arabic, and the cope was more likely given by the Emperor Frederic II. It is nicknamed “The Parrot Cope” from the pattern in the embroidery, a motif associated with royalty because of (inter alia) a well-known medieval legend that Julius Caesar had owned a parrot that was been trained to greet him with the words “Ave, Caesar! - Hail, Caesar!”

    The relic, however, certainly came from St Louis, one of the Thorns from the Lord’s Crown, which was brought to Paris from Constantinople in the 13th century, and housed in the famous Sainte Chapelle. The reliquary shown here was made in Vicenza in the 14th century, but in several different stages. (For those who read Italian, a detailed description of the relic and reliquary, along with a wealth of information about their history, is available here.)

    The rhymed inscription around the Thorn reads “O quam felix punctio, quam beata spina, de qua fluit unctio, mundi medicina. - O how happy the wounding (lit. ‘puncturing’), how blessed the thorn, from which flowed forth anointing, the healing of the world.”
    St Louis presents the Thorn to Bl. Bartholomew

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    My colleague Dr. Jeremy Holmes, professor of theology at Wyoming Catholic College, has written a response to my article from last week. We are happy to publish it here.

    Tissot, Jesus and the Pharisees

    Seeking the Right Relationship Between Internal and External

    Guest Article by Dr. Jeremy R. Holmes

    In his article “The Logic of Incarnation and the Temptation of Disincarnation,” Peter Kwasniewski argues that relativizing or marginalizing the traditional externals of the Catholic Faith has become a prevalent error of our age — one that goes to the heart of our religion, which, being founded upon the mystery of the Incarnate Word, is sacramental, liturgical, and Eucharistic in its very essence, expressed in the historical-cultural unfolding of apostolic tradition. He expresses concern that being dismissive of externals results in a kind of incoherent pluralism and relativism.

    While I am sympathetic to his thesis, I would like to offer some thoughts on why this distrust (as it were) of externals arises in the first place, where it slips into error, and how we might think sympathetically about the concerns on both sides. In this way, I believe we can see, at least in a general way, what a proper relationship between and harmony of the outward and inward aspects of Catholicism would look like.

    Someone needs reminding “not to get stuck on externals” to the extent that he or she actually falls prey to the belief that “just because you have the externals right, you are being a good Christian.” There are in fact Catholics who unconsciously assume they are very pious because they attend and support meticulously celebrated traditional liturgies. They go to a splendid Mass on Sunday morning, and Sunday afternoon they return home to nag their children, gossip about their co-workers, and consume whatever the Internet has to offer. These people exist. And there are traditionalist Catholics who are suspicious of anything that smacks of social action — that stuff is for liberals!

    But we have to remember that these people are only one side of a divide. I remember talking with a bishop once who complained that his diocese seemed divided between those who think liturgy is important and those who think social justice is important, and he couldn’t persuade either side to think in both categories. So alongside the “extrinsicist” traditionalists described above, there are other Catholics who are offended by any insistence on liturgical beauty, because they take it as a statement against caring for the poor. Surely an insistence on externals must be pitted against heartfelt love for others!

    What’s more, we have to remember that this same divide cuts across all times. There were medieval peasants who thought that an external ritual or relic could absolve them of interior guilt without repentance, and there were medieval heretics who thought that the body and what we do with it makes no difference, so long as our hearts are in the right place. St. Paul had to deal both with Christians who thought that extrinsic laws were the heart of the gospel and with Christians who thought that the Cross had liberated us from all exterior obligations whatsoever.

    The external/internal divide cuts across all populations, including the non-religious. There are and have been throughout history upper-class people who think that maintaining proper externals — the correct house and tableware and the best manners and tasteful clothing and everything else decorous — expressed their acceptability and even superiority, regardless of how they slept around, gossiped, and embezzled. And there are and have been throughout history lower-class people who think that their good hearts excuse them from and even exclude them from good manners and tasteful living.

    The divide even cuts across each layer within the human person. There are people who believe that your salvation is assured if you walk through the motions described in the Ten Commandments, regardless of whether your heart is cold as stone. And there are people who think that good intentions are all that count in morality, so that the right intention excuses breaking any or all of the Ten Commandments.

    Once we broaden our view and see this division of external versus internal in all its universality, we can see through certain fallacious “both/and” claims. To claim that it is wrong for a person to say he prefers one liturgical form over another (or wishes that others would come to prefer it, too) sounds like a plea for the “both/and” approach. After all, we let everyone have what they want, as long as they don’t exalt it into a matter of principle.

    In reality, however, such an “inclusive” claim is just a form of the tired old “either/or” of externals versus internals. If you care so much about externals, then you really must not care about internals. Someone who thinks this way will be tempted to apply to the “externalists” (as he conceives them) the tough words of Jesus, that seeming foe of externals: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith.” Unfortunately, the remainder of what Jesus says conveniently slips his mind: “These things you ought to have done, without neglecting the others” (Matt 23:23).

    As so often happens, the extremes resemble one another in surprising ways. The extrinsicist rests secure in his beautiful exterior life even as he lies, cheats, and steals. The intrinsicist rests secure in what he perceives as good intentions even as he — well, lies, cheats, and steals. Hey, it’s for a good cause, right? If we don’t play hardball, the wrong party will get into national office, or the wrong man will be chosen as Pope, or those people will take over education in our district.

    We should try to see both sides sympathetically. People do not usually end up on one or another side of the divide out of stupidity or malice but due to the huge difficulty of maintaining a correct balance. The temptation to internalism is real, for example, because the interior element truly is determinative: just read Psalm 49 [50]. To love God with all our heart and mind and soul is, after all, the greatest commandment. But the temptation to externalism is also real precisely because externals are important. What could be more important than the flesh of the God-made-man, which we are commanded to worship and adore?

    But when Mary Magdalene clung to the feet of Jesus after His resurrection, He forbade her to touch Him, because — according to St. Thomas’s interpretation — He did not want her attached to His human flesh over His divine nature. Mary was not tempted to cling to Jesus out of contempt for the love of God or neighbor: she was tempted out of reverence for the supreme mystery of Salvation History! And neither did Jesus mean that we have to “get over” the Incarnation. For all eternity, we worship the Trinity in and through the exteriorly visible humanity of Christ the Lord (Rev 21:23).

    Similarly, we need to admit that the temptation to externalism in liturgy is real, but it is real precisely because liturgy — the external thing we do — is so terribly important.

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    Tomorrow, June 8th, the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption & Saint Gregory, Warwick Street, London, will offer a Requiem Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the eternal repose of Mother Angelica. The Mass will be begin at 7 pm, with Confessions available from 6:30; see the Facebook event page for details. Members of the group who organise this weekly High Mass felt that they would like to do something to help Mother Angelica, who did, and, we pray, continues to do so much to help Holy Mother Church.

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    Yesterday was the feast of St Norbert, the founder of the Premonstratensian Order, who died in 1134 as archbishop of Magdeburg, in the modern German state of Saxony-Anhalt. The city was one of the first to turn Protestant in the 16th-century, and although the relics of the Saint were not profaned, as were those of so many others, it was no longer possible for Catholics to venerate them. During the Thirty Years’ War, however, the abbot of Strahov, the Premonstratensian abbey of Prague, was able to recover them during a temporary Catholic occupation of the area, and bring them to back to his abbey, where they were officially installed on May 2nd, 1627, and have remained to this day.

    A Facebook page dedicated to the various orders and congregations of Augustinian Canons Regular, including the Premonstratensians, marked the feast with some nice old photographs of the shrine in Strahov Abbey, and of a procession held in Prague with the relics of St Norbert; they are not precisely dated, but František Kordač, who was Archbishop of Prague from 1919-1931, is shown in the procession. They are here reproduced by the kind permission of Dom Jakobus, a canon of Herzogenburg Abbey in Austria, who administers the page; it is frequently updated with many interesting pictures, both modern and historical, of the canons and their liturgies.

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    Here is the third set of your photos of Corpus Christi Masses and Processions from around the world. Our thanks go once again to all those who sent them in! (The photos are posted in the order received. I have included something from every set that arrived, but of course, we cannot post everything from the large sets. If yours were not included, it was purely by accident; let me know, and I will happy to add them.)

    Every once in a while, in the course of running NLM, something happens which strikes me as particularly indicative of the ways in which Catholic liturgy is (however slowly and cautiously) heading in a positive direction. I grew up in the most Catholic state in the Union, (percentage wise); the Mass of Corpus Christi was celebrated, but never presented as anything of particular importance, much less one of the greatest feasts of the year, and there was certainly no procession. The first time I ever saw a Corpus procession was on my first visit to Rome, in the summer of 1995, when I attended the one celebrated by the Pope, which is itself a revival brought about by St John Paul II after several years’ abeyance. The fact that, for the third year in a row, we have received enough submissions to make three full photoposts out of them, shows how this good example is still bearing fruit, and shows the growing zeal for the cultivation of the best in our Catholic liturgical tradition. Feliciter!

    Our Lady and St Joseph (Our Lady of Eden Catholic Parish) - Carlisle, Cumbria, England

    Cathedral Basilica of St Peter and Paul - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Our Lady, Queen of Peace - Maywood, New Jersey

    St Edward’s Catholic Church - Athens, Texas

    Sacred Heart of Jesus - Grand Rapids, Michigan

    St Louis Catholic Church - Tallahasee, Florida

    St Joseph’s Church - Singapore

    Santissia Trinità dei Pellegrini - Rome, Italy (F.S.S.P.)

    Pontifical Shrine of Our Lady of Mt Carmel - New York City

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    Today is the feast of St Maximin, an early bishop of Aix-en-Provence in southern France. Nothing is really known of his history, not even the years in which he lived, but he became an important figure in the later medieval legend of St Mary Magdalene and her siblings. According to the story, first attested only in the second millennium, when the early Church was “scattered” after the martyrdom of St Stephen (Acts 8), the persecutors set Mary, Martha, Lazarus and many others in a rudderless boat, thinking it would sink and drown them. They were instead brought by divine intervention to the port city of Marseille, of which Lazarus became the first bishop; among their companions were Maximin and Sidonius, the former said by local tradition to have also been the boy whose loaves and fishes were multiplied by Christ (John 6), and the latter said to be the blind man healed in John 9. After years of living a contemplative life in the cave known as the Sainte-Baume (still a popular pilgrimage place to this day), the dying Magdalene received the Viaticum from St Maximin, who then took care of her burial.

    The Basilica of St Maximin, seen from the back. The rood-screen which separated the liturgical choir and main altar from the nave is not only still preserved, but manifestly a work of the 16th or 17th century, not medieval. The parish priest explained to me that because the village around the church was so small, there was no need to open it up to the faithful, who would have attended Mass at the many other altars in the church.
    I recently had the great pleasure of attending and giving a lecture at the Pro Civitate Dei summer school, sponsored by the Fraternity of St Joseph the Guardian in La-Londe-Les-Maures, about 100 km to the east of Marseille. During the week, we visited the basilica dedicated to St Maximin in a small village named for him about 25 miles to the east of Aix, in which the putative skulls of both Mary Magdalene and Sidonius are kept. (Maximin’s relics are in Aix itself, north of Marseille.) The church became a major pilgrimage center at the end of the 13th century, directly under the patronage of the King of France, and entrusted to then fairly new Dominican Order; the Dominicans left the church in 1957, and it is now under the diocesan clergy of Fréjus-Toulon. (We also visited the Sainte-Baume; I will post my photos of that on Mary Magdalene’s feast day in July.)

    The relic of St Mary Magdalene’s skull preserved in the crypt. 
    Legend has it that when the relic of the skull was translated, the piece now kept in this smaller reliquary fell off it, because it was the place where Christ touched Mary’s forehead when He said to her “Do not touch me.”
    The retable of the altar at the end of the left nave, showing episodes of the Passion of Christ, painted by Flemish artist Antoine Ronzen, 1517-20.
    The relic of St Sidonius’ skull.
    The preaching pulpit in the middle of the nave is decorated with an image of the Magdalene in ecstasy, another story from her medieval legend according to which she was daily rapt up into heaven during the many years when she lived at the Sainte Baume.
    Each choir stall has over it a beautiful carved panel showing a Dominican Saint; here is Pope St Pius V praying for victory at the Battle of Lepanto, a victory which he learned of supernaturally at the moment it took place.
    The main altar
    The back of the rood-screen seen from inside the choir.

    The vaulting seen from inside the choir.
    The parish priest celebrated a Votive Mass of St Mary Magdalene for the students and lecturers of Pro Civitate Dei.
    The incomplete façade of the church.

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    This coming Saturday, June 11, 2016 (immediately after the 1 p.m. traditional Mass at the Church of the Holy Innocents in New York City), a group of parishioners will go pilgrimage to St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral where they will be received by the Rector, Msgr. Donald Sakano.

    Once there, the parishioners will get a tour of the recent renovations and be led in prayer for the Year of Mercy. If time allows, there will also be a tour of the catacombs/underground cemetery. The parishioners will be there from 2:30 p.m. until about 3:30 p.m.

    The group will then depart for to the Church of the Most Precious Blood where the Holy Doors of Mercy are located for those who want to obtain the plenary indulgences. If time allows, there will also be an explanation of the Neapolitan presepio (manger scene) that is now at the Shrine Church of the Most Precious Blood.

    Finally, at 4 p.m., newly-ordained Fr. Jon Tveit will celebrate traditional 1st Vespers of the 4th Sunday after Pentecost at the Shrine Church of the Most Precious Blood. If you are interested in attending, please let Mr. Eddy Toribio know (

    For more information on the requirements to obtain the plenary indulgence, please go here:

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    Artists are being asked to submit work for the 6th Nationwide Juried Catholic Arts Competition and Exhibition at Saint Vincent Gallery on the campus of Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

    This year the juror is Dr. Denis McNamara, who will be known to many NLM readers as an architectural historian specializing in the theology of liturgical art and architecture, classicism, and sacramental aesthetics. His book Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy has become a standard for anyone who wishes to understand the theological underpinnings of sacred architecture and art.

    Given that Denis is the juror, I would suggest that artists who are considering submitting works to this competition read his book and watch his videos on church art and architecture, especially the seventh, which is about sacred art in particular.

    The Catholic Arts competition/exhibition was established in 2001 by the late Br. Nathan Cochran, O.S.B. (1957-2014). Br. Nathan set out to support artists who engage Catholic subject matter by providing a committed venue, notable jurors, a color illustrated catalog and prizes that include monetary awards, as well as exhibition display.

    Artworks submitted must be iconographically recognizable and appropriate for liturgical use, public devotion or private devotion.

    The juried competition will be held this summer; submissions should be postmarked by Monday, August 1, 2016. The exhibition will run from November 1 through December 2, 2016 at the The Saint Vincent Gallery.

    Cash prizes to be awarded include the $1,000 Brother Nathan Cochran Award in Sacred Arts, $750 Second Place Award, $500 Third Place Award, and four Juror Mentions of $250 each. In addition, there will be a $250 People’s Choice Award presented at the conclusion of the exhibition.

    For competition/exhibition details along with the submission form/guidelines, visit:

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  • 06/09/16--22:49: Books of Hours Online
  • This post is occasioned by a happy discovery, or rather rediscovery, in the field of online liturgical resources. In 1991, a Danish fellow named Eric Drigsdahl establish a small private research institute for the study of Books of Hours and related materials, the Center for Håndskriftstudier i Danmark. (Center for Manuscript Studies in Denmark, abbrev. CHD). He created a website with lots of useful information about all kinds of Books of Hours; one of the pages, for example, catalogs all of the variants of the Little Office of the Virgin according to dozens of medieval Uses. When Mr Drigsdahl passed away a few years ago, the website went offline, but it has recently been rescued and revived. Thus far, I have not found any indication of whether the new owners of the site plan on adding to it; the new host site does not seem to even have a link to CHD. Mr Drigsdahl himself was constantly adding new material; it is to be hoped that those who rescued the site from oblivion will be able to continue to build on his interesting work.

    While we’re on the topic, here are examples of two complete Books of Hours available for consultation on the web, examples which I have chosen because they are on pretty much opposite ends of the spectrum artistically. One is known as the Maastricht Hours, a manuscript made in Liège in the first quarter of the 14th century, now kept at the British Library. It contains the standard liturgical texts which are the basis of all Books of Hours: a liturgical calendar, the Little Office of the Virgin, according to the Use of Maastrucht, which is quite different from the Roman Use, as well as the Gradual and Penitential Psalms, and the Office of the Dead (also different from the Roman Use in several respects.) The last several pages contain a long series of invocations to the Virgin in medieval French, each beginning with the word Ave.

    Folio 256r of the Maastricht Hours (Stowe ms 17, British Library) - the beginning of the invocations in medieval French.
    Each page can be seen in a very high resolution scan, and by rolling the wheel of your mouse, you can get a close-up view of the details. This manuscript is quite famous among scholars in the field because of its decorations, among which devotional images such as the one seen above are very much the minority. Literally every page has something in the margins, which are quite wide, indicating a commission for a wealthy person who could afford to pay for extra paper. These marginalia form an incredibly rich panoply of persons performing every kind of activity, animals both real and imaginary, and grotesques as clever as they are bizarre. Many of these spring out of the decorations added to the large letters, but the majority have no connection to the text. Like many medieval people, the illustrator seems to have been especially fascinated by monkeys, who figure prominently among the many images of animals behaving like humans, such as this one who has trapped a person in a net. It is pleasant to imagine the original owner using this not only as a prayer book, but also to entertain her children.

    Detail of folio 240r
    From the height of the Renaissance comes this manuscript in the Library of Congress, Rosenwald ms. 10, a Book of Hours according to the Use of Rome made in 1524; the exact provenance is apparently unknown, perhaps Touraine in France. By this period, the “standard” repertoire of material in Books of Hours had grown considerably, so after the calendar we find four Gospels, one from each Evangelist: the Prologue of St John (1, 1-14), and the Gospels of the Annunciation (Luke 1, 26-38), Epiphany (Matthew 2, 1-12) and Ascension (Mark 16, 14-20). There follow the Passion according to St John (chapters 18 and 19), the Stabat Mater, the long prayer Obsecro te, Domina, very popular in that era, then finally the Hours of the Virgin according to the Use of Rome. In accord with the typical practice, each Hour begins with an illustration, showing an episode from the life of the Virgin.

    The Annunciation, and the beginning of Matins from the Hours of the Virgin; Library of Congress, Rosenwald ms 10.
    After the Hours of the Virgin there are two very brief offices called the Hours of the Cross and of the Holy Spirit, in which each Hour consists only of a hymn, a versicle with its response, and a prayer. After these are the Penitential Psalms, the Litany of the Saints and the Office of the Dead. The last thirty pages are occupied by the “Suffrages.” various prayers to the Trinity, to the Virgin, and commemorations of the Saints, the latter consisting generally of an antiphon, versicle and prayer from the Divine Office. The Suffrages are very often the place where the illustrator of a Book of Hours would show off his talents, creating different set of decoration for each of many Saints; here the portraits are smaller than in many other such manuscripts, but still very fine for it.

    The Suffrages of Ss Mary Magdalene (text begins on previous page), Catherine and Margaret.
    The beginning of Vespers of the Dead; Christ Raising Lazarus
    There are far fewer illustrations here than in the Maastricht Hours, but they are all of the highest quality, showing a strong Italianate and Renaissance sensibility. All the images are of sacred subject matter, and the decorative borders, also of the highest quality, are either floral or architectural. The manuscript can be downloaded for free in pdf format.

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    The third edition of the “Ars Celebrandi” traditional liturgy workshops will take place at the Sanctuary of Our Lady in Licheń, Poland, from August 4-11, 2016. This is the largest event of its kind in Eastern Europe.

    Registration of participants has just started. Some 150 participants from Poland and abroad, a few dozen priests among them, will learn or better their knowledge of how to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, serve at it, or sing liturgical chant, both Gregorian and polyphonic, under direction of experienced practitioners.  A number of lectures and encounters with special guests are planned.

    Celebrations of read, sung or solemn Masses in the Roman or Dominican Rites, as well as the Divine Office will constitute the heart of the day during the workshops, enable the participants and staff to experience the workshops as time of retreat and spiritual growth. Those who wish focus on the time as a spiritual retreat can take part only in liturgical celebrations, and dedicate rest of their time to private prayer or meditation.

    The Ars Celebrandi Liturgy Workshops are taking place under the honorable patronage of His Excellence Wiesław Mering, bishop of the diocese of Włocławek, as well as that of the 31st World Youth Day, to be held in Cracow in 2016. Una Voce Polonia Association is in charge of the whole event.

    For more information, photo galleries of previous editions and registration form, see the website:

    For any additional information, please e-mail our press department:

    The following video was released last year, with pictures and music from some of the many activities at the 2015 workshops.

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    The title of this article refers to something which has always struck me as one of the weirdest things about the post-conciliar reform, the use of the word “Feast” as the name of a grade of feast. Prior to 1969, “feast” was the generic term for everything of whatever grade in all traditions and rites, from Easter down to the obscure medieval hermit celebrated on one local calendar. It’s rather like reforming the grades of military rank and calling one of them “Officer.”

    In any case, the bulletin of the Holy See today published a decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship, which raises the feast of St Mary Magdalene in the Ordinary Form from the grade of Obligatory Memorial to Feast, the rank at which the Apostles sit, apart from the Solemnity of Ss Peter and Paul. A new preface is added to her Mass, which is otherwise not changed. (More on this below.) Her Office will be more noticeably upgraded, since there should now proper psalms and antiphons for the Office of Readings, and the day hour (Terce, Sext or None) should not be of the feria, as it is on Memorials. No reference is made to the Extraordinary Form, in which the feast is kept as a Third Class; perhaps the Ecclesia Dei commission will consider raising it to Second Class, by analogy with the new decree.

    Fr Zuhlsdorf is certainly correct to predict that far too much will be made out of the fact that Pope Francis has raised the feast of a woman to a grade mostly occupied (as far as the general Calendar goes) by Apostles. Not only is this not a novelty, it is partially a return to the historical practice of the Tridentine Rite. In the Breviary of St Pius V, which predates his Missal by two years (1568), there were only three grades of feasts: Double, Semidouble and Simple. St Mary Magdalene’s feast was a Double, meaning that it had both Vespers, doubled antiphons at the major hours, nine readings at Matins, precedence over common Sundays, and had to be transferred if it were impeded. It is true that later on, as Double feasts were subdivided into four categories, she remained at the lowest of them (along with all the Doctors, inter alios). Nevertheless, the privileges of her liturgical rank did not even begin to be curtailed until late in the reign of Pope Leo XIII, at the end of the 19th century.

    As I noted in 2014 in an article about her feast day, the Creed was traditionally said at the Mass of St Mary Magdalene in recognition of that fact that it was she who first announced the Resurrection to the Apostles. (This felicitous custom was removed from the Roman Missal for no discernible reason in 1955.) This is also why she was called “Apostles of the Apostles” in a great many medieval liturgical texts, such as the Benedictus antiphon in her proper Office sung by the Dominicans.
    O mundi lampas, et margaríta praefúlgida, quae resurrectiónem Christi nuntiando, Apostolórum Apóstola fíeri meruisti! María Magdaléna, semper pia exoratrix pro nobis adsis ad Deum, qui te elégit.
    O lamp of the world, and bright-shining pearl, who by announcing the Resurrection of Christ, didst merit to become the Apostle of the Apostles! Mary Magdalene, of thy kindness stand thou ever before God, who chose thee, to entreat him for us.
    The newly promulgated Preface has been published in Latin, with the provision that vernacular versions be produced by local bishops’ conferences, and inserted into the next printing of the Missal. It cannot be ignored that the first part is grammatically correct, but orders the words in a needlessly clumsy way, which at one point or another will jar against the musical clauses of the Preface tone, should anyone try to sing it.

    “Vere dignum et iustum est, aequum et salutáre, nos te, Pater omnípotens, cuius non minor est misericordia quam potestas, in ómnibus praedicáre, per Christum Dóminum nostrum. Qui in hortu manifestus appáruit Maríae Magdalénae, quippe quae eum diléxerat vivéntem, in cruce víderat morientem, quaesíerat in sepulcro iacentem, ac prima adoráverat a mórtuis resurgentem, et eam apostolátus officio coram apóstolis honorávit, ut bonum novae vitae nuntium ad mundi fines perveníret. Unde et nos, Dómine, cum Angelis et Sanctis universis tibi confitémur, in exsultatióne dicentes:”

    Truly is it worthy and just, right and profitable to salvation, to proclaim Thee in all things, Father Almighty, whose mercy is not less than Thy power; through Christ our Lord. Who appeared in the garden to Mary Magdalene, as she has loved Him while he was living, had seen Him die on the Crossg, had sought Him as He lay in the tomb, and was the first to adored Him when He rose from the dead. And He honored her with the office of apostleship in the presence of the Apostles, so that the good news of new life might come unto the ends of the earth. Wherefore we also, O Lord, with the Angels and all the Saints, confess Thee in exultation, saying.

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    Today is the feast of the Apostle St Barnabas, who is venerated in Milan as the founder of the Church in that city, and its first bishop. I decided to wait until today to post these three sets of photos of Corpus Christi celebrations in the Ambrosian Rite. Note that the vestments are red, which in the Ambrosian tradition is the liturgical color used from Pentecost until the third Sunday of October, on which the Cathedral of Milan celebrates its dedication. Also note the form of the monstrances, which are smaller than a typical Roman one, and cylindrical; this form was very common in the Middle Ages, as may be seen in innumerable illustrations in medieval liturgical books.

    Sanctuary of St Mary of the Rosary - Longone al Segrino, Province of Como
    Eucharistic Procession to the Parish of S. Giorgio in Eupilio, celebrated by His Excellency Antonio Filipazzi, Apostolic Nuncio to Indonesia; photos courtesy of Mr Fabio Meroni.

    Santa Maria della Consolazione - Milan

    Prelatitial Mass on the Feast of the Sacred Heart -  Here we can see in the 2nd photo an appareled amice, still used in the traditional Ambrosian Rite, and in the 4th the cappino, a kind of decorative collar which is attached to the top of a chasuble, dalmatic or tunicle at the back.

    Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary - Legnano

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    Cantabiles mihi erant justificationes tuae in loco peregrinationis meae. Thy justifications were the subject of my song, in the place of my pilgrimage. – Psalm 118:54

    If one wished to characterize the Low Mass in a single word, that word might be PEACE. And if one were searching for a word to describe the High Mass, it might be GLORY. These are the two facets of the mystery proclaimed in the song of the angels: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to men of good will” (Lk 2:14). God on high deserves to receive the homage of what is most beautiful and most sublime, which we see in a Missa cantata, even more in a Solemn High Mass, and most of all in a Pontifical Mass. It is no less true that the Son of God entered our midst as the Son of Man, with a quiet humility reflected in the quiet prayer and noble simplicity of the Low Mass.[1] Whether high or low, full of splendor or full of silence, the traditional Mass puts one in a state of prayerful attentiveness and leaves one in a state of simple adoration.[2]
    Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. “I look at him and he looks at me”: this is what a certain peasant of Ars in the time of his holy curé used to say while praying before the tabernacle. . . . Contemplation also turns its gaze on the mysteries of the life of Christ. Thus it learns the “interior knowledge of our Lord,” the more to love him and follow him. (Catechism, 2715)
    Sung Mass was — and, in a certain sense, still is — the normative liturgy of the Roman Rite. Even as Byzantine liturgies are sung as a rule, so too was the Roman liturgy, once upon a time; its sung form long antedated the development of the recited Mass, and it is still the ideal when circumstances warrant, as far as the Magisterium is concerned.[3]

    Unfortunately, the Low-Mass-as-norm mentality is very strong and holds people in its grip. A friend wrote to me that in her local TLM community, about 40 attend the Sunday High Mass, whereas the Low Mass is packed with faithful. They like the fact that it’s earlier in the morning, offers quiet time for praying privately, and doesn’t last too long. This reaction, in turn, could signify several things.

    First, it cannot be denied that people of the Western world (perhaps especially Americans) tend to be impatient with ceremonial or religious ritual and would rather fulfill their obligation as efficiently as possible. Sung in full from the Liber Usualis, the great interlectional chants — I refer to the Gradual and Alleluia, or Gradual and Tract, or Paschal double Alleluia — would undoubtedly seem like a sojourn in Purgatory for some. The sung Mass is a feast for the senses and the spirit, but it definitely requires more work to pull it off and more leisure to appreciate it, and busy Americans are often unwilling to invest either the extra work or the larger leisure.

    A second and related problem is the atrocious lack of musical education among clergy and laity, which discourages the attempt to sing the Mass. It may sometimes be true that the musical resources are simply lacking. But most of the time, the problem is a combination of unreasonable expectations and people who are a bit lazy. The chanted Mass does not have to sound professionally recordable. It is enough that all that should be sung is sung, with the correct texts and approximately the right melodies.

    Third and most deeply, the clinging to Low Mass is a sign of human beings starved and starving for silence and a kind of solitude. Many are attracted to the traditional Latin Mass precisely because it is, and comes across as, an unhurried, earnest, intimate encounter with God, like Moses before the burning bush, a form of worship that is totally given over to Him and induces in the worshiper a filial fear, a hushed reverence before the Lord of heaven and earth. The very posture of the priest and the long moments of silence emphasize that this is all about Him, not about you, except inasmuch as you belong to Him. Indeed, this form of the Mass is so theocentric that it seems, in a manner of speaking, not to care what you think or feel — which is a tremendously liberating thing. How freeing it is to enter a church, kneel, and get swept away in the great prayer of the Eternal High Priest, an offering that is so much greater and loftier than you and your wretchedness, yet to which you are still invited to contribute your widow’s mite, knowing that Christ will accept it and multiply it!

    All of this is provided by both the traditional Low Mass and the High Mass, but not by a reformed liturgy that seeks above all to establish contact with the congregation at hand and to mobilize it for action. There, the individual worshiper is put on the spot, made the object of appeals and the subject of demands, and hurried along to communion time, while being habituated to feeling comfortable around the sacred. There is little if any habituation in the fear and wonder that should be our dispositions towards the mysterium tremendum et fascinans. 

    One cannot help wondering, therefore, if those who, even on Sundays and Holy Days, strongly prefer the Low Mass and might feel a lack of enthusiasm for the High Mass may possibly not be praying enough outside of Mass, with the result that the Low Mass becomes a daily or weekly vitaminized dose of prayer, potent enough to make up for a way of life that is not sufficiently nutritious. In the life of one who is bound to the Lord by various cords of love — for instance, Lauds or Vespers or other shorter hours of the Divine Office, lectio divina, spiritual reading, Eucharistic Adoration, or the Rosary, to name the most notable — the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is free to be truly what it is: a pinnacle, the fons et culmen vitae Christianae, a time for “pulling out all the stops.”

    As we know, the “four-hymn sandwich” that dominates almost all Ordinary Form parishes today is not a new invention of the rebellious 1960s but derives from the permission to sing vernacular hymns at Low Masses in the decades preceding Vatican II. In order to solve this problem of communal sentimentalism, which stood in tension with the liturgy’s public, formal, objective character and with the people’s genuine participation in the liturgy as given,[4] the Council itself called for the use of Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony, and newly-composed music that would look to these great models and emulate their qualities. Tragically, we remained in the rut of the four-hymn sandwich, except that the schmaltzy Victorian style of yore was replaced by a pseudo-folk or light-rock style. No formal change occurred, merely a material substitution. All the underlying assumptions and expectations stayed the same, and the call to invest oneself in the liturgy as such, so that one could truly live a vita liturgica, went unheeded.

    It is, of course, possible to outfit a Low Mass with music that possesses the proper qualities by singing chants (Adoro te, Ave verum corpus, etc.), picking the right organ music, and using tasteful hymns, but all this is still a far cry from the High Mass or the Solemn Mass, which is the liturgy-as-music and music-as-liturgy.

    If today we do not take seriously enough the difference between singing the Mass and singing at Mass, or between an exalted public celebration and a pared-down private celebration, we will be in danger of replicating a new form of 1950s Catholicism that risks toppling down again like a house of cards through a failure to embrace the fullness of our liturgical tradition.[5] As much as possible,  the sacred liturgy needs to be celebrated in full, in its ritual and musical integrity, if we hope to see a revival worthy of our tradition and a lasting cure for the poisons of rationalism and utilitarianism that have crept into nearly every aspect of modern life. The liturgy must be seen not only as truth, but as the splendor of truth, the manifestation of God’s glory. 

    My son was recently reading the life of St. Hugh of Lincoln and shared with me the following striking passage:
    Hugh indeed never lost sight of the fact that a bishop is first and foremost the chief liturgical minister. He would never permit the least slovenliness in singing the Office. Once he was assisting at Mass with another bishop, Hugh de Nonant of Coventry. They were then to dine with the King. Not to delay the royal dinner, the Bishop of Coventry wanted a Low Mass and began to read the Introit of a Confessor, Os justi, in his speaking voice. Hugh would have none of it and began to chant the Introit with all the notes of the Proper. Like St. Dominic who sang his daily Mass, Hugh seems to have followed an excellent principle, the reverse unfortunately of that obtaining today: don’t say Mass if you can sing it. One can imagine his judgment of the numerous parishes where the Mass is not sung, even on Sundays and great feasts.[6]
    This article is not intended to be an argument against weekday Low Masses or “private” Masses, which have their place and their own meditative beauty.[7] It is rather an appeal to elevate our communal worship on Sundays and Holy Days, so that we may observe these days in fitting solemnity, using all of our powers of body and soul, and drawing upon all the gifts of our faith.


    [1] Note that I say “noble simplicity,” which cannot be manifested by a stripped-down liturgy that has substituted the simplistic, the superficial, and the banal for the purity, intensity, and “thickness” of traditional liturgy, which nevertheless speaks more forcefully of the numinous and the ineffable, and in this way reaches souls at a deeper level more successfully.

    [2] Of course, having to take care of little children can distract us, but even parents do get to pray occasionally at the traditional Mass and appreciate how it orders, quiets, and animates the soul.

    [3] See my series: (1) “Song Befits the Lover”: Understanding the Place of Gregorian Chant in the Mass; (2) Why Gregorian Chant? And Why Sung by the People?; and (3) How We Should Sing—And Why People Don’t Sing. In one of its unguarded moments, namely, chapter 6 of Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Second Vatican Council even held up the chanted Latin Mass as the ideal, but don’t tell the liturgists: they don’t like to be reminded of that earlier phase in the Teilhardian evolution of cosmic consciousness. You may be labeled a leftover Baroque primate.

    [4] See Guardini's fine insights on this matter.

    [5] I am not saying that 1950s Catholicism was not stronger and healthier than the Catholicism of today. Denial of this would be idiotic. But I am concerned about certain regrettable habits or patterns already in place in the 1950s that provoked some of the radicalism, indifference, and apostasy that followed.

    [6] From the delightful book Neglected Saints by E. I. Watkin (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1955), 63–64.

    [7] See this article for an appreciation of the silent Low Mass.

    St. Hugh of Lincoln (c. 1140-1200)

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    One of the most common shortcomings in the works of artists today is poor drawing ability. There is a perception among some, especially if working in the highly symbolic styles of the Gothic, the iconographic or even the style featured here recently, the Beuronese style, that the artist can hide his lack of technical skill behind the stylistic elements. I have heard people say that they signed up for icon painting classes, for example, because they think that they don’t need to be very good at drawing.
    The same thing happens in mainstream art schools; students opt for Expressionistic styles because they know that they can’t be held to account for how bad the drawing is, and can hide a lack of skill behind wild and flamboyant brush strokes. Many just forgo the paintbrush altogether, pick up a video camera and go for conceptual art.
    This may be acceptable in the context of 20th century art styles, but it is not good enough for sacred art, no matter what style we want to work in.
    In fact, it is more difficult to work within a particular tradition and retain accuracy in drawing. It requires the artist to understand both where he must be precise in reflecting nature, and where he must be precise in deviating from natural appearances in accord with the demands of the tradition’s style.
    Artists quite often show me their work, and one of the comments I often make is that they need to improve their drawing. It is great that there are more and more people who are looking to traditional forms as inspiration for sacred art, and so I always want to be encouraging. There is hope; drawing is a skill that can be taught. Someone who wants to learn to draw can spend time learning the academic method of drawing, which trains the eye to observe nature and then to render it in two dimensions. Another thing to consider is an illustrator’s course, in which one can learn how to create new images without always having to set up a tableau of figures posed for the image. At some point, the good artist needs to be able to go beyond simply drawing, what he can see, and must be able to draw what is in his imagination too.
    Here are two examples of faults that I often see. I don’t like highlighting what is bad in other peoples’ work, so I’ll use examples of my own to illustrate (I have plenty to choose from!)
    The first is the drapery of cloth. In sacred art, the figures are often portrayed with draped clothing. It is vital that the folds in the cloth look natural and that there be a sense of a properly proportioned figure underneath. The only way that I know of to understand this is to study how material drapes over the human form. One of my frustrations when I was studying academic art was that we spent so much time studying the nude, but none devoted to studying clothes, which would have helped me.
    Have a look at this painting of St Silouan the Athonite. At first glance, the folds in the cloth look natural, but if you look closer you can see that the deep red robe is done incorrectly in the region between the arms. The reason is that I didn’t really understand what I was supposed to be painting, and so just guessed.
    In fact, the red robe should have been shown hanging in a U shape between the arms, as it is in this icon of St Hubert by Aidan Hart.

    The figure can then be rotated for a three-quarter profile view, as in this figure of Elizabeth Prout, also by Aidan Hart, in which the line drawing in black on a plain brown robe is rendered without additional shading or highlights. 
    If we want the figure to look natural underneath the drapery, there are certain pressure points at which the figure supports or otherwise directly acts upon the clothing, which elsewhere hangs free. These are places such as the shoulders, elbows, knees and the crook in the elbow. If these pressure points are not placed in absolutely precise way, the whole figure looks wrong.
    We can see how well John Singer Sargent does this in the painting below, a portrait of Mrs Henry White. Much of the dress is swirling away from direct contact with her body. This means that, in order for it to look as though it belongs to her, he has very few of these pressure points to work with, but these must be absolutely right. In this case, they are the shoulders and the tight-fitting waist and her hips. Her left hip is indicated with a tiny little detail, a conjunction of shadow and highlight. If these were not absolutely correct, the eye of the observer would pick it up instantly, and everything would look wrong.
    Another common area of error is in the drawing of the proportions of hands and faces. In the example below, I copied a famous icon of St Matthew. When I showed it to my teacher, Aidan, he instantly pointed out that his right hand looked distorted. I replied that I noticed this, but thought that this was how it had looked in the original. Because I didn’t know if I was allowed to change it, I had left it exactly as I thought it had been done by the original artist. (I believed that when I said it, but now that I looked at it, I wonder if I copied inaccurately as well! You can see the original below and judge for yourself). Aidan immediately replied that it didn’t matter; if the original looked like that too, then the original was done badly, and I should be copying errors unthinkingly. Here’s the point: just because we are working in the iconographic style, that doesn’t mean that we accept anatomical inaccuracy. The goal is to be both anatomically correct and to work with the iconographic style, which is what all the great icon painters are able to do.

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    To commemorate the 800th anniversary of the Dominican Order, St Dominic’s Church in Youngstown, Ohio, will celebrate a special series of Masses in the traditional Dominican rite.

    July 1: Feast of the Precious Blood (Low Mass)
    July 22: Feast of Mary Magdalene (Sung Mass)
    August 19: Votive Mass of St. Dominic (Solemn High Mass)

    There will be lessons by the friars explaining the history and the significance of the rite before each Mass, beginning at 6:30 p.m., with the Mass itself 7:15 p.m. For more information, see the poster below, and visit the parish’s website,

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    A reader has written me to say that he has been trying, to no avail, to find a business which could provide a traditional cerecloth for an altar that is likely to be consecrated in the next year. If anyone knows who can provide the appropriate kind of traditional waxed linen cloth, would you be so kind as to leave the relevant contact information in the comments section of this post, or (if it is the contact info of a private individual) either send it to me by email, or ask the person to contact me by email? ( I will make sure the information is passed on to the relevant party.

    From the old Catholic Encyclopedia’s article on Altar Cloths:

    Besides the three altar-cloths there is another linen cloth, waxed on one side, which is called the chrismale (cere-cloth), and with which the table of the consecrated altar (even if part of it be made of bricks or other material, and does not form a part of the consecrated altar) should be completely covered (Caerem. Episc., De altaris consecratione). It must be of the exact size of the table of the altar, and it is placed under the linen cloths, the waxed side being turned towards the table. Its purpose is not only to prevent the altar-cloths from being stained by the oil used at the consecration, but also to keep the cloths dry. Hence it is advisable to have such a wax cloth on all altars in churches which may be, accessible to dampness.

    According to the rubrics, this cloth is removed once a year, that is, during the stripping of the altars on Maundy Thursday; but it may be changed as often as the altar is washed. The cere-cloth is not blessed. It cannot take the place of one of the three rubrical linen cloths.

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    Publisher T&T Clark will soon offer the volume “Liturgy in the Twenty-First Century - Contemporary Issues and Perspectives”, edited by Dom Alcuin Reid. We are proud to say that three NLM writers, Fr Thomas Kocik, Dr Peter Kwasniewski, and Dr Jennifer Donelson are among the contributors, as well as Fr Christopher Smith from our sister blog The Chant Café. They join Cardinal Raymond Burke, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Dr Lauren Pristas, Dr Michael Foley and several others in addressing a wide variety of important topics, including liturgical music, the Holy Week rites (a perennial favorite), youth and the liturgy (from the founder of a Juventutem chapter), the calendar, the Reform of the Reform, etc.

    It is now available for pre-order; a special 20% discount is being given until October 31st when ordering through the T&T Clark website, as explained in the poster below; click the link for more information on the book, including the complete list of the essays.

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    There are three Saints in the Martyrology for today who are particularly interesting cases in the annals of Catholic hagiography. Two of these are Ss Quiricus and Julitta, a three-year old boy and his mother who were martyred during the persecution of Diocletian. Julitta was a wealthy noblewoman from Iconium in central Asia Minor, who fled from persecution in her native city to Tarsus in Seleucia, only to have the persecution break out there on her arrival. She was tried, condemned as a Christian, and sentenced to be racked. Quiricus was then separated from his mother, but in a place where he could see what was happening to her. As she cried out in the midst of her sufferings “I am a Christian!”, Quiricus cried out “I am a Christian too!”, and proceeded to have what modern parents would call an epic toddler meltdown. As the governor who presided over the trial tried to calm him down, but still keep him from his mother, and lead him to deny the Faith, Quiricus kicked him and scratched him in the face, at which the governor picked him up and dashed him against the floor, killing him instantly. Mother and son were widely venerated as martyrs together after the persecutions ended; there is a church dedicated to them in Rome at the edge of the Monti region, very close to the Imperia Fora.

    This episode is famously represented in one of the side chapels of the church of Santa Maria Antiqua, built into a part of the imperial palace in the Roman Forum in the 5th century. The frescoes are from the mid-8th century.
    The church of Ss Quiricus and Julitta in Rome.
    The edition of Butler’s Lives of the Saints revised by Fr Herbert Thurston, S.J. and Donald Attwater is often highly critical of the legends of the Saints, frequently describing them with terms like “worthless” or “fabulous” in the sense of “a fable.” But even they say that “(i)t is distressing to have to discard a story so piously credited… in the East and West.” This is partly because there so are many different versions of their passion; already in the early 6th century, the document known as the Gelasian Decree mentions them twice as Saints whose apocryphal acts are not read by the Roman church, “lest even a slight occasion for mockery arise.” The term “apocryphal” in the context of this decree simply means that the books were not approved to be read in church, which is to say, to be read in the liturgy; nevertheless, it is significant that only one other “passio”, that of St George, is so noted.

    (While it may seem incredible to some that a child so young confessed the Faith with such tenacity, there have been several reports of children, some of them just as young, refusing to renounce their Christian Faith in the midst of the horrific persecutions currently going on in the Middle East and Africa.)

    Today is also the feast of St Benno, who was bishop of the German city of Meissen for 50 years, from 1066 to 1106. Very little is known of him historically, but popular legend makes him a model bishop in the age of the great reforms championed by his contemporaries such as Ss Peter Damian and Pope Gregory VII; to him is attributed, among other things, assiduous attendance at and care for the proper singing of the Divine Office. According to one story, when summoned to attend a council called by the Emperor Henry IV in order to depose the Pope, St Benno gave the keys to the cathedral to his canons, and ordered them to drop the keys in the river as soon as they should hear that Henry had been excommunicated. (The purpose of this would be to keep the supporters of the Emperor from taking possession of the church.) When the controversies between the Pope and Emperor had die down, St Benno returned to Meissen, and the keys were recovered by a fisherman who found them tangled in the gills of a catch, and brought them back to the Saint.

    A reliquary of St Benno in one of the side-chapels of Munich Cathedral; click to enlarge and see the fish in his left hand with the keys in its mouth.
    St Benno was canonized in 1523, just as the Reformation was getting into its first full-swing; Meissen and Luther’s city of Wittenberg are both in Saxony, and both on the river Elbe, which kept Benno’s cathedral keys safe for him. The canonization was seen by Luther as a purely political move designed to halt the Reformation in Saxony, and he responded to it with a more-than-typically nasty polemical treatise “Against the New Idol and the Old Devil About to be Set Up in Meissen,” in which he brutally calumniates both St Gregory VII, and the contemporary Pope, Hadrian VI. In 1539, when Meissen turned Protestant, Benno’s relics were rescued from a mob that would have destroyed them, and about 40 years later brought to Munich, where they were installed in the Cathedral. He is therefore venerated as the Patron Saint of Munich, and, as of 1921, also of the re-established Catholic See of Dresden-Meissen.

    Another representation of St Benno in Munich, in the church of St Peter.

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