Friday, December 14, 2018

And The Virgin is Quite Pregnant!


After the celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, a child asked us "where is the baby Jesus?!" which stands to reason, as all depictions (it seems) show the Virgin holding the Christ-child.  Lupita, does not.



The simple answer, of course, is that Jesus remains in her belly!  Which at a certain age, it is still as paradoxical as Shroedinger's Cat to many an adult.  So many questions followed.... but the humorous anecdotes we shall leave for another day.

The Virgin of Guadelupe is almost an anomaly... for Catholics after the sixteenth-century Tridentine Council.   But She is an embodiment of the expectant virgin which since AD 656, is celebrated in the rites canonized by the Councils of Toledo.

The date falling within Advent is quite telling.  The feast of the pregnant virgin is instituted for the 18th of December (which begins on the eve, at sunset of the 17th).  This ancient feast was declared in order to honor the pregnant Virgin since the March-25th date fell during Lent, when no other feasts, solemnities nor memories of saints was allowed in the national rite of the Goths and those under their rule from Toledo.  Most apparitions between March 25th and December 25th, show The Virgin as pregnant, in our tradition.

Guadalupe is not an anomaly.  The Virgin of Lourdes appeared in similar guise in what today is France.


So did the Virgin of Fatima, in present day Portugal.



The virgin in the loose robe, with nothing but a bow around her high-waist is not an anomaly.  It is part of our symbolic language, tradition and culture as manifested directly from heaven. The baby is inside.  The iconography is not accidental.


Actually, before Trent, it was not just in present day Portugal, Spain, France and their respective colonies that one saw a pregnant virgin.

Even the eastern rites maintain their version.

The orthodox have Her as The Virgin of the Sign.  The Holy Fetus is depicted fully formed inside a luminous circle which references the "blessed is thy womb" of our Hail Mary.









Such imagery, were it current still... perhaps would help dissuade the Christians who favor abortion? An image of literal love even inside the womb, versus the graphic ones of dismembered fetuses outside of them?  (Just rhetorical).

Here are a few examples of the pregnant Virgin (Maria Gravida) from Germany:










And even Italy before the Tridentine Reforms:




And from France:


Portugal:






 And of course, Spain:





















It is a shame that eventually it became taboo to be pregnant.  Even for The Virgin who never showed such a scruple when appearing to her blessed devotees... from antiquity to recent times.

We call her Maria de la O (in reference to the O antiphons intoned in her octave leading to the Feast of The Nativity: Christmas) but also call her Our Lady of the Expectation (she is, after all, expecting child) and also as Maria de la Esperanza: for it is in her uterus that The Savior is gestated... the source of all Hope-Esperanza.

But being enceinte-encintas, that euphemism which references the high-waisted girdle of the pregnant virgin, also remained ingrained in the words we speak.  It is still the polite way to refer to any pregnant lady.

Whether the holy fetus in her belly is clearly exposed, or not, she is ripe with child: The Virgin of Advent.  And this is Advent.  We remember, and thank Her for accepting the task of carrying the baby to term, her labours and the blessed fruit of her womb, Jesus...

...sometimes even with a baisemains-besamanos-beija-mão but we'll explore that on another post.  Happy Advent!


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

SEX CAPPARUM: And a New Book to Explain it All.

Here's a somewhat quick design for the celebration of a Solemnity which we call Sex Capparum on account of requiring six cantors vested in copes (cappae in late Latin).



Sex Capparum is the the term used for the triple celebrations in the Gothispanic and early Mozarabic Rite.

You can read about this and much more in our treatise on the matter now sold through Amazon.

It entails the decoration of all "three choirs" (the area of the altar, the area of the choir proper, and the area of the nave) with wall hangings, carpets, flowers, greenery and whatever else is customary.

The triple choir refers also to the the fact that "one choir" can mean a pair of choristers as required for the Memoriae II Capparum and the two pairs required for the Festa IIII Capparum.

Three choirs is generally interpreted as refering to the the three spaces (altar, quire and nave) occupied by the good Christians, but also the three pairs of choristers that from the north and south, facing each other, will sing the complex melodies of the celebration of a Solemnia VI Capparum.

For the solemnities, it is these six members of the chapel who vest in copes who are in charge of the melismatic singing peculiar to the Rite and is known as Eugenian or Melodic Chant.

The difference between our Eugenian Chant and the Gregorian Chant of the Roman Rite is the profusion of melesmas or florid adornment during sung vowels.  In Gregorian Chant one sings many syllables on one note, whereas we sing many notes for each syllable. (Think of the word Gloria from the tune of  "Angels We Have Heard On High" as an example of our melodic chant... as it heralds from Languedoc, our Provincia Narbonensis!)




The image, besides the position of the six Caperos that constitute the triple choir,  shows the relative positions of the Lector, Subdeacon, and Deacon for their respective readings.

The celebrant seats "ante altare" since the curtains to the altar are open from the beginning of vespers which is the start of the Liturgical Day on account of the mass not being a Feria.

This allows the deacon to occupy the central tribune (aka pulpitum in Latin or chaire in French)  near the altar which is where the celebrant seats when the altar remains veiled on the Feriae until the Sacrificium (which is the equivalent of the roman Offertory).



The Lector and the Subdeacon reads the first two of the three readings, the Prophetia and Apostolus, while standing on escabeles  - small movable steps which raise them somewhat to be better heard by the people beyond the chancels of the roodscreen.  As we discussed here, the roodscreen is in Germany called the lettner, for it was from here that the readings took place.  In the Use of Sarum, albeit with its variations, this was also observed:





In the middle of the choirs ("in medio chori") stands the bema (another movable tribune)  with the object of the celebration  - be it icon, image, baptismal font, bride-and-groom, catafalque, ordinant, or the Gospels as in the Feriae.

In this case it is a representation of the newborn Jesus in a Manger, which tells us that the scene is during the readings preceding the Mass of the Nativity on Christmas Eve.  Something of this use can still be seen in the mass at Saint Peter's Basilica at least on Christmas albeit not being the most common thing to see in the Roman Rite:

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And the eastern orthodox churches  also still place icons in this position to this day.

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This set up is for public worship at a parish church, since architecture determined the degree of architecture allowed, the form and rubrics to be followed.   We have worked on a book on just these peculiarities of the Gothispanic Rite and early Mozarabic which did not survive past the reforms of the Cardinal Cisneros onto the Hispano-Mozarabic Rite celebrated in Toledo today, though vestiges of them dot the particular uses of many of the Hispanic provinces even though they follow the Roman Rite.



This project has been more than a decade in the works, and we feel it should add some light to the  peculiarities of the Gothispanic and Early Mozarabic Rite not as some sort of archaism, but a link between the liturgies of The Church before schisms and ruptures with tradition left her wanting of these intangible, cultural treasures.

Get a copy! Just click on the Book cover and then you know the steps.  Ultimately, 20% of all Profits go to Charity.  The rest, to fund research for future tomes and translations.




Many thanks for your interest and support!