Saturday, March 16, 2013

Papal Coronation Part II: The Mass

Mass sung by Pius XII

On the altar are two Papal tiaras to the Epistle (right) side and two episcopal mitres to the Gospel side (left). Seven candles adorn the altar, with the crucifix in the center, and another row of candles in front of the altar over the tomb of St. Peter. Relics of Saints are often placed on the altar, as are two small statuettes of Ss. Peter and Paul. The Pope and the ministers of Mass arrive at the main altar of St. Peter's Basilica, with the sedia gestatoria left right behind the Pope, as it will be needed momentarily.

The cardinals who are not ministers of the Mass or acting as chaplains to the Pope at his throne go to their choir stalls in the apse of the Basilica. Their choir dress for Papal Mass is something of a remnant of ancient concelebration mixed with the dress of Canons: They wear a red cassock with a train, a rochet, their pectoral cross, the mitre, and, depending on rank, a dalmatic, chasuble, or cope—for cardinal deacons, cardinal priests, and cardinal bishops respectively.

Cardinal Deacon

Cardinal Priest
Cardinal Bishop
The Pope and his ministers pray the normal prayers at the foot of the altar, with the Iudica me psalm and the two Confiteor prayers, putting on the maniple after the Indulgentiam. At this point the Pope turns from the altar and sits again in the sedia gestatoria. The pallium, a woolen scarf-like vestment adorned with crosses and worn by all major bishops, is retrieved from the altar and the three cardinal bishops of Albano, Porto, and Ostia pray over the Pope:
God, who are present without distinction whenever the devout mind invokes you, be present, we ask you, we and this your servant, __, who to the summit of the apostolic community has been chosen as the judge of your people, infuse with the highest blessings that he experience your gift who has reached this point.
We supplicate you, Almighty God, effect your customary devotion and pour out on this your servant, __, the grace of the Holy Spirit that he who is constituted at the head of our church as the servant of the mystery, you would strengthen with the fullness of virtue.
God, who willed your Apostle Peter to hold first place in the inner fellowship of the apostles, that universal Christianity overcome evil, look propitiously we ask on this your servant, __, who from a humble position has suddenly been enthroned with the apostles on this same principal sublimity, that just as he has been raised to this exalted dignity, so may he likewise merit to accumulate virtue; in bearing the burden of the universal church, help him, make him worthy and for thee who are blessed may merits replace vices.
Then the senior-most cardinal deacon would place the pallium on the Pope's shoulders saying: "Accept the pallium, representing the plenitude of the Pontifical office, to the honour of Almighty God, and the most glorious Virgin Mary, his Mother, and the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and the Holy Roman Church." (Coronation Rites, Reginald Wooley [Cambridge, univerity Press; 1915] 160).

Paul VI reads the Introit and Kyrie at a Papal Mass in 1964.
Here begins a normal Pontifical High Mass. The Pope incenses the altar during the introit (Si diligis me, "If thou lovest me, Simon Peter, feed my sheep"), then he is incensed, makes his way to the throne at the back of the apse with his ministers, and reads the opening texts during the Kyrie. He intones the Gloria in excelsis Deo, which the choir sings. At the end he greets the congregation with Pax vobis ("Peace to you) and prays the collect found in any Missal "pro Papa," though adjusted for the difference in who says the prayer ("me famulum tuum... da mihi...."). He says another prayer for himself privately.

Here another difference from an ordinary Pontifical or Papal Mass arises. Cantors from the choir, wearing choir dress and copes, go into the confessio, the entrance to St. Peter's tomb, and intone a litany asking the Saints to pray for the Pope; all remain standing. Rather than the customary response "Ora pro nobis" or "Ora pro eo" the response to the invocations to the Saints is "Tu illum adiuva" ("Grant him aid").

The litany beings at 1:28

A neat note: the Greek and Latin subdeacons and deacons do not sit to the side or with the Pope but, per the primitive practice at Papal liturgies, on the steps of the altar.

Pius XII listens to the Gospel at Mass
The Epistle, taken from the first letter of St. Peter, is sung by the cardinal Latin subdeacon and then by the Greek subdeacon according to the language and full ceremonies of the rites to which they belong. They then kiss the Pope's feet and receive his blessing while the choir sings the Gradual. During the Gradual the Pope reads the Gospel quietly as the Greek and Latin deacons make their own preparations to read the text aloud. During the Gospel procession seven candles, instead of the two at any non-Papal Mass, are carried. The Latin cardinal deacon sings the Gospel, taken from the 16th chapter of St. Matthew, after the Dominus vobiscum. He is followed immediately by the Greek deacon who sings the text in Greek, again with the introduction and full ceremonies accorded to the Byzantine rites. This is a wonderful example of the full extent of the Papal ministry, which is not limited to the Latin Church, although it also respects the traditions, history, and privileges of the Eastern Churches. As per the Byzantine custom, only two candles are present during the Greek reading of the Gospel, so five candle-bearers leave.

Greek reading of the Gospel

The Latin and Greek subdeacons bring the Pope Latin and Greek Gospel books to kiss, and then the Pope is incensed. He immediately intones the Credo.

Archdale King describes the remarkable measures taken against poison from here until the Pope's communion:
"Precautions are taken against poison, and a pregustatio ceremony for the tasting of the bread and wine takes place at the offertory. After Et homo factus est has been sung in the Creed, the cardinal bishop and apostolic subdeacon wash their hands at a credence, and then unfold a linen cloth, edged and divided with gold lace, over the mensa of the altar. The cloth originally served as a corporal and covered the oblata. The subdeacon in a humeral veil brings up the burse and corporal, two purificators and a silver box of hosts. The burse and hosts are received by the deacon, who spreads the corporal. In the meanwhile, the sacristan in a humeral veil carries the chalice, paten, purificators and gold spoon to the papal credence on the gospel side of the altar, accompanied by an acolyte with two empty cruets and a small vase. The sacristan assisted by the cup-bearer or pantler, then purifies the sacred vessels, spoon and cruets with wine, and the water cruet with water. A small quantity of wine and water are poured into a vessel, and consumed by the cup-bearer: the remainder put into the cruets and given to the acolyte. The sacristan in a humeral veil places the vessels on the altar. Then the cardinal deacon takes the three hosts, and lays them on the paten: with one of them he rubs the paten, and with another touches the inside and outside of the chalice. These two hosts are consumed by the sacristan with his face turned towards the Pope; while the third serves for the Mass. The testing of the oblations is concluded by the cardinal deacon pouring a little of the wine and water into a vessel, which the cup-bearer immediately drinks. The deacon pours enough wine into the chalice for three people, and the subdeacon adds the water with a gold spoon. If the occasion of the Mass should be a canonisation, candles, bread, wine, water, young turtle-doves and two other small birds are offered to the Pontiff after the Creed.

Eight prelates carry torches for the elevation, but there is no bell either then or at any other time in a papal Mass. The use of a small bell has never been introduced, even for a Mass said in the presence of the Pope.

 Aside from these measures, the Mass is quite standard until the consecration, except no bells are rung, as they were never introduced to Papal Mass. The honor guards kneel—and salute—during the consecration, as do the ministers of Mass, but the Greek deacon and subdeacon only make a profound bow—as is the norm in their rite. During the elevation of the Blessed Sacrament and the Chalice the Pope turns in half circles, so as to show Jesus Christ to each point of the compass. During the elevations the baroque jazz section that gave us so much grief earlier redeems itself by playing a lovely piece called the Silveri Symphony.

Canon from John XXIII's coronation. Start at 2:35

Paul VI communicates from the chalice via the fistula in 1964.
After fracturing the host following the Pater Noster the Pope says the communion prayers and retires to his throne. At this point a deacon would again consume part of the Host, this time consecrated, to test for poison. The Latin subdeacon receives the Blessed Sacrament on a Byzantine styled plate with a covering called an asterisk and brings the Sacrament to the Pope at the throne for communion. The Latin deacon brings the Chalice with the Blood of the Lord and a gold straw called a fistula used to communicate from the chalice but not risk spilling anything, as there are no altar cloths to sop up any potential accidents.

The Pope then gives communion to the Latin deacon, standing, and subdeacon, kneeling. Both kiss his ring before receiving communion. No one else receives communion at Papal Mass, coronation day or otherwise. The Pope then gives the Kiss of Peace, the pax, to the deacon and subdeacon and ablutes his fingers in a small chalice. He then resumes his pontifical gloves and returns to the altar, blessing the cardinals and canons in choir as the passes them.

At the altar the Pope reads the communion verse, "Tu es Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam" ("Thou art Peter and upon this rock I shall build my church), then greets the people and sings the post-communion prayer aloud. The dismissal, "Ite, missa est," is sung by the deacon behind him. As the altar of St. Peter's is both ad orientem and versus populum neither the Pope nor deacon turns when they make their greetings. The Pope then gives the standard three-part pontifical blessing of any bishop, but without the mitre on his head, and says the prologue from St. John's Gospel, the "Last Gospel," on the Gospel side of the altar. During the blessing the "Auditor of the Roman Rota," a legal counselor who works in the Holy See, holds the Papal processional cross next to the Pope. The Pontiff then gets re-mitred, returns to the sedia gestatoria, and is taken in procession to the place of the coronation, accompanied by more of those damn horns (you thought you escaped them when Mass started, did you not?). Were this not a coronation Mass, the Pope would take off the pallium and maniple following the Mass and leave them at the altar, as shown below.

Pius XII after a Papal Mass in the 1940s. By 1950 his health was in rapid decline and he began using low Masses or had cardinals celebrate public Masses in his presence
Next, the coronation....

1 comment:

  1. Not directly related to this, but could you tell us in what ways a Pontifical Mass differed from a Solemn Mass? I don't think I've ever read about that.