Friday, August 1, 2014

Last Gallican Post: The Use of Rouen

Cathedrale Notre Dame de Rouen, famously painted by Monet
Initially we intended only to review the local French uses of the Roman rite prayed in the dioceses of Lyon and Paris during the Counter-Reformation, right until their suppression in the 20th and 19th centuries respectively. The supposed defect of the rites of France was that the Jansenists, French Catholics who followed Calvin's cruel reading of St. Augustine's writings on free will, tainted these liturgies with their detestation of saints, preference for starkness in ritual and kalendar, and insinuation of their theology into the prayers of the Mass and Office.

These rites do often differ from the Roman rite, particularly the Parisian rite, which in the year 1300 was textual very close to the Roman rite. Without any copies of their Breviaries to review, we focused on the Missals. Our, admittedly brief, examination revealed no firm traces of Jansenism whatsoever. What we found were very lavish liturgies replete with rich texts and ritual symbolism. The strongest shortcoming of these rites is that they differ in many places from the Roman rite where they once resembled it (cf. Parisian Mass for Pascha or use of the Gallican psalter for the propers). This suggests that the French government, often staffed by bishops and cardinals in matters of administration, may have influenced a de-Romanization of these rites which were culturally absurd, but hardly unorthodox and beyond correction. 

The only concession to Jansenist culture we found was the Parisian rite's octave of St. Augustine, the favorite saint of the Jansenists, in the same Missal which has no octave for Ss. Peter & Paul, the integral saints of Rome. Even this can be explained as a cultural matter than a theological one. The propers and orations of that Mass, indeed of all the Missals, present a strong literary culture among the clergy and a French church focused on sin, penance, and redemption—all things long pre-destined and beyond choice in the minds of the Jansenists. 

We will discuss the very basic features of the Missale secundum usum Ecclesiae Rotomagensis, the Missal according to the use of the Church of Rouen. We will be using the 1759 edition.

Kalendar and Rubrics

The kalendar retains many of the papal martyrs of the first few centuries as simple feasts, as in the Roman rite, but also adds many obscure French saints to the kalendar as simple or semi-double like St. Bathild or promotes others like Martin of Tours to patronal status. The ranking of feasts if quite odd: Solemnity, Triples of the first and second class, greater and lesser doubles, semi-double, simple, vigil, and ferial. The gradation is not explained in the Missal nor is the status of these Masses with relation to Sunday. All Saints in a Solemnity, the Assumption is a Triple of the first class, and most Apostles have a greater double. The rules for commemorations, marriages, Masses for the dead, and multiple Masses in collegiate churches are virtually the same as in the pre-1911 Roman rite. There is a provision for moving the Double feasts to Sundays, but the same rubric requires a sung Mass of the Sunday in addition to that of the feast, quite until the "external solemnity" rules in the EF and Pauline liturgies. Should May 1st occur on Paschal Saturday, a private Mass may be celebrated of Ss. Philip & James, but the Office and feast must be transferred outside of the Paschal octave.

Ordo Missae

The Order of Mass is word-for-word, action-for-action the Roman Mass. Even some of the musical tones are the same such as the intonation of the Gloria and dismissal during Pascha. The beginning of the Credo (excluding Credo III) in the Roman is also the same as the beginning of the Credo in Rouen for Greater and Lesser Doubles. And the dismissal from the Missa de Angelis is the dismissal for Triple feasts of the first class! Some of the dismissals are so long and winding, one wonders if they ever were actually sung by clergy who were not trained musicians. After the last Gospel, the prologue of St. John, the Benedicite is sung during the recession as a thanksgiving.


The propers show the most signs of trouble, not heresy, but lamentable tampering and poor copyist work. For instance the epistle readings for Holy Saturday and the Sunday of the Resurrection are reversed, with Paul telling the Corinthians to "purge out the old leaven" on Saturday and the Colossians that they "must rise" with Christ on Sunday when Christ is already risen. 

As in the Parisian and Lyonese rites, and as in Sarum, there are alternative weekday lessons should a ferial day occur and the Sunday Mass warrant repetition. Unlike the other Missals from France, this one retains the old Roman psalter for the propers. One test I have used is the Introit for the third Mass of Christmas day which in the Roman psalter begins "Puer natus est nobis" while the Gallican psalter of St. Jerome, utilized in the other books, renders "Parvulus natus est nobis." The Rouen use is quite remarkable in this regard. The loss of the folded chasuble and the use of only one deacon for the Passion are the only visible de-Romanizations. Holy Week is almost exactly the pre-Pius XII Roman Holy Week only with four readings on Holy Saturday and no distinct Gospel ceremony following the Passion. One wonders if the removal of strongly Roman features was more prominent in the major sees (the capital city of Paris and the primatial see of Lyon). 

As with the other uses, there are more "commons" for saints than in the Roman Missal. The common for one woman, not a martyr follows the same Gaudens gaudebo introit as Pius IX's Mass for the Immaculate Conception, perhaps revealing some textual inspiration.

The Missal contains more sequences than in the Roman rite, but they lack the theological insight and beauty of the Parisian ones. Below is the text for the third Mass of the Nativity.


On the whole the rite of Rouen, like the rite of Paris, is mild variation of the Roman rite, adding local saints and condign Masses for them as well as some additional texts for great feasts, but unlike the other French rites its de-Romanization is limited to some rubrical matters. We would classify Rouen and Paris as "neo-Gallican" liturgies, changed from the basic Roman text whereas the rite of Lyon suggests an older, more independent tradition.

We hope readers and boutique fetishists have enjoyed our exploration of the rites of France used in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. With the curtain coming down on the last act of this Gallican drama we will be moving on to another French story, the origins of the Traditionalist Movement and a series of exposés on its less recognized figures. The first post in that series will either be on Fr. Bryan Houghton or Msgr. Alfred N. Gilbey. Again, thank you for reading.

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