Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Rare Sight: Lessons in the Spirit & Letter

Above is Delacroix's painting of Armand Jean du Plessis Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu celebrating Mass in the Palais Royal. Even as his France's armies battled those of the Hapsburgs and the Papal States he petitioned the pope for dispensation from having to recite the time consuming Divine Office. One thinks of Cardinal Spellman's similar dispensation; he tended to celebrate Mass a few times a year, usually for American troops abroad at Christmas and for the consecration of churches in New York City.

Ol' Armand fought against the spirit of the law while zealously keeping its letter as long as he needed.


  1. Did Richelieu, in fact, receive the dispensation? I'm curious, because I've heard (maybe I read it in Belloc's biography) that Richelieu would recite one day's Office with his clerics at about 11 p.m., then at the stroke of midnight begin in on the next day's Office. In effect, he would only spend about two hours every other day on the breviary. Twisted, but ingenious.

  2. "he would only spend about two hours every other day on the breviary"

    It means 1 h per day. Difficult to believe. For the recitation of all eight Hours of the Tridentine breviary it takes 1 h 40 min as minimum, murmuring it in low voice at breakneck speed. Neither 1911 nor 1962 breviary for that matter can be squeezed in 1 h.

  3. Pulex, thank you for the reply. Richelieu didn't use the Breviarium Romanum, though, did he? I don't know myself, but I would think (because of its relative brevity, also maybe for political reasons) he would have followed the Parisian or other Gallic rite.

    Sadly, I know for a fact that the 1911 breviary can be recited in about an hour, maybe 45-50 min., even on a Duplex. St. Alphonsus even cautions that a priest who finished Mass in under fifteen minutes (!) would be guilty of mortal sin for such irreverence. I think it's hard nowadays for us who love the traditional rites to conceive of those in the past who solely and merely wanted to "get through" the Office or Mass as fast as possible.

  4. However I believe he will see her.
    Not that I support the intrigue regarding Papacy at Avignon.
    God have mercy on us all!