Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Future of Personal Parishes

What is the future of the old Roman Mass, even in its 1962 iteration? Liturgical life and parish life are inextricably bound up in the persons who are their custodians, namely parishioners and the parish priest. Our friend, John R, has managed to get Terce, the old Holy Week and Pentecost Vigil, Pontifical Mass, and the odd Vespers at his minute New Jersey parish, yet the prospective horizon of a world without his current priest threatens to undo what rare and exemplary work he has achieved. Now he stares at a very real possibility of a parish with nothing but spoken Masses and parishioners who only attend for the homeschooling groups. It begs the question: are personal parishes and traditionalist orders the right way forward for the "EF" liturgy?

No, and this blog has argued that such churches are not the answer for four years. The advantages of such communities are the same as any, that they appeal to the people who look for what they offer. Their short-coming is that they are inherently designated to appeal to as narrow a minority of Catholics as possible. Tradistan here in Dallas was erected 25 years ago to deal with the FSSPX problem in the area, two well attended chapels within an hour or two of the metroplex. Benedict XVI may have thought the 1962 Mass was a treasure for all, but Msgr. Charles Grahmann thought it was for a chirpy few who needed to be regularized and ghettoized. There is nothing innately wrong with wanting the old liturgy, better options than the Irving public school system, or dry catechesis, but it is not meant to appeal to a wide array of people with different needs, problems, and talents. In short, traditionalist personal parishes are supposed to stop what traddies want: a widespread restoration of an older form of the Roman liturgy. That traditionalists would take this option, snub "Novus Ordo" priests, and be content with their homeschooling groups sorely underlines that they have lost the fight that they once had.

The most obvious disadvantage of introducing the old liturgy in the much maligned "indult" setting is that it can never be the only liturgy offered and rarely is even the most common one offered, excepting Holy Innocents in New York. The advantages are numerous: the clergy interested in the old liturgy tend to have a more varied education and life experience than those out of traditionalist seminaries, the diocesan setting attracts a wider variety of people who might be willing to contribute their artistic skills, and there is a greater familiarity with diocesan, mainstream life. Above all, if traditionalists really want to revive the old Mass on a wide scale, can one really dispute the wisdom of putting the rite in a place where the vast majority of Catholics worship God?

Of course the introduction of the old Mass to "indult" settings must be done properly and with patience to make any serious headway. For every St. Mary's in Norwalk there is a first Friday of the month at 9:30AM Mass elsewhere that gets 20 people and the priest assumes a lack of interest. There is also the potential instability, should a new, indifferent pastor inherit and ruin a good situation.

So what say ye? Should traditionalists take the fight to the parishes, and toughen themselves in the process? Or should they purse their lips against the Oath of Supremacy and be content with their constant recusancy?

Mary as Mother?

"Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it."
The first major book of Marian spirituality I read as a Catholic was St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort’s (d. 1716) True Devotion to Mary, a popular if hyperbolic work that set the stage of much Marian devotionalism to follow. Fr. de Montfort’s approach was to see Mary as a Lady in a sort of courtly or chivalric sense, as the mistress and commander of her loyal knights, who were to see themselves as her slaves: 
Moreover, if, as I have said, the Blessed Virgin is the Queen and Sovereign of heaven and earth, does she not then have as many subjects and slaves as there are creatures? (I.2.1)
This is all fair enough, and fairly straightforward, even if the courtly language is far removed from our modern frame of reference. Mary is Queen much as Jesus is King, and it is the duty of all subjects to pledge their allegiance to their proper rulers.

Contrast this with the approach of St. Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori (d. 1787) and his Glories of Mary, which heavily emphasized the role of Mary as the Christian’s spiritual mother rather than ruler. The title Mater Ecclesiae appeared only rarely before the 1700s, and it gained serious purchase in the twentieth century with the Vatican Council and recent popes. Bp. de’ Liguori’s language adjusts to his maternal focus:
O most tender Mary, most loving Mother! This is just what you desire. You want us to become children and call out to you in every danger. For you long to help and save us, as you have saved all your children who had recourse to you. (I.2)
While the call to become like little children is of course derived from the dominican aphorism of Matthew’s Gospel, its application within Marian devotionalism is rather more sentimental than one expects was originally intended. Popular Marian spirituality has followed St. Alphonsus over St. Louis, and we may very well be the poorer for it.

Icons and statuary of Our Lady used to be more dignified than they have become. Early icons depicted her both with great humility and great nobility, whether she be holding the infant Christ on her lap or bowing before Christ Pantocrator. The humanizing elements of post-medieval painters increased her tenderness, but it was during the Counter Reformation and in the mass production of devotional figurines that Mary became more fully sentimental. Gone was the sturdy matron of patristic times, and here was the soft, doe-eyed young mother always offering a hug. The more exalted eastern iconography of Mary is alien to western Marian devotees, and it’s no mistake that the only oriental icon that has garnered popularity in the west is “Our Lady of Perpetual Help,” showing as it does Mary in a mildly comforting role.

Subjection to the Queen of Heaven need not be dripping with tender emotion. If that were required, how many people would find it impossible to bend the knee to the New Eve! Better, I think, to stir up feelings of awe and wonder at her holiness and exaltation. As the ancient akathist hymn sings:
It is truly meet to bless you, Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim, without corruption you gave birth to God the Word. True Theotokos, we magnify you!
c. AD 600

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Rood People

After first encountering Our Lady of Walsingham two years ago it has become my regular haunt when I visit family in Houston. I was pleasantly surprised when arriving for this morning's First Sunday of Advent Mass to hear choral Mattins underway, psalms, lessons, and all. It is the first time I have encountered a non-oriental church in Texas that has bothered with the Divine Office, much less on Sunday when most people just want their Mass and coffee.

I noticed one other difference, only after some discernment: some way, some how a rood screen had appeared in medio templi. I thought back and recalled accurately that there had not been one before, just a vestige of one above the altar rail, not unlike St. George's in Sudbury. According to the bulletin the rood screen was added and dedicated the prior week during the Mass for Paul VI's date of Christ the King. The cathedral rector, Fr. Charles Hough IV, writes:
"From the earliest times, Christian architecture has always given special prominence to the Altar as the focus of attention and nucleus, the beating heart of the faithful gathered before it to share in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and to feed on Jesus the Bread of Life. Indeed, the church building is essentially a canopy raised over the Altar with corresponding environs for those who attend on the holy mysteries. Reflecting the tripartite structure of the Hebrew Temple, the traditional parts of Christian churches delineate sacred space and mark a path of ascent toward the Altar. The nave represents the "Inner Court," while the chancel mirrors the "Holy Place," and all rises and points to the sanctuary figuring forth the 'Holy of Holies' and the very dwelling place of God with His people....
"After the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 affirmed the teaching of transubstantiation and promoted the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament in tabernacles at the high Altar, even modest parish churches acquired beautifully carved chancel screens. These screens raised the vision of the faithful to the cross above with its image of our crucified Lord, flanked by the Blessed Virgin Mary and the beloved Apostle John. And these screens also directed the gaze forward, as through a doorframe or window, to the sight of the priest at the Altar elevating the Sacred Species at the moment of their consecration....
"In the sixteenth century, when the Reformation came to England, many of these screens were destroyed, though some survived. The roods and statues, however, were invariably removed and frequently replaced by images of the royal coat of arms, usurping the place of our suffering Lord with the painting of earthly power....
"Around the same time and certainly after the Council of Trent (1545-1563), rood screens began to disappear from Catholic churches in continental Europe for very different reasons. During the Counter-Reformation and under the influence of a baroque aesthetic, medieval styles gave way to neo-classical fashion. Newer churches modelled after the Jesuit church in Rome Il Gesú were built featuring open proscenium arches and lofty altarpieces for a more 'theatrical' staging of the miracle of the Eucharist as inspired, in part, by the nascent arts of the opera and secular drama.... But the real credit for the revival of fully appointed rood screens belongs to the brilliant English Catholic architect Augustus Welby Pugin (1812-1852). His influence was vast and spurred a return to medieval models in building both Anglican and Catholic churches amid the Victorian gothic revival."
Bishop Lopes, Fr. Hough, and the community of Our Lady of Walsingham are to be commended for their superb efforts. Let us hope a few other parishes follow their example.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Basil the Great: Another Case for the Octaves

Next month has four overlapping octaves in the old Roman scheme. St. Basil saw perfection on the eighth day:
"On the day of the resurrection (or standing again Grk. νάστασις) we remind ourselves of the grace given to us by standing at prayer, not only because we rose withChrist, and are bound to seek those things which are above, Colossians 3:1 but because the day seems to us to be in some sense an image of the age which we expect, wherefore, though it is the beginning of days, it is not called by Moses first, but one. For he says There was evening, and there was morning, one day, as though the same day often recurred. Now one and eighth are the same, in itself distinctly indicating that really one and eighth of which the Psalmist makes mention in certain titles of the Psalms, the state which follows after this present time, the day which knows no waning or eventide, and no successor, that age which ends not or grows old. Of necessity, then, the church teaches her own foster children to offer their prayers on that day standing, to the end that through continual reminder of the endless life we may not neglect to make provision for our removal there. Moreover all Pentecost is a reminder of the resurrection expected in the age to come. For that one and first day, if seven times multiplied by seven, completes the seven weeks of the holy Pentecost; for, beginning at the first, Pentecost ends with the same, making fifty revolutions through the like intervening days. And so it is a likeness of eternity, beginning as it does and ending, as in a circling course, at the same point. On this day the rules of the church have educated us to prefer the upright attitude of prayer, for by their plain reminder they, as it were, make our mind to dwell no longer in the present but in the future."

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Anniversary of Kennedy Assassination (RIP the Catholic Vote)

Today, fifty three years ago, just five miles away from where I currently sit, the "Catholic vote" died as a real and tangible thing in American politics. Two weeks after Manhattan real estate magnate Donald Trump shocked the world and rode a rare populist wave to the top it is worth reconsidering what Catholics have lost in American politics.

Barack Obama won the Catholic vote in 2008 after Bush won it in 2004 and Bill Clinton took it in the '90s. Reagan won it in the '80s and Kennedy won it against Nixon, whose boss won it in 1956. Notice something? Catholics typically vote for the winner. An eager man might think the Catholic vote swayed the election, but in fact nothing could be further from the truth, at least nothing since that fateful day in 1963. Catholics did not drive the election, they merely voted the same way as everyone else.

The Catholic vote existed because of immigration from traditionally Catholic countries to America in the 19th and early 20th centuries: Irish, Polish, Italians, and eastern Europeans. While immigration was legal it was not always welcomed. America's original sin, slavery, has caused some historical amnesia with regard to the history of the Klu Klux Klan, which existed as numerously and in some periods more numerously in Pennsylvania and New York than in the Carolinas and Tennessee. The Klan hated Catholics and Jews just as much as it hated blacks, albeit the KKK lacked the political protection in the north that it had in the south. Immigrants from Catholic lands retained their own sequestered communities in cities and dominated the indigenous churches there (when was there last an Archbishop in New York without an Irish name?). Anglo-Americans wanted little socially to do with Catholics and Catholics wanted little socially to do with each other; communities in my Connecticut hometown built churches for Irish, Polish, and Italian neighborhoods within a mile of each other. Irish were particularly disdained, the "white niggers" of the northern United States.

The Catholic ethnic ghettos retained some semblance of cultural cohesion, however embarrassment and desire for elusive assimilation compelled most second generation Catholics to refuse to learn their parents' and grandparents' native tongues as a home language. When the Second World War arrived the disliked Catholics served side-by-side with other white Americans while the blacks had their own legions. While they did not exactly warm up to the Miraculous Medal, "WASP" American soldiers lived with Catholics, fought with them, died with them, and learned that they were not a peculiar clique after all. A last gasp of ethnocentric Catholic identity propelled Kennedy to the Presidency in 1960 in an election not unlike this past one, where the popular vote was closer than the electoral college would conventionally suggest. The Irish and Cardinal Cushing, in a final fit before demographic death, voted for Kennedy at a 70% rate. No candidate since has enjoyed such a Catholic following.

While the ethnic bonds of Catholicism evanesced after World War II, the Catholic vote did not. Rapid rates of conversion and the ability of the faith to survive outside the "old world" kept Catholics a robust political demographic, although Cardinals Spellman and McIntyre's anti-Communism would have had everyone pull the lever for Republicans against Cardinal Cushing and the rest of the "Democratic party at prayer" in Boston. 75% of Catholics attended weekly Mass, 90% monthly; a similar number held to conventional teachings such as the Church's primacy in moral and ethic issues. At the same time, the differences between the Republican and Democratic parties could be reduced to what one thought of the New Deal and of the Soviet Union. Gay marriage, killing babies, and third wave feminism were not on the ballot in those days (in fact they have never been on the ballot, they are always adjudicated by the Supreme Court). Kennedy's assassination and the enormous drop off in Mass attendance after the liturgical changes of the 1960s pulverized whatever burgeoning Catholic vote there was.

Like Jews, but unlike Protestants and Eastern Orthodox, people continue to identify as Catholics after losing their faith and ceasing to practice its tenets for years. What made the Catholic vote an actual force in politics was that it reflected a tangible religious practice that made for a coherent voting block to be pursued by those who could appeal to its interests. With a quarter of Catholics attending Mass even monthly and 98% of Catholic women having used birth control at one point or another in their lives one cannot say the same rules apply now as did in 1963.

The largest demographic in modern American politics is the irreligious, although not necessarily the anti-religious. Trump revived the Evangelical vote during the primaries, but cut into other demographics in the general election. Hispanics, who one would presume to be Catholic, by in large voted for the most pro-abortion candidate in American history because the press perceive Trump's immigration stance to reflect an underlying bigotry against immigrants from south of the Texas-Mexico border. And yet Trump won the "Catholic vote." We should be proud. Jack would be.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Wedding Bells

Say a prayer for my co-writer, J., and his "little lady." They tie the knot today.

Grump Saint Joseph, pray for him!

Friday, November 18, 2016

REPOST: Dedication of St. Peter's Basilica

In a previous post we looked at the first millennium Roman liturgy from a textual and historical perspective, at how the traditional liturgy as we have it today evolved from a remarkably similar Mass around the year 800 AD. Today I just want to "throw" some material at you for your own edification once again, this time pertaining to the setting of the first millennium and medieval Roman liturgy, namely the original St. Peter's basilica. Most of what I have below is republished from last year, but with many improvements.

The original St. Peter's basilica was begun by Emperor Constantine over a shrine on Vatican Hill here Christians had venerated what tradition tells us was the place of St. Peter's burial since the first century—St. Peter's bones were not actually discovered until the reign of Pius XII. The basilica was completed in 360, but constantly remodeled. Originally the tomb of the first Pope of Rome was in the apse of the basilica, behind the altar. Tidal flow of pilgrims necessitated switching these two. A more elaborate throne for the Pope was constructed, as consecration of the Bishop of Rome became more usual at St. Peter's. The proliferation of Papal burials at St. Peter's and a series of ninth century invasions by Saracens necessitated further renovations. One such remodel, around the time of Leo IV, led to an altar embroidered in precious stones, ambos and doors of silver, and mosaics taken from the finest Eastern churches. Like most Roman basilicas, there was a group of canons attached to the church.

from: bible-architecture.info
A cloister preceded the entrance. I cannot help but think of Dr. Laurence Hemming's theory of the Catholic churches as temples, as fulfillment of the Temple of Jerusalem. The cloister here is more of an enclosed sacred courtyard than anything monastic. It functioned as a gathering place for people to prepare for Mass, an eschaton—a place between the world and eternity. A pineapple, which I believe predates the Christian era, sat at the center of the cloister. The faithful, as late as the eighth century, washed their hands for Communion at the fountains in this area—although reception on the hand differed drastically from the modern practice. In all, it is like the courtyards of the Temples of Solomon and Herod: a gateway through which the faithful would leave the world and prepare for the Divine. Sort of the story of salvation, eh?
Drawing of how the mosaics on the façade of the basilica,
as restored by Innocent III, would have been arranged.
source: chestofbooks.com

The inside was very much that of a Roman basilica which, before the Christian age, just meant an indoor public gathering place for Romans. The nave would be lined with colonnade, but statuary and imagery was sparse and likely introduced in the early second millennium. The primary source of color would have been through patterns and mosaics on the ceiling, particularly in the apse. While Byzantine churches tend to either depict Christ as a child in our Lady's arms or Christ the Pantocrator in the apse, Roman churches vary more, and St. Peter's would have been no exception. St. Mary Major's apse bears Christ and our Lady seats in power, while the Lateran depicts Him ascended above all the saints—and above us, lest we forget, and St. Paul outside the Wall depicts Him in blessing but with a book of judgment. St. Peter's might have also had some variation of Christ in the apse, above the stationary Papal throne.

The altar was both ad orientem and versus populum, a rarity outside of Rome. During the Canon the faithful would go into the transepts and the aisles of the nave and face eastward with the priest, meaning they did not "see" the change on the altar. Curtains may have been drawn regardless, guaranteeing people did not see the consecration until the Middle Ages at least.

The populistic arrangement, of the Pope facing the people, gives us a clear indication of where the reformers discovered their "Mass as assembly" idea, but neglects the very hierarchical arrangement, which the Bishop of Rome elevated, surrounded by his counsel and the servants of the faithful in Holy Orders. Certainly a more popularly accessible structure than a Tridentine pontifical Mass from the throne, but not remotely as democratic as the reformers would have us believe. Papal Mass continued their arrangement through 1964, the year of the last Papal Mass.

St. Peter's basilica around the year 1450
(taken from wikipedia)

Neglect during the Avignon papacy left the Roman basilicas in ruins, St. Peter's included. The roof of the basilica and its re-enforcement were both wood, which had long rotted. Instability eventually caused the walls and foundations to crack and, although many maintained the basilica was still usable, the decision was made to replace it in 1505 by Pope Julius II. The decision rightly sent Romans into uproar, as the old church had been used by the City and by saints for twelve centuries.

The fate of much of the original basilica is unknown. Elements of the portico survived, as did the Papal tombs. St. Peter's tomb received its own chapel, named for the Pope who built it. The high altar was retained and en-capsuled in the new altar. The altar sanctuary had been walled from the nave by winding pillars, supposedly taken from the Temple of Solomon. They were destroyed, although their design is retained in the new basilica's baldacchino.

Below is a reconstruction of how the sanctuary would have looked during the Middle Ages. Note the wall and doors, much like an iconostasis, betwixt the sanctuary and nave. The semi-circular benches around the Papal throne were for the canons of the basilica, the seven deacons of Rome, the archpriest, and the cardinals. The doors on the sides might have been either for the deacons, for those administering Holy Communion to the people in the transepts, or for those visiting the tomb below the sanctuary.

From New Liturgical Movement
Note the side altars, where the Roman low Mass as we know it was formed. Also, the entrance to St. Peter's tomb from doors under the stairs.
The reconstruction below, however, seems to aim at imitating a medieval version of St. Peter's basilica. The above image, of the basilica in the first millennium, shows a church which has not yet undergone various renovations consequent to medieval piety and style: the barrier above is more of a railing than a wall, there are side-chapels below but not above, and curtains around the altar—emphasizing the mystery of it all, and colonnade around the Papal throne—pointing to the unique place in the sanctuary of the chair of Peter. The walls are also sparser in the pre-Middle Ages image above. I suspect the person who created these images is of the Byzantine tradition, as he has put icons above the altars as decoration rather than more Romanesque mosaics and paintings. Still, quite an effort.

Below is a video from the same source showing a detailed view of the old basilica. I always found the old pineapple funny. It is a pagan bronze work dating to the first century and which resided in the Vatican square for no reason other than its pre-dating the basilica. The video is well worth your time and hopefully will engender some appreciation for the scale and Romanitas of the original church. Of course the details of the inside are mostly lost and would have taken the video's maker an eternity to construct.

Here is an account of the demolition of the original church:

From Idle Speculations:

"At the beginning of Paul V.'s pontificate, there still stood untouched a considerable portion of the nave of the Constantinian basilica. It was separated from the new church by a wall put up by Paul III.
There likewise remained the extensive buildings situate in front of the basilica. The forecourt, flanked on the right by the house of the archpriest and on the right by the benediction loggia of three bays and the old belfry, formed an oblong square which had originally been surrounded by porticoes of Corinthian columns.
The lateral porticos, however, had had to make room for other buildings—those on the left for the oratory of the confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament built under Gregory XIII., and the house of the Cappella Giulia and the lower ministers of the church, and those on the right for the spacious palace of Innocent VIII.
In the middle of this square, at a small distance from the facade of the present basilica, stood the fountain (cantharus) erected either by Constantine or by his son Constantius, under a small dome supported by eight columns and surmounted by a colossal bronze cone which was believed to have been taken from the mausoleum of Hadrian.
From this court the eye contemplated the facade of old St. Peter's, resplendent with gold and vivid colours and completely covered with mosaics which had been restored in the sixteenth century, and crowned, in the centre, by a figure of Christ enthroned and giving His blessing.
To this image millions of devout pilgrims had gazed up during the centuries.
Internally the five-aisled basilica, with its forest of precious columns, was adorned with a wealth of altars, shrines and monuments of Popes and other ecclesiastical and secular dignitaries of every century. The roof consisted of open woodwork. The walls of the central nave, from the architrave upwards, displayed both in colour and in mosaic, scenes from Holy Scripture and the portraits of all the Popes.
It is easy to understand Paul V.'s hesitation to lay hands on a basilica so venerable by reason of the memories of a history of more than a thousand years, and endowed with so immense a wealth of sacred shrines and precious monuments.
On the other hand, the juxtaposition of two utterly heterogeneous buildings, the curious effect of which may be observed in the sketches of Marten van Heemskerk, could not be tolerated for ever. To this must be added the ruinous condition, already ascertained at the time of Nicholas V and Julius V., of the fourth century basilica a condition of which Paul V. himself speaks in some of his inscriptions as a notorious fact.
A most trustworthy contemporary, Jacopo Grimaldi, attests that the paintings on the South wall were almost unrecognizable owing to the crust of dust which stuck to them, whilst the opposite wall was leaning inwards.
Elsewhere also, even in the woodwork of the open roof, many damaged places were apparent. An earthquake could not have failed to turn the whole church into a heap of ruins.
An alarming occurrence came as a further warning to make haste. During a severe storm, in September, 1605, a huge marble block fell from a window near the altar of the Madonna della Colonna. Mass was being said at that altar at the time so that it seemed a miracle that no one was hurt.
Cardinal Pallotta, the archpriest of St. Peter's, pointed to this occurrence in the consistory of September 26th, 1605, in which he reported on the dilapidated condition of the basilica, basing himself on the reports of the experts.
As a sequel to a decision by the cardinalitial commission of September 17th, the Pope resolved to demolish the remaining part of the old basilica. At the same time he decreed that the various monuments and the relics of the Saints should be removed and preserved with the greatest care.' These injunctions were no doubt prompted by the strong opposition raised by the learned historian of the Church, Cardinal Baronius, against the demolition of a building which enshrined so many sacred and inspiring monuments of the history of the papacy. To Cardinal Pallotta was allotted the task of superintending the work of demolition.
Sestilio Mazucca, bishop of Alessano and Paolo Bizoni, both canons of St. Peter's, received pressing recommendations from Paul V. to watch over the monuments of the venerable sanctuary and to see to it that everything was accurately preserved for posterity by means of pictures and written accounts, especially the Lady Chapel of John VII., at the entrance to the basilica, which was entirely covered with mosaics, the ciborium with Veronica's handkerchief, the mosaics of Gregory XI on the facade and other ancient monuments. On the occasion of the translation of the sacred bodies and relics of Saints, protocols were to be drawn up and graves were only to be opened in presence of the clergy of the basilica. The bishop of Alessano was charged to superintend everything.
It must be regarded as a piece of particularly good fortune that in Jacopo Grimaldi (died January 7th, 1623) canon and keeper of the archives of the Chapter of St. Peter's, a man was found who thoroughly understood the past and who also possessed extensive technical knowledge. He made accurate drawings and sketches of the various monuments doomed to destruction.
The plan of the work of demolition, as drawn up in the architect's office, probably under Maderno's direction, comprised three tasks : viz. the opening of the Popes' graves and other sepulchral monuments as well as the reliquaries, and the translation of their contents ; then the demolition itself, in which every precaution was to be taken against a possible catastrophe ; thirdly, the preservation of all those objects which, out of reverence, were to be housed in the crypt—the so-called Vatican Grottos—or which were to be utilized in one way or another in the new structure.
As soon as the demolition had been decided upon, the work began.
On September 28th, Cardinal Pallotta transferred the Blessed Sacrament in solemn procession, accompanied by all the clergy of the basilica, into the new building where it was placed in the Cappella Gregoriana. Next the altar of the Apostles SS. Simon and Jude was deprived of its consecration with the ceremonies prescribed by the ritual ; the relics it had contained were translated into the new church, after which the altar was taken down. On October 11th, the tomb of Boniface VIII. was opened and on the 20th that of Boniface IV., close to the adjoining altar.
The following day witnessed the taking up of the bodies of SS. Processus and Martinianus. On October 30th, Paul V. inspected the work of demolition of the altars and ordered the erection of new ones so that the number of the seven privileged altars might be preserved.
On December 29th, 1605, the mortal remains of St. Gregory the Great were taken up with special solemnity, and on January 8th, 1606, they were translated into the Cappella Clementina. The same month also witnessed the demolition of the altar under which rested the bones of Leo IX., and that of the altar of the Holy Cross under which Paul I. had laid the body of St. Petronilla, in the year 757. Great pomp marked the translation of all these relics ; similar solemnity was observed on January 26th, at the translation of Veronica's handkerchief, the head of St. Andrew and the holy lance. These relics were temporarily kept, for greater safety, in the last room of the Chapter archives.
So many graves had now been opened in the floor that it became necessary to remove the earth to the rapidly growing rubbish heap near the Porta Angelica.
On February 8th, 1606, the dismantling of the roof began and on February 16th the great marble cross of the facade was taken down. Work proceeded with the utmost speed ; the Pope came down in person to urge the workmen to make haste. These visits convinced him of the decay of the venerable old basilica whose collapse had been predicted for the year 1609. The work proceeded with feverish rapidity—the labourers toiled even at night, by candle light.

The demolition of the walls began on March 29th ; their utter dilapidation now became apparent. The cause of this condition was subsequently ascertained ; the South wall and the columns that supported it, had been erected on the remains of Nero's race-course which were unable to bear indefinitely so heavy a weight.
In July, 1606, a committee was appointed which also included Jacopo Grimaldi. It was charged by the cardinalitial commission with the task of seeing to the preservation of the monuments of the Popes situate in the lateral aisles and in the central nave of the basilica. The grave of Innocent VIII. was opened on September 5th, after which the bones of Nicholas V., Urban VI., Innocent VII. and IX., Marcellus II. and Hadrian IV. were similarly raised and translated.
In May, 1607, the body of Leo the Great was found. Subsequently the remains of the second, third and fourth Leos were likewise found ; they were all enclosed in a magnificent marble sarcophagus. Paul V. came down on May 30th to venerate the relics of his holy predecessors
Meanwhile the discussions of the commission of Cardinals on the completion of the new building had also been concluded. They had lasted nearly two years"
[Pastor History of the Popes Volume 26 (trans Dom Ernest Graf OSB) (1937; London) pages 378-385]
The loss of the original St. Peter's Basilica is a long forgotten misfortune for the Church. The current basilica is very impressive in all regards, and yet when he visited it (a day after seeing the Lateran and two days after seeing St. Mary Major) the Rad Trad found the current structure lacking in only one element: continuity with the past. The previous basilicas were truly Roman. And yet they have been updated with gothic flooring, Renaissance ceilings and paintings, baroque altars and décor, and even modern Holy Doors. The newer St. Peter's seems very much a standalone, quite apart from the other Papal churches in the City.
St. Peter's fell into neglect during the Avignon Papacy, when earthquakes could have their way with the Basilica and no Papal coffers proffered repair money. The wooden roof was similarly neglected. Upon return to Rome the Popes moved their major liturgical functions elsewhere and the deterioration worsened.
Perhaps some future oratory or cathedral, looking to maximize return without spending a load of money or choosing a brutally modern look, could go with the Roman basilica arrangement using St. Peter's as a model.

Some didactic abstracts from a conference on the old basilica three years ago.

Lastly, here are some photographs I took while visiting the Petrine basilica three years ago:

Today is the feast of the Dedication of the Basilicas of Ss. Peter and Paul, two of the four patriarchal basilicas of the Roman Church. The current buildings are fairly recent (St. Peter's is a 16th century replacement of a 4th century basilica and St. Paul's is a 19th century reconstruction of the original, which burned and imploded). The Rad Trad did not get to St. Paul outside the Wall during his visit to Rome, but did manage to spend a full day in St. Peter's Basilica. The current building has very little to do with the one which preceded it, other than that it too houses the relics of the Prince of the Apostles.

I have re-posted some older material, a photo tour of the current basilica, for readers' edification. As stated on our previous post for the feast of the Dedication of the Lateran, these photos are perhaps better than what one will find online because they were taken during a progression through the church and hence give a clearer impression of the arrangement, scale, and style of the place. Some photos towards the end show the Rad Trad in personal horror (not a fan of heights).

The second lesson in the second nocturne of Mattins today seems to be based upon the fictitious Donation of Constantine (did Benedict XIV not want to rid us of this sort of thing?), but concludes with the interesting, and more historically feasible, statement that the consecration of a stone altar by St. Sylvester, Pope at the time, marked an official point of transition from wood to purely stone altars.

Happy feast!

Approach from the square

Sneak by the Swiss Guards

Our Lord watches this place

Where we hear "Habemus Papam"

Friends of the Rad Trad awaiting entry into the nave

First altar on the right is graced by the Pieta

Peering through the right-side door

A rather ugly statue of Pope Pius XII, among many statues of saints and popes

Looking back from the first chapel. This place is big! The current basilica
was built over the previous one, which too was the largest church in the world at
one point. The basilica's interior is a sixth of a mile long. I have sailed on large cruise ships
which would fit within this edifice comfortably.

A shot across to the altar of the Presentation

The baptismal font is enormous. Scale dominates this place

The dome over the baptistery

The coffered ceiling

Tomb of St. Pius X

The domes under the side chapels are quite colorful

The chapel of the choir, south of the high altar, which contains relics of St. John Chrysostom

Tomb of St. Gregory the Great. The Pope once vested for Solemn Mass here
while the schola sang terce

Apse of a transept

The baldacchino over the high altar is over 70 feet in height,
the largest piece of bronze work in the world

St. Andrew. There are many statues in the nave, but none of Apostles or Our Lady.
Those of the Apostles are to be found around the (ill-defined) sanctuary.

The entrance to the tomb of St. Peter and the Clementine chapel

St. Peter presiding at the basilica. A line of people wait to kiss his foot.

Confession in 22 languages from 7AM to 7PM

Looking from the altar to the nave

A friend of mine, who is over six feet tall, for size comparison

St. Gregory the Illuminator, disciple to Armenia

"I saw water flowing from the right side of the temple...."

The altar at the Petrine Throne with the Holy Ghost descending upon it.
It makes much more sense to see this during a Mass, which we did.

Saints watch and keep vigil

As we depart....

Later that day the Rad Trad visited the dome

The Rad Trad does not like heights

The Rad Trad really does not like heights.
Grabbing the cornice for dear life!

The Four Evangelists at the corners of the sanctuary

The inside of the dome

That ant below is a person! We were well over 200 feet above the floor

Friends delighting in the Rad Trad's fears

One last shot of the altar

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Understanding the US Election

International readers may be searching for answers after Donald Trump has pulled off the most remarkable American electoral victory since Dewey "beat" Truman. The best analysis I have found comes from the Mad Monarchist. Say what you will about Mr. Trump's tone, the conduct of his campaign, or his positions, the Mad Monarchist's article lays out exactly why he won. What that means as far as governance remains to be seen. He is not a financial genius. Hopefully, he is not Putin. He is not Constantine, either (and neither is Putin). However, he may leave us alone. We are due for a recession (although the markets have not panicked after the Donald's win the way they did after Brexit) and how he handles it will test his mettle. Interesting times lay ahead.

On an off note, the result of this election is angering all the right people: millennials with art degrees who work at Starbucks, gender equality activists, investment bankers who could not buy the election result, and Democrats who refused to learn the lesson of Bernie Sanders. Regardless of how Trump governs, politicians here and abroad ignore the forces that wrought Trump at their own risk. There is minute truth to the idea his "alt-right" base has radical racial tendencies (doesn't Black Lives Matter?), however they are mostly anti-PC trolls. The Marxian methodology of political triangulation used by Western liberal parties—dividing people into demographics and forcing their sympathies to one of two parties—has pushed a large portion of the population, including Christians, to the side. That marginalized pool was large enough to elect a president. "Crazy Bernie" understood this, "Crooked Hillary" did not.

With Hillary Clinton's exit from the political arena, does Francis of Rome assume the throne of the international left and wear the triregnum of liberty, equality, and fraternity? Perhaps fraternity is too gender specific.... You get the idea.