Feast of the Holy Abbots of Cluny (April 29)**



The history of the feast

In most pre-twentieth century Benedictine breviaries, this day is marked as the feast of St Robert of Molesmes, one of the founders of the Cistercian Order.
**Some of the French Congregations, however, seem to have celebrated the feast of St Hugh on this date either instead of St Robert (Cluniacs) or as well as that feast (Solesmes).  The 1897 Liber Antiphonarius lists the feast of St Robert in the main calendar, but also adds St Hugh to that day, while preserving separate feasts for St Odilo (Jan 19), Maiolus (May11) and Odo (Nov 27) for their own congregation.
In (I think) the early twentieth century clean out of the Benedictine calendar though, the ongoing war between the Black and White monks presumably heated up once more, because the feast of St Robert of Molesmes was replaced by one celebrating several of the Cluniac abbots instead (combining several separate feasts celebrated by some Congregations only), against whom the Cistercian reform was rather directed.

Curiously, though, one of the most important Cluniac abbots, who successfully defended his congregation from the attacks of the Cistercians, Blessed Peter the Venerable, didn't actually make the list for the celebration of today's feast at all in the 1963 calendar.  This may be because he was never officially canonised.

The deficiency was, however, rectified in the 1975 revision of the calendar.

The Solesmes Congregation, however, continue to observe the feasts of the various abbots on separate dates, while Le Barroux celebrates the feast of the Cluny abbots, but retains St Robert as a commemoration.

Matins texts and readings for the feast

At Matins in the 1963 breviary, the invitatory antiphon is Exsultent in Domino, and the chant for it can be found in the Liber Responsorialis, page 162.  The hymn, Rex gloriose Praesulum, is the same as for Vespers so can be found in the Antiphonale Monasticum.

The one reading is from Letter 4 of St Peter Damian to St Hugh, but I'm afraid I have been unable to find it online in either Latin or English.  Pope Benedict XVI's comments on the Cluniac reform, however, might be a good substitute, so I have reproduced it below.  Pope Benedict also provided a couple of other General Audiences on the saints in question which are well worth a read, so herewith some links to them, viz:
From a General Audience of Pope Benedict XVI given on 11 November 2009:

This morning I would like to speak to you about a monastic movement that was very important in the Middle Ages and which I have already mentioned in previous Catecheses. It is the Order of Cluny which at the beginning of the 12th century, at the height of its expansion, had almost 1,200 monasteries: a truly impressive figure! A monastery was founded at Cluny in 910, precisely 1,100 years ago, and subsequent to the donation of William the Pious, Duke of Aquitaine, was placed under the guidance of Abbot Berno. At that time Western monasticism, which had flourished several centuries earlier with St Benedict, was experiencing a severe decline for various reasons: unstable political and social conditions due to the continuous invasions and sacking by peoples who were not integrated into the fabric of Europe, widespread poverty and, especially, the dependence of abbeys on the local nobles who controlled all that belonged to the territories under their jurisdiction. In this context, Cluny was the heart and soul of a profound renewal of monastic life that led it back to its original inspiration.

At Cluny the Rule of St Benedict was restored with several adaptations which had already been introduced by other reformers. The main objective was to guarantee the central role that the Liturgy must have in Christian life. The Cluniac monks devoted themselves with love and great care to the celebration of the Liturgical Hours, to the singing of the Psalms, to processions as devout as they were solemn, and above all, to the celebration of Holy Mass. They promoted sacred music, they wanted architecture and art to contribute to the beauty and solemnity of the rites; they enriched the liturgical calendar with special celebrations such as, for example, at the beginning of November, the Commemoration of All Souls, which we too have just celebrated; and they intensified the devotion to the Virgin Mary. Great importance was given to the Liturgy because the monks of Cluny were convinced that it was participation in the liturgy of Heaven. And the monks felt responsible for interceding at the altar of God for the living and the dead, given large numbers of the faithful were insistently asking them to be remembered in prayer. Moreover, it was with this same aim that William the Pious had desired the foundation of the Abbey of Cluny. In the ancient document that testifies to the foundation we read: "With this gift I establish that a monastery of regulars be built at Cluny in honour of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, where monks who live according to the Rule of St Benedict shall gather... so that a venerable sanctuary of prayer with vows and supplications may be visited there, and the heavenly life be sought after and yearned for with every desire and with deep ardour, and that assiduous prayers, invocations and supplications be addressed to the Lord". To preserve and foster this atmosphere of prayer, the Cluniac Rule emphasized the importance of silence, to which discipline the monks willingly submitted, convinced that the purity of the virtues to which they aspired demanded deep and constant recollection. It is not surprising that before long the Monastery of Cluny gained a reputation for holiness and that many other monastic communities decided to follow its discipline. Numerous princes and Popes asked the abbots of Cluny to extend their reform so that in a short time a dense network of monasteries developed that were linked to Cluny, either by true and proper juridical bonds or by a sort of charismatic affiliation. Thus a spiritual Europe gradually took shape in the various regions of France and in Italy, Spain, Germany and Hungary.

Cluny's success was assured primarily not only by the lofty spirituality cultivated there but also by several other conditions that ensured its development. In comparison with what had happened until then, the Monastery of Cluny and the communities dependent upon it were recognized as exempt from the jurisdiction of the local Bishops and were directly subject to that of the Roman Pontiff. This meant that Cluny had a special bond with the See of Peter and, precisely because of the protection and encouragement of the Pontiffs the ideals of purity and fidelity proposed by the Cluniac Reform spread rapidly. Furthermore, the abbots were elected without any interference from the civil authorities, unlike what happened in other places. Truly worthy people succeeded one another at the helm of Cluny and of the numerous monastic communities dependent upon it: Abbot Odo of Cluny, of whom I spoke in a Catechesis two months ago, and other great figures such as Eymard, Majolus, Odilo and especially Hugh the Great, who served for long periods, thereby assuring stability and the spread of the reform embarked upon. As well as Odo, Majolus, Odilo and Hugh are venerated as Saints.

Not only did the Cluniac Reform have positive effects in the purification and reawakening of monastic life but also in the life of the universal Church. In fact, the aspiration to evangelical perfection was an incentive to fight two great abuses that afflicted the Church in that period: simony, that is the acquisition of pastoral offices for money, and immorality among the secular clergy. The abbots of Cluny with their spiritual authority, the Cluniac monks who became Bishops and some of them even Popes, took the lead in this impressive action of spiritual renewal. And it yielded abundant fruit: celibacy was once again esteemed and practised by priests and more transparent procedures were introduced in the designation of ecclesiastical offices.

Also significant were the benefits that monasteries inspired by the Cluniac Reform contributed to society. At a time when Church institutions alone provided for the poor, charity was practised with dedication. In all the houses, the almoner was bound to offer hospitality to needy wayfarers and pilgrims, travelling priests and religious and especially the poor, who came asking for food and a roof over their heads for a few days. Equally important were two other institutions promoted by Cluny that were characteristic of medieval civilization: the "Truce of God" and the "Peace of God". In an epoch heavily marked by violence and the spirit of revenge, with the "Truces of God" long periods of non-belligerence were guaranteed, especially on the occasion of specific religious feasts and certain days of the week. With "the Peace of God", on pain of a canonical reprimand, respect was requested for defenceless people and for sacred places.

In this way, in the conscience of the peoples of Europe during that long process of gestation, which was to lead to their ever clearer recognition two fundamental elements for the construction of society matured, namely, the value of the human person and the primary good of peace. Furthermore, as happened for other monastic foundations, the Cluniac monasteries had likewise at their disposal extensive properties which, diligently put to good use, helped to develop the economy. Alongside the manual work there was no lack of the typical cultural activities of medieval monasticism such as schools for children, the foundation of libraries and scriptoria for the transcription of books.

In this way, 1,000 years ago when the development of the European identity had gathered momentum, the experience of Cluny, which had spread across vast regions of the European continent, made its important and precious contribution. It recalled the primacy of spiritual benefits; it kept alive the aspiration to the things of God; it inspired and encouraged initiatives and institutions for the promotion of human values; it taught a spirit of peace. Dear brothers and sisters let us pray that all those who have at heart an authentic humanism and the future of Europe may be able to rediscover, appreciate and defend the rich cultural and religious heritage of these centuries.

April 26: SS Cletus and Marcellinus

Image result for saint cletus



In the 1963 monastic breviary, today is a memorial for St Cletus only.

Older breviaries, though, mark it as a semiduplex feast of both Popes SS Cletus and Marcellinus. Divinum Officium supplies the following reading for the saints:
Cletus was a Roman, the son of Emilian, of the Fifth Region of the city, and the street called Noble. He ruled the Church in the time of the Emperors Vespasian and Titus. In accordance with the precept of the Prince of the Apostles He ordained twenty-five Priests for the city. He was the first Pope who made use in his letters of the phrase "Health and Apostolic Benediction." When he had ruled the Church for twelve years, seven months, and two days, and brought it into an excellent state of order, in the reign of the Emperor Domitian, and the second persecution since the time of Nero, he was crowned with martyrdom, and buried on the Vatican mount, hard by the body of blessed Peter.
Marcellinus was a Roman; he ruled the Church from the year 296 to the year 304, during the savage persecution which was ordered by the Emperor Diocletian. He suffered through the false severity of those who blamed him as being too indulgent toward them who had fallen into idolatry, and for this reason also hath been slandered to the effect that he himself burnt incense to idols but this blessed Pope, on account of his confession of the faith, was put to death along with three other Christians, whose names are Claudius, Cyrinus, and Antoninus. At the command of the Emperor their bodies were cast out unburied, and lay so for thirty- six days. At the end of that time St Peter appeared in a dream to Blessed Marcellus, and in obedience to his command the said Marcellus went with certain Priests and Deacons, singing hymns, and carrying lights, and buried these four bodies honourably in the Cemetery of Priscilla upon the Salarian Way. Marcellinus ruled the Church for seven years, eleven months, and twenty-three days. During this time he held two Advent ordinations, and ordained at them four Priests, and five Bishops for divers Sees.

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Feast of St Mark/ANZAC Day



St Mark

Today is the feast of St Mark, the writer of the shortest of the four Gospels, and you can find the readings for the feast at Matins here.  St Mark was, according to the martyrology, the 'disciple and interpreter of the apostle St. Peter'.

The entry for today goes on to say that:
he wrote his gospel at the request of the faithful at Rome, and taking it with him, proceeded to Egypt and founded a church at Alexandria, where he was the first to preach Christ. Afterwards, being arrested for the faith, he was bound, dragged over stones, and endured great afflictions. Finally he was confined to prison, where, being comforted by the visit of an angel, and even by an apparition of our Lord himself, he was called to the heavenly kingdom in the eighth year of the reign of Nero.
The Greater Litanies 

This is also the day on which the Litany of the saints is traditionally sung as part of a procession at Mass.  It can also be said privately after Lauds, and those who are bound to say the office (ie clergy and religious) are required either to participate in a procession or say the Litany privately.

ANZAC Day

In Australia and New Zealand, it is however, ANZAC Day, the anniversary of one of the most horrendous defeats of World War I, at Gallipoli in 2015, but a defeat that bought forth a new sense of nationhood in those countries.  In the older calendar, there is a special indult allowing the Mass of the day to be replaced with a requiem for the souls of those killed in war; in the newer calendar, the day actually has its own propers, and St Mark is transferred to tomorrow.

So if you would, please remember to say a prayer for the repose of  the souls of those who served in war.

St Mellitus (April 24)


A page divided into 12 sections, each section displaying a scene from the bible
St Augustine Gospels

In the English Congregation, today is traditionally the feast of St Mellitus, the first Bishop of London in the Saxon period and the third Archbishop of Canterbury.

St Mellitus was a member of the Gregorian mission sent to England to convert the Anglo-Saxons from their native paganism to Christianity, arriving around 601 AD with a group of clergy sent by St Gregory the Great to augment S Augustine's group.

St Mellitus was the recipient of a letter from Pope Gregory I known as the Epistola ad Mellitum, preserved by St Bede, which suggested the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons be undertaken gradually, integrating pagan rituals and customs. In 610, Mellitus returned to Italy to attend a council of bishops, and returned to England bearing papal letters to some of the missionaries.

St Mellitus was exiled from London by the pagan successors to his patron, King Sæberht of Essex, following the latter's death around 616. King Æthelberht of Kent, Mellitus' other patron, died at about the same time, forcing him to take refuge in Gaul. Mellitus returned to England the following year, after Æthelberht's successor had been converted to Christianity, but he was unable to return to London, whose inhabitants remained pagan. Mellitus was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 619. During his tenure, he miraculously saved the cathedral, and much of the town of Canterbury, from a fire. After his death in 624, Mellitus was revered as a saint.

Two books are associated with St Mellitus and may have been bought with him to England: the St Augustine Gospels (pictured above), and a copy of the Rule of St Benedict (MS Oxford Bodleian Hatton 48), though of course the latter claim is disputed by many modern historians, who assign the manuscript a later date.

Traditional Benedictine Office - Ordo for first week after Easter Octave (April 23-29)

This week we move into the season of Eastertide, which has special rubrics - in particular a lot fewer antiphons!

It also marks the start of the 'summer' timetable in the Office, so that ordinary days only have one short reading each day (which is the same each day during Eastertide) at Matins (you can find the reading and responsory over at my Lectio Divina Blog).


Sunday 23 April – Low Sunday, Class I 

Matins: Invitatory, hymn, antiphons, Gospel, readings and responsories for the Sunday

Lauds: Antiphons, MD 341* ff with festal psalms 

Prime to None: Antiphons etc MD 344* ff

Vespers: II Vespers of Low Sunday – psalms of Sunday under one antiphon; chapter etc from I Vespers; Magnificat antiphon, MD 345*

Monday 24 April  Class IV [EF: St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Class III]

Matins: Ordinary of Eastertide: Invitatory, Alleluia...; hymn, Rex sempiterne; one antiphon per Nocturn (alleluia...); versicles, short lesson (Os 6:1-3); chapter (Rom 6:4) with psalms of the day

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Eastertide, MD 346*ff; canticle antiphons for Lauds and Vespers, MD 352*; collect, MD 344*

Tuesday 25 April  The Greater Litanies and St Mark [Australia: ANZAC Day]


Matins: All from the Common of Apostles in Eastertide except for the readings and responsories, of the feast)

Lauds to None: All from the Common of Apostles in Paschaltide, MD (23)ff, except for the collect, MD [113]

Vespers: Common of Apostles in Paschaltide MD (20), except for the versicle and Magnificat antiphon, MD (26) and collect, MD [113]

Wednesday 26 April  St Cletus, memorial [EF: SS Cletus and Marcellinus, Class III]

Ordinary of Eastertide, MD 346*ff; canticle antiphons for Lauds and Vespers, MD 352-3*; collect, MD 344*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [113-4]

Thursday 27 April  Class IV; St Peter Canisius, memorial [EF: Class III]


Ordinary of Eastertide, MD 346*ff; canticle antiphons for Lauds and Vespers, MD 353*; collect, MD 344*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [114-5]

Friday 28 April – Class IV [EF: St Paul of the Cross]

Ordinary of Eastertide, MD 346*ff; canticle antiphons for Lauds and Vespers, MD 353*; collect, MD 344*

Saturday 29 April – SS Odo, Majolus, Odilo and Hugh, Class III [EF: St Peter of Verona]

Matins: Invitatory, hymn and one reading of the feast; psalms of the day with antiphons of Eastertide; chapter, Eccles 17:7-8

Lauds: Antiphons for the feast with festal psalms, MD [115] ff

Prime: Antiphon 1 of Lauds with psalms of Saturday

Terce to None: Antiphons and texts of the feast, MD [117] ff

I Vespers of Second Sunday after Easter (Good Shepherd Sunday), MD 354* ff

Traditional Benedictine Office - Ordo for Octave of Easter (April 16-22)

For the next week the Office is essentially the same each day, a seven day Sunday....

Sunday 16 April – Easter Sunday, Class I with a Class I Octave

Matins and Lauds are included in the Vigil, so do not need to be said by those who attend it. 

Matins: If said, all of the feast, with twelve readings and responsories

Lauds: If said, Psalm scheme 2 (92, etc), MD 328*

Prime to Vespers: Antiphons of Lauds with proper texts of the feast, MD 328* ff

Compline: Marian Antiphon, Regina Caeli henceforward

Monday 17 April – Monday in the Octave of Easter, Class I

Matins: Invitatory antiphon and hymn of Easter Sunday, antiphon of the day, ferial psalms, three readings

Lauds to Compline: All as for Easter Sunday including psalms, except for Benedictus and Magnificat antiphons and collect, MD 335*

Tuesday 18 April – Tuesday in Octave of Easter, Class I

Matins: Invitatory antiphon and hymn of Easter Sunday, antiphon of the day, ferial psalms, three readings

Lauds to Compline: All as for Easter Sunday including psalms, except for Benedictus and Magnificat antiphons and collect, MD 336*

Wednesday 19 April – Wednesday in the Octave of Easter, Class I

Matins: Invitatory antiphon and hymn of Easter Sunday, antiphon of the day, ferial psalms, three readings

Lauds to Compline: All as for Easter Sunday including psalms, except for the Benedictus and Magnificat antiphons, and collect, MD 336-7*

Thursday 20 April – Thursday in the Octave of Easter, Class I

Matins: Invitatory antiphon and hymn of Easter Sunday, antiphon of the day, ferial psalms, three readings

Lauds to Compline: All as for Easter Sunday including psalms, except for Benedictus and Magnificat antiphons and collect, MD 337*

Friday 21 April – Friday in the Octave of Easter, Class I

Matins: Invitatory antiphon and hymn of Easter Sunday, antiphon of the day, ferial psalms, three readings

Lauds to Compline: All as for Easter Sunday including psalms, except for Benedictus and Magnificat antiphons and collect, MD 337-8*

Saturday 22 April – White Saturday in the Octave of Easter, Class I

Matins: Invitatory antiphon and hymn of Easter Sunday, antiphon of the day, ferial psalms, three readings

Lauds to None: All as for Easter Sunday including psalms, except for Benedictus antiphon and the collect, MD 338*

SEASON OF EASTERTIDE

I Vespers of Low Sunday, MD 339* ff

Traditional Benedictine Office - Ordo for Holy Week (9-15 April)

This week marks the start of Holy Week, and you can find the readings and responsories, as well as notes on where to find the chants for Matins of Palm Sunday here.

For notes on the rubrics of Holy Week more generally, follow the link here.

In essence, this is a week when you particularly need to keep your wits about you, since which hours of the Office you should say depends on which of the other Holy Week ceremonies you attend.

In addition, the Benedictine Office is abandoned for the Triduum in favour of the Roman. and with special rubrics for these three days.  The highlight of the week is always, in my view, the celebration of Tenebrae (Matins and Lauds, generally anticipated) each night (or very early morning).


Sunday 9 April – Second Passion Sunday or Palm Sunday, Class I

Matins: Ordinary of Passiontide; twelve readings and responsories of the Sunday

Lauds: Antiphons for the day, MD 255* with psalm scheme 1 (Ps 50, 117, 62); chapter etc for the day

Prime to None: Antiphons and chapter verses, MD 258* ff

Vespers: Psalms and antiphons of Sunday; chapter etc as per I Vespers; Magnificat antiphon, MD 260*

Monday 10 April – Monday in Holy Week, Class I

Matins: Ordinary of Passiontide; three readings of the day

Lauds: Antiphons MD 260-1* with psalms of Monday; chapter, responsory and hymn of Passiontide, MD 240* ff; Benedictus antiphon and collect, MD 261*

Prime: Antiphon 1 of Lauds (MD 260*) with psalms etc of Monday

Terce to None: Antiphons 2, 3 and 5 of Lauds respectively, MD 260-1*; chapter and versicle of Passiontide; collect of Lauds

Vespers: Antiphons and psalms of the psalter; Ordinary of Passiontide, MD 244* ff; Magnificat antiphon and collect, MD 261-2*

Tuesday 11 April - Tuesday in Holy Week, Class I

Matins: Ordinary of Passiontide; three readings of the day

Lauds to None: Antiphons MD 262* with psalms of Tuesday; Ordinary of Passiontide; Benedictus antiphon and collect, MD 263*

Vespers: Antiphons and psalms of the psalter; chapter, responsory and hymn for the season, MD 244* ff; Magnificat antiphon and collect of the day, MD 263*

Wednesday 12 April – Wednesday in Holy Week, Class I

Matins: Ordinary of Passiontide; three readings of the day

Lauds to None: Antiphons MD 263-4* with psalms of Wednesday; Ordinary of Passiontide, MD 240*; Benedictus antiphon and collect, MD 264*

Vespers: Antiphons and psalms of the psalter; Ordinary of Passiontide, MD 244* ff; Magnificat antiphon and collect, MD 265*

Thursday 13 April - Maundy Thursday, Class I

Note: No introductory prayer or hymns are said, and the Gloria Patri is not said at the end of each psalm. 

Matins: (Tenebrae)  - as for the Roman Office, nine psalms and readings

Lauds: MD 265*ff  [Note: Outside a monastery, normally sung in combination with Matins the night before as Tenebrae]

Prime to None: MD 279* ff

Vespers: MD 296* ff, Magnificat antiphon of Maundy Thursday, MD 308* [Note: Not said by those who attend the evening Mass]

Compline: MD 305* 

Friday 14 – Good Friday, Class I

See MD 309*ff.  Note that:
  • There are no opening prayers
  • The Gloria Patri is not said at the end of each psalm
  • The psalms etc for Prime to None are set out at MD 279* ff
  • ‘Mortem autem crucis’ is added to the antiphon Christus factus est, MD 282* at the end of each hour
Matins: (Tenebrae)  - as for the Roman Office, nine psalms and readings

Lauds: MD 309*ff [Note: Normally sung the night before in combination with Matins as Tenebrae]

Prime to None: MD 279* ff

Vespers: MD 296* ff, Magnificat antiphon of Good Friday, MD 308* [Not said by those who attend the afternoon liturgy]

Compline: MD 305*

Saturday 15 April   – Holy Saturday

See MD 318* ff.  Note that:
  • There are no opening prayers 
  • The Gloria Patri is not said at the end of each psalm
  • The psalms and antiphons to be used are set out at MD 279* ff
  • Propter quod…’ is added to the antiphon Christus factus est, MD 282* at the end of each hour
Matins: (Tenebrae)  - as for the Roman Office, nine psalms and readings

Lauds: MD 318*ff [Note: Normally sung the night before in combination with Matins as Tenebrae]

Prime to None: MD 279* ff

Vespers: MD 296* ff, Magnificat antiphon of Holy Saturday, MD 308*

Compline: MD 305*  [Not said by those who attend the Vigil]

Benedictine Office - Ordo for first week of Passiontide (April 2-8)

This Sunday marks the start of the mini-season of Passiontide, which has its own proper texts.  You can find notes on the rubrics for this period here.

And if you are looking for notes and readings on Matins for Passion Sunday, look here.


Sunday 2 April – (First) Passion Sunday, Class I

Matins: Invitatory (Hodie si vocem), hymn (Pange lingua), readings and responsories of the Sunday

Lauds: Antiphons and texts for the day, MD 234* ff with psalm scheme 1 (Ps 50, 117, 62)

Prime to None: Antiphons etc, MD 238-9*

Vespers: Psalms and antiphons of Sunday; chapter etc as per I Vespers, MD 234* ff; versicle and Magnificat antiphon MD 239* 

PASSIONTIDE

Monday 3 April – Monday in (First) Passion Week, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Passiontide: Invitatory (Hodie si vocem), omit Gloria; hymn (Pange lingua); psalms and antiphons of the psalter; three readings of the day; chapter Jer 11:18-19

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Passiontide, MD 240* ff; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 246-7*

Tuesday 4 April – Tuesday in Passion Week, Class III; St Isidore, memorial

Matins: Ordinary of Passiontide; three readings of the day

Lauds to VespersOrdinary of Passiontide, MD 240* ff; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 247-8*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [107]

Wednesday 5 April – Wednesday in Passion Week, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Passiontide; three readings of the day

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Passiontide, MD 240* ff; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 248-9*

Thursday 6 April - Thursday in Passion Week, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Passiontide; three readings of the day

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Passiontide, MD 240* ff; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 249-50*

Friday 7 April – Friday in Passion Week, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Passiontide; three readings of the day

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Passiontide, MD 240* ff; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 250-2*

Saturday 8 April – Saturday in Passion Week, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Passiontide; three readings of the day

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Passiontide, MD 240* ff; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 252*

HOLY WEEK

I Vespers of Palm Sunday: Antiphons and psalms of Saturday with chapter and rest from MD 252* ff

Getting ready for Passiontide


StMartin43-53.JPG

The season of Passiontide, a sub-set of Lent, starts with I Vespers of Saturday, and marks an intensification of our preparations for the Triduum.

In the Office, there is an Ordinary of Passiontide with its own hymns and chants.

At Matins:
  • there is a daily invitatory verse (If today you hear his voice, harden not your heart);
  • the Gloria Patri is not said in Psalm 94 or in the responsories; and
  • the hymn is Lustris sex qui iam peractis.
At Prime to None:
  • the antiphons, chapters and versicles are of the season of Passiontide, and can be found in the psalter section;
  • the collect for Terce to None is the same as for Lauds of that day;
At Lauds and Vespers:
  • chapters, hymns, etc of the season replace those in the psalter section;
  • the responsories omit the Gloria Patri, instead repeating the opening verse;
  • the canticle antiphons are proper for each day. They generally reflect the (EF) Gospel for the day; and
  • there is a specific collect for both Lauds and Vespers each day.

Fr Hunwicke has posted some nice background on the hymns of Passiontide, which are all by the sixth century bishop Venantius Fortunatus, prompted, according to Fr H, by the formidable Abbess Radegund of Poitiers.  Vexilla Regis is used at Vespers; the first five verses of Pange lingua gloriosi Proelium certaminis at Matins, and the remainder of the latter hymn at Lauds (as Lustra sex qui iam peregit).

PS I have added a sidebar on the blog linking to monastic (and related) products being sold for fundraising purposes, such as St Benedict medalsBirra Nursia and so forth.  If monasteries would like me to highlight any particular products, just let me know.

The traditionally oriented monasteries pretty much all have donation pages as well, and many of them are in the midst of major building projects, so do give them consideration as part of your Lenten almsgiving!  

Former Octave day of St Benedict

Lorenzo Monaco, The Death of Saint Benedict. 1409, London NG.jpg
Lorenzo Monaco
UK National Gallery

In the old Octave of St Benedict, the first Nocturn readings were as for the feast.  The third Nocturn readings were a sermon of St John Chrysostom on Romans.  The second Nocturn readings continued the reading of St Gregory's Dialogues book II, and were from chapters 35 and 37.

Reading 5: The man of God, Benedict, being diligent in watching, rose early before the time of matins (his monks being yet at rest) and came to the window of his chamber where he offered up Manuscript illustrationhis prayers to almighty God. Standing there, all of a sudden in the dead of the night, as he looked forth, he saw a light that banished away the darkness of the night and glittered with such brightness that the light which shone in the midst of darkness was far more clear than the light of the day.

During this vision a marvelously strange thing followed, for, as he himself afterward reported, the whole world, gathered together, as it were, under one beam of the sun, was presented before his eyes. While the venerable father stood attentively beholding the brightness of that glittering light, he saw the soul of Germanus, Bishop of Capua, in a fiery globe, carried up by Angels into heaven.

Reading 6: Then, desiring to have some witness of this notable miracle, he called Servandus the Deacon with a very loud voice two or three times by his name. Servandus, troubled at such an unusual crying out by the man of God, went up in all haste.  Looking out the window he saw nothing else but a little remnant of the light, but he wondered at so great a miracle.

The man of God told him all that he had seen in due order. In the the town of Cassino, he commanded the religious man, Theoprobus, to dispatch someone that night to the city of Capua, to learn what had become of Germanus their Bishop. This being done, the messenger learned that the reverent prelate had departed this life. Enquiring curiously the time, the messenger discovered that he died at the very instant in which the man of God beheld him ascending up to heaven.

Reading 7: In the year that was to be his last, the man of God foretold the day of his holy death to a number of his disciples. In mentioning it to some who were with him in the monastery, he bound them to strict secrecy. Some others, however, who were stationed elsewhere he only informed of the special sign they would receive at the time of his death.

Six days before he died, he gave orders for his tomb to be opened. Almost immediately he was seized with a violent fever that rapidly wasted his remaining energy. Each day his condition grew worse until finally, on the sixth day, he had his disciples carry him into the chapel where he received the Body and Blood of our Lord to gain strength for his approaching end. Then, supporting his weakend body on the arms of his brethren, he stood with his hands raised to heaven and, as he prayed, breathed his last.

Reading 8: That day two monks, one of them at the monastery, the other some distance away, received the very same revelation.  They both saw a magnificent road covered with rich carpeting and glittering with thousands of lights. From his monastery it stretched eastward in a straight line until it reached up into heaven. And there in the brightness stood a man of majestic appearance, who asked them, "Do you know who passed this way?"

"No," they replied.

"This, he told them, is the road taken by blessed Benedict, the Lord's beloved, when he went to heaven."

Thus, while the brethren who were with Benedict witnessed his death, those who were absent knew about it through the sign he had promised them. His body was laid to rest in the Chapel of St. John the Baptist, which he had built to replace the altar of Apollo.

That cave in which he first dwelled [at Subiaco], even to this very time, works miracles, if the faith of those that pray there requires the same.

Seventh day in the former Octave of St Benedict


Ebersmunster Abbatiale236.JPG
Alsace, Bas-Rhin, Église abbatiale Saint-Maurice d'Ebersmunster
Photo credit: Ralph Hammann


The readings for the old Octave for March 27 were from chapter 21 and 32 of St Gregory's Life of St Benedict.

Reading 1: At another time, there was a great dearth in the same country of Campania: so that all kind of people tasted of the misery: and all the wheat of Benedict's monastery was spent, and likewise all the bread, so that there remained no more than five loaves for dinner. The venerable man, beholding the monks sad, both rebuked them modestly for their pusillanimity, and again comforted them with a promise. "Why," said he, "are you so grieved in your minds for lack of bread? Indeed, today there is some want, but tomorrow you shall have plenty."

And so it fell out, for the next day two hundred bushels of meal were found in sacks before his cell door, which almighty God sent them: but by whom, or what means, that is unknown to this very day: which miracle when the monks saw, they gave God thanks, and by this learned in want, not to make any doubt of plenty.

Reading 2: Being on a day gone out with his monks to work in the field, a country man carrying the corpse of his dead son came to the gate of the Abbey, lamenting the loss of his child: and inquiring for holy Benedict, they told him that he was abroad with his monks in the field. Down at the gate he laid the dead body, and with great sorrow of soul ran in haste to seek out the venerable father. At the same time, the man of God was returning homeward from work with his monks: whom so soon as he saw, he [the country man] began to cry out: "Give me my son, give me my son!"

The man of God, amazed at these words, stood still, and said: "What, have I taken away your son?" "No, no," said the sorrowful father, " but he is dead: come for Christ Jesus' sake and restore him to life."

The servant of God, hearing him speak in that manner, and seeing his monks on compassion to solicit the poor man's suit, with great sorrow of mind he said: "Away, my good brethren, away: such miracles are not for us to work, but for the blessed Apostles: why will you lay such a burden on me, as my weakness cannot bear?" But the poor man, whom excessive grief enforced, would not give over his petition, but swore that he would never depart, except he raisee up his son.

"Where is he, then?" said God's servant.

He answered that his body lay at the gate of the Abbey: to which place when the man of God came with his monks, he kneeled down and lay on the body of the little child, and rising, he held up his hands towards heaven, and said: "Behold not, O Lord, my sins, but the faith of this man, that desires to have his son raised to life, and restore that soul to the body, which you have taken away."

He had scarce spoken these words, and behold the soul returned again, and therewith the child's body began to tremble in such sort that all which were present beheld it in strange manner to pant and shake. Then he took it by the hand and gave it to his father, but alive and in health. 

Readings for day six in the former Octave of St Benedict




As I've noted previously, prior to the 1911 breviary reforms the feast of St Benedict on March 21 had a privileged octave.  It was only a commemoration on March 25 due to the feast of the Annunciation, but the readings for March 26 were from Chapters 8&11 of St Gregory's Life of the saint.

The readings

Reading 1: The holy man, changing his place, not for all that changed his enemy. For afterward he endured so much the more grievous battles, by how much he had now the master of all wickedness fighting openly against him. For the town, which is called Cassino, stands on the side of a high mountain, which contains, as it were in the lap thereof, the foresaid town, and afterward so rises in height the space of three miles, that the top thereof seems to touch the very heavens.

In this place there was an ancient chapel in which the foolish and simple country people, according to the custom of the old gentiles, worshipped the god Apollo. Round about it likewise on all sides, there were woods for the service of the devils, in which even to that very time, the mad multitude of infidels offered most wicked sacrifice. The man of God coming there, beat the idol into pieces, overthrew the altar, set fire to the woods, and in the temple of Apollo, he built the oratory of St. Martin, and where the altar of the same Apollo was, he made an oratory of St. John.  By his continual preaching, he brought the people dwelling in those parts to embrace the faith of Christ.

The old enemy of mankind, not taking this in good spirit, presented himself to the eyes of that holy father, not privately or in a dream, but in open sight. With great outcries the devil complained that Benedict had offered him violence.

The noise which he made, the monks heard, but the enemy they could not see. The venerable father told them he appeared visibly to him most foul and cruel, and as though, with his fiery mouth and flaming eyes, he would have torn him in pieces.  What the devil said to him, all the monks heard; for first he would call him by his name, and because the man of God did not answer him, then would he fall reviling and railing at him.  When he cried out, calling him "Blessed Benedict," and yet found that he gave him no answer, immediately he would turn his tune, and say: "Cursed Benedict, and not blessed: what have you to do with me? and why do you thus persecute me?"

Wherefore new battles of the old enemy against the servant of God are to be looked for, against whom willingly he made war, but, against his will, he gave him occasion of many notable victories.

Reading 2: Again, as the monks were making of a certain wall somewhat higher, because that was requisite, the man of God in the meantime was in his cell at his prayers. To whom the old enemy appeared in an insulting manner, telling him, that he was now going to his monks, that were at work: whereof the man of God, in all haste, gave them warning, wishing them to look to themselves, because the devil was at that time coming among them. The message was scarce delivered, when as the wicked spirit overthrew the new wall which they were a building, and with the fall slew a little young child, a monk, who was the son of a certain courtier.

At which pitiful chance all were passing sorry and exceedingly grieved, not so much for the loss of the wall, as for the death of their brother: and in all haste they sent this heavy news to the venerable man Benedict; who commanded them to bring to him the young boy, mangled and maimed as he was, which they did, but yet they could not carry him any otherwise than in a sack: for the stones of the wall had not only broken his limbs, but also his very bones.

Being in that manner brought to the man of God, he bid them to lay him in his cell, and in that place on which he used to pray; and then, putting them all forth, he shut the door, and fell more instantly to his prayers than he used at other times. And O strange miracle! for the very same hour he made him sound, and as lively as ever he was before; and sent him again to his former work, that he also might help the monks to make an end of that wall, of whose death the old serpent thought he should have insulted over Benedict, and greatly triumphed.

Ordo for the fourth week of Lent (March 26-1 April)

For those saying Matins, you can find notes on where to find the texts and chants, as well as a translation of the readings and responsories here (note that where I publish more detailed notes on Matins on the Benedictine Matins blog, I will try and so so a week in advance so you have time to find and practice the chants).

If you are new to the Office, check out the more detailed notes on the Benedictine Office on this page.



Sunday 26 March – Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday), Class I

Matins: Invitatory (Non sit vobis), hymn (Ex more), readings and responsories of the Sunday

Lauds: Antiphons etc, MD 223* ff with psalm scheme 1 (Ps 50, 117, 62)

Prime to None: Antiphons (and chapter verses etc), MD 226-7*

Vespers: Psalms and antiphons of Sunday; chapter, hymn as per I Vespers; versicle and Magnificat antiphon MD 227*

Monday 27 March - Monday in the fourth week of Lent, Class III; St John Damascene, Memorial

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 227-8*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [106-7]

Tuesday 28 March –- Tuesday in the fourth week of Lent, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 228-9*

Wednesday 29 March –- Wednesday in the fourth week of Lent, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 229-30*

Thursday 30 March –- Thursday in the fourth week of Lent, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 230*

Friday 31 March - Friday in the fourth week of Lent, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 230-1*

 Saturday 1 April - Saturday in the fourth week of Lent, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to None: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 231-2*

Vespers: I Vespers of First Passion Sunday, MD 232*ff

The Feast of the Annunciation

c. 1420, Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona
Those looking for the texts and chants of Matins for the feast of the Annunciation can find sources for them, along with the texts of the readings and responsories, at the Benedictine Matins blog.

In the meantime, enjoy one of the responsories for the feast sung by the monks of Norcia.



Readings for the fourth day in the Octave of St Benedict



The readings for March 24 in the former Octave of St Benedict come from chapter 6 of Book II of St Gregory's Dialogues:

Reading 1: At another time, a certain Goth, poor of spirit, that gave over the world, was received by the man of God; whom on a day he commanded to take a bill, and to cleanse a certain plot of ground from briers, for the making of a garden, which ground was by the side of a lake. The Goth as he was there laboring, by chance the head of the bill slipped off, and fell into the water, which was so deep, that there was no hope ever to get it again.

Reading 2: The poor Goth, in great fear, ran to Maurus and told him what he had lost, confessing his own fault and negligence: Maurus forthwith went to the servant of God, giving him to understand thereof, who came immediately to the lake: and took the handle out of the Goth's hand, and put it into the water, and the iron head by and by ascended from the bottom and entered again into the handle of the bill, which he delivered to the Goth, saying: "Behold here is thy bill again, work on, and be sad no more."

Readings for the Third day in the Octave of St Benedict


Sacro Speco, Subiaco  — The cave in which Saint Benedict lived
Subiaco, the holy cave



Continuing my little series posting the readings from what was once the Octave of St Benedict, here are the readings, taken from chapters 1&3 of Book II of St Gregory's Dialogues, for the third day of the Octave at Matins.

Reading 1: But Benedict, desiring rather the miseries of the world than the praises of men: rather to be wearied with labor for God's sake, than to be exalted with transitory commendation: fled privately from his nurse, and went into a desert place called Subiaco, distant almost forty miles from Rome: in which there was a fountain springing forth cool and clear water; the abundance whereof does first in a broad place make a lake, and afterward running forward, comes to be a river. As he was travelling to this place, a certain monk called Romanus met him, and demanded whither he went, and understanding his purpose, he both kept it close, furnished him what he might, vested him with the habit of holy conversation, and as he could, ministered and served him.

The man of God, Benedict, coming to this foresaid place, lived there in a narrow cave, where he continued three years unknown to all men, except to Romanus.  He lived not far off, under the rule of Abbot Theodacus, and very virtuously stole certain hours, and likewise sometime a loaf given for his own provision, which he carried to Benedict.

And because from Romanus' cell to that cave there was not any way, by reason of a high rock which hung over it, Romanus, from the top thereof, on a long rope, let down the loaf, on which also with a band he tied a little bell, that by the ringing of it the man of God might know when he came with his bread, and so be ready to take it. But the old enemy of mankind, envious of the charity of the one and the refection of the other, seeing a loaf on a certain day let down, threw a stone and broke the bell. Yet, for all that, Romanus did not cease to serve Benedict by all the possible means he could.

Reading 2: As God's servant daily increased in virtue and became continually more famous for miracles, many were led by him to the service of almighty God in the same place. By Christ's assistance he built there twelve Abbeys; over which he appointed governors, and in each of them placed twelve monks. A few he kept with himself; namely, those he thought would gain more profit and be better instructed by his own presence.

At that time also many noble and religious men of Rome came to him, and committed their children to be brought up under him for the service of God. Evitius delivered Maurus to him, and Tertullius, the Senator, brought Placidus. These were their sons of great hope and promise: of the two, Maurus, growing to great virtue, began to be his master's helper; but Placidus, as yet, was but a boy of tender years.

Once was...The Octave of St Benedict

Church of St Peter , Affile


I was flicking through an old breviary this morning to look something else up, and stumbled across something I'm sure I knew, but had forgotten, namely that long ago (ie before the 1911 calendar reforms), the feast of the transitus of our Holy Father St Benedict actually came with a first class  Octave.

As I'd dearly love to see more octaves revived one day, I thought I would briefly describe the rubrics for it, as set out in my 1892 breviary, and provide the readings (from the Dialogues).

The rubrics for the Octave of St Benedict (during Lent)

At Matins the invitatory verse and hymn were as for the feast (Regem confessorum Dominum and Quidquid antiqui).  I won't set them out in full (acquire one of the older breviary reprints!), but the first Nocturn had one antiphon and versicle for each day, said with the psalms of the day of the week; the second Nocturn similarly had an antiphon for each of the five days.  There were two readings of the feast, with the third from the ferial Lent day.

At Lauds and the other hours, all was said as on the feast, but with a commemoration of the Lent day.  Vespers was as for Second Vespers, except on the seventh day, when it was said as for I Vespers of the feast.

Readings for day 2 in the Octave (Dialogues chapters 1-2)

Reading 1: There was a man of venerable life, blessed by grace, and blessed in name, for he was called "Benedictus" or Benedict. From his younger years, he always had the mind of an old man; for his age was inferior to his virtue. All vain pleasure he despised, and though he was in the world, and might freely have enjoyed such commodities as it yields, yet he esteemed it and its vanities as nothing.

He was born in the province of Nursia, of honorable parentage, and brought up at Rome in the study of humanity. As much as he saw many by reason of such learning fall to dissolute and lewd life, he drew back his foot, which he had as it were now set forth into the world, lest, entering too far in acquaintance with it, he likewise might have fallen into that dangerous and godless gulf.

Therefore, giving over his book, and forsaking his father's house and wealth, with a resolute mind only to serve God, he sought for some place, where he might attain to the desire of his holy purpose. In this way he departed, instructed with learned ignorance, and furnished with unlearned wisdom.

Reading 2: Benedict having now given over the school, with a resolute mind to lead his life in the wilderness: his nurse alone, who tenderly loved him, would not by any means give him over. Coming, therefore, to a place called Enside and remaining there in the church of St. Peter, in the company of other virtuous men, which for charity lived in that place, it fell so out that his nurse borrowed of the neighbors a sieve to make clean wheat, which being left negligently on the table, by chance it was broken in two pieces, Whereupon she fell pitifully weeping, because she had borrowed it. The devout and religious youth Benedict, seeing his nurse so lamenting, moved with compassion, took away with him both the pieces of the sieve, and with tears fell to his prayers; and after he had done, rising up he found it so whole, that the place could not be seen where before it was broken.

Coming straight to his nurse, and comforting her with good words, he delivered her the sieve safe and sound: which miracle was known to all the inhabitants thereabout, and so much admired, that the townsmen, for a perpetual memory, hanged it up at the church door, to the end that not only men then living, but also their posterity might understand, how greatly God's grace worked with him on his first renouncing of the world. The sieve continued there many years after, even to these very troubles of the Lombards, where it hung over the church door.

More anon...

Feast of St Benedict

Jan Verkade

Happy feast day!

An appropriate day, I think, to meditate on the Benedictine Office as a wonderful monument of tradition that has been passed down to us as part of the patrimony of the Benedictine Order, and the Church more broadly.

Though abandoned today by many claiming to be Benedictines, the Benedictine Office is, I believe, absolutely integral in shaping within us the spirituality that our holy Father St Benedict set out in his Rule.

And down the ages it has inspired some wonderful words and music, such as the Matins hymn in the recording below.

We should therefore, I think, pray especially today for vocations for the various traditionally oriented monasteries who are keeping alive this wonderful gift to the Church.

Benedictine Ordo for Third week of Lent (March 19-25)

This week gives not one but four days off Lent, in the form of the Sunday and feasts of SS Joseph, Benedict and the Annunciation.

For those who are interested in saying Matins on these days, please do check the notes on my Benedictine matins blog, where I will provide details of where to find the texts including the chants for responsories etc.  You can find notes for this weeks Class I days via these links:


Sunday 19 March – Third Sunday of Lent, Class I

Matins: Invitatory (Non sit vobis), hymn (Ex more), readings and responsories of the Sunday

Lauds: Antiphons, etc from MD 212* ff with psalm scheme 1 (Ps 50, 117, 62)

Prime to None: Antiphons etc, MD 215*

Vespers: Psalms and antiphons of Sunday; chapter etc as per I Vespers; versicle and Magnificat antiphon, MD 216* with a commemoration of St Joseph, MD [86]

Monday 20 March – St Joseph, Class I (transferred)

Matins: All of the feast with twelve readings and responsories

Lauds: Festal psalms with antiphons etc of the feast, MD [87] ff, with a commemoration of the feria, MD 217*

Prime: Antiphon 1 of Lauds

Terce to None: Antiphon, chapter etc of the feast

Vespers: Antiphons of Lauds; psalms from I Vespers of Apostles, MD (2); chapter etc from I Vespers of the feast, MD [84]; Magnificat antiphon, MD [91]; commemoration of St Benedict, MD  [93-4]

Tuesday 21 March – St Benedict, Class I

Matins: All of the feast with twelve readings and responsories

Lauds: Festal psalms of Sunday with antiphons and texts of the feast; MD [94] ff; commemoration of the feria, MD 217-8*

Prime: Antiphon 1 of Lauds

Terce to None: Antiphons, chapters etc of the feast

Vespers: As for I Vespers, MD [91]; Magnificat antiphon, MD [99]; commemoration of the feria, MD 218*

Wednesday 22 March - Wednesday in the third week of Lent, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 218-9*

Thursday 23 March – Thursday in the third week of Lent, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 219-20*

Friday March 24 – Friday in the third week of Lent, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to None: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 220*

Vespers: I Vespers of the Annunciation, MD [100] ff with a commemoration of the feria, MD 220*

Saturday 25 March – Annunciation of the BVM, Class I

Matins: Invitatory, hymn, psalms and antiphons from the Common of the BVM; readings and responsories of the feast

Lauds: Festal psalms of Sunday with antiphons and rest of the feast, MD [102] ff; commemoration of the feria, MD 220-1*

Prime: Antiphon 1 of Lauds

Terce to None: Antiphons from Lauds, proper texts MD [104] ff

Vespers: As for I Vespers, MD [100], Magnificat antiphon, MD [106]; commemoration of the Sunday, MD 221*