Front Page Titles (by Subject) VI.: The Liturgy - On the Mysteries and the Treatise on the Sacraments
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
VI.: The Liturgy - Ambrose, On the Mysteries and the Treatise on the Sacraments [387 AD]
On the Mysteries and the Treatise on the Sacraments by an Unknown Author, trans. T. Thompson, ed. with Introduction and Notes by J.H. Strawley (New York: Macmillan, 1919).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
The interest of de Sacramentis is not limited to the light which it throws upon the baptismal rites of the Church from which it proceeds. It also supplies us with a series of prayers used in the Liturgy (see iv. 5. 21-23; 26, 27), which, when read consecutively, will be seen to exhibit a general correspondence in order and contents with those of the Canon of the Roman Mass found in the Gelasian Sacramentary. According to Mr. E. Bishop (J. Th. St. iv. 568 f.), the text of the Canon represented in the Vatican MS. of the Gelasian Sacramentary is really “Gregorian,” but for all practical purposes it may be held to represent the text current at Rome in the sixth century. When compared with this latter the prayers of de Sacram. are shown to contain much of the substance of the prayers Quam oblationem, Qui pridie, Unde et memores, Supra quae, and Supplices te, with some omissions, and, in the case of the last two prayers, with some transposition of order. There are many exact parallels of language, but also striking divergences.
1. The prayer (iv. 5. 21) corresponding to Quam oblationem (but beginning, “Make for us this oblation” (Fac nobis hanc oblationem)) contains, like that prayer, a petition that the oblation may be made “approved, ratified, reasonable, and acceptable,” but whereas the Gelasian form goes on, “that it may become to us the body and blood of thy dearly beloved Son,” de Sacram. has, “because it is the figure of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2. The commemoration of the institution (iv. 5. 21-23) begins, like the Gelasian form, with the words, “Who the day before he suffered” (Qui pridie quam pateretur), as distinct from the Eastern and Mozarabic forms, which follow 1 Cor. xi. 23. The actual recital of the institution shews many divergences from the Gelasian form (though parallels may be found to many of them in Eastern rites and the Ambrosian Sacramentary of Biasca (cent. x.)) and it lacks some of the characteristic features of the later Roman form.
3. The Anamnesis, corresponding to Unde et memores, is shorter than the Gelasian form, and exhibits some notable differences of wording, including the phrases “reasonable offering,” “unbloody offering” (see notes).
4. In place of Supra quae and Supplices te, in de Sacram. there is one prayer, in which the order of the contents of these two prayers is reversed, the reference to the gifts of Abel and the sacrifices of Abraham and Melchizedek following, instead of preceding, the prayer for the reception of the oblation “on the altar on high.” In this latter petition in place of the single angel, by whose hands it is asked in the Gelasian prayer that the oblation may be received on the altar on high, we find the plural “angels,” a feature which again has a parallel in some Eastern sources.1
What is the origin of these prayers? Are they, as Duchesne suggests,2 an adaptation of the Roman Canon to the use of some North Italian Church, where the Roman and Milanese uses were combined? Or are they an older form of the Roman Canon itself? As we have seen, the earliest text of that Canon is found in the Vatican MS. of the Gelasian Sacramentary, and that text is really “Gregorian.” The earlier Leonine Sacramentary fails us here. We know of certain changes in the Canon made in the period between the date of de Sacram. and the date of the text found in the Gelasian Sacramentary.3 Dom R. H. Connolly has recently pointed out in the Downside Review (Oct. 1917, pp. 58 f.) that a Post secreta prayer in the Missale Gothicum contains a continuous extract from the Anamnesis of the Canon in a form which follows that of de Sacram. almost word for word (Missale Goth., ed. Bannister (H.B.S.), p. 138, No. 527). This suggests that the compiler of the prayer knew the Canon in a form different from that of the Gelasian Sacramentary, while the constant use made of Roman prayers in the Missale Gothicum lends support to the view that it is here quoting from some Roman source. Other traces of readings which occur in de Sacram. are found in the Stowe Missal and the Missale Francorum, both of which contain the Roman Canon. In both these books we find the addition et petimus after the words supplices te rogamus, and the words in sublimi altario tuo (for in sublime altare tuum of Gel.). Both readings occur in de Sacram. (with altari for altario). Another parallel with the text of the prayers in de Sacram. adduced by Dom Connolly is found in a rubric of the Gelasian Sacramentary after the Hanc igitur for Thursday in Holy Week (Wilson, p. 67), where in place of the Gregorian text, in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas, we find in sanctis manibus suis, as in de Sacram.
Lastly, M. Batiffol (Eucharistie, 5lème éd., pp. 357 f.) has called attention to a Post pridie prayer in the Mozarabic Liber Ordinum (ed. Férotin, pp. 321-322) where, amid many echoes of the Roman Canon, we find a version of the Quam oblationem which in one important respect resembles the corresponding prayer in de Sacram. While the latter runs:
Make for us this oblation approved, ratified, reasonable, and acceptable, seeing that it is the figure of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Mozarabic prayer is as follows:
Whose oblation (quorum oblationem) do thou deign to bless, ratify, and make reasonable, which is (quae est) the image and likeness (imago et similitudo) of the body and blood of Jesus Christ thy Son, our redeemer.
In face of this evidence, and the attitude of the writer to the usages of the Roman Church (iii. 1. 5), the view that the Canon of de Sacram. is the Roman Canon of the fifth century has much to commend it.
Other interesting features of the liturgy described in de Sacram. are the reference in iv. 4. 14 to the “praises” and “prayers” which preceded the Canon; the form in which the concluding words of the recital of the institution (based on 1 Cor. xi. 25, 26) are given (iv. 6. 26); and the presence of the doxology at the close of the Lord’s Prayer, and not at the close of the Canon as in the Ambrosian Sacramentary of Biasca and the Gelasian Sacramentary (de Sacram. vi. 5. 24). On these see the notes on the passages in question. Lastly, the author refers to the words of administration, “The body of Christ,” and to the Amen with which the communicant responded to them (iv. 5. 25).
[1 ]Liturgy of St. Mark (Brightman, LEW. 129. 20 f.; Coptic ibid. 171. 2 f.).
[2 ]Christian Worship (Eng. tr.), p. 177.
[3 ]The additions: sanctum sacrificium, immaculatam hostiam (attributed to Pope Leo); diesque nostros . . . jubeas grege numerari (attributed to Pope Gregory). See Liber Pontificalis (ed. Duchesne), pp. 239, 312.