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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: December 2019

4 - Rituals and Liturgy


Most of the rituals that would much later be defined as ‘sacraments’ make an appearance in the earliest papal legislation, along with one or two rituals that never made it into the final ‘sacrament’ category, notably a curious combination of penance and quasi-exorcism. The papal decretals show Christian ritual in a formative phase of development. Liturgy too is both recognizable in broad lines – the structure of the year and the week according to the life of Christ, penance, and celebration – but not yet in the form with which medievalists are familiar. Liturgy and rituals are saturated with a symbolic mentality.