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The vigils of medieval Tuscany

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 2008

Abstract

Of the liturgical ceremonies enacted by the papal court in the Middle Ages, few were as distinctive as the ‘double offices’ that occurred on nights before high feasts of the Sanctorale. These consisted of two night offices, a private ‘vigil’ enacted by the pope and his entourage at dusk and a public office at the normal hour of Matins. Even as this custom flourished in Rome through the twelfth century, it concomitantly migrated north to cathedrals throughout Tuscany. Typically comprising only one nocturn, the Tuscan vigils shed their once private character, presenting a selection of the plainsong and lessons of the night office at a convenient hour for the laity. They likewise acquired distinctively civic overtones as cathedral clerics employed them in honour of local patron saints. Nowhere was this transformation more evident than in Florence and Lucca, where the vigils of Sts Zenobius and Reparata, Regulus and Martin emerged as eminently public spectacles. In this way, Tuscan clerics transformed a venerable Roman tradition into an emblem of civic as well as ecclesiastical prestige.

Type
Research Article
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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008

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