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The Monastic Blessing of the Weekly Reader in Missal W 11 of the Walters Art Gallery

  • Anselm Strittmatter (a1)


The versicles, Salvum fac servum tuum, etc., which are written by another scribe after the Agnus Dei in Missal W 11 (fol. 12r) of the Walters Art Gallery of Baltimore, are a formula—the shorter and, as I believe, the, older of the two formulae still printed in the Monastic Breviary—for the blessing of the weekly reader prescribed in Chapter xxxviii of St. Benedict's —Regula Monasteriorum. Since St. Benedict directs that the reader is to ask for the blessing on Sunday ‘post Missas et Communionem,’ the insertion of the formula at this point, that is, after the Ordinarium Missae, as we call it to-day, is not surprising. It is found similarly placed in at least one other book, the Sacramentarium Fuldense saeculi X, in which it is preceded by a title, Oratio pro ebdomadario refectorii lectore. Besides this Fulda book and our Walters Missal, the text is found in several customaries and ordinals which will be mentioned below, but for its earliest occurrence we must go to the commentary on the Holy Rule composed before 774 by Paul the Deacon in the monastery on Monte Pedale near Civate in the diocese of Milan. Accordingly, it is found also in the commentary ascribed to Hildemar, an amplified recension of the work of the Lombard monk of the preceding century.



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1 They are printed in full by Miller, Leo F in his exceptionally valuable analysis of the contents of the manuscript, published in Traditio 2 (1944) 123154; the formula here discussed is found on page 135.

2 It is to be noted, however, that the longer form is also attested at a comparatively early date, viz., in the Commentary of Smaragdus, written about 820: ‘Quae collecta hoc modo, si placet, lectori a sacerdote ante altare datur missa peracta, dicaturque: Averte, quaesumus, Domine, ab hoc famulo tuo spiritum elationis, ut humiliter legens, sensum et intellectum capiat lectionis. Per Christum, etc.’ (PL 102, 872B)

3 Cod. theol. 231 of the University Library of Göttingen, edited by Gregor Richter and Albert Schönfelder (Quellen u. Abhandlungen zur Geschichte d. Abtei u. d. Diözese Fulda, ed. Richter, G., 9, Fulda 1912) 5.—It is important to note at this point, however, that the long form also appears similarly placed in at least one book, the fourteenth-century Missale ad usum Ecclesiae Westmonasteriensis, edited by Wickham Legg, J. (I [Henry Bradshaw Society 1], London 1891; II [H.B.S. 5], 1893; III [H.B.S. 12], 1897), where it is likewise preceded by a title: Benediccio post missam dominicis diebus ad magnum altare super mense lectorem (II, col. 524). It follows immediately upon the prayer, Placeat tibi, sancta Trinitas, to be said, that is, just before the priest leaves the altar. In his notes ad loc. (III, 1506), Legg cites four other missals, all of them monastic—a thirteenth century Tewkesbury book (MS Gg. III. 21 of the Cambridge University Library), a St. Alban's book of the fourteenth century (MS Laud. Misc. 279 of the Bodleian), a Whitby book, also of the fourteenth century (MS Rawlinson Liturgic. b. i), and the beautiful Sherborne Missal, written between 1396 and 1407, the private property of the Duke of Northumberland—in which either the short or the long formula of this blessing occurs. He does not, to be sure, say that it is found in any one of them immediately after the Ordinarium Missae, but one would not be astonished to find upon examination that the one or the other of these four books—or even all of them—had it at this very place.

4 ‘Florilegium Casinense,’ Bibliotheca Casinensis cura et studio Monachorum Ordinis S. Benedicti Abbatiae Montis Casini 4 (1880, pp. 1–173) 125.

5 See Ludwig Traube's discussion in his dissertation, Textgeschichte der Regula S. Benedicti (Abhdl. d. k. bayer. Akademie d. Wiss. III Kl. 21, iii [1898] 636–9; 2nd. ed. by Plenkers, H., ibid. 25, ii [1910] 3740); also Sister M. Alfred Schroll's excellent dissertation, Benedictine Monasticism as Reflected in the Warnefrid-Hildemar Commentaries on the Rule (Studies in History, Economics and Public Law 478, New York, Columbia University, 1941) 15–25.

6 Ed. Mittermüller, R., Expositio regulae ab Hildemaro tradita et nunc primum typis edita (Ratisbon 1880) 424. The authorship is discussed with characteristic thoroughness and finesse by Traube, op. cit. 640–643 (2nd. ed. 40–43); Schroll, op. cit. 24–5.

7 ‘A document which dates from about the year 1112,’ says Watkin Williams, Monastic Studies (Manchester University Press 1938) 142. Miss Joan Evans, Monastic Life at Cluny 910–1157 (Oxford University Press 1931) 65 note 1, gives the date of the compilation as 1080.

8 For the date, see the editor's article, ‘Une nouvelle édition des “Consuetudines Sublacenses”,’ Revue Bénédictine 19 (1902), 183–204.

9 ‘The manuscript—cannot have been completed before 1398, for on folio 159v is entered in the original hand the obit of Dom Thomas (Stayngrave), monk and seventeenth Abbot of the monastery who died in that year. As he is the last Abbot whose obit is mentioned, the MS. was probably written during the rule of his successor, Abbot Thomas Pygot (1398–1405).’ (From the Introduction of the printed edition, p. vii).

10 One more occurrence of this formula—in vol. III of Albers’ Consuetudines Monasticae (Monte Cassino 1907) p. 173—may here be mentioned. Unfortunately, the reference to his source, Cod. S. Galli 914, pg. 106, would seem to be erroneous. It is altogether unlikely that both Dom Germain Morin in his diplomatic edition of pages 1–172 of this codex (Regulae Sancti Benedicti Traditio Codicum MSS. Casinensium Montiscasini 1900) and Abbot Cuthbert Butler in his Editio critico-practica of the Holy Rule (ed. altera, Friburgi Brisgoviae 1927) should have failed to mention the formula if it really did appear on folio 53v of this important manuscript. From a rather careful study of Gustav Scherrer's description of the codex in his Verzeichniss der Handschriften der Stiftsbibliothek von St. Gallen (Halle 1875) 333–5, as also of that of Ludwig Traube (see his dissertation cited in note 5 above), I incline to believe that Albers has cited the wrong manuscript. Neither have I been helped in my search by his reference on p. 171 to Martène, De antiquis monachorum ritibus, pg. 42. But I must add that I have had access to the Antwerp and Venice editions only, not to the first printing of 1690.

11 It is to be noted that in the modern printed editions of the Monastic Breviary this verse (Psalm 19, 3) appears at this point as it is found in the Psalter itself: Mittat tibi auxilium etc., which form does occur, to be sure, in one of the sources cited above, the Consuetudines Sublacenses, edited by Albers, and here the word dominus appears, where the other books with the exception of the Cluny Customs and Gerbert's Ordo have domine.

12 Salus mundi is the reading of the formula printed by Albers III 173; see note 10 above.

The Monastic Blessing of the Weekly Reader in Missal W 11 of the Walters Art Gallery

  • Anselm Strittmatter (a1)


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