Friday, 11 May 2018

A Monastic Solemn Mass 1945

The Preparation of Incense.
The well-known ceremonial study of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite The Celebration of Mass, prepared by Canon JB O'Connell (who also edited later editions of Fortescue's The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described), was first published in 1945 in three volumes. One volume, studying the ceremonies of Solemn Mass, featured a number of photographs taken in the Abbey Church of Prinknash, England.

Canon O'Connell, in the introduction to his book, gives an explanation:

By the very great kindness of the Right Reverend Wilfrid Upson OSB, Abbot of Prinknash Abbey, Gloucester (England), and the monks of his monastery, a number of photographs were taken in the (temporary) Abbey church to celebrate the chief ceremonies of High Mass.

The photographs, some of which are reproduced here, were taken by the Walwin Studio of Gloucester, probably in the year 1941. In the last several years, the Prinknash Community recently returned to residence in the original Abbey and the Chapel pictured in these photographs is once again the Abbey Church.

The Chanting of the Gospel.
The photographs are intended as a staged illustration of the ceremonies of Solemn Mass: obviously it was not an actual Mass which was photographed. The 1st photograph shews the preparation of incense at the beginning of Mass; the 2nd photograph shews the singing of the Gospel; the 3rd photograph shews the ablutions after Holy Communion and the 4th photograph shews the Blessing. Each of these photographs may be clicked on for an enlarged view.

A number of things may be commented upon. The first is the excellent architecture of this tiny chapel, illustrating that beautiful and proportionate things can be created in confined spaces. Especially noteworthy are the tasteful statue niches and the blind arcading and tracery around the walls of the sanctuary.

The Ablutions after Holy Communion.
The second noteworthy thing is the vestments and paraments. The vestments are very ample, the chasuble being semi-conical, and are decorated in a mediaeval manner. Observe that the dalmatic and tunic are ornamented in a completely different manner from each other: a practice which, unfortunately, ceased to be commonplace from the Baroque era onward. Observe also that the chasuble is decorated exactly in the Roman manner: a massive "Tau" on the frontal of the chasuble and a simple column on the back. This style of ornament has been employed continuously in Rome for a millenium.

An interesting touch, and very monastic, is the modest scale of the candlesticks on the High altar. Lastly, it would be of interest to include these explanatory remarks by Canon O'Connell:

The Blessing.
By special privilege of the Holy See, the monks of Prinknash Abbey, though belonging to the Subiaco Congregation of the Benedictine Order, wear a white habit. The tonsure of these Religious is the same as that in use in the Carthusian Order. For the purposes of the photographs, the monks who appear in them were good enough to lay aside for the moment some of their monastic usages in order to conform in full to the Roman rite. Accordingly, for example, in the photographs the lesser ministers wear the surplice instead of the amice, alb and girdle, which is the monastic practice; the Deacon and Subdeacon kneel for the blessing, instead of merely bowing, as solemnly professed monks do in their monastery. It will be noticed that the monks are wearing the monastic hood with the special type of amice that fits over it; and the Sacred Ministers are clad in vestments which are designed and made at the Abbey by members of the community.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.