Help Now >
FREE Catholic Classes
The word Ordo commonly meant, in the Middle Ages, a ritual book containing directions for liturgical functions, but not including the text of the prayers etc., recited by the celebrant or his assistants. These prayers were contained in separate books, e.g., the Sacramentary, Antiphonary, Psalter, but the Ordo concerned itself with the ceremonial pure and simple. Sometimes the title "Ordo" was given to the directions for a single function, sometimes to a collection which dealt in one document with a number of quite different functions e.g., the rite of baptism, the consecration of a church, extreme unction, etc. Amalarius (early ninth century) speaks of the writings "quæ continent per diversos libellos Ordinem Romanum" (P. L, CV, 1295). Speaking generally, the word Ordo in this sense gave place after the twelfth century to "Cæremonialo", "Ordinariam" and similar terms, but was retained in other senses, especially to denote the brief conspectus of the daily Office and Mass as adapted to the local calendar (see DIRECTORIES).
A considerable number of Ordines are preserved among our manuscripts from the eighth to the twelfth century. The first printed in modern times was the so-called "Ordo Romanus Vulgatus", which after an edition published by George Cassander at Cologne (in 1561) was reprinted by Hittorp in his "De divinis catholicæ ecclesiæ officiis" (Cologne, 1568) and is hence often known as the Ordo Romanus of Hittorp. This is not a pure Roman document of early date. Already in the seventeenth century G. M. Tomasi rightly characterized it as a "farrago diversorum rituum secundum varias consuetudines", and declared that its heterogeneous elements could only be disentangled by careful study of the earlier Ordines. At present it is regarded as the work of a compiler in Gaul in the second half of the tenth century, the precise date being still disputed (cf. Mönchemeyer, "Amalar von Metz ", 140 and 214; Bäumerin "Katholik", 1889, I, 626). Moreover, this conflated Ordo Romanus of Hittorp which is largely derived from the first, second, third, and sixth of the Ordines of Mabillon, mentioned below, is only one among a number of analogous compilations. Similar documents of about the same period have been published by other scholars; e.g., by Martène ("Thes. nov. anec.", V, 101 — this is a valuable monastic Ordo of comparatively early date ), by Muratori ("Lit. Rom. Vet.", II, 391), by Gattico ("Acta cæremon.", I, 226), and by Gerbert ("Mon. Vet. lit. alem.", II, 1 sqq.). In view of its composite character, the Ordo Vulgatus is of no great liturgical importance, though it sometimes fills a gap in our knowledge upon points not elsewhere minutely treated. It deals primarily with pontifical high Mass, but it also describes the rite of the consecration of the pope and of a bishop, the dedication of churches, the blessing of bells, the coronation of the emperor and of a king, the blessing of a knight, that is of a soldier ( militis ) dedicated to the service of the Church, the benediction of a bride, and the ceremonies to be observed in the opening of a general or provincial council. It should be noticed, moreover, that in these miscellaneous offices we do not find the characteristic features of an ordo in its technical sense. In the later portions of the Ordo Romanus of Hittorp not only are the details of the ceremonial indicated in their due sequence, but, as in a modern Pontifical, the text of the prayers, blessings etc., to be recited by the celebrant, is given in full.
Much more valuable to the liturgical student is the series of fifteen consuetudinaries, first printed by Mabillon in his "Museum Italicum" (1689), to which the term Ordines Romani is commonly applied. They are not indeed all of them pure and homogeneous documents, neither do they represent an unadulterated Roman tradition, nor are they all, strictly speaking, Ordines in the sense defined above. But in default of better material, and while we are waiting for more profound critical investigation to sort out our earliest documents and assign to them their proper date and provenance, Mabillon's Ordines constitute the most reliable source of information regarding the early liturgical usages of the Roman Church. Covering the whole period from the sixth to the fifteenth century, they may be said, taken collectively, to have some pretensions to completeness.
The first of these Ordines Romani, describing the ceremonies of a solemn Mass celebrated by the pope himself or his deputy, is the most valuable, as it is also one of the most ancient. Modern opinion inclines to the belief that the early part of it (numbers 1-21) really represents in substance the usages of a stational Mass in the time of Pope Gregory the Great (Kösters, "Studien zu Mabillons röm. Ord.", 6; cf. Grisar, "Analecta Romana", I, 193), but there are also, undoubtedly, in our present text adjustments and additions which must be attributed to the end of the seventh century (Atchley, "Ord. Rom. Primus", 7, favours a later date, but in this he only follows Probst). The fact that Amalarius, who seems to have had a copy of this Ordo before him did not find its description of paschal ceremonies in agreement with the actual Roman practice of his day, as expounded to him by Archdeacon Theodore in 832, need not lead us, with Mönchemeyer ("Amalar", 141), to the conclusion that the ceremonial never represented the official Roman use, and that it was merely an outline serving as a model for similar ceremonies in the Frankish dominions. On the contrary, so far as regards numbers 1- 21, every detail attaches itself in the closest way to the pontifical ceremonies of Rome. An introduction portions out the liturgical service among the clerics of the seven regions. Then the procession to the stational church and the arrival and reception there are minutely described. This is followed with an account of the vesting, the Introit, the Kyries, the Collects, and all the early part of the Mass. Very full details are also given of the manner of the reception of the offerings of bread and wine from the clergy and people, and to this succeeds a description of the Canon, the Kiss of Peace, the Communion, and the rest of the Mass. The account ends with number 21.
This is the section which Grisar has proved, with all reasonable probability, to belong to the time of Gregory the Great ("Analecta Romana", 195-213). In one or two points the evidence of early date must impress even the casual reader. Such is the bringing of the holy Eucharist to the pontiff when the procession moves towards the altar-steps before the beginning of Mass. It is thus described in n. 8: "But before they arrive at the altar. . . two acolytes approach holding open pixes containing the Holy Things [ tenentes capsas cum sanctis patentes ]; and the subdeacon attendant taking them and keeping his hand in the aperture of the pix shows the Holy Things to the pontiff or to the deacon who goes before him. Then the pontiff or the deacon salutes the Holy Things with bowed head." Nothing of this appears in the account of Amalarius, who could hardly have failed to record it if it had been in existence in his time. Quite in accordance with such an inference, this bringing of the Eucharist to the pontiff has, in the second Ordo Romanus, admittedly of later date, been replaced by a sort of visit of the pontiff to the Blessed Sacrament in the church, a practice observed in pontifical Masses to this day. Again we may note that the first Ordo contains no mention of the Credo, which was certainly in use in Rome, according to Walafrid Strabo, about the year 800. Again the word cardinales , in accordance with the usage of St. Gregory's own letters, is not applied to the bishops, priests, and deacons attached to the papal service, but in the later chapters of the same Ordo, we do find reference to presbyteri cardinales (n. 48). All these, with other indications of early date, are pointed out by Grisar. It is not easy to prove that the second portion of the first Ordo, nn. 22-51, was all originally one document. On the contrary, nn. 22 and 48-51 seem to be closely connected, while all the intervening numbers (23-47), giving an account of the services in Lent and the last three days of Holy Week and showing, in several details, signs of a later origin, are clearly continuous and independent of the rest. The fact that Pope Hadrian and Charlemagne are mentioned in this section, as also that the Mass of the Presanctified (contrary to the Einsiedeln Ordo of the seventh century published by De Rossi in "Inscrip. Christ.", II, i, 34) was celebrated by the pontiff on Good Friday after the veneration of the Cross, prove that this section can hardly be older than the ninth century. Finally the chapters published by Mabillon from another manuscript as an appendix to Ordo I under a separate numeration have clearly no immediate connexion with what goes before. They simply provide another series of directions for Lent and the last days of Holy Week, sometimes coinciding even verbally with the rubrics given in nn. 23-47 and sometimes differing in various particulars. This appendix is generally assumed to be later in date than the second section of the Ordo.
The second Ordo Romanus printed by Mabillon describes again a solemn pontifical Mass and is clearly based upon the first portion of Ordo I, sometimes quoting, or epitomizing, but elsewhere developing and adapting the directions of the earlier document. It contains some ritual features which are certainly not of Roman but of Gallican origin (for example the recitation of the Creed in the Mass, which some, in spite of Walafrid Strabo, consider not to have been known in Rome before the eleventh century, as also the giving of a pontifical blessing after the "Pax Domini"). It is generally accepted that this Ordo II belongs to the time of the general introduction of the Roman Liturgy into Gaul in the days of Charlemagne, i.e. about the beginning of the ninth century. This Ordo, as well as Ordo I and probably another now lost, was known to Amalarius, who in his "Ecloga" has annotated it with a view to the spiritual edification of his readers.
ORDO III AND ORDO IV
The third and fourth Ordo contain yet another series of directions for a solemn Mass celebrated by the pope. That of Ordo IV is only a fragment, but both III and IV are generally considered older than the eleventh century. Mabillon considered Ordo III to be distinctly of later date than II and the fact that the stational church in III is called "Monasterium", a designation which does not seem to have come into use before the ninth century, lends support to this view. It is also confirmed by the fact that this Ordo III was apparently unknown to Amalarius. On the other hand III has clearly been extensively used in the compilation of the Ordo Romanus Vulgatus, which, as already stated, probably took shape in the second half of the tenth century. That the fragmentary Ordo IV is of later date than any of those previously mentioned has been inferred by Mabillon from the fact that the pope is here described as communicating at the altar and not at his throne, as in the preceding rituals. Still, the manuscript in which it is found cannot be later than the first half of the eleventh century (Ebner, "Quellen", 133).
ORDO V AND ORDO VI
Ordo's five and six are again entirely consecrated to the celebration of a pontifical high Mass. Ordo V goes into details as to the vestments worn by the pope, and separately as to the vestments worn by a Roman bishop and the lesser clergy. It is specifically a Roman document and throughout assumes that the pope is pontificating. The pope here communicates at his throne and the Credo is sung after the gospel. But though Berno of Reichenau affirms that this last custom only began at Rome in 1014, the fact that Walafrid Strabo describes it as sung at Rome about the year 800 (P. L., CXIV, 947) renders this a very unsatisfactory test of date. On the other hand, the sixth Ordo is not directly connected with Rome, but like Ordo II it describes the ceremonies of a pontifical Mass adapted from the papal function for use elsewhere. In the opinion of Kösters, (Studien, 17) it probably belongs to the first half of the tenth century, since it was used by the compiler of the Ordo Vulgatus. It has been copied by a later twelfth century hand upon a blank page of the English "Benedictional of Archbishop Robert", and is there described as a "ritual drawn up by the ancient Fathers of the West".
Ordo seven is probably the most ancient of all Mabillon's Ordines and is assigned by Probst, Kösters, and others to the sixth century. The whole document deals with the ceremonies of Christian initiation, i.e. the catechumenate with its Lenten scrutinies (see BAPTISM), the rite of the consecration of the baptismal water, the baptism itself, and finally confirmation. The Ordo is closely related to the Gelasian Sacramentary, and the prayers, given in full in the Gelasianum, are here for the most part only indicated by their beginnings. Like the Gelasianum, the Ordo speaks throughout of infantes as if they alone were likely to be subjects for baptism, and the whole ceremony is modified to suit the case of infants in arms. When the catechumens are called upon to recite the Nicene Creed, it is directed that one of the acolytes shall take up one of the children upon his left arm, lay his right hand upon the child's head and recite the Creed in Greek, while another acolyte, holding another child, subsequently recites the Creed in Latin. None the less, the ceremonial of the scrutinies was originally designed for adult catechumens who were capable of understanding the Gospels and of learning and reciting the Creed for themselves. On the other hand, if the Ordo VII consistently regards the catechumens as infantes , this cannot be interpreted as a proof of relatively late date, for we find that already at the beginning of the sixth century the vir illustris , Senarius, asks of John, deacon of Rome, "quare tertio ante Pascha scrutinentur infantes" (why the infants have to undergo the scrutinies three times before Easter, Migne, P. L., LIX, 401). Seeing that the Gelasian Sacramentary also seems to know only of three scrutinies, it is possible that Ordo VII which requires seven scrutines may be of even older date than the sixth century, for it is hardly likely that when there was question of none but infant catechumens, the number of scrutinies should have been increased from three to seven. The whole tendency must have been in the direction of simplification. It may be noticed that Mabillon's Ordo VII is incorporated entire in an instruction on baptism by Jesse, Bishop of Amiens, c. 812.
Ordo eight is concerned with the subject of ordinations and falls naturally into two divisions. The first part deals with the ordination of acolytes, subdeacons, deacons, and priests, the second with the ceremonial of the consecration of a bishop. Although the first part is extremely concise, and the second, more particularly in regard to the quatuor capitula (four forms of crime held to be a bar to ordination ), is relatively developed, there seems no sufficient reason for questioning the essential unity of the whole document. In spite of certain expressions, notably the "ancilla dei sacrata quæ a Francis nonnata dicitur", which may easily be an interpolation or a gloss, and of references to the Ember seasons, to the nomenclator , and the schola (i.e. the choir — which last seems to suggest an age posterior to Gregory the Great ) certain critics, notably Kösters (Studien, 21-23), make no difficulty in assigning the document to the early part of the sixth century. It is certainly noteworthy that though there is no mention in Ordo VIII of exorcists or any cleric lower than the grade of acolyte, the usages described closely agree with the language of the letter of Johannes Diaconus to Senarius at the beginning of the sixth century ( Migne, P. L., LIX, 405). The function of the acolytes "portandi Sacramenta", here as in Ordo I, is recognized by assigning to them little bags ( sacculi ) as their distinctive attribute, instead of the candlestick of a later date, while the delivery of the chalice is emphasized as the significant act in the consecration of a subdeacon. When Bishop John Wordsworth (Ministry of Grace, 180) assumes that the delivery of the chalice is a Gallican ceremony and that it was introduced into the Roman Church in the seventh century at the earliest, he has clearly forgotten the explicit language of the latter to Senarius: "hic apud nos ordo est ut accepto sacratissimo calice in quo consuevit pontifex dominici sanguinis immolare mysterium subdiaconus iam dicatur". Again both Kösters and Grisar (Geschichte Roms, 765) regard the testing of the candidate for ordination by the quatuor capitula , requiring him to swear his innocence of certain unnatural crimes, as an indication which points to an age when many adult pagans still entered the Church as converts and were likely to be promoted to orders.
Ordo nine is entitled "De gradibus Romanæ ecclesiæ and deals briefly with the ordination of deacons and priests, with the consecration of a bishop somewhat more fully, and finally with the consecration and coronation of a pope, while an appendix with a separate heading treats of the ember days. The date and composition of this document has recently been investigated by Dr. Kösters in a very able chapter of his "Studien". His conclusions are, that the substance of the Ordo was drawn up in the time of Pope Constantine I (708-15), and underwent some revision under Pope Stephen III (752-7). However, the most startling part of Dr. Kösters' discussion is his demonstration that the section describing the coronation of the pope, which incidentally introduces the name of Leo, belongs not to the period of Pope Leo III (c. 800), as has hitherto been supposed, but to that of Saint Leo IX (1049), and that in fact the papal regnum , or crown, which this Ordo describes as "made of white cloth in the form of a helmet", was for the first time worn by that pontiff. The statement made in this Ordo that the new pope should be a priest or deacon ordained by his predecessor and that he ought not to be a bishop ( nam episcopus esse non poterit ) is particularly interesting in view of the fact that Cardinal Deusdedit in the eleventh century, who comments on the text of this document, had apparently before him no clause to this effect. It is probably an interpolation of about that period. Other points of interest are the mention of diaconissœ and presbiterissœ , and the ceremony of holding the book of the Gospels over the pope at his ordination ( tenet evangelium super caput vel cervicem eius ). We hear of this last ceremony earlier in the East (cf. Apostolic Constitutions, VIII, iv) and in Gaul, and it is now part of the rite of consecration of every bishop, but it appears late at Rome. The appendix on the ember days, attached to this Ordo in the Saint-Gall Manuscript, had probably no original connexion with it and may be assumed to be not Roman.
Ordo ten is a relatively long and very miscellaneous document and has no real claim to be included in the series of Ordines. It is, strictly speaking, a primitive form of Pontifical, though it is Roman in origin, and it is difficult to persuade oneself that it has not resulted from the fusion of at least two separate elements. The description of the Holy Week ceremonies which occupies nn. 1-24 may be described as a Cæremoniale pure and simple, and so is the burial service for the Roman clergy in nn. 36-40, the Roman character of both being unmistakable, but the intervening sections 26-35, which consist of an Ordo for administering the Sacrament of Penance , and for visiting, anointing, and giving Viaticum to the sick, form a service-book complete in itself, including not merely the incipits but the entire text of the prayers to be said by the priest, like any modern Ritual. Thalhofer (Liturgik, I, 48) has sought to draw a presumption of late date from the form of absolution in n. 29, which is indicative and not precative, absolvimus te vice beati Petri etc.; but substantially the same formula occurs with an interpolated Anglo-Saxon translation in the Eghert Pontifical of the tenth century. Neither are the reasons convincing, upon which Kösters bases his conclusion that the document as a whole is posterior to the year 1200. We must probably be content to leave the question of date unsettled.
Ordo eleven has a tolerably full account of the papal ceremonial as it extended through the whole ecclesiastical year. This description is particularly valuable, inasmuch as it includes not only the functions of great solemnities but also the everyday usages and a considerable amount of detail regarding the Divine Office. It has lately been shown by Dr. Kösters that what we now possess in Ordo XI is only a fragment of a much larger work compiled by Benedict, Canon of St. Peter's, which was primarily a treatise upon the dignity of the Roman pontiff and upon the cardinals and various officials of the Roman Court, and which from the nature of its contents was called "Liber Politicus". This title has left a trace of itself in the heading of the manuscript used by Mabillon, where by a strange perversion it appears as "liber pollicitus". The treatise seems to have been completed just before the year 1143.
Ordo twelve likewise contains a somewhat minute description of the papal ceremonial in ecclesiastical and quasi-ecclesiastical functions throughout the year, much space being occupied by a detailed record of the regulations followed in the distribution of the bounties called presbyteria . This Ordo is avowedly extracted from the "Liber Censuum", a treatise compiled towards the end of the twelfth century by Cardinal Cencius de Sabellis, afterwards Pope Honorius III (1216-1227). But here again Kösters has shown that the last two sections, dealing with the election and consecration of the pope and with the crowning of the emperor, can be traced back to the "Politicus" of Benedict. Various miscellaneous matters, concerning, e.g., the duties and dues of certain minor officials, the oath taken by senators to the pope, etc., also find a place in this collection.
Ordo thirteen is one of the few Ordines which we possess, at least substantially, in the form in which it was first written. This is admittedly an official treatise drawn up by command of Pope Gregory X, shortly after the publication of the Constitution "Ubi periculum", issued in 1274 to regulate the procedure of the cardinals assembled in conclave for a papal election. The earliest portion of the document (nn. 1-12) is in fact concerned with the choice, consecration, and coronation of a new pope, provision being made for the case of his being a bishop, priest, or deacon. The treatise seems to presuppose an acquaintance with Ordo XI and Ordo XII and it is probably in consequence of this that the directions for the ordinary ceremonial are very concise. This Ordo marks the transition stage to a different type of liturgical document, much more developed and distinctively framed with a view to the part played by the Roman pontiff and his great retinue of ecclesiastical officials. Up to Ordo XIII we may say that the Ordines Romani are represented at the present day by the "Pontificale" and the "Cæremoniale Episcoporum", which are liturgical textbooks common to the whole of Latin Christianity. But the two remaining Ordines, XIV and XV, are represented today by the "Cæremoniale Romanum", which constitutes the rubrical code for papal functions in Rome and has no application in the ceremonial of the Catholic Church outside the Eternal City.
Ordo fourteen, which in the manuscripts bears the significant title "Ordinarium" instead of Ordo, is a much longer document than any of those hitherto considered. It is in fact the first rough outline of the bulky "Cæremoniale Romanum" which regulates the detail of papal functions at the present day. The history of Ordo XIV has been very carefully worked out by Dr. Kösters in his "Studien". The substance of the document seems to have been the work of Napoleone Orsini and Cardinal Jacopo Gaetani Stefaneschi, the latter having by far the larger share of its composition. By the aid of a manuscript found by Father Ehrle, the librarian of the Vatican, at Avignon, we are able to trace how the work took shape. (See Denifle and Ehrle, "Archiv. f. Lit- und Kirchengeschichte des. M.A.", V, 564 sqq.) It was begun in Rome before the popes left for France, but it was further developed and modified during the first third of the fourteenth century while the papal Court was at Avignon, and we know at any rate that the first nine chapters were quoted, as we now have them, in the conclave which assembled in 1334. But there must have been a revision of the treatise about or after 1389, when the long chapter 45: "Incipit Ordo qualiter Romanus Pontifex apud basilicam beati Petri Apostoli debeat consecrari", with its directions for the "possessio", or taking possession of the Lateran, was drawn up, the ceremony being in abeyance while the popes were at Avignon. Long, however, as the document is, and fully as it may seem to cover the ordinary requirements of papal official life, it may be doubted whether we possess the treatise in its entirety. In the original plan of Stefaneschi we know that the papal obsequies were included, but nothing upon this head is now contained in Ordo XIV, and it is difficult to conceive that this omission can have taken place through an oversight when so many other needs are minutely provided for.
Ordo fifteen is a fresh attempt to work up the same materials, while supplying at the same time the lacunæ which had hitherto existed. According to Kösters, chapters 1-100 and 143-153 were first drafted in the middle of the fourteenth century and were revised and supplemented by Pietro Amelii down to the year 1400. But the work of revision and modification was further carried on as far as 1435 by Peter, Bishop of Oloyca, while a final editor, who may very possibly have been Peter Kirten, Bishop of Olivna, put a last hand to the work in the second half of the same century. A selection of some of the more noteworthy headings of the 153 chapters of the work will perhaps serve better than anything else to give an idea of the comprehensiveness of this prototype of the Cæremoniale Romanum, which Mabillon prints under the name of Pietro Amelii: —
Advent ; Vigil of the Nativity; Entoning of the Antiphons; Matins ; Reading of the Lessons; First Mass on Christmas Day ; Second Mass; Third Mass; St. Stephen and the following feasts ; Epiphany ; Blessing of the Candles on 2 Feb. with the Procession ; Serving the Pope ; Ash Wednesday ; What happens when the King receives Ashes ; Different occurrences in Lent ; The Progresses of the Pope in penitential Seasons; Taking off the Pope's Mitre ; Fourth Sunday of Lent which is called Rose Sunday ; Blessing of the Palms, followed by detailed instructions for the Holy Weekceremonies, especially regarding the Maundy and the banquet on Maundy Thursday ; Cardinal-Priest who serves the Pope on Holy Saturday ; Easter and the Communion of the Cardinal-Deacons etc.; Short details regarding the other Feasts of the Year; Office for the Dead on All Souls' Day ; What is to be Observed when the Pope Sickens; Death of the Pope ; Exequies of the Pope ; Novendiale; Distributions of Cloth after the Pope's Death; Directions for the Conclave. Meeting a Cardinal who comes to the Roman Court; Canonisations, notably that of St. Bridget (1391).
ORDINES ROMANI PUBLISHED SINCE MABILLON
Mabillon's selection by no means exhausted the materials of this nature still available. Documents unknown in his time have since come to light and have been published by scholars who recognized their value. Foremost amongst these is the Einsiedeln Ordo, already alluded to, which was first printed by De Rossi in his "Inscriptiones Christianæe" (II, I, 34) and has since been re-edited by Duchesne in his "Origines du Culte Chrétien" (tr. Christian Worship, 481). This supplies an earlier and more purely Roman account of the ceremonial of the last three days of Holy Week than that contained in Mabillon's Ordo I. Again an extremely important text covering much the same ground as Ordo I but including, besides the pontifical Mass and the Holy Week ceremonial, some account of the ember-day ordinations, the rite of the dedication of a church with relics, and the candle procession on the feast of the Purification, has been published by Mgr Duchesne in the work just named from a ninth-century manuscript of St-Amand. Other documents of less moment have been printed by Gerbert in his "Monumenta vet, lit. aleman." (St. Blasien, 1770), by Martène in his "De antiquis eccles. ritibus", by Kösters as an appendix to his "Studien" and by others.
Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.
Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.