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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday- Dedicated to Our Lady

History of the devotion to Our Lady's Saturday by Dom Louis Gougaud.
(In haste, will do some small corrections later)


LITURGISTS, theologians, poets, and pious narrators of the Middle Ages, offer us an abundant choice of suitable reasons to justify, according to them, the dedication of Saturday to Our Lady.1 Durandus, Bishop of Mende (+1296), gives five reasons, and his text has been piously received by a number of authors after his time, more particularly by the compiler of the Sarum Missal, who saw fit to place in it a kind of explanatory introduction to the votive Masses of Our Lady.2

The first reason for honouring Our Lady on Saturdays—and in the eyes of the authors of the Middle Ages it is the chief reason—is that the Mother of God clearly showed by a miracle her preference for this day of the week.

In a church in Constantinople there was a particularly beautiful statue of Our Lady, in front of which hung a curtain that was removed every Friday through no human agency, leaving the statue visible until after Vespers on Saturday. At that moment the statue resumed its covering in a miraculous manner, and remained hidden from view until the following Friday. By this wonder Mary intended to show in a clear manner to Christian people that she wished Saturday to be held in special honour. This narrative of the miracle was reproduced many times in the Middle Ages.3

The second reason is that Our Lady was the only person to keep her faith in our Lord during Holy Saturday, or more exactly from the time of the death on the Cross of her divine Son until his Resurrection. This idea has been expressed in a few verses of a French poem of the fourteenth century, of which the following lines, which bear directly on our subject, are quoted:

Cinq festes a en Fan la benoite roine

Con celebre son nom, et elle en est bien digne:

Elle est gloire des justes, de pecheurs medecine,

Tres bon la fait servir de cuer qui s'i encline.

On fait de Ii memoire par tout les samedis,

Sachiez que sans reson n'est jl mie establis:

Le ben[e]oite Virge l'a mout bien deservi,

Si vous dirons comment; or entende"s ami.

Diex dist a ses apotres ainz qu'en crois fust penez:

"Vous toute nuit ensemble avec moy veillere's,"

Ainz Ie demain matin fu son dit averez,

Quar trestous s'en fuirent ainz qu'il en fust mene"s.

Le vrai cuer de sa mere onques ne le lessa,

Ainz tres le vendredi que Jhesu tre'spassa

Jusques au jour de Pasques que il resuscita

La foy de sainte Eglise toute seule garda.

C'est une des raisons qui est auques prouvee,

Par quoy le samedi est ainsi honnouree:

De tous ceus qui ont foy en doit estie loee,

Quant par li fu la foy en samedi gardee.4

Long before the time of the writer of this poem and before the time of Durandus of Mende himself, Caesarius of Heisterbach had already said that afterthe Passion, Mary was " the one pillar of the Catholic Faith."5 The same idea is found in some manuscripts of the Vitis mystica with the following remark: " This is the reason why the whole Church has adopted the very suitable custom of dedicating each Saturday of the year to the honour and glory of this Virgin."6 But this reason was not acceptable to the Blessed Cardinal Bellarmine, because the Gospel narrative (St John xix and xx) makes it clear that before the Resurrection of our Lord, Mary Magdalen was filled with the deep ardour of charity, and, as charity cannot exist without faith, it should not be said that the faith of Holy Church (la foi de sainte Jfcglise) found its only shelter in the heart of Mary.7 Moreover, he adds, if Mary was the only believer, one would be compelled to admit that the whole Church had ceased to believe in Jesus Christ, for one believer is not sufficient to constitute the Church, which is a society. More than one theologian will object to this second argument of Bellarmine, for the Church, accurately speaking, did not come into existence before the Resurrection. Christ had only completed the remote preparation of the constitution of the Church, for the definite act of constitution, the giving of the power to the Apostles, only took place after the Resurrection.8

The third reason advanced by Durandus, and, before him, by John Beleth, in the twelfth century,9 is that Saturday gives access to Sunday (introitus ad dominicam diem) and may be considered, as it were, the door of entrance. And as Sunday is figurative of the Kingdom of Heaven, it followed that Mary, the Gate of heaven, should receive particularly on the seventh day the homage of the faithful. It was fitting also that the solemn honour paid to Mary should be followed by that paid to her Son—such is the fourth reason advanced by early writers for this Saturday celebration in her honour.

A less subtle and more consistent thought is to be found in a sequence which was sung from the thirteenth century onwards:

Dum transis ad gaudiosum Diem, relinquens poenosum,

Dies est haec media;

Haec de poenis nos educit Mediatrix, et adducit
Ad superna gaudia.10

And the same hymnographer has also put into poetry in the following verse the idea which forms the fifth and last reason brought forward by Durandus:

Hodierna lux diei Dies fuit requiei
Plasmatoris omnium;

Sic quievit in Maria Dum ipsius in hac via
Virgo fit hospitium.

St Peter Damian, one of those who aided most the spread of Mariology in the eleventh century, expresses the same thought in the following manner: " Sabbath signifies rest, for one reads that God himself rested on that day. Is it not then fitting that the same day should be dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, in whom the divine Wisdom chose its abode, and rested as on a couch of holiness ?"n

The reasons for which the seventh day of the week has been dedicated to Our Lady being now known, let us see what practices were made use of, both in private devotion and in the liturgy, to honour the Blessed Queen of Heaven on that day.

The celebration of a votive Mass of Our Lady is the most ancient manifestation of the worship inspired by sabbatical piety. The small collection of weekly Masses left by Alcuin (f 804) contains two votive Masses of Our Lady for Saturday.12 The most firmly established and the most widespread of the votive Masses were that of the Cross for Friday and that of the Blessed "Virgin for Saturday. For this latter day, the Concordia regular is, a monument of the English Benedictine reform of the last half of the tenth century, also commends the Mass de Beata.n However, at the end of the eleventh century, the use was not yet universal. Bernold of Constance, who wrote later than A.D. 1085, said that votive Masses were still celebrated " rather through devotion than in virtue of an order from the ecclesiastical authorities."14
From the tenth century onwards an office of the Cross and of the Blessed Virgin was said on Fridays and Saturdays respectively at the monastery of Einsiedeln, when no other office prevented their celebration.15 There is no earlier documentary evidence of the existence of the Saturday office of Our Lady. When did it evolve from a sporadic devotion into a real liturgical celebration ? A claim is advanced that Odo, Bishop of Toul (1051-1069), after having rebuilt the collegiate church of St Gengoult in that town, ordered, in 1065, that the office de Beata and a Mass of Our Lady should be said in the church every Saturday.16 If this information is well founded, it should be emphasized on account of its early date. On the other hand, it is said that Pope Urban II prescribed at the Council of Clermont (1095) the recitation of this office, in order that the Queen of Heaven should give her blessing to the undertaking of the first Crusade, but the official acts of the council have not been preserved, and the records at our disposal are lacking in precision.17 Be that as it may, the Saturday office had definitely come into use before the middle of the thirteenth century and even in the twelfth,18 and, according to Caesarius of Heisterbach, the origin of this addition to the liturgy was to be found in the miracle of Constantinople.19

The same author mentions yet more observances by which the faithful used to delight in honouring Our Lady each week. In various regions in the West, fasting or abstinence were practised on Saturday from the earliest times. In the Middle Ages, these mortifications, which, in their origin, as will be shown later,20 were not intended to honour Our Lady, received this new meaning.21

Furthermore, some people abstained from work on Saturday or for part of the day for a similar reason. One of the miracles of Our Lady of Chartres (thirteenth century) has for its title: Dyune fame a cut il mesavint pour ce qu'elfila un samedi a seir.22
A traveller who had an especial devotion to the Blessed Virgin used to break his journey in her honour on Saturday after the hour of None.23

Jean Mielot, the secretary of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, recounts, in his Miracles de Nostre Dame, the story of a dissolute woman who refrained from committing sin on Saturday in honour of Our Lady, and she offered her, on that day, a candle which she procured with her meagre earnings, " so much so that in the end she died and her soul was delivered from the devils by the Virgin Mary."24

Characteristic examples like this abound. Those which we have cited will suffice to show the extent of the popular devotion in the Middle Ages to Our Lady on Saturday.

The belief in the " Sabbatine privilege " encouraged by the Carmelites from the fifteenth century onwards aided greatly in the spread of the custom of dedicating Saturday to the praise and reverence of Mary.

See Augustin Wickmans, Sabbatismus marianus in quo origo, utilitas et modus colendi hebdomadatim sabbatum in honorem sanctissimae Deiparae explicantur, Antverpiae, 1628;
same author, Brabantia mariana tripartita, Antverpiae, 1632, ch. ix; G. Colvenerius, Liturgia Mariana, included in the Summa aurea de laudibus B.V.M., by J. J. Bourasse (Migne's
Coll.), Parisiis, 1866, III, ch. vii-ix.

Durandus, Rationale divinorum officiorum, Venetiis, 1609, fol. 60; Missale ad usum insignis etpraeclarae Ecclesiae Sarum,ed. F. H. Dickinson, Burntisland, 1861-1883, col. 759*-

Ward, Catal. of Romances in the British Museum, II 616;
Caesarius of Heisterbach, Expositiuncula in sequentiam

Ave praeclara tnaris Stella," ed. A. E. Schoenbach, in Sitzungsgerichte of the Vienna Acad., 1908, pp. 6-7; Franz Pfeiffer, Marienlegenden, Dichtungen des 13. Jahrhunderts,
Wien, 1863, pp. 89-93. Cf. Mussafia, Studien zu den mittel-alterlichen Marienlegenden, pp. 113, 944, 949, 950, 951, etc. According to the twelfth-century text analyzed by Ward, the miracle took place in a church called '' Lucerna.'' In Gautier of Coinci, who wrote c. 1220, it is a question of " une chapele bele et noble de ma Dame sainte Marie, dedenz Constantinnoble [qui] Luzerne scurnom est nomme'e " (Les Miracles de Notre-Dame par Gautier de Coinci, ed. Poquet, Paris, 1867, fol, 671). In the German legend of the twelfth century edited by F. Pfeiffer, the church is called " Frauen-miinster."

Ed. A. Langfors, Notice du 12483 de la Biblio-theque nationale (Notices et Extraits des Mss. de la B.N., XXXIX, Part ii, Paris, 1917, pp. 541-542).

Caesarius, loc. cit.

Vitis mystica,2 (St Bonaventure, Opera, Quaracchi edit., VIII 161).

L. 3, De Ecclesia militante, cap. 17, quoted by Benedict XIV, Defestis B.M.V., p. 317.

Cf. L. Billot, Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi, Romae, 1903, pp. 79-85.

John Beleth, Rationale, 51 (P.L., CCII 57-58).

Seq. Jubilemus in hac die (UI. Chevalier, Repertorium hymnologicum, No. 9813). Ed. Blume and Bannister, Liturgiche Prosen, 1914, pp. 430-432. " Opusc. 33 (P.L., CXLV 565-566).

Alcuin, Liber Sacramentorum (P.L., CI 454-455). Cf. Dom Cabrol, art. Alcuin {Diet. d'Arch. chrdt. et de Lit., 1079-1080); Ad. Franz, Die Messe im deutschen Mittelalter, Freiburg i. Br., 1902, p. 136 ff.

P.L., CXXXVII 483.

Micrologus, 60 (P.L., CLI 1020). Cf. St Peter Damian,
op. cit., col. 564.

Ed. Odilo Ringholz, in Studien und Mittheilungen aus dem Benedictiner und dem Cistercienser Orden, VII, 1886, p. 285. Cf. Ed. Bishop, Liturgica historica, Oxford, 1918, pp. 225-226; P. Lejay, Les Accroissements de I'Office quotidian {Revue du Clergdfrangais, XL, 1904, pp. 129-130).

" Obsecramus ergo ut omni sabbato commemoratio sanctae Dei genitricis Mariae ibidem cum omni integritate nocturni et diurni cursus ad ipsius altare a nobis con-secrato celebretur " (Benoit Picard, Histoire eeddsiastique et politique de la Ville et du Diocese de Toul, Toul, 1707 {Preuves, LXXVI).

Mansi, Concilia, XX 821. Yet the Chronicle of Geoffrey, prior of Vigeois, is not devoid of interest on this particular point. Referring to the Council of Clermont, this document has: " Statutum est ut horae B. Virginis quotidie dicantur officiumque ejus diebus Sabbati fiat. Ex quo mos in quibusdam Ecclesiis inolevit facere novem
lectiones cum novem responsoriis et aliis necessariis, nisi in quadragesima vel nisi adsit festum duplex." (Ed. Philippe Labbe, Nova bibliotheca manuscripta, Parisiis, 1675, II 292).

Vita B. Stephani abbatis Obaziensis, I 7, 22, ed. Baluze, Miscellanea, IV 80, 95; Geoffrey of Vigeois, loc. cit.

Caesarius, loc. cit. Cf. Ward, op. cit., II 638.

See below, Part II, ch. i, Fasting in Ireland.

Cf. A. Wilmart, A propos des Jours sans Liturgie (La Vie et les Arts liturgiques, 7e annee, ig2i,pp. 217-218); T. E. Bridgett, Our Lady's Dowry, London, 1890, p. 244; A. Villien, A History of the Commandments of the Church, St. Louis, 1915, p. 287 ff. Caesarius, Die Fragmente der Libri VIII Miraculorum, ed. A. Meister, III 68, p. 191; J. Klapper, Erzdhlungen des Mittelalters, Breslau, 1914, pp. 285-286; Alex. Masseron, Les " Examples " d'un ermite siennois, Paris, 1924, p. 233.

Le Livre des Miracles de N.-D. de Chartres ecrit par Jehan Le Marchant, ed. Duplessis, 1855, No. 25 ; Miracles de N.-D. de Ch., ed. Ant. Thomas (Bibliotheque de VEcole des Charles,XLII, 1882, pp. 531-536); M. Langlois, Les Manuscrits des Miracles de N.-D. de Ch. {Revue Mabillon, II, 1906, p. 67).
See another story in Robert de Brunne, Handlynge Synne,
ed. Furnivall, London, 1901, V 877 ff.

Miracles de la Bse V. Marie d'apres un Ms. du XIlie
Siecle de la Bibl. de VendSme, ed. H. Isnard, Orleans, 1888,

Miracles de N.-D., ed. G. F. Warner, Westminster, Roxburghe Club, 1885, p. 43.
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