Re: Re: reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches

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@johnglas wrote:

prax: the historic arrangement of the choir (i.e. the sanctuary) does suggest some sort of ‘gathering’ of clergy (not just ministers) ‘around’ the bishop; in most cathedrals, a linear arrangement has developed, but in older churches (e.g. St John Lateran) the cathedra is in the apse and the canons and other clergy are arranged on either side. In some churches (e.g. S Clemente), the railed-in enclosure is even more obvious. So, some precedent.
apelles:yes, it just looks silly. I’m aware you can never judge a building purely from photographs, especially the state of the decoration.


I believe we have to make some distinctions here:

The idea of “gathering” around a bishop at a Cathedral in some form of a scaled down Nuremberg Rally is a completely modern invention that has nothing to do with liturgy – at least as understood in the Roman Rite. Large scale concelebrations with all and sundry sacttered all over the place are very unlikely to have been intended by Sacrosanctum Concilium and, from what we understand, are likely to be “cut back” in the not too distant future.

Secondly, a fundamental principle of the Roman Rite is that no one surplus to carrying out what has to be carried out at a given ceremony should be in the sanctuary. The Roman Rite, in its peculiar génie is spartan and no nonsesne in its approach so it does not envisage clerical “flower pots” hanging around the sanctuary for any purpose.

When a bishop requires assistance at a ceremony, it takes the form of a Deacon, Sub-deacon, Assistant priest, Master of Ceremonies and the lesser clerics needed to carry out specific tasks. These are the only persons envisaged as being anywhere near the bishop when pontificating. This is true whether he is celebrating or assisting at Mass or presidingat or celebrating the offices.

You mention the choir arrangements of Cathedrals. Again, this has nothing do do with gathering around a bishop. This is the arrangement developed over the centuries for the chanting of Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. These offices continue whether the bishop is present or not. When he is present, he too is subject to the discipline of the choir – albeit he presides over it. The function of the Cathedral choir is to maintain the continuity between Altar (Mass, Missal) and the Prayer fo the Breviary, not to act as some form heavy muscle gang around the bishop.

You mention the arrangements in San Clemente. Praxiteles recalls posting a diagramm of the arrangements there a very long time ago and explaining what went on and how it works: the Pope when he went in procession to the Basilica (or any basilica) was civilally escorted by armed persons as far as the door of the Basilica where these were shed; the procession made up of minor cleric to sing the Mass etc. and by 12 torch bearers (who replaced the lictores grented to the Pope by Constantine in 312) went as far as the railed off schola where they were shed; the Pope passed through the schola where the minor clerics of the procession were shed (and from where they did there singing), accompanied by the deacon, to the sanctuary where the other clerics needed for the Mass awaited him. There is no suggestion that there was a throng “gathered” waiting for him. Indeed, likely to have been waiting for him were the clerics necessary for the rites. Also, it must be borne in mind that the schola in San Clemente -or anywhere else- is not part of the sancturay. It is an ante-sanctuary – an idea continued in some of the Cathedrals of Spain or in southern France (Auche) and, ultimately, lying behind the development of Cathedral Chapter choirs whose principal business -like their San Clemente ancestors- is to sing the offices.

You mention that the cathedra was placed in the head of the apse. This is true of the ancient basilicas. Again, in so far as anyone sat next to it, we should not presume that it was more than those immediately involved in the rites being performed. That arrangement subsequently took itsel tot he bema prepared for the clergy and to the medieval arrangement of the throne usually flanked by the Deacon and Subdeacon; or in descending hierarchy as was the practice in the Sarum use.

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