Gallican Rite - History and Origin

History and Origin

The name Gallican Rite is given to the rite which prevailed in Gaul from the earliest times of which we have any information until about the middle or end of the eighth century. There is no information before the fifth century and very little then; and throughout the whole period there was, to judge by existing documents and descriptions, so much diversity that, though the general outlines of the rite were of the same pattern, the name must not be taken to imply more than a very moderate amount of homogeneity. The Rite of Iberia (the Roman Hispania, modern Spain and Portugal), fairly widely used from the fifth century to the end of the eleventh, and still lingering on as an archaeological survival in chapels at Toledo and Salamanca, was so nearly allied to the Gallican Rite that the term Hispano-Gallican is often applied to the two. But the Iberian Mozarabic Rite has, like the allied Celtic Rite, enough of an independent history to require separate treatment, so that though it will be necessary to allude to both by way of illustration, this article will be devoted primarily to the rite once used in what is now France. Of the origin of the Gallican Rite there are three principal theories, between two of which the controversy is not yet settled. These may be termed (1) the Ephesine, (2) the Ambrosian, and (3) the Roman theories.

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