Traditional Ambrosian Rite - The Mass

The Mass

The Ambrosian Mass in its present form is best shown by an analysis pointing out the differences from the Tridentine Mass. As a great part of it agrees word for word with the Roman, it will only be necessary to indicate the agreements, without giving the passages in full. There are a certain number of ceremonial differences, the most noticeable of which are:

  • When the deacon and sub-deacon are not occupied, they take up positions at the north and south ends of the altar facing each other.
  • The Prophecy, Epistle, and Gospel are read, in Milan Cathedral, from the great ambon on the north side of the choir, and the procession thereto is accompanied with some state.
  • The offering of bread and wine by the men and women of the Scuola di S. Ambrogio.
  • The filing past and kissing the north corner of the altar at the Offertory.
  • The silent Lavabo just before the Consecration.
  • The absence of bell-ringing at the Elevation.

In the rubrics of the Missal there are certain survivals of ancient usage which could only have applied to the city of Milan itself, and may be compared with the "stations" affixed to certain Masses in the Roman Missal of to-day. The Ambrosian Rite supposes the existence of two cathedrals, the Basilica Major or Ecclesia Æstiva 'summer church', and the Basilica Minor or Ecclesia Hiemalis 'winter church'. Lejay, following Giulini, calls the Ecclesia Major (St. Mary's) the winter church, and St. Thecla the summer church (Cabrol, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne, col. 1382 sqq.), but Ecclesia Hiematis and Ecclesia Major in the "Bergamo Missal", and Ecclesia Hiemalis and Ad Sanctam Mariam, in all missals, are evidently contrasted with one another. Also the will of Berengarius I, founding St. Rafaele (quoted by Giulini, I, 416) speaks of the latter being near the summer church, which it is, if the summer church is St. Mary's. There is also assumed to be a detached baptistery and a Chapel of the Cross, though mentions of these are found chiefly in the Breviary, and in earlier times the church of St. Laurence was the starting point of the Palm Sunday ceremonies. The greater, or summer, church, under the patronage of Our Lady, is now the Cathedral; the lesser, or winter, church, which stood at the opposite end of the Piazza del Duomo, and was destroyed in 1543, was under the patronage of St. Thecla. As late as the time of Beroldus (twelfth century) the changes from one to the other were made at Easter and at the Dedication of the Great Church (third Sunday in October), and even now the rubric continues to order two Masses on certain great days, one in each church, and on Easter Eve and through Easter week one Mass is ordered daily pro baptizatis in Ecclesia Hiemali, and another, according to the Bergamo book, in Ecclesia Majori. The modern books say, in omni ecclesiâ. There were two baptisteries, both near the greater church.

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