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Gelasian Sacramentary


Also known as Old Gelasian Sacramentary (Latin: Gelasianum Vetus ), Gelasian Sacramentary is the popular name for the Vatican manuscripts Reginensis latinus 316. Muratori gave this convenient but misleading label to the Vatican manuscript Reginensis 316 in his edition of 1748, and it has been in usage ever since. But its most recent editor, Mohlberg, despite adverse criticism, has rightly restored the actual title of the manuscrpt: Liber Sacramentorum Romanae Aeclesiae Ordinis Anni Circuli (Rome 1960). However, since that title, though accurate, is cumbersome, it will be referred to as Reg 316.

Date. Besides being the oldest and most complete extant manuscript of the Roman Sacramentary, albeit a Frankish-Roman hybrid, it is also a beautiful example Merovingian manuscript and calligraphy. The authorship of the Reg 316 can no longer be attributed to Pope gelasius (492496), because "that theory rests upon a faulty interpretation of a passage in the Liber pontificalis and from an expression in the Vita Gregorii by the Roman deacon John which is too late to be helpful" (Vogel, Medieval Liturgy, 68). The Old Gelasian Sacramentary is to be distinguished from the so-called 8th-century Gelasian Sacramentary or the Frankish-Gelasian Sacramentaries, a different family of sacramentaries which is discussed as a topic under gregorian sacramentary.

C. Vogel suggests that the ancestor of the Reg 316 "must have been composed between 628 and 715, i.e., between the oldest possible date of the most recent feast and the beginning of Gregory II's pontificate." The terminus ad quem can be determined from the fact that in the Reg 316, the Thursdays of Lent are liturgical, i.e., it did not yet have the Masses which Gregory II (715731) introduced into the Roman liturgical calendar. As for the terminus a quo, Vogel observes that the Reg 316:

already has a Capitulum S. Gregorii papae (604), the Canon actionis contains the Gregorian embolism of the Hanc igitur: Diesque nostros in tua pace disponas atque ab aeterna damnatione nos eripe et in electorum quorum iubeas grege numerari and the Pater noster is situated immediately after the Canon exactly where St. Gregory I put it. The Sanctoral Cycle has both feasts of the Cross, although the Exaltatio Crucis was introduced at Rome after the death of Gregory the Great, probably after the recovery of the True Cross from the Persians by the Emperor Heraclius in 628. The Sanctoral also contains the four feasts of the Blessed Virgin (Purificatio, Feb. 2; Annunciatio, Mar. 25; Assumptio, Aug. 15; Nativitas, Sept. 8) unknown at Rome in the time of Gregory but which were being celebrated during the reign of the Syrian pope, Sergius I (687701).

History. This manuscript is the only one of its kind known to exist. A. Wilmart and Lowe were inclined to the view that it was written in northeastern France, its ornamentation suggesting Corbie. But in 1953 Lowe drew attention to B. Bischoff's suggestion that the Reg 316 belongs to the same school as a group of 8th-century Cologne manuscripts written for Bishop Hildebald of that see (785819). In Lowe's opinion the scriptorium that produced such manuscripts must have been of some importance, and in all probability Bischoff is right in thinking of the convent of Chelles near Paris, whose abbess was Gisela, sister of Charlemagne and lifelong friend of Alcuin.

Description. The Reg 316 is divided into three distinct parts or books. Book 1 contains the Mass formularies from Christmas Eve to the Octave of Pentecost. Book 2 consists of the Sanctoral throughout the year, the Common of Saints, and an appendix of Advent Masses. Book 3 contains a well-known series of 16 Sunday Masses, which have found their way into the Roman Missal, the Canon of the Mass, a series of votive Masses and various blessings. Different interpolations of Gallican origin are found within the body of the book and have been the object of a serious examination by Chavasse [Le Sacramentaire Gélasien (Paris 1958)].

Authorship. Ever since Muratori's edition of the Reg 316, it has been called the Gelasian Sacramentary. An examination of its contents, however, makes it difficult to believe that in its present state it is an exact copy of the work of Gelasius. In 1945 Capelle drew attention to the fact that the leonine sacramentary contains material that, in all probability, was composed by Gelasius in very precise circumstances; but this material is absent from the Sacramentary that bears his name. This of itself is a reason for rejecting its attribution to Gelasius ["Retouches Gélasiennes dans le Sacramentaire Léonien," Revue Bénédictine 61 (1951) 314]. Numerous studies by such scholars as Coebergh and Chavasse served only to confirm Capelle's verdict. The Gelasian Sacramentary is not the work of Pope Gelasius, although it may contain isolated prayers and prefaces that are his and that found their way into the body of the text, perhaps through the Leonine Sacramentary.

Character. Concerning its character and contents, earlier scholars such as E. Bishop and M. Andrieu were inclined to look upon it as the official Roman Mass Book of the 6th century. Duschesne, Baumstark, and more recently Schmidt consider it to be a Frankish compilation of the 8th century, the compiler having used both Roman and Gallican material. More recently the prestige of Chavasse's learning has led the majority of scholars to accept his conclusions presented in his major work on the subject referred to above. In his view the Roman source of the Reg 316 is a Sacramentary now lost (but incorporated into this work by the 8th-century scribe of the Reg 316) that was used by the clergy of the Roman tituli. This lost source, in Chavasse's view, provided a quarry also for the Gregorian Sacramentary and the earlier Gallican service books. Not all scholars, however, have followed Chavasse in every detail. Capelle more cautiously suggested that the evidence could point to the Libelli Missarum preserved in the Lateran Archives as a probable source of the Merrovingian service books [Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique 54 (1959) 877879]. Coebergh expressed himself unconvinced by the author's arguments and objected that insufficient use had been made by Chavasse of the material provided by J. P. Kirsch in his Die römischen Titelkirchen im Altertum, ignorance of which had led Chavasse into some grave errors of judgment. Coebergh considers it more likely that the Reg 316 is a compilation made by two Frankish priest-monks, of progressive tendencies, who drew upon a series of Lateran Libelli Missarum during the course of the 7th century ["Le Sacramentaire Gélasien Ancien, une compilation de clercs romanisants du VIIe siècle," Archiv für Liturgiewissenschaft 7 (1961) 4588].

Whatever the case may be, what is clear is the fact that the Reg 316 is a hybrid sacramentary, comprising the most primitive extant Roman substratum with Frankish additions. The Roman substratum itself is not entirely homogeneous, but "is the result of an intermingling of a variety of Roman libelli belonging to different periods and representing both papal and presbyteral usages" (Vogel, Medieval Liturgy, 66).

Bibliography: Critical Edition: Liber Sacramentorum Romanae Aeclesiae Ordinis Annis Circuli (Cod. Vat. Reg. lat. 316; Paris Bibl. Nat. 7193 41/56), ed. l. c. mohlberg, l. eizenhÖfer, and p. siffrin (Rerum Ecclesiasticarum Documenta, Series Maior, Fontes 4; Rome, 1960). Color Photoreproduction: Sacramentarium Gelasianum: e Codice Vaticano Reginensi Latino 316 Veritente Anno Sacro MCMLXXV, iussu Pauli PP. VI, phototypice editum (Vatican 1975). This important reproduction contains two important introductory essays: b. neunheuser, "The Manuscript," 529; and "The 'Sacramentarium Gelasianum' (Reg. lat. 316 ) and its Significance in Liturgical History," 3049. Commentary: a. chavasse, Le Sacramentaire Gélasien (Tournai 1958). For overview and further bibliographies, see: c. vogel, Medieval Liturgy: An Introduction to Sources (Washington, D.C. 1986); and e. palazzo, A History of Liturgical Books: From the Beginning to the Thirteenth Century (Collegeville, Minn. 1998).

[h. ashworth/eds.]

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