Little Office of the Bvm

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An abridged version of the Common Office of the Blessed Virgin in the Divine Office that was historically recited on most feasts of Our Lady. It began as a votive office in the early Middle Ages. Alcuin (d. 804) composed and propagated votive Masses for the various days of the week and included a Saturday Mass in honor of Our Lady. A complementary votive office also may have been introduced, for usages adopted during this period of the Carolingian renaissance were longlasting. At any rate, there is 10th-century evidence of the daily recitation of this office by Bernerius, provost of the Cathedral of Verdun, and by Ulric, bishop of Augsburg (d. 973), which would indicate that the devotion was already widespread.

Peter Damian (d. 1072), one of the most influential churchmen of his century, reorganized this office and strongly commended its daily recitation. By the 12th century it was in use throughout Europe and was often made obligatory for both regular and secular clergy except on greater feasts. This office was also the core of the various Books of Hours, the popular prayer books of the laity in the Middle Ages. Pius V (d. 1572) removed all general obligation, limiting it to certain monastic groups. Pius X abolished the obligation. The 1952 revision of this office retained the same psalms, canticles, and hymns, but offered greater variety than the old edition by adding special lessons, responsories, little chapters, antiphons, and collects.

See Also: marian antiphons

Bibliography: l. eisenhofer and j. lechner, The Liturgy of the Roman Rite, tr. a. j. and e. f. peeler from the 6th Germ. ed., ed. h. e. winstone (New York 1961) 473474. j. h. miller, Fundamentals of the Liturgy (Notre Dame, Ind. 1960) 343344. a. hÄussling, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 7:1119.

[g. e. schidel/eds.]

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Little Office of the Bvm

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