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Mass, Dry


The medieval Missa sicca was a quasiliturgical custom patterned on the Mass. The first certain mention of it is found in the 9thcentury pontifical of Prudentius (d.861), Bishop of Troyes. It was also discussed by William Durand (d. 1296), Bishop of Mende. It consisted of the recitation of prayers and readings from the Mass of the day by a priest, sometimes fully vested, sometimes wearing only a stole, and with the omission of the Mass parts from Offertory to Communion inclusive. It seemed to have enjoyed some popularity in preReformation France, both in monasteries, where priestmonks sometimes celebrated after the conventual Mass as a private devotion, and in parish churches, as an embellishment of, or even a substitute for, the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Instances of the latter usage were at weddings, funerals, a gathering of huntsmen for the chase, or voyaging at seaoccasions when a complete Mass service might have been deemed inconvenient or impossible.

At Milan, the Palm Sunday procession used to halt at various churches in the city for a service resembling a dry Mass. In fact, the blessing of palms on Palm Sunday in the Roman rite was given a place in such a Missa sicca until Pius XII promulgated his Holy Week Ordo in 1956. Because of the danger of extremes, the general practice was condemned by theologians and synods, and eventually died out.

Bibliography: g. durandi, Rationale divinorum officiorum (Lyons 1560) 4:1. p. browe, "Messa senza consacrazione e commuione," Ephemerides liturgicae 50 (1936) 124132.

[m. ducey/eds.]

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