Mozarabic Rite

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search

The Mozarabic Rite, also called the Visigothic Rite or Hispanic Rite, is a form of Christian worship within the Latin Church of the Catholic Church, Western Rite Orthodoxy of the Eastern Orthodox Church and in the Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church.[1] Its beginning dates to the 7th century, and is localized in the Iberian Peninsula (Hispania). The "Mozarabs" is a scholarly term for the Christians living under Muslim rulers in Al-Andalus. The Mozarabic Rite's origins predates the Al-Andalus and Visigothic periods. The rite was superseded by the Roman Rite as part of a wider programme of liturgical standardization within the Catholic Church.

Formation of early Catholic rites

Ritual worship surrounding the Eucharist in the early Church was not scripted with precise rubrics as is the norm today. One of the earliest known documents setting down the nature of Eucharistic celebration is the Didache, dating from 70–140 (see historical roots of Catholic Eucharistic theology). Few details are known of early forms of the liturgy, or worship, in the first three centuries, but there was some diversity of practice; Justin Martyr, however gave one example of the early Christian Liturgy in one of his apologies. As Christianity gained dominance in the wake of the conversion of Constantine I early in the fourth century, there was a period of liturgical development as the communities emerged from smaller gatherings to large assemblies in public halls and new churches. This time of development saw the combination of embellishment of existing practices with the exchange of ideas and practices from other communities. These mutual processes resulted both in greater diversity and in certain unifying factors within the liturgy from the merging of forms throughout major cities and regions. The liturgies of the patriarchal cities in particular had greater influence on their regions so that by the 5th century it becomes possible to distinguish among several families of liturgies, in particular the Jerusalem, Alexandrian, Antiochene, Byzantine, and Syrian families in the East, and in the Latin West, the African (completely lost), Gallican, Celtic, Ambrosian, Roman, and Hispanic (Mozarabic) families. These settled into fairly stable forms that continued to evolve, but none without some influence from outside. In the West, however, the liturgy in Roman Africa was lost as the Church there was weakened by internal division and then the Vandal invasion, and then was extinguished in the wake of the Islamic ascendancy. In Gaul, the fascination of the Franks with Roman liturgy led them to begin adopting the Roman Rite, a process that was confirmed and promoted by Charlemagne as an aid to imperial unity.[2]

The Catholic liturgical practice in Iberia prior to the Visigoths is termed "Old Hispanic", and inaccurately is often called Mozarabic. There was a liturgical tradition in Hispania prior to the arrival of the Visigoths as evidenced by the fact that it lacks Arian influence. This liturgy reached its point of greatest development in the 7th century in the time the Visigoths ruled Hispania and is found partly in the Verona Orationale, taken to Italy for safekeeping after the invasion of Muslims (below). Terminological confusion regarding the liturgical development in this area is common, and most names proposed bear a degree of inaccuracy; hence qualifications are the norm in the discussion of this history. The most precise use of the term "Mozarabic rite" is for that liturgy followed by the inhabitants of former visigothic Hispania who submitted to Islamic rule and their descendants. St. Isidore of Seville (d. 636), who was influential at the Fourth Council of Toledo in 633, according to the wishes of that Council, gave the Hispanic rite its final form before the Muslim invasion.

As the Christian kingdoms reconquered Hispania, the kings sought to re-establish Church links to the rest of Europe. The papacy wanted to standardise the Church liturgy and imposed the Roman Rite but the Mozarabic rite continued to be used in Toledo and León. The Mozarabic rite was approved by Pope John X in 918, suppressed by Pope Gregory VII in 1085 yet permitted in six parishes. Unity in liturgical practice was strongly encouraged by Rome and after re-conquest typically the Roman rite was installed. Eventually the Mozarabic rite became a memorial service, as people grew to accept the Roman rite.

Connections to other rites

There is evidence that the Mozarabic rite is tied to the Gallican rite, given common points of construction. Schaff argues for an Oriental element in both the Gallican and the Mozarabic (or Old Hispanic), while Jenner quotes Dom Marius Férotin, O.S.B., who writes that the framework of the liturgy is from Italy or Rome, while various details such as hymns are from Iberia, Africa, and Gaul. Jenner states that there is no extant concrete information about the Old Hispanic liturgy prior to the end of the 6th century, a point echoed by Cabrol. Michael Davies reports that it is commonly believed that the Gallican rite came from the East, perhaps Antioch, and through Italy influenced the West. The work of St. Isidore, who was asked by a Council of Toledo (probably the one occurring in 633) to revise and rearrange the Liturgy of the Hours (Old Hispanic), leaves us a number of documents demonstrating liturgical stability prior to the Muslim invasion. Cabrol lists several liturgical points of Oriental origin ("the place of the diptychs, the Kiss of Peace, and even the 'epiclesis'") while indicating the liturgical commonalities to the entire West, including Rome and Gaul. Cabrol also indicates that the Mozarabic rite contains some customs that ante-date those of Rome.

Preservation and current use

Toledo Cathedral, in whose Corpus Christi Chapel the Mozarabic Rite is celebrated daily.

The Mozarabic Rite is the second-best attested liturgy in the Latin Church in terms of preserved documentation. The Mozarabic Rite was considered authoritative for the clarification of a Sacramentary received by Charlemagne from Pope Adrian I (d. 795). The first is, of course, the Roman Rite, which, to encourage unity of faith and worship, generally replaced the Mozarabic in Iberia from about 1080.

In the year 870, Charles the Bald, wishing to see what the ancient Gallican Rite had been like, had priests sent from Spain to celebrate the Mozarabic Rite before him.

In the latter part of the eighth century, the Rite had fallen under some suspicion owing to quotations cited by Elipandus of Toledo in support of his Adoptionist theories, and the Council of Frankfurt 794 spoke somewhat disparagingly of possible Islamic influence on it. It was due to these suspicions that in 924, John X sent a Papal Legate named Zanello to investigate the Rite. Zanello spoke favourably of the Rite, and the Pope gave a new approbation to it, requiring only to change the words of consecration to that of the Roman one. Spanish clergy gradually started to use the Roman words of institution (though there is no evidence whether or not it was done consistently).

When King Alfonso VI of Castile conquered Toledo in 1085, it was being disputed as to which rite Iberian Christians should follow: the Roman rite or Mozarabic Rite. After other ordeals, it was submitted to the trial by fire: one book for each rite was thrown into a fire. The Toledan book was little damaged whilst the Roman one was consumed; another version has both books survive–the Toledan book was unscathed while the Roman missal was ejected from the fire. Henry Jenner comments in the Catholic Encyclopedia:[3] "No one who has seen a Mozarabic manuscript with its extraordinarily solid vellum, will adopt any hypothesis of Divine Interposition here." The king allowed six parishes in the city to continue to use the Mozarabic rite.

Cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros (d. 1517) published in 1500 a Mozarabic missal, and two years later a breviary, both of which were formally approved by Pope Julius II. To perfect the presentation of the liturgy Jiménez interpolated elements of the Roman Rite as then used in Iberia, particularly the preliminary prayers for the Mass. He also instituted a chapel in the Cathedral of Toledo, with a college of thirteen priests to use the Roman Missal and Breviary. This continues to the present day, in spite of vicissitudes that included the killing of all the priests of the group in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War.

The texts prepared by Jiménez were republished at various times. The dawn of the twentieth century saw an intensification of studies of the rite and the publication of its manuscript sources. In response to the encouragement given by the Second Vatican Council in Sacrosanctum Concilium, 3-4 to renew other rites as well as the Roman, the Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo Marcelo González Martín set up a commission to revise the liturgical books of the Mozarabic rite. Between 1988 and 1995, the Missal (in two volumes), the Lectionary (also in two volumes), and a vernacular (Castilian) version of the Ordinary of the Mass appeared, with the required approval of the Spanish bishops conference and confirmation by the Holy See.

The Mozarabic Rite is celebrated daily in the Corpus Christi Chapel (also called the Mozarabic Chapel) in the Cathedral of Toledo. In Madrid, the Mozarabic Rite is celebrated in Spanish every Tuesday at a monastery of Poor Clare Sisters. Two of the original six "Mozarabic" parishes of Toledo remain and have about two hundred families in an association of those claiming historical observance of the Mozarabic Rite. Additionally, all the churches of Toledo annually celebrate this rite on the Mozarabic Feast of the Incarnation on December 18, and on the feast day of Saint Ildephonsus on January 23. The rite is also used on certain days each year in the Talavera Chapel of the Old Cathedral of Salamanca and less regularly in other cities in Spain. Pope John Paul II celebrated it once in 1992 and again in 2000.

Interior of the Cathedral of the Redeemer in Madrid, the only cathedral of the Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church. The church uses a version of Mozarabic liturgy.

The Mozarabic Rite has been of interest to non-Catholic communions as well. For example, in the 1880s the Anglican Communion examined the Mozarabic rite for ideas about making their own liturgy more inspiring, and at present the Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church employs it for the celebration of all sacraments.

The Spanish custom of Las arras, when the bridegroom gives his bride thirteen coins after exchanging vows, has its origins in the Mozarabic rite and is still practised in former Spanish colonies in Latin America and in the Philippines, as well as Hispanic Catholic parishes in the United States and Canada.

The oldest Western manuscript written on paper is the Mozarabic Missal of Silos, from the eleventh century.


Saint Isidoro and Saint Leandro Church, Lower East Side, New York. It belongs to the Orthodox Synod of Milan and uses Mozarabic liturgy.

The Mozarabic Rite Mass is longer in duration than that of the Roman Rite. Imagery and ceremony are used extensively. The Breviary has a short and uncomplicated extra office (session of prayer) before the main morning office.

The Mozarabic Rite was the first to use ashes within the liturgical celebrations of the Church. Ashes were used prior to the Mozarabic Rite, but this was done outside of liturgical events, e.g., marking people for penance.

Extensive use is made of responsories between the celebrant (priest) and faithful during the Mozarabic Mass, including during the Confiteor (prayer of confession of guilt for sin), which is quite different from that in the Roman Rite (Tridentine or post-Tridentine); though much of the preparatory prayers and other elements in the old Missal were borrowed from a Romano-Toledan Missal and is not originally part of the rite.[4]

Isidore of Seville in his writings made reference to the 'seven prayers' of the Mozarabic Mass. These are the seven major variable liturgical texts which constitute the essential prayer formulas said by the celebrant in the Mozarabic liturgy of the faithful, namely:

  1. The Oratio Missae or Prayer of the Mass,[5] an opening prayer making reference to the feast being celebrated and in general character much like the Roman Collect.
  2. The Prayer after the Names, said immediately after the recitation of the names of the faithful, living and dead, who are being prayed for.
  3. Prayer for Peace, said immediately before the kiss of peace.
  4. The Illatio corresponding to the Roman Preface and most frequently the longest part of the Mozarabic eucharistic prayer.
  5. The Post-Sanctus, the part of the Mozarabic eucharistic prayer connecting the Sanctus with the institution narrative.
  6. The Post-Pridie, the concluding portion of the eucharistic prayer including the anamnesis with its prayer of offering, the epiklesis, (when either or both of these are present) and the final doxology.
  7. The Lord's Prayer, with its variable introduction and fixed embolism and concluding clause.[6]

There was no fixed anaphora or Eucharistic prayer in the Mozarabic rite of Mass, which permitted a fair degree of extemporaneous flexibility. When the Mozarabic rite was given a new lease on life in 1500, the Roman words of institution, the key words that Jesus used at the Last Supper, were required. Originally, the Mozarabic words of institution were from St. Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians (11:24), with the formula for the consecration of the wine being a combination of 1 Corinthians 11:24, Luke 22:20, and Matthew 26:28. These were the words written on the (old) Mozarabic Missal, though the Roman formula was included as a footnote in the Missal and was used in actual practice in place of the old Spanish formula (note, however, that it was reinstituted by the modern Mozarabic Missal).

Some Eucharistic prayers are addressed to Christ[7] rather than to God the Father. After the consecration of the bread and wine (see Eucharist), as the Creed is being chanted,[8] the host (the real presence of Christ under the species of bread) is broken into nine pieces, each representing a facet of Christ's life on earth,[9] seven of which are arranged in a cross on the paten. After a variable introduction the Lord's Prayer was said by the celebrant alone, with everyone else responding "Amen" to each petition, except for the petition for daily bread, for which the response is "For you are God" and everyone concluding the final petition, "but deliver us from evil" with the celebrant.[10]

See also


  1. *Liturgy of the Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church (1954)
  2. For a good general overiew of the early period see, Mazza, E.: "The Eucharist in the First Four Centuries", in A.J. Chupungco (ed), "Handbook for Liturgical Studies. 3. The Eucharist", Collegville Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1999, pages 9-60.
  3. Mozarabic Rite, by Henry Jenner in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
  5. This prayer and the two which follow it, as well as the eucharistic prayer itself has the characteristic double ending of the Mozarabic liturgical prayers, i. e., after the main body of the prayer is said the faithful respond "Amen" and the concluding clause is then said to which again the faithful respond "Amen".
  6. The Lord's Prayer with its embolism and doxology conclude with a single "Amen", unlike most of the principal prayers of the priest in the Mozarabic rite.
  7. e.g., the famous Mozarabic Post-Sanctus petition: "Be present, be present, Jesus, the good high priest, in our midst as you were in the midst of your disciples and hal+low this oblation that we may take the things + sanctified by the hands of your holy angel, Holy Lord and everlasting Redeemer."
  8. At least on Sundays and Feasts.
  9. I.e., 1. Incarnation, 2. Nativity, 3. Circumcision, 4. Epiphany, 5. Passion, 6. Death, 7. Resurrection, 8. Glory, & 9. Kingdom.
  10. Non-Roman Latin or Western Rites


  • Western Latin Liturgics, [1]
  • Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, Catholic Information Network [2]
  • Celebrating Being Catholic, the National Association of Pastoral Musicians [3]
  • Dom Fernand Cabrol, The Mass of the Western Rites [4]
  • Mozarabic Rite Celebration at St. Peter's, Catholic World News [5]
  • The Occidental Liturgies, History of the Christian Church, Schaff [6]
  • Charles R. Hale, Mozarabic Collects Translated and Arranged from the Ancient Liturgy of the Spanish Church, (Preface), 1881 [7]
  • Abbot Cabrol, "The Excellence of the Roman Mass", The Angelus, February 2001, Vol. 26, No. 2 [8]
  • Rev. Bertrand de Margerie, S.J., Part 2 of Mary Coredemptrix In the Light of Patristics [9]
  • Fr. Paul Bombardier, To learn about Gregorian chant, check out these Web sites, [10]
  • Cardinal Ratzinger's speech on the Liturgy, Association for Latin Liturgy [11]
  • History of Ash Wednesday, [12]
  • St. Veremundus, [13]
  • Blog by Robert Gotcher: Classic Catholic [14]
  • Fr Stephen Shield, The Traditional Latin Rite in the Church Today, Latin Mass Society of England and Wales [15]
  • Primary Sources for Medieval Studies, Library University College Cork, Ireland (list of resources about liturgy and hagiography) [16]
  • United States Catholic Bishops, Committee on the Liturgy, In the February 2000 Newsletter [17]
  • The Rites of the Catholic Church [18]
  • Henry Jenner, Mozarabic Rite, Catholic Encyclopedia [19]
  • La Ermita (Spanish) [20]
  • Osés, Gutiérrez, & Redondo, Geografía e Historia de España y de los Países Hispánicos, Santillana, 1986.
  • H. S. Lee, The Mozarabic Rite, Catholic World, Vol. 49, No. 294, September 1889 [21]
  • Bat Ye'or, Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide, Fairleigh Dickenson University Press, ISBN 0-8386-3943-7
  • cf.

External links

Media of the Mozarabic Mass