Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Mozarabic Rite is a form of Catholic worship within the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. It dates principally to the 7th and 8th centuries, and is localized in the Iberian Peninsula (the Roman Hispania). Mozarab is the term for the Christian population living under Muslim rulers in Al-Andalus.

Mozarabic Rite Formation of early Catholic rites
The Arian Visigoths were driven from France and came south, converting to Catholicism in 587. The Catholic liturgical practice in Iberia prior to the Visigoths (and the Muslims) 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, 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 633, according to the wishes of that Council, gave the Hispanic rite its final form before the invasion of the Muslims.

Muslims in Iberia
As the Christians reconquered Iberia, the kings sought to establish links to Europe and the Papacy. They established the Way of Saint James for pilgrims and invited Roman-rite Catholics ("Franks") into Iberia, who established that rite in all liberated portions, a change that was met with "uprisings", such that the Mozarabic rite was permitted to be used in Toledo and Leon even after the Muslims had been expelled. 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 from an early date as well as around the general period of the East-West Schism; areas liberated after periods of conquest typically had the Roman rite installed — this was true for centuries in the East as well. Eventually the Mozarabic rite became a memorial service, as people grew to accept the Roman rite.

Christianity restored in Iberia
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 time (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.

Gallican, Mozarabic, and Roman rite connections
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.
When king Alfonso VI of Castile conquered Toledo in 1085, it was being disputed on whether Iberian Christians should follow the foreign Roman rite or the traditional 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 after the Roman one was consumed. Henry Jenner comments in the Catholic Encyclopedia: "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 then 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 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 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 Mass is celebrated daily in the Corpus Christi Chapel (also called the Mozarabic Chapel) in the Cathedral of Toledo. Two of the original six "Mozarabic" parishes of Toledo remain. Additionally, all the churches of Toledo annually celebrate this rite on the Feast of the Incarnation, December 18th, and on the feast day of San Ildefonso, January 23rd. 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 each of the years 1992 and 2000.
The Mozarabic rite has been of interest to non-Catholic communions as well. For example, in the 1880s the Anglican church examined the Mozarabic rite for ideas about making their own liturgy more inspiring.
The oldest Western manuscript written on paper is the Mozarabic Missal of Silos, from the eleventh century.

Preservation and relevance of the Mozarabic rite
The Mozarabic rite offers insight into how rites evolve within the Church. After the early period of persecutions came to an end, Christians began to develop more elaborate forms of worship, perhaps because it became possible to store and share rubrical ideas over time and geography, and because love for Christ inspired greater elaboration. Liturgical variety has always been assumed, by the Church, to be permissible in small details that do not touch upon articles of faith or morals. This variety is a natural result of the Church, i.e. the body of faithful, being in "a dialogue of love" with Jesus: this is how forms of worship are perceived by the Church — which can authoritatively, but not arbitrarily, "define and limit the usage of rites" (quotes from Ratzinger). G. S. Lee writes that the Church is always eager to "recognize the varying wants of her spiritual children, and to shape her devotional exercises in conformity to these". The needs of the Hispanic Christians, living as oppressed people minimally permitted to exercise their religion, were arguably greater than those of Christians living freely elsewhere. The Mozarabic liturgy is perhaps more communal than others, involving more responsories among priest and congregation. This rite was largely arranged prior to the Muslim invasion, but its character was perhaps of special help during that time. The Mozarabic rite is esteemed to be of great beauty and source of piety, which would have been sustenance to these Christians. The Council of Toledo affirmed it to be "a form of worship grateful to the people" and the Council of Mantua, 1067, declared it to be free of heresy and "also worthy of praise".

Character of Mozarabic rite

Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos