The commemorations of the day were kept, as on other
feasts, by the use of extra collects, secrets and
postcommunios in the Mass. Basically, each Mass could
have 1, 3, 5 or 7 of each type of prayer. 1 symbolises
the unity of God; three the Trinity; five the wounds
and seven the gifts of the Spirit. No more than seven
were permitted, and there were always an odd number.
The first would be of the day, followed by the others
in the order given in the Kalendar. If another was
needed to make up the odd number, then one would be
chosen from the sequence of 'extras': for peace, for
the church, for the faithful departed, etc.
The custom in the English Uses was to have the
dialogue 'Dominus vobiscum' and response 'Et cum
spiritu tuo'; the invitation 'Oremus' followed, then
the first collect, given in full with conclusion and
'Amen'. 'Oremus' was again sung, then the remaining
collects strung together with a single conclusion and
'Amen' at the end of it all. The same pertained for
the secrets and postcommunios.
On some days extra Masses might also have been said in
side-chapels to commemorate 'additional' saints.
Not all of the saints posted here for the 25th would
have been commemorated everywhere; local saints and
those with particular relevance to religious orders
would have been included in local Kalendars only.
The Office is a little more complicated and tended to
vary a lot more from place to place. A common practice
was the use of 'memorias'. Essentially, a very
truncated version of each Office would be sung,
consisting only of an antiphon, a versicle and
response, and a collect. In each case the antiphon is
the one which would have been the Magnificat antiphon
had the feast ranked higher. Occasionaly more was
done; sometimes a 'mini-office' was expanded by the
addition of a Vesperal procession.
Breviary lections. Well, this depended heavily on the
ranking of the feast in question. Feasts which only
warranted a memoria (as above) were the most common
sort, and indeed, such are the ones which occur on
Postulating the 'what if' scenario is more difficult.
The probable solution would have been the one which
happened at other times of the year when feasts
A memoria would be sung at all Offices. At both
Vespers a procession would be taken to an altar or
chapel relevant to the 'extra' office, which would be
sung as a memoria there. Sometimes this even took
place during the office of the day occurring.
At Matins the lections of the First and Third Nocturns
would be sung 'of the day'; the second nocturn had the
lections of the coinciding feast day.
These two kinds of celebration were noted in Kalendars
as 'mem.' and 'med. lect.' respectively.
I know this is all rather if and but; liturgical
practice depended heavily on where you were, as the
local Uses pertained within diocesan boundaries.
However, it is worth noting that the only days in
liturgical books which outrank Christmas are the days
making up the Paschal Triduum. It is highly unlikely
that these would coincide with Christmas!
Hope this is enlightening. If not, please ask again!
--- "Ferzoco, G.P." <[log in to unmask]> wrote: >
> does anyone know how -- if at all -- 'minor' saints'
> feasts of 25 December
> would have been commemorated liturgically, if at
> all, in the Middle Ages?
> And if breviary lessons for saints whose feasts fell
> on 25 December were
> written, would these ever have taken precedence over
> that rather more famous
> celebration of the birth of Christ?
> Thanks for any advice or information you may be able
> to provide!
> Best wishes,
> George Ferzoco
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