medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

On thing I feel we didn't explore in sufficient depth in our Experience of 
Worship project on medieval liturgies in practice was this question of valid 
consecration - the 'priest' was actually an Anglican canon. When he 
celebrated the Mass in the Sarum liturgy, in that church, on a medieval 
altar, what was he actually doing? (in his own eyes and in those of other 

Dear Maddy,

I attended a session at IMC Leeds this year where this project was described 
and discussed.

IIRC - and I didn't take notes - the Anglican clergy who were behind the 
project were determined to celebrate a "real" Mass and not just a historical 
re-enactment. Therefore they chose to use an English liturgy that was 
carefully dated to the reign of Henry VIII, during the period when the Latin 
Mass had been replaced by an English one but before the final breach with 
Rome. Thus they felt that they were doing something that was valid in both 
the pre-Reformation AND in the Reformed tradition. Remember that Anglican 
Orders see themselves as part of an unbroken Apostolic Succession.

So in answer to your question, the celebrants believed that they were doing 
something valid, genuine and pleasing to God.

However, I also seem to remember the speaker also saying that the elements 
offered *to the congregation* (who were mostly but not all Anglicans)  were 
from a reserved sacrament previously consecrated according to the 
contemprary Anglican liturgy (probably Common Worship not Book of Common 
Prayer) just in case anyone of them had scruples.

I have to admit I was a bit uneasy about the project, wondering if (whatever 
the intentions) a "real" Mass would not border on the blasphemous. 
Interstingly enough, I shared my feelings with the woman sitting next to me 
(she turned out to be the wife of a C of E vicar) and she had been very 
concerned that the Mass should be the "real thing" and would have been 
deeply offended by a re-enactment.

So different people from similar backgrounds responded in very different 

I am sorry if this is a bit untechnical, but I hope it is clear enough that 
the celebrants on that occasion were performing in good faith and that the 
congregation accepted this in the same spirit.


Brenda M Cook,
Independent Scholar

"I care not if you bridge the sea,
Or ride secure the cruel sky,
Or build consummate palaces,
Of metal or of masonry;

But have you wine and music still,
And statues, and a bright-eyed love,
And foolish thoughts of good and ill,
And prayers to them who sit above ?"

James Elroy Flecker: "To a poet a thousand years hence." (1915)

To join the list, send the message: join medieval-religion YOUR NAME
to: [log in to unmask]
To send a message to the list, address it to:
[log in to unmask]
To leave the list, send the message: leave medieval-religion
to: [log in to unmask]
In order to report problems or to contact the list's owners, write to:
[log in to unmask]
For further information, visit our web site: