Shrine of St. Frideswide, Christ Church Cathedral Oxford.

Monday, December 24, 2012

St. Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, 29 December. (Also known as Thomas of Canterbury)

Stained glass image of St. Thomas from Canterbury
     December 29 is the day on which one of England's most famous churchmen, Thomas of Canterbury, is remembered as the saint who stood up for the Church and was killed in the Cathedral Church of Christ at Canterbury. Thomas' actions leading up to his martyrdom are sometimes criticized as self-serving but all of these actions, and the martyrdom which surpassed them all, were and remain symbols of the Church's rightful position next to or above civil and secular authority in the world.
     Thomas was born into a Norman merchant family in London in around 1120. He was educated in a few monastic schools in London and spent some time in Paris before he returned to England to serve the Archbishop of Canterbury, Theobald of Bec, who was a Norman like Thomas and perhaps even related to him. Thomas was made the Archdeacon of Canterbury and held several ecclesiastical positions in Kent, the Cathedrals at London and Lincoln and even at the Yorkshire Benedictine Abbey at Beverly. His success as an administrator in these churches allowed him to become the Chancellor to King Henry II. During his time as chancellor, Thomas and Henry became close friends, and he for now, enjoyed the freedoms of a secular administrator. But after the death of Theobald, Henry nominated Thomas for Archbishop of Canterbury, the primate of all the Church in England,  thinking that as a friend Thomas would resolve the Church vs. State controversy by acknowledging Henry as his superior.
     On becoming Archbishop however, Thomas decided that his allegiance now lay directly and primarily with Christ and his Church. He also adopted a lifestyle of asceticism, wearing a hair shirt to mortify his skin and a black benedictine habit under his episcopal robes to symbolize humility and the vow of poverty. His first conflict with civil authority came at the Council of Clarendon, when Henry tried to take more control over the Church from Rome. Thomas refused to sign and was tried before the for not cooperating. In 1164, Thomas fled to France where he took sanctuary in the Cistercian Abbey of Pontigy in Picardy. Before his return in 1170, Henry tried to secure the succession of his son to the English throne by holding a coronation for him. Since Becket was not present, Henry allowed the Archbishop of York instead to crown the prince, which was traditionally a prerogative of the Archbishops of Canterbury. For this, Becket excommunicated York, the other bishops who attended the ceremony and a whole cast of candidates for privileged ecclesiastical offices who had taken to traveling with Henry. Finally after six  years of living as a monastic in exile,  Thomas was allowed to return to England. From Calais, he left for Canterbury in early December 1170. But Henry, while at Rouen, soon learned of the excommunications and, naturally infuriated by them, uttered that fateful phrase: "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?" as T.S Elliot wrote it. Meanwhile, Thomas preached a sermon on Christmas Day on Christian martyrdom which included a prediction that this would be his last sermon. On the 29th of December, four knights, who had been with the King at Rouen, arrived at the Palace of the Archbishop in Canterbury. Thomas was leaving with his attendant to go to vespers in the Cathedral. He was pursued through the cloister  but turned to face his murderers at a pier near the entrance of the chapel of St. Benedict. The knights demanded that he renounced the excommunications or come with them out of the Church. Thomas refused to do either and held fast to the pier while one of the knights tried to drag him out. Another knight struck him on the head and after falling to his knees where he received two more blows, saying "I  commend my soul to Christ and the Church." The tomb began to attract pilgrims immediately and hundreds of miracles were recorded. He was canonized just three years later and in 1174, Henry II did penitence there, receiving three blows from each of the eighty monks of Canterbury. His relics were translated into a new shrine in 1220 under Archbishop Langton into the chapel behind the high alter. The shrine remained there until 1538, when Henry VIII had it demolished and Thomas proclaimed a rebel in an effort to eliminate all vestiges of papal power in England.
The Place of Martyrdom in Canterbury Cathedral. The metal swords and cross                                                                  make a great memorial though the small altar is a bit of a let down.
     As says a booklet from Canterbury Cathedral, now the mother-Church of the Anglican Communion and still a place of pilgrimage for those who "seek the holy blissful martyr quick" (from Chaucer), "there is a law higher than the will of worldly princes, and that secular tyranny, in God's name, be resisted even unto death." By his example in martyrdom, Thomas shows that to protect the Church and its faith, martyrdom may even come by the hand of another Christian. Like Thomas, it is essential that all priests, especially bishops, must guard the traditional and continuing mission and faith of the Church perhaps even to other bishops. There are bishops in the Anglican and the Roman Churches who believe that the faith is too 'medieval' for modern Christians, and that the Church should be stripped of its faith to become a sort of moral, community force without borders. That is the very act of abandonment of Christ's mission to us, his Church. So, like St. Thomas of Canterbury, every archbishop, bishop, priest and layperson must stick fast to the Church and to its faith even if it means to be shunned, to be scolded, to be mocked, to be insulted, and yes, to be martyred. There is nothing more precious than the blood which is the love which Christ shed for us and we must be willing to shed that blood also for the love of Christ and his Church.
The Martyrdom on the tomb of Henry IV of Lancaster.
O God, our strength and our salvation, who didst call thy servant Thomas Becket to be a shepherd of thy people and a defender of thy Church: Keep thy household from all evil and raise up among us faithful pastors and leaders who are wise in the ways of the Gospel and who are willing to serve your holy Church even unto death; through our Lord Jesus Christ the Shepherd of our souls who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen.
Canterbury Cathedral high altar. Behind is where Thomas's shrine stood.

An artist's interpretation of the shrine of St. Thomas.
Pilgrim's badge depicting the shrine.
The Shrine of St. Thomas at Canterbury. 
     As the most popular pilgrimage site in England and in much of northern Europe, the shrine of St. Thomas at Canterbury became one of the most lavishly decorated shrines in Christendom. When the Cathedral was rebuilt after the fire of 1174, the east end was designed with the tomb in mind. Behind the high altar steps were built up into a sort of second chancel which formed a smaller gothic apse. Pilgrims could pass the quire and the altar and ascend into the apse to circumnavigate the shrine which was built in the center of the apse. The shrine itself was a typical English one in structure. The golden reliquary-coffin which contained the body of St. Thomas rested on raised arches into which pilgrims could crawl to be closer to the relics. Over the reliquary was another lid, in the same shape as the reliquary and draped in precious cloths. This could be lowered and raised to allow pilgrims to view the reliquary and to protect the precious shrine from thieves. Over most of the ensemble there was a golden net upon which the gifts of any pilgrims from smaller relics to jewelry to ex-votos were hung. At the foot of the shrine was an altar and around the shrine were large, free-standing candlesticks. This kind of 'table'shrine was very popular in England and can still be seen with the shrine of St. Frideswide at Oxford, St. Alban, St. Thomas Cantilupe at Worcester and St. Edward at Westminster. In around the year 1500, a Venetian pilgrim left this account of the shrine: 

“The tomb of St. Thomas the Martyr, Archbishop of Canterbury, exceeds all belief.  Notwithstanding its great size it is all covered with plates of pure gold ; yet the gold is scarcely seen because it is covered with various precious stones, as sapphires, ballasses, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds ; and wherever the eye turns, something more beautiful than the rest is observed, Nor, in addition to these natural beauties, is the skill of art wanting ; for in the midst of the gold are the most beautiful sculptured gems, both small and large, as well as cameos ; and some cameos are of such a size that I am afraid to name it ; but everything is far surpassed by a ruby, not larger than a thumb nail, which is fixed at the right of the altar.  The church is somewhat dark, and particularly in the spot where the shrine is placed ; and when we went to see it the sun was near setting, and the weather was cloudy : nevertheless, I saw that ruby as if I had it in my hand. They say it was given by a king of France.”

Canterbury Cathedral, which already hosted the shrines of many saintly Anglo-Saxon archbishops, was turned wholly into a church built for pilgrims. St. Thomas's shrine was the most important part, but like the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem there were many other altars and shrine's associated with Becket. 
The following is a list of the various shrines in Canterbury associated with Thomas and the offerings made at them on April 18th, 1303. Each of these were relics associated with Becket's martyrdom (It was common atin English Cathedrals to build a separate shrine for the saint's head as it was at Lincoln with St. Hugh, Lichfield with St. Chad, and at Croyland Abbey with St. Guthlac). Becket's crown (of his head), which was struck of when he was killed, was kept in a part of the Cathedral called 'Becket's Crown,' a chapel at the extreme east end which is circular in shape. 

"At the Shrine of S. Thomas the Martyr, one brooch of gold.
At the same shrine in money . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7s.
At the Head of the same saint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . 7s.
At the Point of the Sword whereby the same saint
     underwent his martyrdom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7s.
At the Cloak of the same saint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7s.
At the Tomb of the same saint in the vault . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7s."
-From J. Charles Wall's Shrines of the British Saints

As Becket became an 'international saint,' there are images of him and his marytrdom all over Europe, here are some of my favorites: 
Some vestments worn by Thomas at Sens Cathedral.
Boss in Norwich Cathedral 
Sens Cathedral, the burial.
The Martyrdom in Bayeux Cathedral. 

The Martyrdom on a Limoges reliquary. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

St. Dominic of Silos, 20 December. (Santo Domingo de Silos)

St. Dominic depicted in the robes of a mitered abbot. 
     Santo Domingo de Silos, as he is called in the Spanish language, was born in the rural town of Canas in Castille around the beginning of the 11th century. He was a shepherd for much his childhood and his family was part of the Spanish peasant class, which endured some of the worst conditions of all of Europe's lower classes. His career is all the more remarkable in light of his humble birth. While still young, he entered the benedictine abbey at La Rioja, called San Millan. There he eventually became Prior but was deposed by the King of Navarre, Garcia III, when he refused to allow the confiscation of some of the Priory's land. A refugee of that northern Spanish kingdom, Dominic won the patronage of King Ferdinand I of Leon, who placed him as the Abbot of the Abbey at Silos, where only six brothers lived in its ruinous state. Dominic gradually rebuilt the monastery, increasing the number of brothers, and establishing a library and scriptorium and thus, increasing its reputation, especially as a center for the Mozarabic Liturgy, the rite of the ancient Visigoth Church. Remembering his humble origins, much of the new wealth of the Abbey at Silos was used to free Christian slaves from the Muslim Moors, who occupied almost the entire southern half of Spain in the 11th century, territory which, previous to Moorish control, was Christian. Dominic died on this day in 1073. Three years later, his relics were translated into the Abbey Church where they became the center of his cult and where, in 1170, Joan of Aza, prayed for a child, promising to name him Dominic-who would became the famous Spanish saint and founder of the Dominican Order of Preachers. Dominic of Silos is venerated in both the Roman and Anglican Churches.

     Dominic became the head of a dying church. But with a combination of liturgical and historical studies, charity for Christian neighbors and the insistence of the importance of the monastery's involvement and prominence, and that of the greater Church in general, in secular society. His life and works remain significant to the  modern church as a model to rebuild redundant churches and establish new ones as centers of ecclesiastical liturgy and study, and as dispensers of charity might which could bring the church back to its position as a center of public devotion and relief.

The romanesque, 'double decker' cloister of the Abbey. 

The Abbey, in Leon, Spain, actually dates to the Visigothic Church of the 7th century. The Abbey remained a center of the Mozarabic Rite after the death of St. Dominic although, like rest of the Church, except for the Archdiocese of Milan, it eventually switched to the  Latin Rite. As monasticism has had little part in the core of the Roman Catholic Church for sometime, Silos seems to have begun to disintegrate again in the 19th century, when it sold many of the manuscripts from its library. Since then, the monastery has rejuvenated itself as a center of Gregorian Chant, for which it is known world wide....St. Dominic's mission continues.

Chant from the Mozarabic Antiphonary of the Abbey.

One of the Abbey's many recordings of Gregorian Chant: Puer Natus in Bethlehem.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

St. John of The Cross, 14 December.

     John of the Cross was born into a poor Jewish family, similar to his contemporary and co-founder  St. Teresa of Avila, in the 1540s near the Town of Avila in Castille, Spain. For the first part of his life, John studied in colleges and universities, including that of Salamanca, across Spain and became an acclaimed scholar before he met the humble Teresa at Avila in 1567. The two saints began the beginning of a movement that would see the foundation of reformed Carmelite houses all over Spain and that sought a more personal, contemplative, and humble relationship with Christ when they made the journey from Avila to Valladolid to found a new house in 1568. In the path of the nun and friar lay an old argument within the Carmelite order in Spain which forbid each side from establishing houses in the territory of the other. John and Teresa founded several houses in the region called Andalusia, in southern Spain, where the 'calced' or 'observant' Carmelites, who rejected the reforms of Teresa's 'discalced' order and the disagreement was settled but only after John spent some time in a Spanish prison. John had many layers within his character. He was very wise and acted not only as the prior of many Carmelite friaries but also acted as a spiritual director to several of Teresa's nunneries. Many of the treatises and teachings of his come from his instruction to these nuns and to his own friars but also from his time in prison, where he composed and memorized poetry which he later set down in writing. He was extremely pious, especially in his devotion to the celebration of the mass. Though learned, he was approachable by any person of any status and in fact had a special affection for the poor and so earned the title: "patron of the afflicted." After he died on December 14, 1591 at 49 years old, he was buried in one of  his friaries at Segovia. For his humility, devotion, charity to the dispossessed, and deep knowledge and teacher of the love of God, he is venerated as a saint in both the Roman and Anglican Churches.

     John's perseverance in remaining entrenched in his and Teresa's movement back towards religious humility is the same quality of the martyrs. The Church today must resist accusations from secular society that it is arcane and too narrow-minded for modern society with an answer in the form of St. John of the Cross: humility and charity, comfort and affection for the dispossessed is neither arcane nor narrow minded. St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa are examples of what the Church stands action as well as belief. The Church needs to re-strengthen its relationship with society, Christ's relationship with society, by reviving its St. Johns; its purpose wholly dedicated to the bearing of the cross for the good of the world.

Almighty God, the judge of all, who gave your servant John of the Cross a warmth of nature, a strength of purpose and a mystical faith that sustained him even in the darkness: shed your light on all who love you and grant them union of body and soul and the same courage to take up the task of bearing the cross of your Son, Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, One God, forever and ever. Amen 

The Virgin of Mt. Carmel with Sts. Teresa and John of the Cross

Friday, December 14, 2012

St. Drostan of Deer, 15 December

Speaking of monastic saints...

St. Drostan was a disciple of St. Columba on his missions through the Kingdom of the Picts in the 6th century. He established a monastery at Deer, which is now called by the related name Aberdour (or Inchcolm), which became the most important Church in that part of Scotland where it secured Christianity. Of this monastery, which fell into decay in periods but held religious communities until the Reformation in the 1500s, Drostan was abbot and perhaps also bishop, as many Celtic abbots were, and probably received a lot of royal support for it because of its proximity to the Pictish capital of Craig Phadrig, near Inverness. Towards the end of his life he left his abbey in the hands of the next abbot and became a hermit in the Scottish Highlands where he continued to preach to and give relief to the poor.

Anyhow, Drostan's abbey at Deer was instrumental in establishing churches and securing Christianity in the Moray-Grampians area. Thus, Drostan's Abbey, which was the mother of so many Christian churches in Eastern Scotland, was itself a daughter of Iona, the mother-house of all Scottish Churches (except for Whithorn), and of Iona it could be said, since it was established by St. Columba, was daughter to Clonard Abbey in Ireland and so forth. The seeds of missionary monasticism grew quickly and spread Gospel in the British Isles quickly once they were planted. It is the same today. With modern St. Finnians (teacher to Columba), we can have more St. Columbas. And with more St. Columbas we can have many more St. Drostans: many more churches and cathedrals filled: many more people comforted by the presence of Christ.

Above: St. John the Evangelist and the first chapter of his Gospel "In Principia erat Verbum" from the Book of Deer, a Celtic gospel book illuminated at St. Drostan's monastery.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Early Medieval Monasticism and the revival of the Church.

St. Ninian at Whithorn
St. Columba and his monks land on Iona.
     If the Church, is ever to once again be the center of attention for communities and to stay that way, then it will have to look back towards the methods it used to spread Christianity when it did completely dominate society. I do not mean the methods of the inquisition or of other ecclesiastical courts of the later Middle Ages but the monastic missionaries of the 6th, 7th or 8th centuries, who often brought people Christianity not by force but by comfort.

     The parish system of today’s Church is a system that was designed not to expand Christianity but to maintain it. (Originally it is derived from the system of local churches established around the diocese of Tours by St. Martin the the 5th century to keep the converted pagans Christian.) The fact that parish Churches have lost many members shows that the parish system has been unable to maintain Christianity and that the Church needs to revert back to a system of evangelization. I think that the answer to rebuilding the Church lies in the revival of monastic missionaries, whose duty it is,  not to meditate within the walls of great abbey churches, but to establish themselves in small communities everywhere, and draw people into the parish churches. The way that the islands of Great Britian and Ireland, Frisia and Germany were turned Christian in just a couple centuries was by the establishment of monasteries. St. Patrick began the conversion of Ireland by the establishment of semi-monastic colleges of bishops in the 5th century. St. Comgall and St. Coemgan strengthened Christianity there by establishing monasteries based on the abbey of St. Martin at Whithorn in Galloway, established by St. Ninian. St. Columba began the conversion of the Picts with the establishment of Iona Abbey, St. Boniface the same for the Germans at Fulda, St. Augustine for the English at Canterbury, St. Aidan the Northumbrians at Lindisfarne, St. Piran in Cornwall, St. Wilfred at Echternach and the list goes on. If the Church is to bring Christianity to as many people and communities as these saints did then it must revive the same methods that they used.

     My idea for a revival of missionary monasticism includes a model where the order would draw members from the dispossessed; the poor, the homeless, the lonely, the addicted, the unemployed or those who are looking for new meaning in their life...of course anybody could join the order. The order would educate new members in monasteries before they took either term (a period of a few years like a service commitment) or life vows. The 'monasteries' would probably be parish churches that provided for the relatively comfortable shelter of the brothers and sisters, who during the day would go out into the community to help people in any way from acting as nurses, to musicians, to after-school care, to parish-based charity-anything for the good of the community. All of the work would be in the name of Christ and the members would make sure the people who they helped knew this and would provide additional instruction in the be overseen by the local parish priest or local priors and prioresses. The monasteries where new members would be educated would not be associated with parishes but would be their own institutions, designed for the very purpose of educating candidates for religious orders in the Anglican faith, and then sending them to various places to help communities and draw members into the comfort of Christ. The order would hope to eventually begin to establish its own parishes, where small 'colleges' of brothers and sisters were based (somewhat like civic chantry chapels) and could begin new congregations by drawing the people they helped to the chapels where the order lived...previous houses or apartments.

     Contemplative monastic orders have given a lot of meaning to devoted individuals during and after the Middle Ages, but while so much of society has, as many of these early saints might have said, "relapsed into paganism"(though deism or atheism would be more appropriate for today), those who want to dedicate their lives to God's work rework their monastic rules around the spreading and strengthening of Christianity in specific communities.

     The point here is that such an order would provide for the comfort and betterment of people's lives where ever it was established, and that it would renew the Church's mission to continue to spread the blessing of Christ in new places and to make it stronger in the places where it already is. 

     If Christianity is ever to bee as meaningful to people and to whole communities as it was under the leadership and successors of these early saints, then the Church needs to revive their methods and zeal in spreading the faith so that the Church, which is the Body of Christ, can reach out to, comfort, aid and included as many people in as many places as possible. 

Almighty God, for love of your Son Jesus Christ, alight in us the missionary zeal of the ancient saints, who dedicated their lives to the spreading of your comforting word, so that the Church, which is the Body of Our Savior, can revive its holy mission in all places and among all peoples in this world, in the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

St. Ambrose of Milan, 7 December, and the Ambrosian Rite and Liturgy.

St. Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan.
     St. Ambrose lived in the 4th century A.D. and was, before he became Archbishop of Milan, the Roman Governor of Aemilia and Liguria, a province of what is now Lombardy with the capitol at Milan. Upon the death of the Arian bishop of Milan, Ambrose went to the council of bishops who were to elect the new archbishop to prevent conflict but found himself instead as elected to take that office, which he humbly accepted. Ambrose allotted all his wealth to the poor except for some which he reserved for his sister, as did St. Anthony the Great when he entered the desert of Egypt to become a hermit. He is similar to St. Hugh of Lincoln in his lifestyle as bishop where he practiced humility and asceticism in one of the highest and most public offices in the Roman empire. Also as a precursor for later medieval saint-bishops such as Hugh or Thomas Becket, he came into great conflict with the Roman Emperors and other secular authorities through his suppression of the Arian heresy. The Arians were still at large in the 4th century and demanded the right to worship in some of Milan's greatest Churches, which Ambrose refused, incurring the anger of the Emperor Valentinian, whose wife was an acclaimed Arian. He also excommunicated the Emperor Theodosius after massacres in Greece. Throughout his episcopate, Ambrose was staunch in maintaining the true faith of the Nicene Creed and the practice of Christian Charity and mercy. He died in 395 and is buried in the Basilica of St. Ambrogio in Milan.
As one of the first 'Doctors of the Church,' Ambrose is remembered as a great hymnist, liturgist, and theologian as St. Augustine of Hippo was his greatest student. Many of his works survive and among his most prevalent focuses are human sin, ethics,  and divine grace, but his writings also influenced the growing importance of the sacraments of of specific doctrines of the Church. He influenced liturgy through music and through the composition of the rite. As a hymnist, he composed a form of chant now honored to him as Ambrosian Chant which involves a chanted dialogue between the officiant of the office and the congregation and is still used in the Archdiocese of Milan. He, like the writers and composers St. Jerome or Gregory the Great, is often depicted in a scriptorium. At one point as Archbishop, Ambrose got into an argument with Churchmen in Rome about Milan's distinct liturgy from the Roman Rite. He resolved that when ever he went to Rome he would use their customes but in Milan he would keep practicine the Ambrosian Rite. His decision is purpetuated in a common saying which survive today when he wrote in a letter "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."
     The example of Ambrose as a Church figure involved in every aspect of the Church's and its members lives is important in a world that is constantly growing more secular. Although many believe that no religion should have any official place in government this does not mean that archbishops, bishops, and priests should remain un-involved and unspoken. They should by no means attach themselves to a political party...but the Church should make itself known through public outcry and involvement that it is a body of citizens whose beliefs will not allow for certain trespasses of the state to be acceptable. Ambrose's deep influence in regional liturgy and music also shows that priests and bishops should look towards the perfection of a liturgy that will best satisfy the devotion of the Church's members.
     Most importantly, the careful guardianship of the faith by Ambrose against rogue bishops in the church who upheld the Arian heresy, shows us the importance of preserving the faith, especially when it is assaulted by our own bishops, our successors to the apostles, and other forces from within the Church. The faith in Christ-of the one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church- is the only real treasure. It must be protected from people in the church who deny the faith and its leaders and members must continue to fulfill its eternal bring Christ, to bring the Church, to as many people in the world for their comfort from the knowlage that Christ is Our Savior...from everything that could challenge our happiness in this world and the next.

The Ambrosian Rite and Liturgy.
     The Ambrosian Rite is the only non-Roman Rite liturgy that is allowed to be used in any diocese of the Roman Catholic Church except for the Gallician Rite, which can only be used in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain on the Feast fo St. James, 25 July, who is buried there. It is the main use of the parishes in the Archdioces of Milan, where Ambrose was bishop. The rite could be described as more byzantine than the roman rite in its arrangement of the Mass and the Divine Offices  and even the liturgical calendar. Perhaps most remarkably, the services of Holy Week are distincly different from any other latin rite, and both the seasons of Lent and Advent are longer than the ususal Roman observance. Ambrosian Chant, which is distinct from Gregorian Chant, is Gallo-Roman in nature, more similar to the Mozarabic Chant of Spain or the chant used in Gaul. The Ambrosian Chant often calls for a treble (boys choir) section. The chant also includes  a part for the congregation, who is supposed to join in the chant both at Mass and at daily offices, esspecially in the singing of the psalms. The Basilica of St. Ambrogio in Milan is known to use the Ambrosian Chants and Rite regularly.

O God, who gave your servant Ambrose grace eloquently to proclaim your righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honor of your Name: Mercifully grant to all bishops and pastors such excellence in preaching and faithfulness in ministering your Word, that your people may be partakers with them of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Ambrosian chant - Alleluia. Hodie in Bethlehem puer natus est.

The Gospel Alleluia from the Ambrosian Rite in Milan Cathedral.

Preces and responses in the Ambrosian Rite in the Basilica of S. Ambrogio, Milan, where St. Ambrose is buried. The church seems to be the most well known for its use of the rite.