4 August 2009


Tomorrow is the festival of the Dedication of the Roman basilica of S Mary, said to be the first Western church to be dedicated to our Lady (she tended to lose out in the dedication stakes because church buildings often took dedications from the martyrs or saints who might be buried in them. For some reason or other, nobody has ever even thought of forging relics of the Mother of God.) Its dedication occurred in the aftermath of the declaration in the Council of Ephesus that Mary is theotokos.

The new liturgy provides, for tomorrow, a collect which, in the preconciliar rite, was the collect for Assumption day. I plan to post on its history and theology tomorrow. For the time being, I suggest we treat its appearance on August 5 as a hint to prepare for Assumption day. I suggests it should put into our minds the propriety of keeping novenas in preparation for the Assumption. And the same collect is offered in the new rite as one of the options for the Saturday celebration of our Lady. My own custom is to use it on Saturdays and Marian votives between now and the Octave day of the Assumption.

Here is another suggestion which I offer to a limited constituency: those Anglicans with a gut anti-Romanism that expresses itself in flourishing little details of Byzantinism: "We're not Romanisers but we are traditional Christians and we do celebrate August 15 but we call it the Dormition." Remember: genuine Byzantines (and Oriental Christians) prepare for the Koimesesis by a fortnight''s fast in honour of our Lady. Do you? Put your belly where your rhetoric is!


Sue Sims said...

A small but significant correction: there were plenty of forged relics of Our Lady around - remember Chaucer's Pardoner, who's offering for sale a 'pilwe-beer' which he claims to be her veil? Many shrines claimed to have drops of her milk; Prato, in Tuscany, had her girdle - and so on.

However, your point is actually enhanced by these claims, since all of them are secondary relics: the disappearance of her mortal body is taken for granted throughout history.

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

Well said, Father :-)

This Orthodox mother follows the fortnight long Dormition Fast and also honours Our Blessed Mother by praying the Great and Little Paraklisis services asking her intercessions for us, as is the pious custom of our Church at this time in the Liturgical year.

Tes presvyas tou Theotokou, Soter, soson imas...........

Fr John Hunwicke said...

What an admirable pair of comments! Elizabeth's piece of Greek (by the prayers of the Mother of God save us O Saviour) is a perfect run-in to my subsequent piece on the Assumption Collects.