4 January 2016

The Five Wounds

Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo is the beginning of the psalmus of the Introit (Officium in Sarum terminology) of the Votive Mass of the Five Wounds of Jesus, now restored to our use in the Ordinariate Missal. This was one of the most popular Votives used in Medieval England ("drill into it" via the index of Duffy's Stripping of the Altars). Here is a translation of the introduction to it in the Sarum Missal:
"S Boniface the Pope was sick even unto death; and he urgently begged of God that his life in this world be prolonged. The Lord sent to him S Raphael the Archangel with the Office of the Mass of the Five Wounds of Christ, saying to the Pope:

'Get up and write this Office; and say it five times; and immediately you will receive your health. And whatever priest shall celebrate this Office five times for himself or another sick person, he shall receive health and grace, and in the future he will possess eternal life, if he perseveres in good. And in whatsoever tribulation a man shall be in this life, if he procures of a priest this Office to be read five times for himself, without doubt he will be set free. And if it is read for the soul of a Departed, immediately after it shall have been completely said, that is to say, five times, his soul will be loosed from pains ...

'Then Pope S Boniface confirmed the Office by Apostolic Authority, granting to all truly confessed and contrite, the seventh part of the remission of all their sins if they should have read it devoutly five times ..."

It was an enormously popular Mass among both clergy and laity (particularly when the latter were making wills). It was an alternative to saying requiems for the departed, who hoped to be saved by the Blood from those Wounds.

No reason why the custom should not revive. Particularly in the Ordinariates.


Anonymous said...


Please let us know where we can enroll for commemoration in your series of the five Votive masses you supposedly are going to read during this year.

Joshua said...

Dear Fr H.,

Did not, however, the Sacred Ecumenical Council of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the legates of the Apostolic See presiding, decree in its 22nd Session, that "They [the ordinary bishops of places] shall wholly banish from the Church the observance of a fixed number of certain masses and of candles, as being the invention of superstitious worship, rather than of true religion"? Moreover, I recall that thereby all sorts of combinations of Masses with attached promises were prohibited, other than the Gregorian Masses hallowed by tradition: so I fear that Sarum rubric falls foul of the Tridentine prohibition.

That said, I second Ansgerus - how do we get signed up for a memento in these Masses you are going to say, all superstition being removed?