Liturgical Arts As Seen in Liturgical Patrimony: The Ancient Ambrosian Rite

We haven't had a photo post for some while, and as liturgical arts go, the rites and ceremonies of the liturgical patrimony of the Church are surely applicable. There is a poetry, dare I even say a theatre, to the liturgical patrimony of the Church. Some might use "theatre" in a diminutive and dismissive sense of course, but I rather think of it in the positive sense of a drama and a narrative that unfolds and which imparts meaning and draws one into its mysteries and truths.

One of our readers sent notice of the publication online of various manuals related to the ancient rites and ceremonies of the venerable Ambrosian rite. Books such as these are often a gold mine for potential historical photos -- and at least one of them was and the scans were of good enough quality to publish here.

The procession

The lighting of the faro -- lit on the feasts of martyrs in the Ambrosian rite

Incensation of the celebrant. This particular photo captures the majesty of the "liturgical synthesis" I have spoken of, whereby all the arts and ceremonies come together in an impressive whole. 

Gospel procession


Incensation of the altar. You will note the 'uncapped' thurible of the Ambrosian rite. An earlier form of the thurible depicted in various early Christian mosaics. 

Balance, harmony, order and symmetry

The liturgical patrimony of the church, while not always perfectly executed as any ceremoniere will attest, brings one out of the everyday and earthly and into the purview of the heavenly liturgy.

The blessing. It is worth taking note of this overall altar arrangement. The ciborium magnum and the altar itself with its cross and candles. One immediately calls to mind Geoffrey Webb's work, The Liturgical Altar when you see such fine specimens as this. 

These next photos come from the same published source, but show the celebration of Solemn Vespers in another Ambrosian church.

The readings and responsory

Prostration during the litany

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