Ceremonial Variations of the Solemn Mass in the Rite of Lyon

We are very fortunate in our time to be seeing the revival not only of the ancient form of the Roman rite, but also the revival of some of the other Western rites and uses, be they of the religious orders or be they of certain venerable sees, such as Milan, or more recently, Lyon.

Lyon is our focus for today, for recently for the feast of Saint Irénée, the FSSP apostolate in that city hosted their first ever solemn Mass in the rite of Lyon (to date, their celebrations of this rite had been in its non-solemn form).

A number of photos were taken of the Mass and it seemed to be a good opportunity to key in to some of those photos which show some of the ceremonial variations of the rite. (In that regard, this is not intended to be a detailed, chronological exposition of all that this venerable rite has to offer; merely a contextual explanation of some of what is seen within the photos.)

That in mind, we will look at this in two parts. First, we will consider some of the unique ornaments, or paraments, of the Lyonese rite, and second we will consider some of the unique ceremonial variations of the same.

With that in mind, let's begin with the ornaments.

I. Ornaments / Paraments

In the rite of Lyon, many of these elements are dictated by the level of the particular feast being celebrated. For example, on ordinary ferias and simple feasts, the deacon and subdeacon would only assist in alb and maniple (as well as stole for the deacon) whereas for greater solemnities, they vest as you see in the photos here: in dalmatic and tunicle.  (What's more, there could be additional "induti" deacons and subdeacons on these greater feasts, the number of which would depend on the particular solemnity of the feast).

At the solemn Mass, the deacon and subdeacon wear the "colletin" -- an ornamental collar that is derived from the apparelled amice, similar to the Ambrosian cappino and Spanish collarin.



On greater feasts, an acolyte assists with a candle and wears an alb and cincture (something seen worn by other sacred ministers at other times in the Lyonese rite as well):


It was the also the custom in Lyon (a custom still seen in Spain and her traditional colonial territories) that on solemn feasts the acolytes would wear tunicles, but by the later part of the 17th century this evolved in Lyon into simply wearing an ornamental orphrey (orfroi) over the alb, along with cuffs:



The intent here is simply that while a tunicle is no longer worn, the distinctive decorative detail of the tunicle (its orphrey) is. Other ministers would wear the same at other liturgical times (e.g. the thurifer would wear the orfoi at Solemn Lauds and Vespers, while others, such as the crucifer would wear it at other times).  The orfroi is to be in the same liturgical colour as the vestments of the day. As for the cuffs, while they are reminiscent of the ornamental cuffs of the medieval alb, Archdale King notes that these are "in fact a further survival of the old tunicle."

II. Ceremonial

Moving on to ceremonial considerations, after the entrance procession, the subdeacon(s) of the Mass occupies the lower stall of the choir until the Gloria while the priest and deacon perform the prayers at the foot of the altar;




As in other rites, such as the Dominican rite, the acolytes place their candles at the base of the steps of the altar. The acolytes remain and stand in the middle of the choir, arms crossed over their breasts, right arm over left:



Set upon the altar on a cushion is the textus -- the book of the epistles and gospels.  This, along with the altar, is kissed by the celebrant at the beginning of the Mass.


After the Gloria. the subdeacon takes the textus from its place on the altar, kisses the shoulder of the celebrant, proceeds to his stall in the choir and, seated, chants the epistle (if there is an induti subdeacon, that subdeacon would hold the book for the subdeacon upon its cushion; such is not the case here however as there were no induti):


In a similar fashion, this cushion, along with the gospel book itself, is held by the subdeacon while the gospel is chanted by the deacon:


Moving along to the Mass of the Faithful, just a few points of note coming from the photographs that have been provided.

First, the subdeacons brings the sacred vessels to the deacon, who in turn brings them to the celebrant. Shown here is the subdeacon bringing the chalice to the deacon;


Seen here are the gifts are covered with the corporal:


The deacon censes around the altar in the rite of Lyon using the full length of the chain of the thurible:


Not directly visible here, but from the point of the offertory until the Pater Noster, the subdeacon stands behind the high altar (instead of on the steps of the altar as in the Roman rite) and holds the paten in his maniple (and not within a humeral veil as in the Roman rite).


And, as is well enough known already, as in many other Western rites the priest extends his arms in cruciform fashion at the unde et memores.


Finally, a word should be said about the credence in the rite of Lyon, which comes in the form of a small altar, found directly behind the high altar itself:


As noted at the beginning of the article, this is not an exhaustive explanation of all of the ceremonial variations that can be found in the rite of Lyon, but it is my hope that this brief explanation of some of these photos will help to demonstrate the great richness of the Church's liturgical tradition.

Congratulations go out to the FSSP in Lyon for their committment to the revival of the broader liturgical patrimony of the Western church.

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