Last spring, we were invited to contribute to a special issue of the journal Religions on Liturgical Formation, Culture, and Christian Imagination with a methodological study. The essay has just appeared. It serves as an introduction to our vision of historical comparative liturgics and its technicalities for a non-specialist audience from the field of religious studies and cultural history in general. We especially recommend it to those who do not want to bother with the details of textual analysis but want to understand why and how liturgical variation can be interpreted in terms of geography, time, and cultural relations. For more, please read the abstract below and the whole study which is openly accessible.
Apropos of Spanish or Languedocien elements manifest in the late 13th-century Durandus Pontifical, this study explores the relationship between high medieval ritual and identity formation. It introduces the notion of liturgical use, an inclusive term for the body of customs that determined the way ceremonies were performed by lasting communities with a sense of belonging together. The primary challenge of comparing uses lies in selecting and systematizing the relevant information and interpreting the results. The authors argue that this challenge can be met by reducing the evidence to textual items and positions that lend themselves to large-scale comparative analysis in both time and space. As the main methodological contribution, they introduce the principle of mapping and drawing historical and cultural conclusions from geographical patterns. By summarizing a decade of careful research into thousands of sources accomplished by the team of the Usuarium database, they present four historical layers of medieval liturgical history, termed formative periods, and outline convergent geographical areas that they call liturgical landscapes. Since data on a lower level rarely correspond to smaller contiguous areas, they interpret the phenomenon called artificial diversity through medieval concepts of regionality and cultural transfer, formulating some thought experiments to understand the ways in which a Europe of uses once functioned.Improvement history
The Digital Collection of Sources for the Research Group of Liturgical History (henceforth: Collection) is a part of the Centre for the Study of Religion at Eötvös Loránd University’s Faculty of Humanities, and it is in the care of the said research group.
The purchase of the elements of this growing collection was made possible first by the OTKA (Hungarian Scientific Research Fund Programmes) project numbered K 78680 (Középkori pontifikálék Magyarországon, that is Medieval Pontificals in Hungary) then by the project numbered K 109058 (A nyugati liturgia változatainak kutatása, that is Study of the Variants of the Western Liturgy), and currently by the Lendület (Momentum) Programme of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Hungarian Middle-Ages in its European Context: A comprehensive analysis of the first service books, LP 2018-14/2018).
The long-term goal of the Collection is to provide a representative sample of the mediaeval variants of Western liturgy extending to every type of ceremony. Since this would amount to an almost unmanageable amount of material, from time to time different areas of interest will be emphasised. In any case, we shall aim for an ever more complete and proportionate geographical coverage of the Western liturgical family. In the present phase of our research we lay special emphasis on the following categories:
Our primary interest is invested in the liturgical Uses of cathedrals, abbeys and centralised religious orders, including their mutual relationships. We hypothesize that these Uses, despite their varying degrees of modification, are historically continuous insofar as they deliberately and persistently maintained their defining features. Our methodological premise is that the accurate description and comparative analysis of these Uses can only be achieved by means of a so-called inverse chronology. This means that the scarcely documented early phases of these Uses have to be approached and examined from the perspective of their mature, well-defined state. Consequently, the liturgical incunabula of the 15th and 16th centuries are highly valued, and we endeavour to make an all-inclusive collection of such. These sources have four distinct advantages:
The second group of preference includes manuscripts of an identifiable and representative character. These will help to illustrate the historical depth of the printed source material and through their analysis we can determine whether the specific features identified in our printed sources can be traced back to earlier ages, and if yes, exactly to which time period. For this purpose, we collect manuscripts that are older than the printed sources (at least from the 14th century) and represent the typical liturgy of a cathedral, monastery or religious order. If there are no printed sources available for a particular cathedral, we also collect later manuscripts (whose identity and pertinence can be ascertained). On the other hand, non-central, provincial sources or books whose origin is doubtful or debatable shall not be considered. We expect that mapping out cathedral Uses will enable us to create a typological net which in turn will help to interpret and categorise the remaining sources.
In terms of liturgical analysis, the least accessible material is made up of ceremonies outside of the Mass and the Divine Office because they are very divergent ceremonially, textually, melodically and also structurally. At the same time, their source material is more limited, some of their ceremonies are more transparent than the complex annual cycle of the Mass or Divine Office. Hence the present phase of our research focuses on the sources that belong to the category of Pontificals and Rituals, in the hope that based on the analysis of the ceremonies included in these sources, we shall be able to form a more accurate picture of the typology of liturgical Uses. This will assist us effectively—at least as a strong foundation—when we turn our attention to the Mass and the Divine office. We consider Missals as being on a par with Pontificals and Rituals but not as sources for the actual liturgy of the Mass but as relevant sources for certain Ordos that are—in this regard—comparable to Pontificals and Rituals. Such Ordos are the extraordinary Ordos of the liturgical year (e.g. Candlemas, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, the Sacred Triduum, Easter, the Vigil of Pentecost) and the sacramental rites often found in Missals (the benediction of water, Baptism-Confirmation, nuptial and exodiastic Ordos).
Users may orientate themselves with the Collection’s inventory of sources. The purpose of this inventory is to make the available material more easily organisable and searchable from relevant and standardised aspects. The inventory is in English, only proper names and parts taken from the original sources are in Latin or some vernacular language. If certain data exists theoretically, but is unknown to us, a question mark in parenthesis (?) is used. The same symbol also follows hypothetical or unverified data or data of uncertain authenticity. If data is not simply unknown but objectively inexistent, it is signalled with a dash (—).
Entries within the inventory are stored in folders according to document-types, in line with our study of the typology of liturgical sources (Liturgical Books, in Hungarian). These are the following: 1. Mass (shelfmarks beginning with 1, e.g. Missals, Sacramentaries, Graduals etc.), 2. Office (shelfmarks beginning with 2, e.g. Breviaries, Collectaries, Antiphonals etc.), 3. Other (shelfmarks beginning with 3, e.g. Rituals, Pontificals, Processionals), 4. Norm texts (shelfmarks beginning with 4, e.g. Ordinals, Directories etc.), 5. Mixed (shelfmarks beginning with 5).
The Digital Collection’s inventory of source, organised in columns, includes the following data.
This means the two-letter ISO code of a particular country. The code is given to help the reader’s primary orientation, the hypothetical identification of the wider origins of a Use. The country thus indicated is usually the same as the state in which a given city is found today, but if considered necessary, the political and cultural differences of the mediaeval setting were regarded. If it was not unequivocal in the Middle-Ages either (e.g. Breslau/Wrocław was Polish around the first millennium but later it was typically German), we preferred the country in which the city is located today. If, however, the city definitely used to belong to a different country than in our days (e.g. Lund to Denmark and Straßburg to Germany), we followed the mediaeval borders. States that did not exist in the Middle-Ages are only indicated if the corresponding region had distinct features liturgically (e.g. Switzerland, Belgium). Based on liturgical considerations, other countries will have to be seen as smaller than today (e.g. Salzburg is German but Seckau is Austrian, Zagreb is Hungarian but Spalato/Split is Croatian). Centralised religious orders will be indicated by ISO codes in correspondence with the origin and character of their Uses (e.g. the Dominicans are French, the Gilbertines are English, the Paulines are Hungarian), while the Benedictines and Augustinian canons receive the country code according to their geographical location. Since this system can never be completely consistent, switching to a three-letter code referring to liturgical regions is planned, but this necessitates further research.
This means the ecclesiastical institution whose Use the given data represents, without any regard for the further use or provenance of the source. It can only be considered completely reliable if the source specifically mentions it, or if the liturgical features identify the Use without any shadow of a doubt. In case of secular cathedrals, collegiate chapters, and urban parish churches, the name of the city is written in its current form, as it is used in the country where it is located (if needed, with the proper accent marks). If the origin of the source is uncertain but the country is known, the name of the country is specified (e.g. Germany), if the closer region can be determined, that is indicated instead (e.g. Île-de-France). In reference to the sources of centralised religious orders, we used the customary traditional abbreviations without periods (e.g. OPraem), in case of extinct or largely unknown orders similar abbreviations have been generated (e.g. OGC = Ordo Gilbertinorum Canonicorum, that is, Gilbertine Canons). As to Benedictine monasteries, the OSB abbreviation is only used if the exact monastery is not known. The same can be said about the books of Augustinian canons (abbreviated CRSA).
Genre identifies the type of source in question according to standard Tridentine terminology without any regard for the title the source itself employs or the title that was customary at the time and in the region. Our aim is to use comprehensive categories that are clear, uncomplicated and by the help of which the material can be sorted effectively. In this sense, the set of liturgical genres is as follows:
In borderline genres inconclusive logic is used, that is, the more specific categories are only employed when we are faced with a clear-cut genre (e.g. Benedictional only means a pure Benedictional), otherwise documents are put into a wider category (for instance, if it contains abbatial or episcopal ceremonies, it is a Pontifical, independent of the fact whether it contains material appropriate to a Ritual, Processional or Benedictional). As to obviously mixed genres—if the material so warrants— a double classification has been assigned in alphabetical order, without a space in-between, connected by a hyphen (e.g. Processional-Ritual).
The date of a source’s origin. If it can be determined with certainty, an exact year is given, otherwise an interval is indicated. The date is always written with Arabic numerals; in case of intervals an En dash (–) is inserted between the numbers without any spaces (e.g. 1300–1400), rounding to quarter, third or half centuries (e.g. 1300–1325, 1300–1333, 1300–1350). Following the date, a temporal adverb (before, after or about) may follow with a space, in parenthesis, for example: 1300 (about).
This is made up of the Latin name for the source’s genre and the Latin adjective referring to its origin. It also features in the name of the corresponding file, and at the same time it also makes reference to popular data bases (such as ISTC, USTC). The Latin name of the genre is what can be found in the original, or if it is not written there, the most characteristic title at that time and in that region (this occurs mostly in the case of Rituals, where instead of the standard expression, the terms e.g. Agenda, Manuale, etc. are often used). The adjective is the adnominal form of the mediaeval Latin name of the city, with the original spelling, while in the case of religious orders, we use the colloquial, one-word formula (e.g.Franciscanum, not Fratrum Minorum). In some cases the short title may actually be a little longer. If the source’s original title is short and characteristic but does not refer to a particular Use, it is normally kept unchanged (e.g. Informatorium sacerdotum, Agenda communis, Ordo et ritus).
This is the source’s own self-designation (if there is one). It is mostly encountered in printed books, but if references are found within manuscripts to the circumstances, place and time of production, such information is included here. The original title is transcribed with normalised Latin spelling, without interpunctuation, but the original form of proper names is preserved. Since a source may include the title in several places, more than one may be used, each separated by a vertical bar (│) with one space before and after it. The order of importance for the original titles is as follows: (1) title page, (2) beginning of the text, (3) beginning of further divisions, (4) colophon, (5) hidden rubrical reference within the text. If the title is given at the beginning of the text or some subdivision of it, special care is taken to ensure a correct genre definition, otherwise this could be misleading. For instance, a Breviary could use the first self-designation at the beginning of its Psalter (hence calling itself a Psalterium), whereas it is clearly a Breviary. If in the original the title forms part of a complete sentence (e.g. In nomine … incipit … feliciter), it is not reproduced in its entirety, but the actual title is extracted from it. The same is done with long titles and verbose additions which may be in reference to the circumstances of its printing or the novelty of its edition.
This means the city where the press was located and the name of the typographer. This data is usually contained in the colophon or may be inferred based on the fonts or the paper used (watermarks). The fact that sources often mention the name of the bookseller, along with the name of the typographer—sometimes on the title page— must be taken into account. The latter is not used in our inventory. If the data is not taken from the source itself, it is placed in square brackets. The name of the city is written in its current form and in the original language, then—following a comma and a space—the name of the typographer in its Latinised form (e.g. Venezia, Petrus Liechtenstein). When writing proper names, the original spelling is kept. If the source had several typographers, the names are separated with a Em dash (—) with one space before and after. Other persons, e.g. the bookseller, the author of the engravings, the commissioning prelate or the cleric who corrected or prepared the edition may be included as remarks. As to manuscripts, instead of the printer, the abbreviation MS (manuscript) is written in the appropriate field.
This includes the name of the library where the source’s original is kept and the local shelfmark or call number. Some of the libraries do not assign call numbers to books, in such cases only the name of the library is given. This reference contains the name of the city in the original language, then—following a comma and a space—the complete name of the library in the original language (as to upper and lower case letters, the library’s own custom is followed. If the library has a double name, a comma is put in-between. This is followed—with only a space inserted—by the call number. If the call number includes an abbreviation (e.g. Ms., Lat.), a period is inserted after it but if it is only an acronym (e.g. NAL, Clmae), there is no period. After the abbreviation stands (after a space) the number itself (without a period at the end). If the call number was very peculiar, the original form of the source’s library was kept exactly as it was, except that a period is never inserted after the numbers.
This contains the bibliographical data of a given source’s modern edition. Such could be: (1) a critical edition of the entire text, (2) an excerpt, e.g. in the form of a table with incipits (3), or a facsimile. If the edition only published the source partially, no note is given. The form of reference used is in complete agreement with the bibliographical standard of the MRH series, that is. e.g. TERRIZI, Francesco SI: Missale antiquum s. Panormitanae ecclesiae (Pa ASD 2: Palermo — Archivio Storico Diocesano — Cod. 2). Herder, Roma 1970. (Rerum Ecclesiasticorum Documenta. Series Maior. Fontes 13). When editions publish more than one source, this field contains all the essential information, but even in this case the data of the source’s origin, age and genre have to be indicated.
This means the number (numeral code) of the liturgically relevant catalogues. Such catalogues can either be organised according to liturgical book types (e.g. Bohatta, Weale, Amiet, Kay) or follow a principle of nationality (e.g. Leroquais, Janini, Odriozola, Salmon, Radó, Szendrei). Non-specifically liturgical catalogues (e.g. Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke, ISTC) are only indicated if the book has only been found recently and is not referenced in liturgical catalogues. These catalogues are indicated by the name of their editor and the catalogue number (in Arabic numerals), after a space and without a period at the end.
This is the price of the acquired copies including all the concomitant expenses, in Hungarian currency (Forint or HUF), with Arabic numbers (no spaces in-between), aligned to the right. In the long run, this may be erased from the inventory but at this early stage of acquisitions it is indispensable. If this field is filled out, it also means that the copy is not accessible publically, or it has been made accessible as a result of our own effort.
The links to those sources that are freely available on the internet (with regular letters, underlined). They may be useful in acquiring the copy in the original quality (if our download is of a lower quality than e.g.on Google Books or Gallica), it could provide some additional bibliographical or library-related data that our inventory does not include, and in case the files are damaged or faulty, it can be recovered. In the given field the link is live, that is, if clicked, the appropriate page will open up. We take care that these should be permanent links to the particular source (durable URL, permalink, permalien) and not changeable data that open up in a search engine. Wherever such a link is not accessible (e.g. Manuscriptorium.com), the URL of the webpage is sufficient (and the rest of the information will be provided there).
If any important information is added during the catalogisation, it will be done as a comment in English. In this field we will also indicate if the source is incomplete (fragmentary), has many volumes or there are several copies available. In this latter case, the source (irrespective of its multiple copies) will only be catalogued once, except if these are different editions, in which case they will be entered into the inventory of sources as separate items.