With the above title, the inventor of Usuarium, Miklós István Földváry has recently published an article in Ephemerides Liturgicae 137 (2023) 3–34., presenting a quantitative survey for determining the fields and assessing the degree of where and how distinctive liturgical features endured. What were the principles that governed the differentiation of liturgical practice in the Middle Ages? How reliable are data drawn from a late medieval or early modern source material for the earlier centuries? By offering a methodology of selecting relevant sources and aspects of analysis, the paper sheds light on the changing paradigms of ecclesiastical identity in the Middle Ages.
Last Monday, a presentation of the story, principles, and methodology of the Usuarium database appeared in the Church Life Journal of Notre Dame University, and on Wednesday, an online talk was given on the same topics with a more extensive introduction to the technical details of using our research tools. As many might feel lost in such an overwhelming amount of information or simply not recognize some facilities from which they can benefit, both the article and the video can help them to better understand the power and aims of what we have been doing for almost a decade now.
With the processing of the Iberian Peninsula, we have achieved the full geographical coverage of Europe in so far as the contents of printed missals of the 15–16th centuries are concerned. Basically, the quantitative accumulation of raw information has come to an end with the inclusion of the dioceses of Astorga, Ávila, Badajoz, Barcelona 1, 2, Braga, Burgos 1, 2, Calahorra, Compostella 1, 2, Córdoba, Cuenca, Évora, Girona, Granada, Jaén, Lleida, Mallorca, Osma, Ourense, Palencia, Pamplona, Plasencia, Salamanca, Segovia, Sevilla, Sigüenza, Tarazona 1, 2, Tarragona, Toledo, Tortosa, Urgell, València 1, 2, Vic, and Zaragoza 1, 2. At present, Compostella, Tortosa, and Urgell are only represented by fragmented sources. We are still waiting for the copies of the Huesca and Zamora Missals, and, unfortunately, could not acquire those of Coria, León, and Oviedo so far.
With some texts drawn from the Gospels or even hagiography, communions were a productive field of compositional activity even in the earliest mass antiphonaries. They continued to be such up to the early modern age. Our recently accomplished work of standardizing them resulted in the most extensive corpus of mass propers outside Alleluias; more than 470 communions have been detected, of which only about 130 belong to the core repertory, and about 250 are not yet registered by the Cantus Index.
We have processed their verses, too. Not surprisingly, most of them characterize funeral masses. The rest features basically the same uses that have maintained offertory verses: archaic traditions like that of Lyon, and some Danish dioceses with an antiquarian attitude. Now both genres can be surveyed in our Research menu.
With the Trinitarians, we have processed the last source that represents the liturgy of a centralized religious order with a printed missal outside those following the Roman Curial use. The group contains the Carmelite, Carthusian, Cistercian, Cluniac, Dominican, Pauline, Premonstratensian, Teutonic, and Trinitarian orders. Others like the Franciscans, the Hieronymites, or the Augustinian Hermits were Romanized, similar to the commissioners of uniform Benedictine service books and members of reformed German Benedictine congregations like Melk or Bursfelde. What has been momentarily left out, but deserves special attention from the perspective of comparative analysis, is the category of local monastic communities like Monte Cassino, Vallombrosa, Valladolid, Ainay, Casadei, Marmoutiers, Saint-Remi, etc., or canons regular like those of Montearagón. It remains to be seen if there is time and energy to include them in the current project.
We have completed our mission in France. Through the stages of the Franco-German transitional areas of Lorraine and the Netherlands, the southeastern regions of Burgundy, the northeastern regions of Upper France and Champagne, and the northwestern regions of Normandy and Brittany, we came to the South-West.
It comprised the large ecclesiastical provinces of Bordeaux and Bourges with those of Auch, Narbonne, and Arles, covering approximately the historical provinces of Poitou, Berry, Bourbonnais, Aunis, Saintonge, Angoumois, Marche, Limousin, Auvergne, Guyenne or Périgord, Gascogne, Béarn, Foix, Languedoc, and Roussillon. This part of France is not so exhaustively covered by the evidence of printed missals as the North, but most of the dioceses published at least one edition. Unfortunately, some of them are accessible only with difficulty, so we are still waiting to acquire those of Rodez, Arles, Béziers, and Elne. At present, the uploaded sample of Usuarium lists the full contents of the missals of Agen, Angoulême, Auch, Bayonne, Bazas, Bordeaux, Bourges, Clermont-Ferrand and Saint-Flour, Le-Puy-en-Velay, Limoges, Mende, Narbonne, Nîmes, Poitiers, Saintes, Toulouse, and Uzès. The final stage of our work will be the Iberian Peninsula.
We have proceeded with the standardization of proper chants to the tracts. Though basically an ancient and limited repertory, the corpus of tracts was augmented throughout the Middle Ages due to the genre's formulaic melody and, as a consequence, its easy reproducibility. Beyond a core repertory of about 70 items, more than 100 additional tracts have been detected.
The term tract could also describe the lengthiest composition of western plainchant, the highly melismatic, refrained form of the canticle of the three children on Ember Saturdays. The canticle was more a function than a genre. In its most archaic form, it is merely part of the prophecy without any indication of a specific tone or musical performance. Some traditions inserted a short and simple antiphon after the reading as a modest acclamation to the narrative. The third stage of development was the aforementioned 'tract', which, however, soon yielded its place to easier pieces, became abbreviated, or was pushed into the reserve of the Ember Days in the first week of Lent. The easier chants that advanced in its stead were typically labelled hymns; one of a still biblical, recitative character, and the other a metric paraphrase. All these can be studied now under the genre 'Canticle of Daniel'.
Parallel with the overarching interest in Europe as a whole, the team of Usuarium does not cease to care for its Hungarian roots. Indeed, it is the thorough knowledge of the history and the philology of our own use that verifies and justifies the large-scale treatment of others. On the other hand, recognizing the power of digital methods does not diminish the pleasure of creating tangible books. So we proudly announce that two important monuments of the use of Esztergom have been released; its printed Obsequiale, summarizing the high medieval tradition of administering sacraments and sacramentals and performing processional rites, and its Agendarius, a late 16th-century re-working of the same tradition with an unparalleled set of vernacular texts. Both can be ordered in the webshop of the Hungarian Society of Sacred Music, or, if you have problems with the Hungarian interface, write directly to the e-mail address: met[at]egyhazzene.hu
In the early modern period, a Rituale contained those rites which were outside the ordinary course of the mass and the office and those that were not a bishop’s privilege. However, it was only with the spread of the Roman Ritual from the early 17th century that the term became common; before that, Agenda, Manuale or (in a relatively narrow, typically Central European circle) Obsequiale were used. The Obsequiale of Esztergom, Hungary’s primatial see, is one of the most popular publications of the early printing period: it was published at least nine times between 1490 and 1560. To posterity, it is primarily significant because of being both the first and the last source of the Hungarian Middle Ages to provide a detailed and complete account of the local version of administering rites associated with the great transitions of human life, and because it is the only source whose contents can be traced back over almost a thousand years of the use of Esztergom. In this quality, it forms a bridge between the 11th-century beginnings and the last developments in the early 20th century.
Miklós Telegdi, bishop of Pécs and spiritual administrator of the vacant archbishopric see of Esztergom, was active between the end of the Council of Trent and the abolition of the specifically Hungarian liturgy, between the highly influential archbishops Miklós Oláh and Péter Pázmány; at a time of the most tremendous expansion of the Turkish occupation and the seemingly unstoppable spread of the Protestant Reformation. He was both a guardian of tradition and a bold innovator. He initiated the publication of the last authentic, but contemporarily designed norm text of the use of Esztergom, the Ordinarium of 1580. His Agendarius follows a different path. It radically simplifies the medieval heritage, both at the level of the ceremonial and of the textual selection; in this respect, it breaks with a practice that had been going on since the 11th century. In contrast, it provides the pastoral clergy with high-quality explanatory texts and model sermons, and the faithful with dialogues and formulas, in vernacular. Although the national – rather than diocesan – publication of rituals, the shortening of sacramental rites and the wider use of vernacular are typical trends of the age, the consistency and quality of the Agendarius raise it above the average. After monitoring the printed rituals of the 15th to 16th centuries, we can say that it far excels among them in terms of pastoral care and vernacularism. The present volume is also the first to present an even more daring ritual attempt by Telegdi’s friend and colleague, Zakariás Mossóczy, bishop of Nitra, which has survived in a handwritten appendix and is entirely in Hungarian. Both initiatives of the two prelates proved abortive: they radically departed from their medieval antecedents but found little continuation in the 17th-century consolidation of the Pázmány era. While being invaluable sources not only for liturgy but also for ethnography, linguistics, and literature, they poignantly document the experimentation of the ecclesiastical intelligentsia of the late 16th century.
Finally, we have come to the end of Northern France, and more. With the latest update, the archepiscopal provinces of Rouen (Avranches, Bayeux, Coutances, Évreux, Lisieux, Rouen, Sées) and Tours (Angers, Dol-de-Bretagne, Le Mans, Nantes, Rennes, Saint-Malo, Saint-Pol-de-Léon, Tours, Vannes) are entirely covered, containing the historical regions of Normandy, Brittany (Bretagne), Maine, Anjou, and Touraine. Most of the British diocesan uses did not survive until the age of the printing press, but we included those that did: the extremely long and detailed Missals of Salisbury (Sarum), Hereford, and York, all closely connected with the continental Norman uses. It is worth mentioning that their new conspectuses are based upon the originals and not on the reconstructive editions of Legg and Henderson 1, 2.
With some technical improvements, we continually try to make work more comfortable. According to the general concept of Usuarium, we refer to liturgical entries by their liturgical use instead of the bibliographical data of the carrying book. This, however, may sometimes obscure the precise source of the information. Hence came a reasonable compromise. In the 'Research/Conspectus' menu and everywhere else where conspectus-related records occur, we retain the origin as the entry's primary attribute, but, henceforth, you can unambiguously identify the actual book by moving the cursor to the origin.
In the 'Sources' menu, you can currently find more than 1000 books with indices and almost 200 with full conspectuses. After opening the book or the conspectus view for each, you can click the page number button and study the given folio in a faster and more comfortable way than before. Textual information will not disappear anymore, and the photo will open quickly in a small format. It is enough to check the correctness of the index, consult the immediate environment of the record, or move a few pages back or further. Yet if you find the page especially interesting or cannot decipher the text, you can easily enlarge it, and the original, full-sized pictures are still available behind the 'Pages' button.
If we do not count Italy, France north of the river Loire possessed the densest network of ecclesiastical institutions in the Middle Ages. With several months of constant and often tedious work, we have finally come to the end of the region's eastern half. Ecclesiastically, it covers the provinces of Reims and Sens, including the historical regions of Flandre, Artois, Picardie, Île-de-France, Champagne, and Orléanais. Usuarium now provides researchers with the full contents of the voluminous Missals of Beauvais, Cambrai, Châlons-en-Champagne, Chartres, Laon, Meaux, Nevers, Noyon, Orléans, Paris, Reims, Senlis, Sens, Soissons, Thérouanne, Tournai, and Troyes.
In the past weeks, we continued our standardizing work with the offertories and their verses. Many interesting phenomena came to light, among them 217 offertories that have not yet been registered by the Cantus Index. The list counts many unique or rare titles, some belonging to versified propers, others adopted from different genres of chants and re-used as offertories. To demonstrate the significance of such findings it suffices to say that the famous motet of Josquin des Prez, the 'Praeter rerum seriem' proved to be an offertory of votive Marian Masses, known in the same northern French environment of which the composer was a native (Amiens, Arras, Avranches, Châlons, Coutances, Évreux, Laon, Reims, Soissons, Troyes). Yet it would be a misinterpretation to assume that all the new items were of late medieval origin. 'Intempesta noctis hora', for instance, an offertory of St Benedict, proved to be a Beneventan peculiarity (Albaneta, Dubrovnik, Kotor).
As with verses, the testimony of printed Missals reveals more about the late medieval reception of the genre than about its origins. There are only 14 newly discovered items, mostly unique ones. The rest of the material fits into three categories. Masses for the deceased were, of course, everywhere equipped with offertory verses, but their repertory included many others beyond the widely known 'Hostias et preces'. In German territories, the Midnight Mass of Christmas typically retained its offertory verses. The rest of the material is mostly associated with the Lenten or pre-Lenten periods. It seems that long melismatic singing was considered to be a marker of penitential seasons, in a similar way to the use of tracts. Such was the case in Cambrai, Évreux, Laon, Regensburg, Sarum, and Tarragona. Lyon and Die extended the practice to Eastertide. The champion of late medieval verse preservation, however, was undoubtedly Copenhagen, where offertory verses prevailed throughout the temporal cycle.
Usuarium has been partly integrated into the Cantus Index Network. The Cantus Index is an initiative of the creators of the prestigious Cantus Database that aims to provide each item of the western plainchant repertory with a reference number and thus connect different datasets of texts, musical scores, and source copies. Currently, the contribution of Usuarium is limited to an outdated selection of chants covering the temporal mass propers, yet it already means a quantitative breakthrough in the field in terms of repertory, occurrences, and involved traditions. This repertory was compiled in 2014 and 2015 when we processed the regular propers of about 140 temporals, and provided each item with a Cantus identification number, a standardized full text, and a source reference. After having finished the current project of chant standardization, we will be able to replace this old selection with a more extensive update. It will cover the full propers, including sanctoral, common, and votive assignments, and rely on complete books from more than 200 traditions.
In the Middle Ages, 'Burgundy' or the 'Kingdom of Burgundy' applied to several states and areas beyond the present-day province of Bourgogne. Liturgically speaking, Burgundy covers Bourgogne and the southeastern parts of France between the Alps and the rivers Saône and Rhône that once belonged to the ecclesiastical provinces of Besançon, Tarentaise, Embrun, Lyon, Vienne, and Aix-en-Provence. This was also the homeland of the far-reaching monastic uses of the Cluniacs and the Cistercians. With the hard work of the past months, we have come to the line of the aforementioned rivers and uploaded the entire contents of the Missals of Besançon, Tarentaise, Embrun, Auxerre, Langres, Autun 1 and 2, Chalon-sur-Saône, Mâcon, Lyon, Vienne, Grenoble, Valence, Die, Viviers, Marseille, Toulon, Aix-en-Provence, Cluny, and Cîteaux.
After the standardization of Introits and their verses, our next step led to the processing of Graduals and Gradual verses. One might assume that they formed the most invariable layer of the chanted Mass Propers, yet it was not exactly so. Even the traditional repertory varied considerably and we discovered 145 new Graduals and 185 verses not yet listed by the Cantus Index.
You can study the arrangement of the chants throughout the annual cycle by consulting our synopsis for the genres of Gradual or Gradual Verse. Assignment Statistics rank their diversity according to the days of the year, while Item Statistics reveal the frequency and occurrences of each title. For more nuanced queries use the filtering option of the Conspectus menu.
Usuarium has a Facebook profile, too. From now on, those who follow it can be directly informed of the latest developments without browsing the news on the front page. On average, we plan to advertise the acquisition of new digital copies (many of them are rare curiosities only available here), and the upload of fresh indices and conspectuses weekly. We will also announce new or more advanced research facilities, publications, and quantitative milestones in processing the evidence, as we have done so since last year's February (see our improvement history).
For the time being, Usuarium is probably the largest and most well-organised digital collection and database in the world for the research of western liturgical sources from the Middle Ages and the early modern period, initiated, designed, and edited by Miklós István Földváry and his Research Group of Liturgical History (Eötvös Loránd University and Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary). The collection comprises a list of more than 7000 service books based on the most relevant liturgical catalogues and arranged according to their uses (origins), genres (book types), preserving libraries and/or printers, and catalogue entries referring to them. Registered users can download nearly 1500 volumes (no payment is required).
The database contains indices (detailed tables of contents) for more than 1000 sources and conspectuses (extracts of entire books with full rubrics and abbreviated liturgical items) for more than 170 ones. User-friendly facilities help visitors to discover, classify and compare hundreds of thousands of records according to ceremonies, topics (sanctoral, common, or votive intentions), calendrical entries (dates or feasts), and texts. In the 'Research' menu, more advanced and elaborate tools enable them to query and filter the vast material and to interpret the results through statistics and mapping.
We have uploaded an extensive collection of ceremonies concerning marriage and childbirth. The evidence comprises the nuptial mass with its special blessing for the newlywed bride (veiling) and some other accessories, the sacramental rites (consent, declaration, ring, oath, etc.) before the mass, the benediction of the nuptial chamber, and the churching of the wife both after wedding and childbirth. The propers of the nuptial mass can be consulted under the 'pro sponso et sponsa' topic, everything else by selecting either the 'matrimony' or the 'childbirth' ceremony. The present scope extends to every manuscript source registered on Usuarium and all the printed sources except for Iberia and Southern France, which will be proceeded in due course.
One can detect the annual cycle’s sensitive points and measure their range of diversity with the help of statistics. By using statistical means, relevance shows itself in exact numerals. Provided that the sample proportionately covers the European network of dioceses, the number of possible items in a distinct position will characterize the position’s variability and, vice versa, the total of an item’s occurrences either at a specific point of the system or in general will characterize its popularity. For the first category, we have introduced our latest research tool Assignment Statistics, and for the second one Item Statistics.
Assignment describes an unambiguous liturgical position that can be filled with a unique item. With this method, the entire liturgical system can be exposed in terms of variation and the result already provides a compass for rough orientation. The column ‘Total’ refers to the number of entries behind the statistics while the column ‘Diversity’ counts the number of standard items registered in the concerned position by far. The top of the list highlights the most variable points of the year and its bottom registers its most uniform layer but both results should be compared to the amount of information on which they are grounded. Currently, only totals over about 150 can form a basis for reliable conclusions.
From the items’ perspective, frequency expresses the number of occurrences. As it grows in direct proportion with the number of processed sources, plain numerals are unfit for its display. Instead, we need a percentage of the actual occurrences as compared to the processed Uses. In this context, one must count with especially small proportions thus it is more fortunate to express frequency with the more nuanced units of milli-per cent (pcm, i.e. percent mille) measurement. By absolute frequency, we mean the item’s popularity within the broadest liturgical context, regardless of its specific assignment. The top of the list comprises items that were frequently repeated, especially common ones. Items that were repeated twice or thrice a year build up the next section. Unique but universally known items come third. For comparative research, only those below this level are informative. Of course, the list's last items, each of a single occurrence, are liturgical curiosities that will not disclose connections until at least another parallel emerges.
In the last months, we continued our work with the printed Missals of present-day Italy and Switzerland. The material is meagre but significant. Except for Rome (Roma), the autonomous Uses surviving until the age of the printing press in Italy were simply not Italian. In the North-East, the liturgy of late medieval Aquileia and the Tyrolian Brixen (Bressanone) belonged to a branch of Southern German Uses, having more in common with Salzburg than with the neighbouring cities. Milan (Milano), of course, was Ambrosian. Messina in Sicily and Cosenza in Calabria maintained the Norman heritage to such a degree that the title of their Missals positively referred to the custom of the French, the 'Consuetudo Gallicorum'. Aosta in the North-West is well documented but shares more with its alpine environment than with Italy.
In Switzerland, four dioceses have left behind printed Missals. Chur and Basel belong to the Germanic liturgical landscape while Geneva (Genève) and Lausanne are closer to the French traditions of Burgundy, the Alps, and the Rhône Valley. They will be our next step forward.
In acquiring and prioritizing sources, we primarily rely on catalogues of liturgical books. Many of them have already been included, e.g. the lists of French and Spanish missals by Leroquais and Janini or the online catalogues of German and British manuscripts made by our colleagues at the University of Regensburg. For liturgical history, the catalogues of Klaus Gamber and Robert Amiet mark the beginning and the end, the first comprising the surviving Latin service books from the first millennium and the second the printed missals and breviaries from the 1470s to the 1840s and, whenever relevant, even into the 20th century. Both have been recently integrated into Usuarium. By browsing the relevant catalogues, you can find information about any of their entries, but it is also possible to find them according to their origin, genre, preserving library, or if they refer to a print, their printer. Much work is still needed to bring the list to perfection, yet we hope that it can already be of great help for researchers. A more advanced 'Digital Gamber' is being simultaneously developed in the Regensburg Liturgical Institute and the Universal Short Title Catalogue of early prints grows and improves day by day.
After crossing the Rhine, we entered the Missals of the territory of ancient Lotharingia. The region's upper part is approximately what we now call the Netherlands, while the lower part encompasses the region of Lorraine in northeastern France. Liturgically speaking, it was a transitory zone of Uses that combined features of a Germanic and Gallic character. Regarding the ecclesiastical hierarchy, here belong those parts of Cologne and Trier's provinces that lie outside present-day Germany's borders: Utrecht, Liège (Lüttich), Verdun, Metz, and Toul. The area has some overlaps with Upper France and Flanders, too, which are already under work and of whose conquest we plan to report within a few weeks.
One might assume that Introits belong to the least variable elements of the Latin liturgical repertory. This is indeed so, in so far as the Temporal and the ancient layers of the Sanctoral are concerned. Even in these parts, however, remarkable differences appear on vacant and supplementary Sundays, in the context of vigils and octaves, and due to the interference of thematically related items. Yet a comprehensive survey reveals far more peculiarities, both ancient and modern. The composition of votive Masses diverges quite often. Some sources contain archaic introits for saints that fell into disuse in other places or were only locally transmitted. Others adopt the pieces of other genres, antiphons or processional chants as Introits, mostly a late but surprisingly widespread phenomenon. It seems that already in the last centuries of the Middle Ages there emerges the category of merely textual propers: items that have never been sung or furnished with any melody as they were exclusively used within votive low Masses. Plenty of them appears in early modern Missals but the discovery of their medieval forerunners is a relative novelty.
In the last few weeks, we checked and standardized every Introit that had been uploaded to Usuarium before. All the records are attached now to a standard incipit and an identification number in parentheses, derived from the Cantus Index. The standard items can be consulted in the synopsis according to their assignment to days and topics and searched for in the Research/Conspectus menu. Several divergent assignments and 83 Introits beyond the scope of the Cantus Index have been identified.
As it is well known, the choice of verses can also vary and, at some points, this is an integral feature of a particular Use's identity. Therefore, Introit verses have been standardized along with their antiphons and listed accordingly. We continue the work with the graduals and the next genres of the chanted propers.
Our homegrown ecclesiastical map is now available by clicking its button in the top right corner of the 'Uses' or the 'Research/Generic Synopsis' menu. The map is a vector graphics image so that you can enlarge and print it in any size without loss of quality. You can also open and download it in pdf format.
Topographically, the map is based on a hydrographic chart of Western Europe and presents the traditional geographic boundaries according to the Latin Rite. Every ecclesiastical province is rendered with its frontiers in red; its archepiscopal see is represented by dual cross and identified by capital letters. Dioceses are displayed with simple crosses and minuscules. Their number includes primarily those that published printed service books before the Council of Trent, but a few others documented by reliable manuscripts have also been admitted.
Historically, the map represents the European ecclesiastical situation around the end of the 13th century. It seems that this was the end of the creative period for devising local liturgical Uses; later founded dioceses mostly adopted the books that had been used in the same place.
As in our list of Uses, the standard form of the place names follows the preferred language and spelling of the current 21st-century state. Although this may rightly seem anachronistic from the perspective of medieval scholarship, we made this decision for compelling reasons. First, settlements can be more easily found in digital resources via present-day nomenclature. Second, we tried to avoid an excessive Anglicization and honour local identities, especially where even English place names could not synthesize linguistic variants. Third, the national attitudes toward the historical and the actual political affiliation of certain cities in Europe are so intricate that one cannot find a just and overall solution that will not offend anyone and thus we adhered to coherence and actuality. As compensation, all the other relevant names can be searched in the 'Uses' and the many divergent historical situations are always carefully registered.
There are two rites that can precede the dedication and, indeed, the building of a church: the consecration of a cemetery and the laying of a foundation stone. Liturgically speaking, the cemetery is not a graveyard but a sacred precinct that hosts the future church. Burials are already a consequence of the holiness of the place and the vicinity of the shrine. Thus the cemetery was consecrated and, if necessary, reconciled separately from the church. The laying of the foundation stone evolved as a further service only around the first millennium but became a solid part of the Romano-Germanic type of Pontificals and of those that relied on their model. In the past months, we processed all the available sources that contain such material. The result can be consulted as per source under the related index labels and in its entirety by filtering the ceremony 'cemetery' or 'foundation stone'.
Although there is still much to do with the organization of the material due to some inconsistencies in the proper assignment of texts to feasts, every sequence currently registered by Usuarium has been standardized. This means that their statistical and mapping tools can be consulted and their synopsis provides a representative picture of their frequency, coverage, and proportion throughout Europe. The temporal part is practically comprehensive while the sanctoral etc. parts approximately extend to the frontiers delineated by the rivers Seine and Rhône.
Under the 'Index' entry of our 'Research' menu, a new filter tool has been made available. By clicking 'filter', 'OR criteria', and 'Add field', you can select your query according to sources and ceremonies, adding specific features like the presence of illustrations, musical notation, or vernacular texts. Registered users are also allowed to export the results in sheets for personal use.
Meanwhile, shortcuts have been inserted into the lists of ceremonies, directing to the query composed of the concerned source and ceremony. For instance, after opening the list of the 'abbess' ceremony and clicking the button left from the page number, you can consult the records that belong to each source. The absence of such a button indicates that no conspectus has yet been uploaded to the related source. At the end of the lists, however, a 'See also' section follows with the sources that contain records of the ceremony in question but have not yet been indexed.
As a by-product of these facilities, you can easily assess the degree of processing for every ritual, i.e. the proportion of indexed ceremonies and conspectuses behind them. Indices refer to the liturgical content of the books in terms of chapters and/or types of liturgical activity while conspectuses refer to the detailed textual content of each ceremony with rubrics and incipits. Currently, the indices of Usuarium offer 30055 records of 981 service books.
Congenially with our medieval predecessors, our reports never refer to the persons who acquire new sources, accomplish new research facilities, or enter and analyze new information. As an exception, let us now call your attention to the list of contributors hiding at the bottom of the website. Updated after a long period, it lists in a hierarchical order all those who have worked on Usuarium since its foundation in 2013. Please remember them in your prayers, as scribes regularly ask for them in ancient colophons, and mention us in your publications, as the terms of copyright require – find them just beside the contributors' button.
Though the blessing of soldiers and their armament might be an unpleasant element today, medieval clergy acknowledged the legitimacy of a just war and, consequently, such rites formed a typical part of ancient service books. As coronation ordines chiefly associate the secular leader with the figure of the warrior saint, a fearless defender of the church and the faithful, their texts and gestures often draw on military sacramentals. To supplement our collection of coronations, now we publish an extensive sample of military initiations (mainly performed by blessing a sword and handing it over to the novice) and dedications of military standards. We wish there would be no need for them anywhere. Give peace in our time, O Lord; because there is none other that fighteth for us, but only thou, O God.
Besides the only printed Missal from Finland (Turku or Åbo), mentioned in our reports about a month ago in the Baltic context, we have now processed the relevant sources from Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. Although Rituals and Breviaries were published for Linköping and Skara as well, extant printed Swedish Missals only survive from Uppsala and Strängnäs, not to mention Lund, now also in Sweden, that was in the Middle Ages part of Denmark and, moreover, its ecclesiastical centre. Norway had a single national Use in the concerning period, that of Trondheim. Denmark was far better provided with diocesan Missals. Many of them, however, are documented only by fragments. Intact sources come from the above-mentioned Lund, Viborg, Slesvig (now Schleswig in Germany), and København. The latter is an interesting phenomenon as Copenhagen has never been a cathedral city, at least before the modern era. Its Missal is a replica of that of Lund and possibly served as the basis of a pan-Danish liturgy, which is also plausible with regard to the relative abundance of its available copies. Beyond these, fragments from Odense, Ribe, Roskilde, and an unidentified Danish diocese testify that once they possessed Missals of their own accordingly. The Use of Roskilde, the cathedral of the diocese of Copenhagen and the burial place of the Danish monarchs, is attested by the Canon Roscildensis too, a booklet containing the Mass ordinary and a series of votive and common Masses.
In 2016, we made a preliminary survey on the systematic comparison of Uses regarding the Divine Office. Although the world-famous Cantus Database has provided an excellent research tool for decades, its selection of sources and geographical scope is rather arbitrary. Therefore, its results can often be misleading, at least in terms of statistical relevance. The first step to introduce the methodology of Usuarium was the processing of the Psalters from 38 printed Breviaries throughout Europe. As weekday offices were not very frequently recited in the Middle Ages, they formed a practically intact layer within the Divine Office. As such, they are the most reliable witnesses of the basic variation of the Divine Office before its specific local divergences in the Sanctoral and even the Temporal part. The first conclusions of the survey were formulated in an unpublished study with the title 'Interpreting Latin Liturgical Psalters'. Recently, the underlying material has also been uploaded and can be consulted either via the concerning Breviaries or comprehensively by selecting the filter for the 'Psalter' part.
The full content of one Missal for each Polish diocese that issued a printed service book before Trent has been uploaded: from Kraków, Gniezno, Płock, and Poznań. The Silesian dioceses of Wrocław (Breslau) and Lubusz (now Lebus, Germany) are also included as representatives of a Polish-type liturgy, while the Pomeranian Kammin (Kamień Pomorski), although in present-day Poland, liturgically belongs to the Germanic circle. We have also processed the Missale Gnesnense et Cracoviense, a Missal that, in fact, is a document of the pan-Polish ambition of the Cracow Use in the early 16th century.
The liturgy of the Baltic area was determined by the Teutonic Knights with their headquarters in Marienburg or Malbork Castle, now in Poland. They adopted the Use of the Dominican friars but supplemented it with occasional rites (Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, etc.) of their own. The diocese of Turku or Åbo in Finland took the same Dominican tradition as its regional Use. The Prussian diocese of Warmia or Ermland (now Lidzbark Warmiński in Poland), however, maintained the Use of the Teutonic Knights even after its accession to Poland. To build up a thorough picture of the region, we have processed the Teutonic and the Dominican Missals along with their regional counterparts in Turku and Warmia. We have added the only surviving manuscript Missal from Rīga, too. The city did not belong to the Teutonic Knights but to the knightly order of the Livonian Brothers of the Sword or Swordbrothers. Its Missal has more in common with North Germany than with its Baltic neighbours.
In 2017, three members of our research group participated in a conference on the liturgical institutions of Regensburg. The city is not only one of the most prestigious episcopal sees in Bavaria, but excels in its early sources, the continuity of its tradition, and its peculiarities remarkably different from the Germanic average. Besides several excellent studies, our papers laid down the methodological principles of the comparison of ceremonies and illustrated it with the documents of an early interchange between Regensburg and the nascent Hungarian Kingdom. The first case study analyzed the connection of their Sacramentaries, the second of the monastic ordines administered by bishops. At last, the volume has been released, thanks to the diligent work done by the editors.
With two codices that are of particular importance from our Hungarian perspective, we have widened the scope of Usuarium to Pontificals. Certainly, many Pontificals were already involved in the comprehensive surveys of e.g. abbatial blessings or royal coronations, but no book was processed in full. Now, the Pontifical of Chartvirgus, the most prominent source that proves the continuity of the Use of Esztergom from the 11th to the 16th century, has been processed with its full text along with its direct descendant, an early 13-century Pontifical of Zagreb that has been processed with full rubrics but abbreviated items. This experiment of a Pontifical Project proves that the system of Usuarium is not restricted to the handling of Missals, but can successfully manage any liturgical material within the Latin tradition.
Every medieval diocese from the territory of present-day Germany and Austria that once published a printed Missal is now represented by one on Usuarium with full content, supplemented by further two dioceses that had no printed Missals but can be accessed by the testimony of reliable manuscripts. The following list contains all the dioceses that were founded before the 13th century and as such possessed a liturgical Use of their own: Augsburg, Bamberg, Brandenburg, Bremen, Brixen (or Bressanone, now in South Tyrol, Italy), Eichstätt, Freising, Halberstadt, Hamburg, Havelberg, Hildesheim, Köln, Konstanz, Lebus (or Lubusz, originally Silesia, Poland), Lübeck, Magdeburg, Mainz, Meißen, Merseburg, Minden, Münster, Naumburg, Osnabrück (only an abridged handwritten Missal survived), Paderborn (represented by a parish church Missal), Passau, Ratzeburg, Regensburg, Salzburg, Schleswig (or Sleswig, originally Denmark), Schwerin, Speyer, Straßburg (or Strasbourg, now in France), Verden (only a supplement to the Halberstadt Missal), Trier, Worms, and Würzburg.
So far, Usuarium was limited to those Uses of the Latin West that fit into the structure of the Roman Rite. With the processing of the printed Ambrosian Missal of 1499, the Rite of the ancient Metropolitan See of Milan also became available. The full text of the entire book can be analyzed and compared to the various Roman parallels, only the biblical lessons with standard wording have been abbreviated to their opening and closing phrases. In the 'Genre' field of the 'Research' menu (Filter), you can select the specific Ambrosian genres of e.g. Ingressa, Super populum, V. in Alleluia, Post evangelium, Super sindonem, Offerenda, Super oblatam, or Confractorium. Other genres that are analogous with their Roman equivalents like Prophecies, Epistles, Gospels, or Prefaces can be surveyed according to the usual nomenclature.
As we promised in May, the already available material for the coronation of kings and emperors has now been supplemented with evidence concerning queens and empresses. As their inauguration is often included in or attached to the ordines of their male counterparts, relevant research can only be accomplished when consulting the records under all four labels.
Monastic liturgies are difficult to access. Certainly, plenty of service books survived, but their majority comes from a period when a comprehensive scope and detailed rubrics were something that most liturgical books still lacked. Moreover, such books practically never refer to their mother institutions. Monastic houses were far more numerous and changed their customs more frequently than cathedral chapters. In the age when chapters began to compile detailed and comprehensive books, monasteries were already declining or being reformed according to international standards. This is why source material that is both informative and reliably refers to mother institutions is so invaluable from the perspective of liturgical history.
Customaries are normative texts regulating monastic communities in terms of liturgy and beyond. Liturgical evidence is, however, often hidden or somewhat disguised in them. This is why their excellent and extensive edition, the Corpus Consuetudinum Monasticarum, could not have been fully utilized in this respect. Now the obstacle is removed by the present volume, a thorough and systematic work of our Usuarium team member Ábel Stamler that offers both an indispensable tool for researchers, and a mental map for the fields of worship in the monastic programme of life.
For the standardized records, two new research functions have been made available. Thus far, queries of any liturgical assignation returned lists of the items that fitted the filter of the query. By clicking the 'export' button, the result could be exported in xlsx format. From now on, you can survey the same result with the help of statistical tools alike. The raw statistics (third button) refer to an overview of the records as they are actually stored in the database. As raw statistics rely on a variety of incipits that denote the same text, the exact numbers are irrelevant and even misleading. Yet it is easier to form an idea of the diversity of the assignation and the possible choices by their means than by browsing lists of hundreds of incipits. The chief advantage of raw statistics is that they are at hand for every query. About the readings, however, as they are already fully standardized, real statistics (fourth button) can also be consulted. Firstly, they show the absolute diversity of the given assignation with a numeral that indicates the number of items that occur in the corresponding function. Secondly, a list of standard incipits follows with their frequency of each as compared to the whole set of data. Lastly, the total of records demonstrates the number of occurrences on which the result is based.
In the liturgical position of the Gospel of the first Sunday of Advent, for example, five pericopes can appear. That of the triumphal entry to Jerusalem according to Matthew 21 is the most popular, more than 72% of the results. The eschatological discourse of Luke 21 is placed second, featuring mostly in the Mediterranean regions. The third is the preface of Marc 1, a typical choice of Burgundian and Norman dioceses and their sphere of influence. The fourth and fifth come forth only sporadically in southern Europe: the annunciation scene from Luke 1 in Girona and Puy (and it is definitely the temporal Gospel, not that of the votive Marian Mass), the parable of the wicked husbandmen from Matthew 21 in Valence. The result is based on 180 records, roughly matching the number of dioceses from where full Temporals have already been processed on Usuarium. The geographical distribution of the records can be comfortably examined by clicking the 'map' button.
In 2014–2015, our research group processed the temporal parts of more than 160 Missals of different Uses. The outcome of this project can still be consulted in the Texts menu. Its advantage is that it contains all the regular propers, i.e. the changing parts of the Mass (lessons, prayers, chants) and each item is linked to a precisely identified standard full text. Hence not only the incipits but any part of the texts can be entered into the search box and the query will produce relevant results if the words actually belong to an item of the temporal propers. The disadvantage was that the material was restricted to the temporal and queries could only start out from the texts. It means that we could research in which an assignation a specific text comes up, but could not investigate directly the assignations with regard to the different texts that figure in them.
We have been entering full Missals and even other types of service books with their entire content for a few months now: ordinary, sanctoral, commune, votive parts, occasional rites included. All their records can be consulted with the help of the searching panel of the Research/Conspectus menu. By using the 'filter' button, however, more elaborate queries are possible, too. After clicking 'OR criteria' and 'Add field', you can select the categories in which you are interested. There are a great many of these, but from an average researcher's point of view season, week, day, ceremony, layer, and genre prove to be the most typical. This standard query can be comfortably saved by its url.
When you have arranged the aspects of your query, you can choose the relevant categories from a dropdown list (for ceremonies, type the labels in our Ceremonies menu). Click the 'Search' button and the result will appear soon. You can also download it for further analysis in an xlsx file. If, for example, you are interested in the possible introits of the 2nd Sunday of Lent, search for season=Qu, week=H2, day=D, genre=Intr, as here. You will come to a very informative and geographically characteristic pattern of variety. Or if you are interested in the Gospel that was recited before or during the procession of Palm Sunday (not the Passion in the Mass), type ceremony=Palm Sunday, genre=Ev, as here. In this way, any assignation of the Latin liturgies that can be exactly described became accessible, and the catalogue of items and information that fit into these categories ever increases.
All the records that belong to the layer of the Lectionary, more than 89 300 incipits thus far, have been grammatically corrected and orthographically normalized. Those of the Mass Lectionary, i.e. the Gospels and the Lessons (Prophecies and Epistles) have been standardized as well. This means that the records that actually refer to one and the same pericope are now connected to a standard incipit that consists of the first distinctive words of the item and its biblical chapter (in brackets). At the present stage of the research, there are 1491 such items. With the help of the standard items, each pericope can be analyzed in a pan-European context. The Temporal records are based on an already comprehensive sample of each relevant diocese and religious order. The Sanctoral, Commune and Votive items draw on an ever-increasing dataset that now covers the secular Uses of Eastern and Central Europe. You can browse through the repertory by clicking the pull-down button 'Filter' in our 'Research' menu and selecting the season, week, day, genre etc. you are interested in. We will soon report in another write-up on the statistical facilities available.
Our earlier sample of the ordines of abbatial inauguration has been enriched by the texts of its female equivalent, the blessing of an abbess. The material can be accessed here.
We have uploaded all the liturgical texts and rubrics that regulate the processions of either the Greater or Minor Litanies (April 25 and the three ferias before Ascension Day, respectively) and are listed under the corresponding label of our list of ceremonies. The material can be studied and downloaded via this link.
Based on our shared interest in the Missals of pre-Reformation Germany, our research group has gained an unhoped-for contribution from a project initiated by pastor Evan Scamnan in the USA, Greenwich, Connecticut. English speaking Catholics may associate the abbreviation TLM with the Traditional Latin Mass; in this case, however, it refers to The Lutheran Missal. The basic principle of the project is that to restore an authentic Missal for the use of Lutheran faithful in the sense of ecclesiastical continuity, one must not depart from the tradition that the reformers had at hand, namely the service books of Germany at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries. For an introduction, you may listen to this podcast, and for the gradual progress of the work, you may visit this blog. The team of Usuarium was pleased to support the endeavour with its resources. In return, our colleagues at TLM were kind to provide us with extracts of 35 German diocesan Missals that are step-by-step being converted into full conspectuses according to our standards. For now, Missals of Osnabrück, Paderborn, Passau, Ratzeburg, Salzburg, Schwerin, Speyer, Straßburg (Strasbourg), Trier, and Würzburg can be researched here. The rest will follow in the autumn.
Our recent updates comprise the full contents of the most celebrated manuscript of the Beneventan Missal as well as those of the only extant Missal from Dubrovnik (Ragusa). Along with the already available sections from the service books of Capua and Albaneta and with the Missal and Lectionary of Kotor (Cattaro), their analysis and comparison may shed some new light on the relationship of the Dalmatian coast and the Campanian-Beneventan region of Italy.
A vast material of ordines for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday has recently been made available on our website. Besides the basic contents of the Mass and the Mass of the Presanctified, evidence for the consecration of Chrism, the washing of the feet, and the peculiarities of Good Friday (solemn intercessions, adoration of the cross, communion, repose) can be studied. The sample relies both on the testimony of printed Missals and Rituals and that of ancient Sacramentaries and Pontificals.
As a Hungarian research group, we started our world-conquering project, i.e. processing at least one full Missal for each liturgical Use, in this country. Comprehensive evidence has been made available of all the extant printed Missals from the territory of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary, those of Pécs, Esztergom, Zagreb, our first and so far mysterious Hungarian Missal of the Domini Ultramontani and the Pauline Order. In the past few months, the work moved on to the prestigious episcopal sees of Czechia, Praha, and Olomouc: both can also be consulted now.
After having published the ordines for the coronation of a king a few weeks ago, the collection has been completed with the closely related ceremony of imperial coronation. Queens and empresses are coming soon.
From now on we will be uploading independent collections of the extraordinary rites of the annual cycle, i.e. those ceremonies that precede the daily Mass or are incorporated into it but do not belong to the regular series of the Mass Propers. The first sample contains the specific features of Candlemas, namely the procession and the blessing of the candles, and in some Uses, of the new fire. The collection also includes the material transmitted in Rituals and Pontificals.
Six years ago we started to process all the sources containing information on the rites around the sick (visitation, communion, anointing), those around the dying man (commendation of the soul, agony, expiration), and around the dead (vigil, funeral Mass, burial). Now, this venture has come to a temporary end with the uploading of 21659 records from 139 sources. The vast material is open to further research via the link: https://usuarium.elte.hu/l/a8a2. As this complex of rituals is undoubtedly the largest and most diverse of all that can be celebrated by an ordinary priest, we took special care to make it relatively transparent by adding modules, i.e. subdivisions by which the textual items and the rubrics of the long process can be associated with relevant ceremonial and thematic units and thus easily compared.
Rituals of power attract a special interest of medievalists nowadays. After several months of intensive work, 75 variants with 2968 records of the coronation of a king – i.e. all of the sources that are available so far – were uploaded to Usuarium today. The collection is probably the largest extant sample of the history of the rite. It can be consulted and exported for further analysis in xlsx format via this link.
Last week we uploaded the conspectuses of the blessing of an abbot from about 60 Pontificals. With this improvement, we made a decisive step towards the publication of occasional rites, those ceremonies that are beyond the scope of the usual structure of Mass and Office Propers within the ecclesiastical year. Under the 'Research' menu and after filtering for the 'abbot' label (click 'filter', 'Add field', and add the fields: 'Ceremony', 'Name'), you can study every concerning ordo that we could detect until now. With the help of the 'export' function, you can also download the contents in xlsx format for further analysis and comparison. The material is also available here.
In last year's report about the methodology and the achievements of our indexing project (see: poj.peeters-leuven.be), we reported that the liturgical contents of 613 sources are listed on Usuarium. Recently more than 200 new indices have been added to the database; 820 in total. When opening the datasheet of any indexed service book, you can directly consult the detailed table of contents of each and open the relevant pages simply by clicking the page numbers. Moreover, under the heading 'Ceremonies', you can find hundreds of records for any rite of the traditional western liturgy. Each of these titles already provides sufficient source material for a monograph on the concerned field.
With the Missal of Pécs from 1487, the first comprehensive conspectus has been uploaded to our database. By clicking the 'Research' button, you can already search and filter the temporal contents of 133 Missals from all over Europe. From now on, the texts of the sanctoral, common, and votive parts, even some occasional rites (e.g. Baptism, Matrimony, Visitation of the Sick) can be researched through an ever-increasing set of historical sources.
After the inclusion of several catalogues and online resources, the collection of Usuarium currently lists 5398 titles. The amount is over four times the size of our digital library as it was at the end of 2020. By clicking the button 'Uses' above, you can browse the list of dioceses and other ecclesiastical institutions and find plenty of service books. At the present time, about 22% of the books is published, i.e. 1182 sources are available in pdf format and have valid information sheets but we expand this number almost every day.