Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: Roman Pontifical and Coronation Rite
Roman Pontifical and Coronation Rite QUESTION from Robert Grey November 4, 2001
I have a few questions for you:
1- When was the previous Roman Pontifical replaced by the present one?
2- Do you know where could I find for research or purchase the pre-Vatican II Roman Pontifical?
3- I have an historical interest in the Coronation Rites used by the Catholic Church. Could you please then, if you have any knowledge of the matter, give me a brief description of the rite of Coronation that existed in the pre-Vatican II Pontificale Romanum?
4 - I know that there is presently no monarch who was crowned in a Catholic Coronation Mass (the present Spanish Royal Family, for example, is Catholic, but since 1976, when the Spanish monarchy was restored, Spain has become a secular State, and since the Catholic Faith is no longer the official religion of Spain, the monarch is not crowned any more). Taking into account that the previous Roman Pontifical had an Ordo for the Coronation and Benediction of Kings (De Benedictione et Coroatione Regis), and that there is no such Ordo in the new Pontifical (in the Pontifical I have at home there is no Ordo of Coronation apart from that of the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary - but no reason is given for the omission of the Order of Coronation of Kings), I make the following questions:
4.1 - If in the future, one of the existing monarchies accepts the Catholic Faith as its official religion, can the monarch of that State be crowned by the Mother Church?
4.2 - Does the fact that there is no Order of Coronation in the Pontifical mean that there is presently no valid Order of Coronation or is it possible that the Ordo of the previous Pontifical, in spite of not being codified in the new Pontifical, remains still a valid Ordo?
4.3 - Is there in the present any valid Ordo at all for the coronation of Catholic Kings?
4.4 - If there is a valid ordo different from that of question 3 above, could you please describe the rite?
I am sorry to ask so many questions in only one post, but I need to get these questions for a historical research. So, thank you very much for your help. Congratulations on the wonderful site, its always a very good source of information on Catholic Doctrine and Liturgy. God Bless.
ANSWER by Mr. Jacob Slavek on November 3, 2001
Dear Mr. Grey,
I neither own nor was able to find the new Pontificale Romanum, so I cannot tell you when it replaced the old. I presume it would be somewhere in the seventies, at the latest, maybe the first half of the eighties.
In order to research the old, if you have a Catholic university, college, or seminary nearby, I would suggest you try their library. Beware, though, it will be in Latin. Also, try Loome's Theological Bookseller if you are interested in purchasing it. Based on my own business with them, I can say that they are likely to have it or get it for you.
I can give you a brief description of the old coronation rite, DE BENEDICTIONE ET CORONATIONE REGIS. This is my own commentary, I could find no other.
A sword, crown, and scepter are placed above the altar. The bishops meet in the church when Mass is to begin, the archbishop sits at the middle before the altar in the faldstool, which is a chair with armrests but no back. The king vests in his military vestments and comes to the church with his nobles near the bishops. A bishop says to the archbishop that the king prays to be raised to the dignity of a king. The archbishop asks the bishops if they believe he is worthy. The bishop respond yes. The archbishop says Thanks to God.
The king sits between two leading bishops, with a greater on the right and another on the left. The archbishop, about to crown the king, says a lengthy prayer of preparation. When finished, the King goes to him and genuflects before him and makes a profession of service.
At the conclusion of the prayer, the archbishop holds the Evangeliorum (book of Gospels) before the king, who puts both hands on it saying, Thus God helps me, and these holy words of God
The king kisses the hands of the archbishop, and genuflects. The archbishop stands, faces the king and prays to God remembering kings in the Old Testament as well as other Old Testament leaders.
The king prostrates at the archbishop's left, the litany of the saints is chanted, the archbishop holds the crosier over the prostrate king and says, May you deem worthy to bless this elected king who is about to be crowned. Then, once again bless, and consecrate. The archbishop prays the Our Father, adding several versicles with responses at the end.
The archbishop sits, the king gets up, genuflects, and is annointed with the oil of the catechumens.
The archbishop sits again before the altar and takes the sword. The king follows near him, and genuflects. The archbishop gives the king the sword and prays. Take this sword of the altar to your hands.
The king stands up well prepared, removes the sword from its sheath, and wipes it clean on his left arm and replaces it. He genuflects, and the crown is placed on him. Take this crown of the king, which, granted you are unworthy, yet by the hands of the bishops, is placed on your head. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
The prayer continues, when it is finished, the archbishop gives him the scepter, and continues.
The Te Deum is chanted. When it begins, the archbishop goes to the right of the king, and says above him, may your hand straighten, and exalt by your right.
Mass continues with the readings. There are a proper prayer over the gifts and prayer after communion. The King receives the sign of peace from a priest. The king goes to the altar to receive the Body and Blood.
Okay.... so on to the new ordo. This first thing I want to say is that this isn't a matter of validity... there is no such thing as a valid coronation as there are valid sacraments. Coronation is not a sacrament. So it the old rite valid? There is no distinction.
The reforms of the liturgy of Vatican II were completed earlier this year with the promulgation of the new rite of Exorcism. Since there is no revised rite of coronation, I think we may presume that it has fallen out of use. Nonetheless, I was not able to find out that it had been suppressed.. normally suppression is documented. I think that since only a select few would have been using this rite (if using it at all) it was not deemed necessary to announce it's suppression. If you have a new Roman Pontifical, maybe it would say in the decree if any part has been suppressed.
Let me know if you need clarifications or further information.
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