Feast of the Chair of St Peter (Feb 22)

Today's feast combines what were, until 1960, two separate feasts, namely of St Peter as bishop of Antioch, and St Peter as bishop of Rome.

The readings at Matins for today's feast are as follows:

Reading 1: Lesson from the first letter of St Peter the Apostle: Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers dispersed through Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect. According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, unto the sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you and peace be multiplied. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy hath regenerated us unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, Unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that can not fade, reserved in heaven for you, Who, by the power of God, are kept by faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time.

Reading 2: Wherein you shall greatly rejoice, if now you must be for a little time made sorrowful in divers temptations: That the trial of your faith much more precious than gold which is tried by the fire) may be found unto praise and glory and honour at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, you love: in whom also now, though you see him not, you believe: and believing shall rejoice with joy unspeakable and glorified; Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

Reading 3: (Sermon of St Leo): For when the twelve Apostles, after receiving through the Holy Ghost the power of speaking with all tongues, had distributed the world into parts among themselves, and undertaken to instruct it in the Gospel, the most blessed Peter, chief of the Apostolic band, was appointed to the citadel of the Roman empire, that the light of Truth which was being displayed for the salvation of all the nations, might spread itself more effectively throughout the body of the world from the head itself. You had already taught the people, who from the number of the circumcised had believed: you had already founded the Church at Antioch, where first the dignity of the Christian name arose: you had already instructed Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, in the laws of the Gospel-message: and, without doubt as to the success of the work, with full knowledge of the short span of your life carried the trophy of Christ's cross into the citadel of Rome, whither by the Divine fore-ordaining there accompanied you the honour of great power and the glory of much suffering.

Week of Sexagesima Sunday (Feb19-25)

Sunday 19 February – Sexagesima, Class II

Matins: Invitatory antiphon for the Sunday (Preoccupemus faciem Domini); hymn Primo dierum (from the psalter); readings, responsories and collect of the Sunday

Lauds to None: Antiphons and proper texts of Sexagesima, MD 164* ff with Sunday psalms

Vespers: Antiphons and psalms of Sunday, the rest for the day, from MD 168* ff

Monday 20 February – Class IV

Matins: in Nocturn II, antiphons of Septuagesima; three readings of the day

Collect, MD 163*; Magnificat antiphon MD 170*

Tuesday 21 February – Class IV

Matins: in Nocturn II, antiphons of Septuagesima; three readings of the day

Collect, MD 163*; Magnificat antiphon MD 170*

Wednesday 22 February – Chair of St Peter, Class III

Matins: Invitatory,  hymn, three readings and responsories and chapter of the feast;antiphons and psalms of the day

Lauds to Vespers: MD [68] ff.  Note that at Lauds and Vespers the collect is said with a commemoration of St Paul under one conclusion.

Thursday 23 February - St Peter Damian, memorial [EF: Class III]

Matins: in Nocturn II, antiphons of Septuagesima; three readings of the day

Collect, MD 163*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [73]; Magnificat antiphon at Vespers, MD 171*

Friday 24 February - St Matthias, Class II

Matins: All from the Common of Apostles, except for the Gospel, and twelve readings and responsories of the feast

Lauds to Vespers: All as in the common of Apostles, MD (9), with collect, MD [73]

Saturday 25 February  Saturday of Our Lady (in some places St Walburga, Class I)

Matins: in Nocturn II, antiphons of Septuagesima; three readings, 1&2 (combined with 3) of the day, reading 3 is of Our Lady, Saturday 4 in February

Lauds to None: MD (129) ff

I Vespers of Quinquagesima Sunday, MD 171* ff

For St Walburga, MD 21**

St Antoinine of Sorrento OSB

Today the martyrology remembers St Antoinine, an abbot who died in 625.  He is one of those early, largely ignored, Benedictine saints who help attest to the continuity of the Order.

According to the Wikipedia, he was born at Campagna, he left his native town to become a monk at Monte Cassino.

"During that time, Italy was suffering from barbarian invasions and Antoninus was forced to leave this monastery. Monte Cassino had been plundered by the Lombards and the monks escaped to Rome to seek protection from Pope Pelagius II. Antoninus, however, headed for Campania where he ended up at Castellammare di Stabia. Here Saint Catellus (San Catello) was bishop. Catellus, wishing to become a hermit, gave up his office as bishop and entrusted Antoninus with the task of serving as the town's bishop. Catellus withdrew to Monte Aureo.

The desire to remain a hermit himself led Antoninus to convince Catellus to return to his see. Antoninus retired to Monte Aureo himself and lived in a natural grotto. However, Catellus again decided to withdraw to this mountain and dedicate himself only sporadically to the cares of his diocese.

An apparition of Saint Michael is said to have convinced the two to construct the stone church now known as Monte San Angelo or Punta San Michele.

Subsequently, Catellus was accused of witchcraft by a priest named Tibeius (Tibeio) of Stabia and was held captive at Rome until a new pope released him. Catellus returned to Stabia and dedicated himself to expanding the church that he had helped found.

Inhabitants of Sorrento, meanwhile, convinced Antoninus to settle at Sorrento. Antoninus became an abbot of the Benedictine monastery of San Agrippino, succeeding Boniface (Bonifacio) in this capacity.

A miracle attributed to Saint Antoninus states that he saved a young child from a whale after it had been swallowed up by this sea creature. The sorrentini erected a crypt and basilica in honor of Antoninus. He was credited with saving the city from many dangers: a Moorish naval invasion; the revolt of the Sorrento leader Giovanni Grillo against Spanish domination; demonic possession; bubonic plague; and cholera."

The season of Septuagesima

Septuagesima Sunday marks the start of the 'pre-Lenten' or 'Shrovetide' season.

Septuagesimatide comprises of three Sundays, named for their distance from Easter:
  • the week of Septuagesima;
  • the week of Sexagesima; and
  • Quinquagesima Sunday and the Monday and (Shrove) Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
Septuagesimatide is a post-St Benedict addition to the calendar (one of the Gregorian reforms), hence the inconsistency between the rubrics, which banish the Alleluia for this period, and St Benedict's own prescriptions for the use of the Alleluia in the Rule in Chapter 15.

This little warm-up season is intended to help us ease us into Lenten mode, and so is a good time to start thinking about what book to choose as spiritual reading for Lent, and what penances you plan to adopt.

The key features of the Office for the Season of Septuagesimatide are:
  • the Alleluia is solemnly 'buried' with extra Alleluias added to the close of the Office of I Vespers of Septuagesima Sunday;
  • thereafter the Alleluia is no longer used in the Office - in the opening prayers of the Office it is replaced by 'Laus tibi Domine, Rex aeternae gloriae';
  • at Vespers, there are daily antiphons for the Magnificat.

Week of Septuagesima Sunday (Feb 12-18)

This Sunday marks the start of the pre-Lenten season of Septuagesimatide.  At I Vespers of Sunday, the Alleluia is 'buried' in a final flourish of repetitions, and not used thereafter until Easter.

From Septuagesima Sunday to the first Sunday of Lent:
  • the Alleluia is not used in the opening prayers - use Laus tibi Domine...;
  • at Matins, Nocturn II has antiphons for Septuagesimatide (in the psalter);and
  • Matins has three readings, of the day of the week.
The notes below provide a guide to the calendar this week, but if you are new to the Benedictine office, or need to check how a particular how is said, have a look at the notes here.

Sunday 12 February – Septuagesima Sunday, Class II

Matins: Invitatory antiphon for the Sunday (Preoccupemus faciem Domini); hymn Primo dierum (from the psalter); readings, responsories and collect of the Sunday; note that the Alleluia is not used, antiphons for Septuagesima instead

Lauds: Antiphons and proper texts, MD 154* ff, with psalms of Sunday (Ps 50, 117, 62)

Prime to None: Antiphons etc for the day from MD 158-9*

Vespers: Psalms and antiphons of Sunday; chapter, responsory, hymn etc for the day, from MD 159* ff

Monday 13 February – Class IV

All as for throughout the year except:

Collect, MD 157*

Matins: in Nocturn II, antiphons of Septuagesima; three readings of the day

Vespers Magnificat antiphon MD 161*

Tuesday 14 February – Class IV; St Valentine, memorial [in Europe: SS Cyril and Methodius]

Matins: in Nocturn II, antiphons of Septuagesima; three readings of the day

Collect, MD 157*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [67]; at VespersMagnificat antiphon MD 161*

Wednesday 15 February – Class IV [EF: commemoration of SS Fautinus and Jovita]

Matins: in Nocturn II, antiphons of Septuagesima; three readings of the day

Collect, MD 157*’ at Vespers, Magnificat antiphon MD 161*

Thursday 16 February – Class IV

Matins: in Nocturn II, antiphons of Septuagesima; three readings of the day

Collect, MD 157*; Magnificat antiphon MD 162*

Friday 17 February – Class IV

Matins: in Nocturn II, antiphons of Septuagesima; three readings of the day

Collect, MD 157*; Magnificat antiphon MD 162*

Saturday 18 February - Saturday of Our Lady

Matins: Reading 3 is of Our Lady, Saturday 3 in February

Lauds to None: MD (129) ff

I Vespers of Sexagesima Sunday, MD 162* ff

February 11: St Benedict of Aniane

St Benedict of Aniane (747 – 821) was the great codifier of monastic practice and rules under the Carolingian Empire, and is often credited with mandating of the use of the Rule of St Benedict among monks.

February 10:St Scholastica, Class I/II

St Scholastica (c480-543) was the twin sister of St Benedict.  She originally set up a monastery at Subiaco, and followed her brother when he moved to Monte Cassino, at the nearby monastery of Plumbariola.

Most of the information we have about her comes from St Gregory's Dialogues, including the story of their famous last day together, depicted in the painting above.  You can read the relevant parts of St Gregory on her here.  St Gregory depicts her as outdoing her brother in holiness, and providing a charismatic counter to his insistence on following the rules to the letter!

Her feast is celebrated as a Class I by Benedictine nuns, in part because, as well as attesting to the tradition of twinned monasteries, she also lends support for the fact that originally at least, Benedictine nuns were not established as a "second Order", with stricter enclosure requirements than for men as for later Orders, but rather the provisions of the Rule generally apply equally to both monks and nuns. Indeed, there is a nice letter (which may be a later medieval pious fraud, but nonetheless attests to the point) attributed to St Scholastica on this very point, which you can read over at Vultus Christi.

A Song about St Scholastica

Finally, from the Monastic matrix project, courtesy of Logismoi, a song by St Aldhelm, Bishop of Sherborne (c 639-709):

Scholastica took her very name from schola,
God enriches her abundantly with heavenly favour,
She who gained golden rewards by her virginal vow.

Concerning whom a little twig of nourishing life
is wont to scatter excellence
as widely as the world extends.

Because the virgin impatiently urges her brother
who is joined to her by a covenant of kinship,
and supports her pleas with reasoned argument

So that, at night, they might partake
of the sweet courses of the holy books
and the banquets of the holy word.
From which the breasts of many
are sufficiently filled,

And the hearts of holy people nourished.
But the faithful brother is not moved by any pleas,
Nay rather he disdains his holy sister in his words.
Then the virgin urged the good Christ in her heart
to deign to heal the wound of sorrow for her.

Thus soon the whole sky grows dark
with a stormy whirlwind
and the vault of the heaven with gloomy air.
Huge rumbling thunder,
mingled with flashing lightning bolts,

And the Earth quaked,
trembling from the great noise.
Wet fleecy clouds moisten it with dewy drops,
And the air bedews the land with gloomy showers.
The valleys are filled
and abundant streams overflow,

Then unwillingly he remained
who before had deliberately refused
what his distressed and weeping sister had sought.
So God heeds those who ask with burning heart,
Even when they pay attention to words
which do not console.

(translated by Mary Forman, OSB, and originally published in Vox Benedictiana, 1990)