Liturgical feast of a war

Last month, we read from Canticum Salomonis about the liturgical feast of the Liberation of Jerusalem which used to be observed on 15 July by the Crusaders. The Crusades have long been demonised in modern consciousness as oppressive Catholic expeditions into the Holy Land. In an age when demythification is in vogue, some sectors conveniently cling to a cloying mythologised version of history.

Santa María Sedano - El triunfo de la Santa Cruz en la batalla de las Navas de Tolosa
El triunfo de la Santa Cruz en la batalla de las Navas de Tolosa | Marceliano Santa María Sedano | 1892

Today, however, we turn our attention to a similar feast that celebrates a victory in war, in a coetaneous Crusade that was fought in the Iberian peninsula, a historical milestone now commonly referred to as the Reconquista. To situate our minds on this feast which is still celebrated in some places in the archipelago, a few readings are in order. Here is a piece published today by Canticum Salomonis. Here is a description of the feast, its propers, and its celebration in the Philippines from Dei praesidio fultus. And, lest we forget, a direct offshoot of these Crusades are the so-called bulas de la Santa Cruzada, which granted dietary privileges during times of fasting and abstinence. Read more about this here.

There are two features of this feast that might resonate with the modern Filipino ear. First, the most obvious, the archbishop of Toledo is named Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada, therefore, a namesake of the highest civil power of the country, who was probably named after San Rodrigo de Córdoba, a priest who, steadfast and unwavering in his profession of the Catholic faith, was beheaded under Sharia law under apostasy charges (after his Muslim brother, whose fight with their other areligious brother Rodrigo attempted to break, reported to Muslim authorities that Rodrigo had converted to Islam). His feast day is 13 March, but we all know that compilers of almanaques, from which parents of a bygone age used to choose the names of their children, habitually transferred some saints to other days.

Second, the archbishop of Toledo assiduously and jealously upheld the primacy of the see of Toledo against the pretensions of the sees of Braga and of Tarragona, to such a point that whenever he went to battle, he had the primatial cross processed before him. In fact, one of the many miracles inventoried in the aftermath of the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, which was victory for the Christians, was the fact that, despite the fight to the death, the archbishop’s crucifer, Don Domingo Pascasio, a canon of the cathedral of Toledo, who carried the aforementioned double-barred ferula before the archbishop, sustained no harm. One can contrast this against the limp-wristed stance this government has taken against maritime encroachments into our territorial waters.

Just wars are seldom fought by arms alone. They are fought as well with prayers. Let this feast be a reminder to us that God visits his ire upon those who dishonour His Holy Name.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.

Manifold significance of 16 July

Nowadays, 16 July is almost always associated with Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a feast that was earmarked for removal by the Commission for the General Reform of the Liturgy because its members felt the faithful focused on the privilege attached to the devotion and neglected other Marian feasts. After an onslaught of blasphemous diatribes—conveniently explained away either as a legitimate exercise of the freedom of speech, or an explosion of unresolved anger against an institution that coddled child abusers—from the highest civil power of the land, the bishops of the Philippines invited the faithful to pray and fast for those who blaspheme the Holy and Terrible Name of God. This reparatory triduum starts today.

While we pray and fast today in reparation for the outrages and calumnies spoken against the Name of God, let us also remember those milestones that, in the supreme and infinite goodness of God, lodged on this auspicious date in our calendar.

16 July A. D. 1935
Rome at Saint Peter’s

Pius XI
Pope Pius XI

Having received the request of the metropolitan archbishop of Manila, on behalf of the clergy and faithful of the entire archipelago, as well as the relation of the apostolic delegate, Pope Pius XI promulgates the bull Romani Pontifices to the Philippine Islands, declaring the Virgin of Guadalupe as the Heavenly Patroness of the Philippine Islands (in Latin, Cœlestis Patrona Insularum Philippinarum). Many would, afterwards, pit this title of the Deipara against her Immaculate Conception when, almost seven years later, on 12 September 1942, Pope Pius XII, with the bull Impositi Nobis, would declare the latter as the Principal and Universal Patroness of the Philippine Islands (in Latin, Primaria Universalisque Patrona Insularum Philippinarum).

Note: By the end of Spanish rule, the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe was kept as a double major, while the feast of the Immaculate Conception, being patroness of the Spanish Indies and titular of the metropolitan cathedral of Manila, was celebrated as a double of the first class with octave.

16 July A. D. 1902
Ciudad del Santísimo Nombre de Jesús

Sr. D. Fr. Martín García y Alcocer

A cholera epidemic breaks out in the city of Cebú. The ordinary of the see, the Franciscan Fray Martín García y Alcocer, causes the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Holy Cross to be carried in procession through the main streets of the city to invoke the heavenly aid of the Blessed Mother of God against the epidemic. Since then, the city celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on 16 July, in commemoration of its deliverance from the epidemic.

Note: There are two Virgins of Guadalupe venerated in the archipelago: the first is the image from Mexico in what was formerly known as New Spain; the second is the image from Cáceres in the province of Extremadura in Spain. These two are unrelated devotions, the latter antedating the Mexican image for almost four centuries. Of these two, the Mexican image is more widespread and more known. The Extremaduran image, however, is venerated in many parts of Bohol—Loboc, in particular. They are celebrated with their own proper Masses. The Virgin of Guadalupe in Cebu follows the Mexican archetype.

16 July A. D. 1251
Aylesford or Cambridge

Mary gives the scapular to Saint Simon Stock
The Blessed Virgin gives the scapular to Saint Simon Stock

The Blessed Virgin Mary appears in a vision to Saint Simon Stock, Prior General of the Order of the Carmelites, holding a brown scapular, and saying, “This is for you and yours a privilege; the one who dies in it will be saved.” The brown scapular eventually spreads amongst the people who wish to be affiliated with the Carmelites. Though the historicity of this vision and that of the sabbatine privilege has been seriously questioned in the last century, the devotion to the Blessed Virgin still remains strong with the brown scapular.

16 July A. D. 1212
Las Navas de Tolosa

Santa María Sedano - El triunfo de la Santa Cruz en la batalla de las Navas de Tolosa
El triunfo de la Santa Cruz en la batalla de las Navas de Tolosa | Marceliano Santa María Sedano | 1892

Alphonsus VIII of Castile, Sanctius VII of Navarre, and Peter II of Aragon obtain victory over the Muslims of Iberia. The Cross appears in the sky as the outnumbered Christians press against the Muslims, while the primatial Cross of Toledo penetrates the battle lines, amid the banners bearing the image of the Blessed Virgin, eventually putting to flight the Almohad caliph Muhammad an-Nasir. The Crusade has been organised by Alphonsus VIII; Roderic, metropolitan of Toledo; and Pope Innocent XIII, who mandated a special rogation in Rome a year before.

In former times, the Triumph of the Holy Cross was originally kept on 16 July in the calendar of the Philippines, with Our Lady of Mount Carmel transferred to 21 July. Eventually, the feast days were switched, until finally Our Lady of Mount Carmel was fixed on 16 July and the Triumph of the Holy Cross was moved a day later. However, in some places in the Philippines, such as Carigara in Leyte, the Triumph of the Holy Cross is still kept today.

Saint Bernardine of Siena observes: “No other sin compasses in itself so much wickedness as blasphemy does”. Saint Jerome agrees: “All other sins, therefore, are light compared to blasphemy.” Saint John Chrysostom then commands: “Strike the blasphemer, crush his mouth!” Blasphemy is a grave sin. There is no doubt about it. We must make reparation for these indecencies so carelessly and whimsically thrown to the air, lest the wrath of God descend upon our nation.

Converte nos, Deus, salutaris noster, et averte iram tuam a nobis.

Happy 9th anniversary!

Today, we turn 9 years.

Choir at 9

We came to the Traditional Latin Mass under different circumstances. We stayed. And, in 2009, we decided to sing. Eleven of us gathered in that first practice we ever had to stake our future on Attende, Domine, glowing nonchalantly on the back of our heads the enervating sun of that second Saturday in February 2009, right after afternoons began to swelter, when the amihan would usually and disappointingly whimper into a mere memory of Siberian coldness.

Choir demographicsIn the course of our nine years the demographic of this first eleven has become a fascinating factoid, not because our youngest was then a teenager and our oldest not yet quartering a century, nor because most of us were still working for our undergraduate degrees, but astonishingly because most of us unexpectedly and perplexingly came from that institution, which, as a neonate, allegedly received in 1910 the moniker la escuela del diablo thanks to a parish priest from Surigao [1]. It must really be quite disarming that most of the first members of the choir—many came and went; many stayed—pursued and finished their education in the University of the Philippines (click on that doughnut graph and look!).

Novem abhinc annos, we continue to whittle down a little and swell up a little. And so we soldier on, in season and out of season. Not because change is so fearsome we would rather bury our heads in our enormous chant books, but because nothing out there can quite replace the beauty of the sacred music we are privileged to sing and experience in the Traditional Mass. “We carry a mission transcending time and space: the transmission of Tradition that has gained for the Church triumphant greater glory in heaven, the Church militant assiduous warriors on earth, and the Church suffering spiritual respite in purgatory” [2].

Deo gratias !

[1] Michael Tan, American UP (8 January 2008): PDI.
[2] Siniculus, Spes Ecclesiæ juventus (17 February 2014): Dei præsdio fultus (2014)

Twenty-six martyrs of Japan

Four hundred twenty-one years ago, 5 February 1597, twenty-six Catholics—four (three Spanish, one Mexican) Discalced Franciscan friars, two (one Spanish, one Indian) Franciscan lay brethren, three Japanese Jesuit priests, and seventeen Japanese Franciscan tertiaries—received their crown on martyrdom, upon orders of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, on Nishizaka Hill. Thirty years later, on 14 September 1627, Urban VIII raised them to honour of the altar, issuing likewise the bull Salvatoris et Domini nostri, granting the privilege to celebrate the feast of Saint Peter Baptist and his XXII Franciscan Companions to all three orders of the Friars Minor and to the Archdiocese of Manila, and a similarly-worded bull to the Society of Jesus transmitting the privilege to celebrate the feast of Saint Paul Miki, Saint John Goto and Saint James Kisai. Read more details here.

Veintiséis mártires del Japón | Litografía de Escarpizo | s.f.

Two years later, the historic beatification was feted with great fanfare in Intramuros, on 2 February 1630, feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin. Below is the account recorded in the Compendio histórico de la Apostólica Provincia de San Gregorio de Filipinas of grand celebrations:

On the day of the Purification of Our Lady in the year 1630, at two in the afternoon, the procession left our Convent in Manila through the principal gate, which faces [the church of] Saint Augustine. Four groups of the Regiment formed the head of this said procession, which groups went marching with their master-of-camp and officials. Immediately followed a standard of the Saviour, and a reed trio with other instruments, and a dance; after this went the appareled [processional] cross and the candlesticks, accompanied by their music; twelve persons followed with twelve candles of white wax, who went lighting up [a standard of] one of the Holy Martyrs of Japan, hanging from a pole, in a frame richly adorned, which the priest, vested and with choral cape, carried. In this same conformity went the other Japanese saints, each having taken into their account other such towns which painstakingly laboured for their display, and in the variety of dances and detonations which accompanied said saints, in which admiration ought to be well noted. After the Holy secular Japanese Martyrs followed the religious, whom a standard of crimson damask preceded, in whose field were depicted as though alive three on each side, which standard the factor Don Cristóbal de Mercado carried in the midst of two other royal officials, the treasurer and the auditor. The sculpted images followed this painting, each in its bier, richly bedecked, whose cost was estimated to be two million. The first bier of Saint Gundizalvus [San Gonzalo García] was carried by students of the College of Saint Joseph, students of the Most Reverend Jesuit Fathers. The second bier of Saint Francis of Saint Michael [San Francisco de San Miguel de la Parrilla] was carried by the friars of our community [Franciscans]. The bier of Saint Philip of Jesus [San Felipe de Jesús de las Casas] was carried by the Most Reverend Recollect Friars. The bier of Saint Francis Blanco [San Francisco Blanco] was carried by the Most Reverend Jesuit Fathers. Following these is the very same cross, upon which Saint Martin of the Ascension [San Martín de la Ascensión] was crucified and pierced, which cross our Venerable confrère Fray Antonio de Santa María carried. After this same cross followed the image of the said Saint Martin, accompanied by the Most Reverend Augustinian Friars. Following these was the mantle of Saint Peter Baptist, richly bedecked, and upraised upon a pole, which Fray Diego del Villar, our Definitor, carried. Following this mantle is the original tablet upon which was written the sentence which the Emperor Taikosama [Toyotomi Hideyoshi] pronounced against these said Holy Martyrs, which tablet Fray Juan Bautista, friar of this Province [of Saint Gregory the Great] and actual Guardian of our Convent in Manila, carried. Following this sentence was the community of Our Father Saint Dominic, which carried the image of Saint Peter Baptist. Finally, the image of Our Father Saint Francis followed, which four dignities of the Holy Cathedral Church of Manila carried, whom the rest of the cathedral chapter and the clergy accompanied, while presiding over everyone the Most Illustrious Lord Bishop of Cebú, Don Fray Pedro de Arce, actual administrator of the archbishopric, in pontifical vestments, accompanied by the Most Reverend Provincials of the Sacred Religious Orders, with choral capes. At the end of the procession is the Governor [General] of the Islands, Don Juan Niño de Tabora, with his Royal Audience, the City, and the rest of its neighbouring districts, all richly vested. Thus [the procession] arrived in the cathedral, and vespers began, which the said Lord Bishop of Cebú officiated, sung by seven choirs conducted by Fray Martín de Carmona, our confrère, distinguished musician, as choirmaster. With vespers, the first demonstration of that day ended, followed at night by various fireworks display. And in all of the remaining days, there were sermons and sung Masses with all grandeur and solemnity, and in the afternoon, comedies and bullfights and other festive entertainments.

Día de la Purificación de Nuestra Señora de año mil seiscientos y treinta, a las dos de la tarde, salió la procesión de nuestro Convento de Manila por la puerta principal, que mira a San Agustín. Daban principio a dicha procesión cuatro compañías del Tercio, que iban marchando con su maestre de campo, y oficiales. Inmediatamente se seguía un estandarte del Salvador, y un terno de chirimías, con otros instrumentos, y una danza; tras esta iba la cruz de manga, y ciriales, acompañada de su música: seguíanse doce personas con doce hachas de cera blanca, que iban alumbrando a uno de los santos mártires [japoneses], pendiente de una asta, en un cuadro ricamente adornado, que llevaba el preste, revestido, y con capa de coro. En esta misma conformidad iban los demás santos [japoneses], habiendo tomado a cada uno de ellos por su cuenta otros tantos pueblos, que se esmeraron en su lucimiento, y en la variedad de danzas, e invenciones, que acompañaba a dichos santos, en que tuvo bien que notar la admiración. Después de los santos mártires [japoneses] seglares, seguían los religiosos, a quienes precedía un estandarte de damasco carmesí, en cuyo campo iban retratados al vivo, en cada reverso tres, el cual llevaba el [factor] Don Cristóbal de Mercado, en medio de los otros dos oficiales reales, tesorero, y contador. Seguíanse a esta pintura las imágenes de talla, cada uno en sus andas, ricamente aderezadas, cuyo costo se avaluó por dos millones. Las primeras andas del Santo Fr. Gonzalo lo cargaban los colegiales de San José, alumnos de los RR. PP. Jesuitas. Las segundas del Santo Fr. Francisco de la Parrilla, o de San Miguel, llevaban los religiosos nuestros, acompañados de nuestra Comunidad. Las del Santo Fr. Felipe de Jesús llevaban los RR. PP. Recoletos. Las del Santo Fr. Francisco Blanco cargaban los RR. PP. Jesuitas. A estos se seguía la misma cruz, en que había sido crucificado, y alanceado el Santo Fr. Martín de la Ascensión, la cual llevaba nuestro V. Fr. Antonio de Santa María. A esta cruz se seguía la imagen de dicho Santo Fr. Martín, acompañada de los RR. PP. Agustinos. Seguíase a estos el manto de San Pedro Bautista, ricamente aderezado, y elevado en una asta, que llevaba Fr. Diego del Villar, Definidor nuestro. A dicho manto se seguía la tabla original, en que estaba escrita la sentencia, que contra dichos santos mártires pronunció el Emperador Taicósama, la cual llevaba Fr. Juan Bautista, padre de esta Provincia, y Guardián actual de nuestro Convento de Manila. Seguíase a dicha sentencia la Comunidad de N. P. Santo Domingo, que cargaba la imagen de San Pedro Bautista. Últimamente se seguía la imagen de N. P. S. Francisco, que cargaban cuatro dignidades de la Santa Iglesia Catedral de Manila, a quienes acompañaba lo restante del cabildo eclesiástico, y clerecía: presidiendo a todos el Ilustrísimo Sr. Obispo de Cebú D. Fr. Pedro de Arce, Gobernador actual del Arzobispado, vestido de Pontifical, y acompañado de los RR. PP. Provinciales de las Sagradas Religiones, con capas de coro. Daba fin a dicha procesión el Gobernador de las Islas, D. Juan Niño de Tabora, con su Real Audiencia, ciudad, y lo restante de sus vecinos, todos ricamente vestidos. Llegó así a la catedral, y se comenzaron las vísperas, que ofició dicho Sr. Obispo de Cebú, y se cantaron a siete coros, llevando al compás, como maestro de capilla, Fr. Martín de Carmona, religioso nuestro, insigne músico. Con las vísperas se finalizó la primera demostración de aquel día, siguiéndose a la noche varias invenciones de fuegos. Y en todos los restantes días hubo sermones, y misas cantadas, con toda grandeza, y solemnidad; y por las tardes comedias, toros, y otros festivos entretenimientos.

Let us implore the intercession of these martyrs!

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.

Reference: Domingo Martínez, Compendio histórico de la Apostólica Provincia de San Gregorio de Filipinas (1761: Madrid) bk. I, ch. 55, n. 491.

Happy 8th anniversary!

Today, we turn 8 years.

Choir at 8

We came to the Traditional Latin Mass under different circumstances. We stayed. And, in 2009, we decided to sing. And so we soldier on, in season and out of season. Not because change is so fearsome we would rather bury our heads in our enormous chant books, but because nothing out there can quite replace the beauty of the sacred music we are privileged to sing and experience in the Traditional Mass. “We carry a mission transcending time and space: the transmission of Tradition that has gained for the Church triumphant greater glory in heaven, the Church militant assiduous warriors on earth, and the Church suffering spiritual respite in purgatory” [1].

Deo gratias !

[1] Siniculus, Spes Ecclesiæ juventus (17 February 2014): Dei præsdio fultus (2014)