Sunday 8 December 2019

November 25th - St. Catharine of Alexandria

The feast of St. Catharine of Alexandria is of double rite and its liturgical colour is red. The twenty-fifth and last Sunday after Pentecost, and this year the fifth Sunday of November, is commemorated in the Office and at Mass. According to tradition St. Catharine was the daughter of the Roman governor of Alexandria. She became a Christian and professed her faith under the Emperor Maxentius and as a consequence suffered scourging and imprisonment. Whilst imprisoned she was responsible for bringing many other souls to Christ. She was to be executed by being tied to a wheel which splintered as she touched it. She was beheaded and her body reposes at the monastery that bears her name at Mount Sinai. Her emblem of martyrdom is the Catharine Wheel.

An interesting and unusual depiction of a Catharine Wheel on a radiator - Church of St. Catharine, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire (Author's collection)

At Vespers yesterday afternoon the antiphons Haec est Virgo etc were sung, doubled, with psalms 109, 112, 121, 126 & 147. The Office hymn was Jesu, corona Virginum. After the collect of the feast a commemoration of the Sunday was sung (the antiphon on the Magnificat being Super muros tuos etc for the Saturday before the fifth Sunday of November). The Suffrages were omitted as were the Dominical preces at Compline.

At Mattins the invitatory is Regem Virginum Dominum * Venite adoremus and the Office hymn is Virgines Proles. In the first nocturn the antiphons O quam pulchra etc are sung, doubled, with psalms 8,18, & 23. The lessons are those appointed for the first nocturn of the Sunday, the Incipit of Micheas the Prophet. The first lesson is longer than that found in the modern editions of the Breviary. After ... et super excelsa terra the lesson continues Et consumenter montes, from the second lesson in the modern Breviary, until ... in peccatis domus Israel. The second lesson begins Quod scelus Jacob?... and continues until usque ad Hierusalem, i.e the end of the modern third lesson. The third lesson begins In Geth nolite annciare and continues until deceptionem regibus Israel (vv. 10 - 14). These verses are absent from the later editions. In the second nocturn the antiphons Specie tua etc are sung with Pss. 44, 45 & 47. The lessons are proper to the feast and are almost identical to those found in the post-Clementine editions. In the third nocturn the antiphons Nigra sum etc are sung with Pss. 95, 96 & 97. The homily for the feast is from St. Gregory the Great on St. Matthew’s Gospel. The lessons are considerably longer than those found in the later books, roughly double the length. Today the eighth and ninth lessons for the feast are joined together to make an extended eighth lesson and the ninth lesson is formed of the three lessons appointed for the last Sunday after Pentecost. These are from St. Jerome on St. Matthew's Gospel. The seventh lesson (of the Sunday) continues with the first sentence of the modern eighth lesson Potest autem... in praesentem diem stetit. The eighth lesson (of the Sunday) begins Abominatio quoque secundum... and continues until Apostoli habere prohibentur, the end of the modern ninth lesson. The text of the ninth lesson, absent from the modern books, begins Vae autem praegnantibus... and continues until ne temporum mora fides concutiatur credentium. The Te Deum is sung.

At Lauds the antiphons Haec est Virgo etc are sung, doubled, with Pss. 92, 99, 62-66, Benedicite & 148-149-150. The Office hymn is Jesu corona Virginum. After the collect of the feast a commemoration of the Sunday is sung. The Suffrages are omitted.

At Prime and the Hours the hymns the antiphons from Lauds are sung in the usual order. At Prime the festal psalms (53, 118i & 118ii) are sung. The Dominical preces are omitted.

Mass is sung after Terce. The second collect is of the Sunday. The Creed is sung, the common preface is sung and the last Gospel is of the Sunday.

At Vespers the antiphons Haec est Virgo etc are again sung, doubled, with psalms 109, 112, 121, 126 & 147. The Office hymn is Jesu, corona Virginum. After the collect of the feast commemorations are sung of the Sunday and of the following feast of St. Peter of Alexandria. The Suffrages are omitted as are the Dominical preces at Compline.

Icon: Wikipedia from St. Catharine's Monastery showing the Saint's martyrdom.

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