History of the use/rite of Braga (II)


Kingdoms of Leon and Castile (1037)

The definitive restoration of the diocese of Braga did not take place before the mid-12th century. Bishop Pedro was chosen for the diocese in 1070, but in 1088 the bishop of Lugo still retained the title of metropolitan (with the invasion of the Iberian peninsula by the Moors in 711, Lugo assumed prominence after Braga fell). At the Council of Burgos (1080) the Mozarabic rite was abrogated, resulting in the adoption of the Roman rite in the kingdoms of Leon and Castile (it is possible that Braga and Coimbra were the last “refuge” of the Mozarabic rite during the reign of Alfonso VI). The establishment of the Roman rite in the Iberian peninsula was largely the work of Cluny, resulting in many Cluniac and French features being adopted into the liturgy.


Artist’s rendition of Cluny Abbey

Bishop Pedro adopted the Roman rite for the cathedral of Braga, which was consecrated in 1089 by the Cluniac archbishop of Toledo, Bernard de la Sauvetat. Urban II conferred the title of “Primate of Hispania” on the archbishop of Toledo in spite of Braga having a more ancient tradition and being restored before Toledo (the issue of the title would rear its head several times throughout the centuries – once with Pope Honorius III ordering perpetual silence on the matter! –  finally being resolved at Trent).

It is at this time that we are introduced to one of Braga’s most well known saints – St. Gerald. Saint Gerald was originally a monk of Moissac (France); later, a cantor of the Toletan cathedral; afterwards, consecrated bishop of Braga by the Toletan archbishop Bernard in 1096. One of the saint’s first acts was to reform the cathedral’s chapter (they began to live a “common life”) and make sure that the Roman rite was everywhere observed (it is believed that the Roman rite was introduced between 1080 and 1085). It is worth noting that St. Gerald’s zeal for the Roman rite was such that he had doubts about the orders of deacons and priests still in his diocese ordained according to the Mozarabic rite, needing to consult with the Pope as to their validity. The pallium and title of metropolitan were conferred upon him by Pope Paschal II . He died at Bornes on December 5th, 1108, and has been regarded as the patron of the diocese since 1182.


Azulejo of St. Gerald receiving pallium

Saint Gerlad’s successor, Maurice Burdin was also a Cluniac monk. Having been archdeacon of Toledo, later bishop of Coimbra, in 1109 he became archbishop of Braga (he was later elected antipope, Gregory VIII!).
João Peculiar was another notable archbishop of Braga. Having been chosen as archbishop of Braga in 1138, he pleaded the case of D. Afonso Henrique’s right to the title of king to Pope Innocent II. The common life of the cathedral chapter died out in the last years of his episcopacy. In 1173 he established in the cathedral the positions of: dean, cantor, master of the school, and sacristan or treasurer.


João Peculiar

We can began to speak of a use proper to Braga around the 12th-13th century. Two books – the Missal de Mateus and the Pontifical de Braga – influenced the liturgical rites of Braga, which stabilized at the end of the 13th century. Some scholars claim that the Bragan rite preserves Mozarabic elements, but they have tended to ignore the fact that those elements came into the latter rite at the time of Card. Cisneros via franco-roman books that had been flooding Spain from the 12th century. What seems to be the case is the Roman rite having secondary prayers and ceremonies being taken from various sources, mostly French.

What can be said about the Missal de Mateus? It has only been studied in the 20th century, as it was discovered in a private library in Porto in 1925. It seems to have belonged to a parish church, S. Martinho de Mateus, and probably dates no later than the first years of the 10th century, perhaps even the second half of the century. It is in Carolingian script, without any Visigothic influence, seeminly transcribed for a church, if not monastic, then a community of common life. It still contains the rite of reconciliation of penitents. There is an indication in the sanctoral cycle that leads us to believe that it came from a church dedicated to St. Martin of Tours in the 10th century, served by a community of canons under a regime of common life, closely connected to the see of Tours. This provenience is not strange if one takes into account that there was a connection between Alfonso III (+910) and the clergy of the basilica of St. Martin; it seems quite natural that French books should be imported into the peninsula once the Mozarabic rite was abandoned. The calendar was added possibly to permit the use of the missal in the Bragan archdiocese.

The 12th century Bragan pontifical, which is not earlier than 1175, was transcribed and probably compiled for Braga: the litany for the consecration of a church has St. Gerald; three Bragan bishops are invoked in the rite of consecration of a bishop. It is believed that its origin is the south of France, as three litanies have the names Saturninus, Martial, and Giles. A similar book from Santa Cruz (Coimbra), from the second half of the 12th century, shares certain features with it.

In 1292 the visitation of a Cluniac house in Vimeiro mentions the Divine Office being celebrated according to the custom of the country. The first mention of a “iuxta consuetudinem ecclesiae bracarensis” is in a 14th century will (1301), where the chaplain is directed to celebrate according to the use. Pope Innocent IV issued a bull authorizing the establishment of 12 canons (tercenarios) for singing the Divine Office in the cathedral, a situation which lasted from 12-45 to 1832. It was in the final decade of the 15th century that the use of Braga reached its greatest stability. In 1488 a diocesan synod authorized the printing of liturgical books: the Breviary appeared in 1492; manual of Sacraments, 1496; missal, 1498.


About Br. Gregory

Benedictine oblate, husband and father of 3, enamoured with the Liturgy, Fathers, and Sacred Scriptures. Trying to persevere through the "dura et aspera" while de Dei misericordia numquam desperare."
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