History of the use/rite of Braga (III)

The 16th century was witness to the beginning of bi-ritualism in the archdiocese. We begin to see Roman elements creeping into the Bragan use (e.g., saints from the Roman calendar, the Bragan calendar being very sparse at the time; rules for the Gloria and Credo). At this time the desire for a change of rite in order to conform to the Roman praxis was considered laudable. The archbishop Diogo de Sousa (1505-1532) supplied the cathedral with more liturgical manuscripts and ordered more editions to be printed. At the same time, he ordered more Roman books to be printed, though we are unaware of his motivation. The fables concerning St. Pedro de Rates first appear in the breviaries of 1511 and 1528. The rubrics of the 1512 missal indicated that the Paschal Vigil should be celebrated at night (missa in nocte dicatur). In 1521 the archbishop directed Fr. Xystus Figueira to write a guide for clergy on how to recite the Office according to Bragan custom. In 1538 a liturgical oddity happened: the printing of the Rituale (12/7) was shortly followed by that of the missal (16/7); however, the ordo found in the first book was that of the diocese of Coimbra!


Baltazar Limpo, OC

Baltazar Limpo, OC (1550-1558) introduced a number of innovations into the missal:

  • fixed the prayers at the foot of the altar and added the Ave Maria;
  • the praeparatio calcis was permitted to be done either at the beginning of Mass or before or after the Gospel;
  • prayers at the Offertory;
  • added preparatory prayers for the priest’s communion;
  • for the laity’s preparation for communion, added the possibility of the Confiteor being said in Portuguese;
  • Sub tuum praesidium at the end of Mass [Dr. Carvalho says that it was the Salve Regina; however the latter cannot be found among the Marian antiphons recited at the end of  Mass];
  • structure of ancient rites suffered significant alterations

While the missal was printed in Lyon and the archbishop was a Carmelite, no direct dependencies from the Carmelite or Lyonnaisse missals can be detected in that of Braga. There are shared bits, but they can also be found in other French books (be they local uses or those of religious orders). There does seem to be a direct dependency with another missal, however: a recent study by Dr. Joaquim Felix de Carvalho has discovered that Baltazar’s missal relies heavily upon the missal of Salamanca (1533). Already at a diocesan synod in 1537 the clergy were permitted to pray the Roman Office when extra chorum; however, choirs and cathedral, collegiate churches and religious houses were not to take advantage of this privilege without the superior obtaining the consent of the majority. Not reciting the Bragan Office (in the case of not having been granted such a privilege) could result in excommunication. The 1558 edition of the Bragan missal already saw an attempt to make it similar to the Roman; this edition would be the last one before 1924. In 1594 a diocesan synod reaffirmed the obligation of praying the Divine Office according the the Bragan breviary under pain of excommunication; churches were to conform to the use of the primatial church, and if only one Mass was to be said then it must necessarily be according to the Bragan rite.

In 1600 the primate approved statutes of the cathedral chapter, prescribing all Hours and Offices to be according to the Bragan use. The introduction of the Roman breviary was proposed during the episcopate of Rodrigo da Cunha (1626-1634); however, the cathedral canons opposed the measure, citing archbishop Bartolomeu, who had assisted at the Council of Trent and was in favour of maintaining the liturgical customs of Braga. In the end, a reform of the breviary resulted in the:

  • introduction of Roman hymns;
  • revision of biblical texts, according to the Vulgata approved at Trent;
  • elimination of homilies by Origin and some attributed to St. Augustine;
  • obligatory character of the Canticum Canticorum extra chorum being removed;

D. Gueranger, one of the founding members of the original Liturgical Movement in the 19th century, said of the 1634 Bragan breviary that it was “essentially the Roman breviary, but with some particularities”. It should be noted that Rodrigo was in favour of introducing the Roman rite, but faced serious opposition from the canons. The chapel of the Misericordia of Braga was authorized the use of the Roman breviary (1629), in spite of the founder having required that only the Bragan be used. A manual for the administration of the Sacraments was approved in 1637, having been printed in 1697.


Rodrigo de Moura Teles

Rodrigo de Moura Teles (archbishop from 1704-1728) asked the Apostolic See to be dispensed from reciting the Bragan breviary. His request was approved; however, he eventually opted in favour of the Bragan. In spite of his declaration of favouring the local use, he ended up being buried with Roman ceremonial. As a side note, he instituted lausperene in 1709, a practice which is still maintained to this day all throughout Lent. Gaspar de Braganca (1758-1789) tried to adopt the Roman rite, and even went so far as to reform the cathedral chant by bringing in friars to teach Roman chant in the seminary and primatial church. The chapter approved the introduction of Roman chant and new feasts, but vigorously opposed the change of rites. The canons agreed that the cerimonials of 1558 were to be retained even if they were not found in earlier missals. A Benedictine, Fr. Jose de San Miguel, was brought in to help clear up the cathedral’s liturgical issues and history. While he reached some strange conclusions about the Bragan use’s origin (going so far as to claim that it came from the Benedictines of Tibaes!), he was of the opinion that the Congregation of Rites should be consulted before introducing any changes, and should the archbishop persist on attempting to introduce the Roman rite, then the Crown should be approached! The chapter of April 7th, 1780 discussed the question of suppressing the Marian tropes in the Gloria, but decided in favour of retaining them. Nonetheless, in spite of the insistence of maintaining Braga’s liturgical heritage, solemn funeral ceremonies continued to be celebrated in the primatial church with recourse to the Roman rite without any protest from the canons.

From 1876 to 1883 a practical school of the Roman rite was established in the seminary, and the authorities intended to modify the breviary without informing Rome. This lead to an enormous backlash from laity and clergy, much like what had taken place in Lyon only 20 years prior under similar circumstances, resulting in the archdiocese being flooded with pamphlets and newspaper articles defending the liturgical patrimony.


A new perpetual calendar was approved for the archdiocese by the Congregation of Rites in 1906. In 1907 the primatial church was granted privileges of a minor basilica, including the adoption of the following insignia: the pavilhao (a kind of large yellow and purple striped umbrella) and the campanario (a staff with an elaborately carved top enclosing a bell, which was preceded by the mace bearer). The Congregation of Rites approved in 1908 the basis suggested for reform of the Bragan rite. Pope Benedict XV’s bull, Sedis hujus Apostolicae (1919), approved the reform of the breviary. This reform preserved the original structure of the rite (the distribution of the Psalms followed Divina Afflatu), suppressed any lessons unhistorical or contrary to the proved tradition of the Church, and clergy were reminded of the obligatory nature of the breviary. A solemn thanksgiving for the restoration of the traditional liturgy was celebrated at the cathedral on the feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1919. A mandate from the archbishop was issued November 5th 1923, directing clergy to recite the reformed breviary and ceremonies of high Mass according to the local use from January 1st 1924. The new edition of the missal was approved by Pope Pius XI in 1924, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. While it is believed that this reform was a return to a “purer” form of the Bragan tradition, it was based on the missal of D. Baltazar, perhaps oblivious to the amount of innovations introduced at the time.


Campanario, with pavilhão in the background

We have already discussed here the attempts at reform of the use in the aftermath of the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Missae. It has recently come to our attention that some form of alterations were approved in the mid-to-late 1970’s. These changes will be addressed sometime in the future, once enough information has been gathered.

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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