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Shepherd in his "Elucidation of the Book of Common Prayer" satisfactorily explains the origin of these days:
When the words Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima were first applied to denote these three Sundays, the season of Lent had generally been extended to a fast of six weeks, that is, thirty-six days, not reckoning the Sundays, which were always celebrated as festivals. At this time, likewise, the Sunday which we call the first Sunday in Lent, was styled simply Quadragesima, or the fortieth, meaning the fortieth day before Easter. Quadragesima was also the name given to Lent, and denoted the Quadragesimal, or forty days' fast. When the three weeks before Quadragesima ceased to be considered as weeks after the Epiphany, and were appointed to be observed as a time of preparation for Lent, it was perfectly conformable to the ordinary mode of computation to reckon backwards, and for the sake of even and round numbers to count by decades. The authors of this novel institution, and the compilers of the new proper offices, would naturally call the first Sunday before Quadragesima, Quinquagesima; the second, Sexagesima; and the third, Sep'nagesima. This reason corresponds
with the account that seems to be at present most generally adopted."
There is much difference of opinion as to whether the fast of Lent lasted anciently during forty days or forty hours.
Common Maidenhair. Asplenium tri
Dedicated to St. Martina.
Ribadeneira relates, that on the 1st of August 1216, the virgin Mary with a beautiful train of holy virgins appeared to this saint at midnight, and signified it was the divine pleasure that a new order should be instituted under the title of Our Blessed Lady of Mercy, for the redemption of captives, and that king James of Aragon had the same vision at the same time, and "this order, therefore, by divine revelation, was founded upon the 10th, or as others say, upon the 23d of August." Then St. Peter Nolasco begged for its support, and thereby rendered himself offensive to the devil. For once taking up his lodging in private, some of the neighbours told him, that the master of the house, a man of evil report, had lately died, and the place had ever since been inhabited by "night spirits," wherein he commended himself to the virgin and other saints, and "instantly his admonitors vanished away like smoke, leaving an intolerable scent behind them." These of course were devils in disguise. Then he passed the sea in his cloak, angels sung before him in the habit of his order, and the virgin visited his monastery. One night he went into the church and found the angels singing the service instead of the monks; and at another time seven stars fell from heaven, and on digging the ground "there, they found a most devout image of our lady under a great bell," and so forth.
Hartstongue. Asplenium Scolopendium. Dedicated to St. Marcella.
Then came cold February, sitting
This month has Pisoes or the fishes for its zodiacal sign. Numa, who was chosen by the Roman people to succeed Romulus as their king, and became their legislator, placed it the second in the year, as it remains with us, and dedicated it to Neptune, the lord of waters. Its name is from the Februa, or Feralia, sacrifices offered to the manes of the gods at this season. Ovid in his Fasti attests the derivation :
In ancient times, purgations had the name
A pliant branch cut from a lofty pine,
Is Februa called; which if the priest demand,
of this our month of February came;
But here adopted by another name;
A bloody crime, or any sinful stain.
Our Saxon ancestors, according to Verstegan, "called February Sprout-kele, by kele meaning the kele-wurt, which we
now call the colewurt, the greatest potwurt in time long past that our ancestors used, and the broth made therewith was thereof also called kele; for before we borrowed from the French the name of potage, and the name of herbe, the one in our owne language was called kele, and the other wurt; and as this kele-wurt, or potage-hearbe, was the chiefe winterwurt for the sustenance of the husbandman, so was it the first hearbe that in this moneth began to yeeld out wholesome yong sprouts, and consequently gave thereunto the name of Sprout-kele." The "kele" here mentioned, is the wellknown kale of the cabbage tribe. But the Saxons likewise called this month "Solmonath," which Dr. Frank Sayers in his "Disquisitions" says, is explained by Bede "mensis plancentarum," and rendered by Spelman in an unedited manuscript pan-cake month," because in the course of it, cakes were offered by the pagan Saxons to the sun; and "Sol," or "soul," signified "food," or cakes."
In "The Months," by Mr. Leigh Hunt,
he remarks that "if February were not the precursor of spring, it would be the least pleasant season of the year, November not excepted. The thaws now take place; and a clammy mixture of moisture and cold succeeds, which is the most disagreeable of wintry sensations." Yet so variable is our climate, that the February of 1825 broke in upon the inhabitants of the metropolis with a day or two of piercing cold, and realized a delightful description of January sparkled from the same pen. "What can be more delicately beautiful than the spectacle which sometimes salutes the eye at the breakfastroom window, occasioned by the hoarfrost dew? If a jeweller had come to dress every plant over night, to surprise an Eastern sultan, he could not produce any thing like the 'pearly drops,' or the 'silvery plumage.' An ordinary bed of greens, to those who are not at the mercy of their own vulgar associations, will sometimes look crisp and corrugated emerald, powdered with diamonds."
Sunk in the vale, whose concave depth receives
With wondering stare and fruitless search they trace
St. Ignatius. St. Pionius, A. D. 250. St. Bridget. St. Kinnia. St. Sigebert II. King.
St. Bride, otherwise St. Bridget, confers her name upon the parish of St. Bride's, for to her its church in Fleetstreet is dedicated. Butler says she was born in Ulster, built herself a cell under a large oak, thence called Kill-dara, or cell of the oak, was joined by others of her own sex, formed several nunneries, and became patroness of Ireland. "But,' says Butler, "a full account of her virtues has not been transmitted down to us, together with the veneration of her name;"
yet he declares that "her five modern lives mention little else but wonderful miracles." According to the same author, she flourished in the beginning of the sixth century, her body was found in the twelfth century, and her head "is now kept in the church of the Jesuits at Lisbon."
This writer does not favour us with any of her miracles, but bishop Patrick mentions, that wild ducks swimming in the water, or flying in the air, obeyed her call, came to her hand, let her embrace them, and then she let them fly away again. He also found in the breviary of Sarum, that when she was sent a-milking by her mother to make butter, she gave away all the milk to the poor; that when the rest of the maids brought
in their milk she prayed, and the butter multiplied; that the butter she gave away she divided into twelve parts, "as if it were for the twelve apostles; and one part she made bigger than any of the rest, which stood for Christ's portion; though it is strange," says Patrick, "that she forget to make another inequality by ordering one portion more of the butter to be made bigger than the remaining ones in honour of St. Peter, the prince of the apostles."
BURIAL OF ALLELUIA.
In Mr. Fosbroke's "British Monarchism," the observation of this catholic ceremony is noticed as being mentioned in Ernulphus's Annals of Rochester Cathedral," and by Selden. From thence it appears to have taken place just before the octaves of Easter Austin says, "that it used to be sung in all churches from Easter to Pentecost, but Damasus ordered it to be performed at certain times, whence it was chanted on Sundays from the octaves of Epiphany to Septuagesima, and on the Sundays from the octaves of Pentecost and Advent. One mode of burying the Alleluia was this: in the sabbath of the Septuagesima at Nones, the choristers assembled in the great vestiary, and there arranged the ceremony. Having finished the last Benedicamus,' they advanced with crosses, torches, holy waters, and incense, carrying a turf (Glebam) in the manner of a coffin, passed through the choir and went howling to the cloister, as far as the place of interment; and then having sprinkled the water, and censed the place, returned by the same road. According to a story (whether true or false) in one of the churches of Paris, a choir boy used to whip a top, marked with Alleluia, written in golden letters, from one end of the choir to the other. In other places Alleluia was buried by a serious service on Septuagesima Sunday."
Lesser Water Moss. Fontinalis minor.
Bay. Laurus nobilis.
Holiday at the Public Offices, except Excise, Stamps, and Customs.
The Purification. St. Laurence, Archbishop of Canterbury, A. D. 619
This being the festival which catholics
call the Purification of the virgin, they observe it with great pomp. It stands as a holiday in the calendar of the church of England. Naogeorgus thus introduces the day; or rather Barnaby Googe, in his translation of that author's, "Popish Kingdom :"
"Then comes the Day wherein the Virgin offred Christ unto
The Father chiefe, as Moyses law
commaunded hir to do. Then numbers great of Tapers large, both men and women beare To Church, being halowed there with pomp, and dreadful words to heare. This done, eche man his Candell lightes where chiefest seemeth hee, Whose Taper greatest may be seene and fortunate to bee;
Whose Candell burneth cleare and bright,
nor any Devil's spide,
nor hurts of frost or haile.'
According to "The Posey of Prayers, or the Key of Heaven," it is called Candlemas, because before mass is said this day, the church blesses her candles for the whole year, and makes a procession with hallowed or blessed candles in the hands of the faithful."
From catholic service-books, quoted in "Pagano Papismus," some particulars are collected concerning the blessing of the candles. Being at the altar, the priest says over them several prayers; one of which commences thus: "O Lord Jesu Christ, who enlightenest every one that cometh into the world, pour out thy benediction upon these Candles, and sanctifie them with the light of thy grace," &c. Another begins: "Holy Lord, Father Almighty, Everlasting God, who hast created all things of nothing, and by the labour of bees caused this liquor to come to the perfection of a wax candle; we humbly beseech thee, that by the invocation of thy most holy name, and by the intercession of the blessed virgin, ever a virgin, whose festivals are this day devoutly celebrated, and by the prayers of all thy saints, thou wouldst vouchsafe to bless and sanctifie these candles," &c. Then the priest sprinkles the candles thrice with holy water, saying "Sprinkle me with," &c. and perfumes them thrice with incense. One of the
consecratory prayers begins: "O Lord Jesu Christ, bless this creature of wax to us thy suppliants; and infuse into it, by the virtue of the holy cross, thy heavenly benediction; that in whatsoever places it shall be lighted, or put, the devil may depart, and tremble, and fly away, with all his ministers, from those habitations, and not presume any more to disturb them," &c. There is likewise this benediction: "I bless thee, O wax, in the name of the holy trinity, that thou may'st be in every place the ejection of Satan, and subversion of all his companions,' &c. During the saying of these prayers, various bowings and crossings are interjected; and when the ceremonies of consecration are over, the chiefest priest goes to the altar, and he that officiates receives a candle from him; afterwards, that priest, standing before the altar towards the people, distributes the candles, first to the priest from whom he received a candle, then to others in order, all kneeling (except bishops) and kissing the candle, and also kissing the hand of the priest who delivers it. When he begins to distribute the candles, they sing, "A light to lighten the gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel." After the candles are distributed, a solemn procession is made; in which one carries a censer, another a crucifix, and the rest burning candles in their hands.
The practice is treated of by Butler in his notice of the festival under this head, "On blessing of Candles and the Procession." It is to be gathered from him that "St. Bernard says the procession was first made by St. Joseph, Simeon, and Anne, as an example to be followed by all the earth, walking two and two, holding in their hands candles, lighted from fire, first blessed by the priests, and singing." The candle-bearing has reference to Simeon's declaration in the temple when he took Jesus in his arms, and affirmed that he was a light to lighten the gentiles, and the glory of Israel. This was deemed sufficient ground by the Romish church, whereon to adopt the torch-bearing of the pagans in honour of their own deities, as a ceremony in honour of the presentation of Jesus in the temple. The pagans used lights in their worship, and Constantine, and other emperors, endowed churches with land and various possessions, for the maintenance of lights in catholic churches, and frequently presented the ecclesiastics with coffers full of candles and tapers.
Mr. Fosbroke shows, from catholic autho rities, that light-bearing on Candlemas day is an old Pagan ceremony; and from Du Cange, that it was substituted by pope Gelasius for the candles, which in February the Roman people used to carry in the Lupercalia.
Pope Innocent, in a sermon on this festival, quoted in "Pagano Papismus," inquires, "Why do we (the catholics) in this feast carry candles?" and then he explains the matter by way of answer. "Because," says he, "the gentiles dedicated the month of February to the infernal gods, and as, at the beginning of it, Pluto stole Proserpine, and her mother, Ceres, sought her in the night with lighted candles, so they, at the beginning of this month, walked about the city with lighted candles; because the holy fathers could not utterly extirpate this custom, they ordained that Christians should carry about candles in honour of the blessed virgin Mary: and thus," says the pope, "what was done before to the honour of Ceres is now done to the honour of the Virgin."
Polydore Vergil, observing on the pagan processions and the custom of publicly carrying about images of the gods with relics, says, "Our priests do the same thing. We observe all these ceremonies, but I know not whether the custom is as good as it is showy; 1 fear, I fear, I say, that in these things, we rather please the gods of the heathen than Jesus Christ, for they were desirous that their worshippers should be magnificent in their processions, as Sallust says; but Christ hates nothing more than this, telling us, When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door pray to thy Father. What will then become of us, if we act contrary to his commandment? Surely, whatever may become of us, we do act contrary to it."
Brand shows, from "Dunstan's Concord of Monastic Rules," that the monks went in surplices to the church for candles, which were to be consecrated, sprinkled with holy water, and censed by the abbot. Every monk took a candle from the sacrist, and lighted it. A procession was made, thirds and mass were celebrated, and the candles, after the offering, were offered to the priest. The monks' candles signified the use of those in the parable of the wise virgins.
In catholic countries the people joined the priests in their public processions to