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Amongst the French the custom itself exists, though the name attached to it is changed. With them the person imposed upon is called a " poisson d'Avril," which Bellingen explains to be a corruption of passion, and contends that it is a memorial of the Jews' mockery of our Saviour in taking him backwards and forwards from Annas to Caiaphas, from Caiaphas to Pilate, from Pilate to Herod, and from Herod back again to Pilate.
Palm Sunday, Dominica Palmarum, Dominica in Bamis Palmarum, Parasceue, or Pascha Floridwn, is the sixth and last Sunday in Lent, and the one immediately preceding Easter. It was thus called from the old Roman Catholic custom of carrying palm-branches in procession on that day, in commemoration of the palms or olives, that the Jews strewed in the way of Christ when he went up to Jerusalem. Strutt, in the third volume of "Horda Angel-Cynnan," p. 174,
Suotes from an old manuscript, " wherefor holi Chirche this ay makeith solempne processyon, in mynde of the processyon that Cryst made this dey; but for encheson that wee have noone Olyve that bearith greene leaves, therefor we taken Palme, and geven instede of Olyve, and bear it about in processione."
Hospinian, however, denies that any mention of this custom occurs till about the year 455, and is extremely indignant with Polydorus for saying that it was instituted by the Apostles.
It had also the name of Dominica Magna, or the Great Lord's Day, because of the " great and many infallible good things that were conferred on the faithful the week ensuing, namely, death abolished, slander, and the tyranny of Satan, removed by the painful and ignominious deathof our Saviour."
Lastly, it was called Capitilavium by the vulgar, because it was a custom on that day to wash the heads of the children, who were to be anointed, lest they should be unclean from the previous observance of Quadragesima.
The boughs used on these occasions were previously blessed by the priest, a solemn ritual being appointed for tho purpose. In the Doctrine of the Mass, as quoted by Brand, we read that the priest was directed, after the conclusion of the Gospel, to array himself in a red cope, and, taking his place upon the third step of the altar, to GATHEBING PALMS. 177
turn towards the south, palm-flowers and branches of palm being first laid on the altar for the clergy, and upon the altar-step on the south side for others. He is then to recite certain prayers, appropriated to the occasion, and accompanied by crossings and genuflexions, duly established in the rubric, the whole being clearly the invention of monkish times, if we may believe the authority of Hospinian as to the period when the custom originated. So far, however, it is easy to understand the policy of the priesthood, who lost no opportunity of impressing scriptural events upon the people's minds, by connecting them with fasts or holidays. But one cannot help being surprised at finding these ceremonies so frequently 7 of a low and ridiculous nature, and calculated above all measure to bring the thing celebrated into contempt. Thus on the present occasion the progress of Christ to Jerusalem was burlesqued, rather than commemorated, by a r wooden image
placed upon a wooden ass, which went upon wheels, accompanied by troops of priests, and a concourse of people, bearing palms; these they threw upon the two images as they passed, and afterwards gathered them up again.
For falsely they believe that these have force and vertue great
There seems, however, to be some reason for supposing that the ceremony in question, though the Roman Catholics have explained it as symbolising Christ's entry into Jerusalem, may, after all, be nothing more than the old Pagan custom of carrying Silenus this day in triumph. Dr. Clark tells us that it is still usual to carry Silenus in procession at Easter, and we have already seen on more than one occasion how fond the old Church was of giving a Christian signification to heathen ceremonies, when they were unable to put them down.
As palms were not always, or even often to be procured in this country, the box, the willow, and occasionally the yew, were substituted. As regards the first, Newton in his "Herball for the Bible," after mentioning that the box-tree and the palm were often confounded together, goes on to say, " this error grew, as I thinke, at the first for that the common people in some countries used to decke their church with the boughs and branches thereof on the Sunday next before Easter, commonly called Palme Sunday; for at that time of the yeare all other trees, for the most part, are not blowen or bloomed." While, however, palms retained their sanctity in connection with the day, it was usual to preserve pieces of the hallowed wood formed into small crosses, which the devout carried about them in their purses. In Cornwall, these crosses had a peculiar application; Carew says, " Little Colan hath less worth the observation; unless you will deride or pity their simplicity, who sought at our Lady Nant's Well there to fore-know what fortune should betide them, which was in this manner—Upon Palm Sunday these idle-headed seekers resorted thither, with a palm-cross in one hand, and an offering in the other; the offering fell to the priest's share; the cross they threw into the well, which if it swam, the party should outlive that year; if it sunk, a short-ensuing death was boded; and perhaps not
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altogether untruly, while a foolish conceit of this halsening, might the sooner help it onwards. A contrary practice to the Goddess Juno's lake in Laconia; for there if the wheaten cakes, cast in upon her festival day, were hy the water received, it betokened good luck; if rejected, evil. The like is written by Pausanias, of Inus in Greece; and by others, touching the offerings thrown into the furnace of Mount iEtna in Sicily."
Passion Week; Tenebra. The week succeeding Palm Sunday, or that which immediately precedes Easter, is called Passion Week, from the obsolete, but proper meaning of the word Passion, *. e. suffering, in reference to the suffering of Christ upon the Cross.
Thursday, Friday, and Saturdary of this week, are the days on which the offices, called Tenebra, are celebrated,* but as a rehearsal of the singing usually took place on the Wednesday immediately previous, that day also came to be considered as belonging to them. The word is derived from the Latin, tenebra, i. e. darkness, and, the office is one of the most striking in the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. The appellation of darkness or dark days has been given, " because," says an old writer, "thereby they represent the darkness that attended and accompanied our Lord's Crucifixion; and then also that Church extinguishes all her lights; and after some silence, when the whole office is concluded, they make a sudden great noise to represent the rending of the veil of the Temple and the disorder the whole frame of nature was in at the death of her Maker."
On this occasion, the principal characters and events of the day were thus symbolised. In a triangular candlestick were fourteen yellow wax tapers, seven on each side, and a white one at the top. The fourteen yellow candles represented the eleven apostles, the Virgin Mary, and the women that were with her at the Crucifixion, while the white taper above was the emblem of Christ. Fourteen psalms were sung, and at the end of each a light was put out, till the whole fourteen were thus extinguished, and the white candle alone was left burning, which was then taken down and hid under the altar. The extinction of the fourteen lights
• It is scarcely necessary to remark, that such are still the observances of the Passion Week in Catholic countries.—Ed.
symbolised the flight or mourning of the apostles and the women, and the hiding of the white taper denoted that Christ was in the sepulchre. At this moment of total darkness a noise was made by beating the desks and books, and stamping upon the floor, which, as already said, was intended to represent the earthquake, and the splitting of rocks at the Crucifixion.
Holy Thursday, Shere Thursday, or Maundy Thursday— is the Thursday before Easter. Many etymologies have been given for the word Shere. In an old homily, quoted in the Weekly Packet of Advice from Rome, we read that the day was so called, "for that in old fathers' days the people would that day shere theyr hedes and clypp theyr berdes, and pool theyr heedes, and so make them honest ayent Easter Day." In Junius the word sheer is explained to signify purus, and a writer in the "Gentleman's Magazine," who signs himself T. Bow, has concluded that it has a reference "to the washing of the disciples' feet, and is tantamount to clean." But to sheere is also the AngloSaxon word for "to divide," and it is even more likely to allude to the breaking of the bread by Christ, and the division of it amongst his disciples. There is the greater reason for this supposition in that the custom, still retained among us, of a royal dole of alms on that day, is clearly a commemoration of the Last Supper.* The only difference is. that in the early ages kings themselves washed the feet of the poor, and that when the first part of the custom became obsolete, they yet condescended to distribute the alms. James the Second was the last who performed this duty, and since his time the doles have been portioned out by an almoner, the number of mendicants being regulated by the years of the monarch, so that the poor at least have good reason to pray that the king may live long.
There has been scarcely less dispute as to the meaning of the word Maunday, or Maundy. Wheatley, who calls it also Mandate Thursday, or Dies Mandati, tells us that it was so "called from the commandment (Mandatum) which our Saviour gave his apostles to commemorate the sacrament of his supper, which he this day instituted after the celebration
* This is still literally performed by various Roman Catholic nioiuirchs.