FESTIVALS OF THE CHURCH
357. Annual Festivals in honour of the saints and martyrs were instituted by Gregory, Bishop of Csarea, in the third century, to facilitate the conversion of the pagans, who were unwilling to forego the recreations incidental to the festivals of their gods. This example once set, the institution of Holy Days--a term now corrupted into "holidays"--in commemoration of some of the most important events in the history of the Church was easy. In old almanacks such holy days were set forth in red ink, and the rest in black. Hence the expression, Red-Letter Day.
358. The first day of the Christian Year commemorates the Circumcision of our Lord. It was instituted as a solemn festival in the sixth century, to atone for the excesses committed by the pagans on this day. In accordance with the Jewish custom, the Child Christ was circumcised in the Temple on the eighth day after His Birth, and on the same occasion he received the name of JESUS, as made known to the Virgin by the angel Gabriel (Luke i. 31). Circumcision on the eighth day after the birth of a male child is still enjoined upon all Jews. The Mohammedans have recourse to circumcision too, but it is not performed by them until the child is old enough to make his own profession of faith: "There is no God but God, and Mohammed is the Apostle of God." It was practised by the Arabs ages before the time of Mohammed, having been introduced by the Ishmaelites, the descendants of the son of Hagar, from whom the Arab al Mostéreba, or naturalized Arabs (in contradistinction to the Arab al Ariba, or pure Arabs), trace their origin. From the Jews, likewise, the Egyptians, Colchians, Phoenicians, and Ethiopians derived the custom, but, as is the case among the Mohammedans to-day, these ancient peoples performed it merely from motives of cleanliness, to promote health, and secure immunity from certain painful diseases to which males in hot climates are subject. It is only among the Jews that circumcision is regarded as a religious rite. Its meaning is explained in Genesis xvii.
359. The Feast of the Epiphany (January 6th), so called from the Greek Epiphaneia, a showing or appearance, commemorates Christ's manifestation to the Gentiles, represented by the three kings, or Magi, named Gaspar, Meichior, and Baithazar, who, guided by a miraculous star, came to adore Him. It may be mentioned here that the bodies of the Magi repose in Cologne Cathedral, whither they were removed from Milan in 1162, when Frederick Barbarossa laid waste that city.
360. An odd religious observance took place in olden times on January 14th, known as the Feast of the Ass. A beautiful girl, seated on an ass with gay trappings, and holding an infant child at her breast, was led through the town to the church, and there placed at the Gospel side of the altar while Mass was being said. This was in commemoration of the Flight into Egypt.
361. In connection with the Feast of St. Anthony (January 17th), there is a curious blessing of beasts of all kinds at the church dedicated to that saint at Rome, and possibly elsewhere. Everyone, from the Pope himself to the peasant, who possesses a horse, mule, ass, or dog, sends it with a small donation to St. Anthony's Church, to be there sprinkled with holy water, and so placed under the special protection of the saint. The life-long solicitude of St. Anthony for the lower animals is a sufficient explanation for the existence of this singular custom.
362. The Festival of St. Peter's Chair (January 18th) was instituted as an act of gratitude for the Primacy of St. Peter. Alban Butler, the author of the "Lives of the Saints," informs us that it is of considerable antiquity, being mentioned in a martyrology copied during the lifetime of St. Wihibrod, viz., in the year 720. He adds: "Christians justly celebrate the founding of this Mother Church, the centre of Catholic Communion, in thanksgiving to God for I us mercies, and to implore His future blessing." On this solemn festival, which is one of the few "functions," as they are called, celebrated in the magnificent church of St. Peter, the Pope is borne on the shoulders of twelve men in his Sedia Geslatoria, or Pontifical Chair of State, attired in vestments of gold, and wearing the tiara, or triple crown (see 24). On each side of His Holiness is carried a large fan of ostrich feathers, into which are set the eye-like portions of peacocks' feathers, symbolical of vigilance and universal supervision.
363. The ceremony of Kissing the Pope's Foot on the Feast of St. Peter has always been a fruitful theme for comment. But this kissing of the foot is an ancient Oriental rite, expressive of esteem and affection. At the present time it is no uncommon thing for a Mohammedan to wash and kiss the feet of a guest who has travelled a long distance to pay him honour. Instances are recorded of the Roman emperors having their feet kissed by their subjects as a mark of homage. The same act of humiliation is performed by the Pope himself on Maundy Thursday (see 378). Did not the penitent Magdalen kiss the feet of our Lord? We read that Cornelius, the centurion, cast himself at the feet of Simon Peter in veneration of the Divine messenger. It would appear that this mode of paying homage to the successors of St. Peter existed from very early times, because it is related of St. Susanna, a virgin who suffered martyrdom in the year 294, that she kissed the feet of Pope Caius, "according to custom." The most powerful princes of the Christian world have paid homage to the Pope by kissing his feet. Yet this homage is not intended for the Pope himself. Since the time of Gregory the Great, so the Rubricists remind us, the Popes have been accustomed to wear the Cross on their sandals, so that the homage might be referred to Christ crucified.
364. On the Feast of St. Agnes (January 21st) two chosen lambs are blessed by the priest in the church of St. Peter ad Vincula, at Rome, which stands on the site of the martyrdom of St. Agnes. This has a two-fold significance. In the first place, it commemorates the lamb which appeared by the side of the saint when she manifested herself in a vision to the early Christians (see 256). Secondly, it was a custom among the Romans to invoke the blessing of sheep by Pales, the goddess of sheepfolds and pastures; and as the early Christians could not easily be weaned from this pagan observance, the blessing of a lamb on the altar as the symbol of purity and innocence, together with the reading of the Gospel of the Good Shepherd, was permitted in all churches throughout Christendom on St. Agnes' Day. In most cases this lamb, gaily decorated, was first led through the streets by a holiday-making populace. But at the church of St. Agnes, at Rome, two lambs are blessed for a very special purpose. Perhaps it will be more correct to say that it is the fleeces of these lambs which receive the blessing, since it is from them that the material for the pallium of a Roman Catholic archbishop is provided. After Mass on St. Agnes' Day the sheep are carefully guarded until shearing time, when the wool is woven in old-fashioned style by the nuns of St. Lawrence. On the vigil of the Festival of SS. Peter and Paul, the newlymade pallia are carried on gilded trays to the Altar of the Confession in the magnificent church dedicated to St. Peter, and at the conclusion of the first vespers appointed for that (lay they are solemnly blessed by the Pope. All night long they are left lying upon the shrine, and on the following (lay are locked up in a silver coffer close to the relics of St. Peter, where they remain until required for the investiture of new archbishops. It is on account of their deposition on the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles that the pallia, when forwarded to their intended wearers, are said to come "from the body of St. Peter."
365. On St. Paul's Day (January 25th) in the olden time, a fat buck and doe were annually presented to the Dean and Chapter in St. Paul's Cathedral, in the presence of the Bishop of London, and a priest from each parish within his diocese. This singular custom had its origin in the obligation incurred by Sir Walter de Band, an Essex knight, in the year 1375, when he obtained permission to enclose twenty acres of the Dean's land, subject to the presentation by him to the clergy of the cathedral of a fat buck and doe every year on the Festival of the Conversion of St. Paul.
366. The Feast of the Purification (February 2nd) commemorates the Purification of the Virgin in the Temple on the fortieth day after childbirth, and the presentation of our Lord on the same occasion, in accordance with the
Jewish custom. It is called Candlemas Day, because on this day the Catholic Church blesses her candles for the whole year, and invites the congregation to attend Mass with lighted candles in their hands, in memory of the Divine light with which Christ illuminated the whole Church at this presentation, when holy Simeon took Him into his arms, saying: "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people: a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel." With this meaning the festival was instituted by Pope Gelasius in the fifth century, under the following circumstances, as set forth by Pope Innocent XII. in the course of a sermon: "Why do we in this feast carry candles? Because 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 extirpate this custom they ordained that Christians should carry about candles in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and thus, what was done before to the honour of Ceres, is now done to the honour of the Virgin." In olden times the people were accustomed to walk with lighted candles through the streets in procession to early Mass on this day. It is in honour of the Purification of the Virgin, too, that Catholic women hold a lighted candle in their hands at their "churching" after childbirth.
367. The Feast of the Annunciation (March 25th) was instituted in memory of the day upon which "the angel of the Lord appeared unto Mary" and announced that she was to become the mother of the Son of God. It will be noticed that it occurs exactly nine months before Christmas Day. The secular term for this festival, Lady Day, is obviously a corruption of "Our Lady's Day" or Feast of our Lady.
368. Shrove Tuesday received its name from the shriving or confession enjoiiied upon all devout Catholics in pre-Reformation times as a fitting preparation for the penitential season of Lent (see 425).
369. The word Lent is an abbreviation of the Old English and Anglo-Saxon term for Spring. As everyone knows, the season of Lent commemorates the miraculous forty days' fast of our Saviour in the desert. Counted from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday inclusive, there are forty-six days, but since, with the exception that flesh meat and fish are not allowed at the same meal, the six Sundays do not count, the number of actual fast days is reduced to forty. In olden times the Lenten fast was observed in a very strict manner. Not only was flesh meat forbidden during the whole forty days, but even the things derived from flesh, such as milk, eggs, butter, cheese, and lard, were interdicted for the like period. Consequently they had to be used up on Shrove Tuesday, and were invariably made into pancakes (see 425). Fish was the common diet of the people at this season. The historian Froissart tells us that "there were daily delivered to the Germans in the army ten tons of herrings for Lent, and 8oo carp, without counting different sorts of fish, which cost the king immense sums." There was, however, a reason for this. He adds: "The fast was encouraged for political purposes, to promote the fisheries and naval service, to the saving and increase of butcher's meat."
370. Ash Wednesday ushers in the penitential season of Lent. On this day, in the Roman Catholic Church, the ashes obtained by the burning of the palms used on the Palm Sunday previous, are blessed and distributed by the priest, who makes the sign of the Cross with them on the forehead of every member of the congregation, saying, "Remember, man, thou art but dust, and unto dust thou shalt return." This ceremony commemorates God's curse of Adam after the Fall, and its celebration at the commencement of Lent is appropriate, inasmuch as the Jews in ancient times were accustomed to cover their heads with ashes, and wear garments of sackcloth during a period of mourning and penance. In the Anglican Church, the reading of the curses directed against impenitent sinners takes the place of the distribution of ashes on this day.
371. Every Friday in Lent an impressive service, styled The Way of the Cross, takes place in the Roman Catholic churches. Around the walls of the church will be found fourteen pictures representing the progress of our Lord from the judgment hall of Pontius Pilate to Mount Calvary, His Death upon the Cross, and the deposition of His Sacred Body in the sepulchre. These are called "the Stations of the Cross." The priest, attended by the altar and choirboys, and often followed by members of the congregation, passes from station to station, there to meditate upon a particular incident of Christ's Passion. This devotion originated in the pilgrimages which so many pious people of the olden time undertook to the Holy Land during Lent, in order to walk in the very footsteps of our Saviour, and to pray upon the very spot where He suffered. As it was impossible for every one to make these pilgrimages, the Church authorized the erection or representation of corresponding "Stations" in the churches, and granted to all who visited them the same Indulgences as were claimed by the pilgrims who went to Jerusalem.
372. Ember Days, so called in allusion to the ancient mode of doing penance in sackcloth and ashes, are days set apart for special fasting and prayer in each of the four seasons of the year. They were instituted by Pope Calixtus in the third century, primarily to prepare the clergy for ordination, according to the manner set forth in Acts xiii. 3; and secondly, as a means of supplicating the Divine blessing upon the produce of the earth. The Council of Placentia of 1095 fixed the days uniformly as follows: the Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday after the first Sunday in Lent, Whit Sunday, September 14th, and December 13th. The weeks in which these days occur are styled Ember Weeks.
373. Passion Sunday, or the Sunday before Palm Sunday, is so called because it is set apart in the Roman Catholic Church for a general commemoration of the Passion. From the eve of this day until Easter Sunday, all pictures and statues in the churches are covered over, so as to concentrate the attention of the congregation upon the Passion and Death of our Lord. The cloths employed for this purpose are purple, which is the mourning colour of the Church (see 379).
374. According to local tradition, the origin of The Ober-Ammergau Passion Play was as follows. When, in the year 1633, a deadly plague threatened to depopulate the districts of Partenkirchen, Eschelohe, and Kohigrub, which are separated from Ammerthal, or the Valley of the Ammer, by a rampart of mountains, the Ammerthalers succeeded for a time in protecting themselves against the dread contagion; but one day a native who had been working all the summer at Eschelohe, evaded the quarantine, and entered the Ammerthal by a secret path in order to celebrate an annual Church festival with his family. Two days afterwards he was a corpse, and in less than three weeks the plague had carried off eighty-four of the Ammerthalers. Despairing of all human succour, the terrified survivors addressed themselves to God, and registered a solemn vow that if He heard their prayer and removed the scourge, they would represent every ten years "for thankful remembrance and edifying contemplation, and by the help of the Almighty, the sufferings of Jesus, the Saviour of the world." Presumably their prayer was heard, for we are told that "not a single person died of the plague after the vow was made, though many were infected by it." The first representation of the Passion Play, in fulfilment of the vow of these simple villagers took place at Ober-Ammergau in the following year, and it has been repeated every ten years without a single omission.
375. Palm Sunday owes its name to the distribution of palms to the congregations in the Roman Catholic churches to commemorate the triumphal entry of our Lord into Jerusalem seated on an ass, while the populace strewed palm branches in His path, crying, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" In olden times, the better to impress this incident upon the minds of the people, a wooden figure of an ass mounted upon wheels, and with an effigy of the Saviour upon it, was drawn through the church, and as the priests walked in front chanting the service, the congregation threw their palm twigs down before it.
376. The commemoration services of The Passion commence on Wednesday in Holy Week, because it was on this day that the Jews at their great council resolved to take the life of our Lord by charging Him with sundry crimes before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. This is the reason also why Lent begins on a Wednesday, and why Wednesday as well as Friday is observed as a fast day during Lent and Advent. In olden times Wednesday, like Friday, was a fast day throughout the year.
377. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings in Holy Week, a solemn and impressive service is chanted in the Roman Catholic churches. This is called the Tenebr, literally, darkness. On a triangular candlestick, placed at the Epistle side of the high altar, are fifteen candles, seven yellow ones on each side, and a white one on the top. These correspond to the number of psalms recited. As each psalm is concluded one of the yellow candles is extinguished, until the white one alone remains. At the same time, while the Benedictus or Canticle of Zachary is sung, the lights on the altar and in the body of the church are also extinguished. Then the white candle is taken down and concealed behind the altar, and a loud rapping on their prayer-books on the part of the congregation takes place. Eventually, after the recital of the fifteenth psalm, the white candle is restored. The extinction of the yellow candles represents the death of the prophets who lived and died before the time of our Lord; and the concealment and reappearance of the white candle His own death, burial, and resurrection. The rapping on the prayer-books is in allusion to the splitting of the rocks and the opening of the tombs at the Crucifixion.
378. Maundy Thursday is so called from the Mandate, or washing of the feet appointed for the day in imitation of our Lord before the Last Supper. This act of humiliation is still performed by the Pope, bishops, and superiors of religious houses, as it was also in former times by Christian sovereigns and princes throughout the world (see 429). The predecessors of Leo XIII. invariably washed the feet of thirteen bishops, representing the twelve apostles, and the angel who appeared to Gregory the Great while he was performing a special act of charity on behalf of some poor people. After the washing and drying His Holiness reverently kissed the right foot of each bishop, and then waited upon them with his own hands at the supper-table. Instead of the feet of thirteen bishops, the present Pope washes those of twelve poor men, literally beggars. The apron that he wears over his soutane during this ceremony is regarded as a great treasure, and is afterwards made by the Benedictine nuns into palls to cover the chalices for all the convents of their Order. The washing, and kissing of the right foot concluded, His Holiness serves the supper to these twelve beggars in a room adjoining his study. The discovery of a bank-note for a hundred francs under the table-napkin of each doubtless adds a pleasurable zest to his appetite.
379. Good Friday is a very solemn day in all the churches of the Roman Catholic Communion. It was anciently styled Long Friday on account of the length of the service. The high altar is stripped of all its decorations, and the Eucharist is removed to a side altar, or "Sepulchre," so that visitations to the latter will not interfere with the due observance of the Passion at the chief altar of the church, which the rubrics require to be left without any ornament whatsoever. For the ordinary wax candles and torches, ghastly-looking yellow ones are substituted. At Rome, the nakedness of the Papal throne, and the seats of the cardinals indicate the utter desolation of the Church consequent on the death of the Saviour. On this occasion only the cardinals appear in robes of purple, which is their mourning colour (see 206). Neither they nor the bishops wear their rings. Even the Pope lays his signet aside for the day. The Papal mace and the arms of the Papal guards are carried reversed (see 205). All over the city, from Maundy Thursday until after the Gloria at Mass on Holy Saturday morning, the bells are silenced. Even in hotels and private houses, what is called a Iroccofa, or pair of small wooden clappers, takes the place of the usual handbell rung at meals for the time being.
380. Holy Saturday owes its name primarily to the commemoration of the burial of our Lord, and, secondly, to the various holy offices which are performed by the Roman Catholic clergy on this day against the solemn festival of Easter. It has always been the custom of the Church to bless those things which the people make use of in ordinary life; hence fire and water are annually blessed on Holy Saturday. All lights and fires being first put out, a new fire is struck from a flint, and blessed. "This new fire," says St. John Chrysostom, ' represents Christ rising to kindle in our hearts a new spiritual fire of His love; the old profane fire of our earthly profane passions being first extinguished in us by His victory over sin. It likewise serves symbolically to put us in mind of our obligation of walking in the newness of a spiritual heavenly life, being now risen with Christ by His grace." The blessing of the baptismal font, the water used for sprinkling, and the Paschal candle are also peculiar to this day (see 381).
381. Easter, commemorative of the Resurrection of our Lord, is one of the greatest festivals of the year. The term itself has no Christian significance, being derived from Eoster, the goddess of light, or Spring, in whose honour the pagan Saxons celebrated an annual festival at this season (see 432). On Easter Sunday the churches are gaily decorated, and the organ, which has been silent during Lent, once more breaks out into solemn harmony. The Paschal Candle, on the Gospel side of the high altar is particularly noticeable. This great candle was in ancient times employed to give light during the watchings of the congregants in the church on Easter Eve. From Easter until the end of Paschal-time, or Pentecost, it is always lighted during Mass and Vespers, as an illustrious emblem of Christ, the Light of the World, having risen from the dead. The five grains of frankincense stuck into it symbolically represent His five precious wounds, and the sweet spices brought by the devout women to the sepulchre. It may be mentioned here that the term Pasch comes from the French asque, the Latin aschalis, the Greek ascha, and the Hebrew Fesach, or Passover, which festival occurs about the same time as our Easter (see 397). As determined by Gregory the Great, the reformer of the Christian Calendar, Easter must be the Sunday which follows the fourteenth day of the Paschal moon; if that fourteenth day be a Sunday, then Easter must be the Sunday following. It is by Easter that all the other movable feasts of the year are determined.
382. As symbols of the Resurrection, White Lilies enter largely into the Eastertide decoration of the churches. This is in accordance with a Judan legend that after the Saviour rose from the tomb, the places whereon He trod were marked by white lilies which sprang up and blossomed in His footsteps.
383. The Spital Sermon annually preached at Christ Church, Newgate Street, on Easter Tuesday, in the presence of the Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs, the Governors of Christ's I lospital, and the Blue-coat boys, is a relic of an ancient custom, pursuant to which the Bishop of London preached a sermon at St. Paul's Cross on Good Friday on the subject of Christ's Passion, and three other divines upheld the doctrine of the Resurrection during Eastertide at the pulpitcross of the Spital, otherwise the churchyard of St. Mary of the Spittle (now Spitalfields), where the "Blues" had a gallery erected for them. The Spital sermons were afterwards preached at St. Bride's Church, Fleet Street, and then, having been reduced to two, were continued at Christ Church, where only one sermon is now preached. Previous to attending the church the Blue-coat boys generally wait upon the Lord Mayor at the Mansion House to receive certain gratuities.
384. What are called Rogation Days, from the Latin rogare, to beseech, occur on the three days preceding Ascension Day. These are days of special supplication for pardon of sins, peace, blessings on the fruits of the earth, and protection from the power of the arch enemy of mankind. On these days, in ancient times, the clergy, accompanied by the churchwardens, the school-boys, and a goodly number of the congregation made a perambulation of the parish boundaries, where, at certain prescribed places, prayers were offered up for the good of the harvest and the confusion of the devil. If the parish boasted of a fine oaktree, the Gospel of the day-or rather of the preceding Sunday, called Rogation Sunday, because the Gospel appointed for it teaches us how to ask of God in order that we may receive-was read, and a short sermon was preached under it. On this account the tree received the name of a Gospel Oak. At certain other places near the parochial boundaries the school-boys received a whipping, with the object of fixing them firmly in their minds (see 428). In all cases a representation of the Evil One, in the form of a dragon, was carried at the head of the procession, side by side with the image of the patron saint of the parish, and at times also of our Saviour. As often, however, as a pause was made for prayer the dragon was taken to a place quite out of earshot, and left there until the procession moved on again. This explains why so many parishes have their dragon localities, such as the "Dragon's Rock," the "Dragon's Well," etc., denoting the places where the dragon was left at prayertime, or, as may have happened in some cases, where it was kicked, stoned, buffeted, and even pulled to pieces by the processionists at the close of the third day's rogation.
385. The Feast of the Ascension is celebrated on the fortieth day after Easter Sunday, in memory of the Ascension of our Lord into Heaven from the summit of Mount Olivet, in the presence of His Mother, and His Apostles, and disciples. Originally the Paschal candle was removed after High Mass on Ascension Day, but it is now allowed to remain in its accustomed place until Whitsuntide (see 386).
386. The Feast of Pentecost, signifying "the fiftieth day," is synonymous with Shovuos, the second great festival of the Jewish ecclesiastical year, in commemoration of the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai fifty days after the deliverance of the Israelites out of Egypt. By Christians,, Pentecost is kept as a great festival in honour of the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles in the form of fiery tongues. In olden times, the better to impress this incident upon the minds of the people, a dove was let down from the roof of the church in the course of the Mass on this day. Another name for this festival is Whitsuntide, so called because the catechumens who had received the rite of Baptism on the previous day were clothed in white while attending Mass during Pentecost. Hence Whit Sunday is really a corruption of " White Sunday."
387. The annual Flower Sermon preached at the church of St. Katherine Cree, Leadenhall Street, on Whit Tuesday evening, was instituted by the Rev. Dr. W. M. Whittemore, the rector, because, as he himself states, he "thought it would be a good opportunity of leading our youthful hearers to a closer contemplation of God's wisdom and love as manifested by the beautiful and fragrant flowers which He scatters around us in such rich profusion." The first flower sermon was preached in the year 1853, and the subject has always been a floral one. On this occasion a beautiful offering of flowers adorns the pulpit, and every member of the congregation is armed with a bouquet. The flowers are afterwards presented to various orphanages.
388. The Feast of the Holy Trinity, which occurs on the first Sunday after Whitsuntide, was instituted in honour of the Three Persons in One Godhead by Pope Gregory IV., in the year 828. It is believed to have been introduced into England by St. Thomas a Becket towards the end of the twelfth century.
389. The Feast of Corpus Christi, in honour of the Body and Blood of Christ, which, as all Roman Catholics believe, are ever present in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist as instituted by our Lord Himself at the Last Supper, is celebrated on the first Thursday after Trinity Sunday in order to reanimate the devotion of the faithful towards that adorable mystery. As such a high festival could not well have been observed during Holy Week, it was most fittingly transferred to the Thursday within the octave of Trinity Sunday. Corpus Christi Day is a great day of religious processions in Catholic countries, as it was also in England in pre-Reformation times. On the eve of this festival the choristers of Durham Cathedral ascend the tower in their surplices and sing the 2'e .Deum. This is to commemorate the miraculous preservation of the tower on Corpus Christi Eve, A. D. 1429, when it was struck by lightfling and set on fire; for though the flames raged all night and till the middle of the next day, the tower and its bells remained uninjured. The extinction of the flames was by everyone imputed to the special intervention of St. Cuthbert, whose relics are enshrined in the Cathedral.
390. Harvest Festivals are, so far as the Anglican Church is concerned, a latter-day institution. This is strange, seeing that in pre-Reformation times Lammas Day, so called from the Anglo-Saxon hlaf a loaf; and nuesse, a feast, and which fell on August 1st, was marked by the presentation of a loaf made of new wheat in the churches by every member of the congregation. Previous to the reformation of the Calendar in 17 52, Lammas-tide ushered in the second quarter of the year. Since then the term has fallen into total disuse. Different peoples have different seasons for harvest thanksgiving. When the Jews inhabited Palestine the festival of Pentecost embraced a thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest; but as the wheat is not gathered in Northern Europe at the time of Pentecost, flowers take the place of the first-fruits in the synagogues. The Druids had their harvest festival on November 1st; the Chinese and Japanese have theirs at the year's close; while in America November 24th is everywhere observed as Thanksgiving Day for the blessings of the year in general and the bounties of the harvest in particular. This "Thanksgiving Day" is a legacy of the Puritans, who abolished Christmas out of their hatred of the prelacy.
391. The Feast of the Holy Rosary (October 1st) was instituted by Pope Pius IV., in thanksgiving for the Christian victory over the Turks at Lepanto, which was believed to have been due to the special intercession of the Virgin in response to the prayers of the Rosarians to this end. The original title of the annual commemoration was "The Feast of St. Mary of Victory," but Pope Gregory XIII. afterwards changed it to "The Feast of the Holy Rosary." It was St. Dominic who established the devotion of the Rosary, out of his intense veneration for the Blessed Virgin. Chaplets of beads for counting prayers and pious ejaculations had been in use centuries before his time among the Benedictines and the followers of Mohammed, both of whom derived them from the Egyptian anchorites. St. Dominic was responsible only for the arrangement of the chaplet in its present form, and the meditations upon the life of our Saviour in association with His Blessed Mother as set forth in the prayer-books. This devotion became so popular among the poorer classes, particularly women, that it is said he made more converts by its means than by all his preaching. The term Rosary had its origin in the rose--a flower specially dedicated to the Virgin--with which each individual bead was anciently impressed.
392. On October 16th every year what is known as The Lion Sermon is preached at the church of St. Katherine Cree, Leadenhall Street. This is in commemoration of the miraculous deliverance of Sir John Gayer, an opulent City merchant, and erstwhile Lord Mayor, from the jaws of a lion in an Arabian desert, two centuries and a half ago. By some means this good knight missed his caravan, and while in search of it, a huge lion stalked up to him. Perfectly defenceless, he gave himself up for lost, and on bended knee offered up his soul in prayer to God. To his intense astonishment, the huge animal "eyed him, and gently walked away." Shortly afterwards Sir John rejoined his caravan none the worse for his extraordinary adventure; yet so fully impressed was he with the peril he had passed through, and the Divine interposition on his behalf, that he resolved to make an adequate provision for an annual thanksgiving sermon at the church of his "beloved Aldgate," in which his mortal remains now rest. He also founded some almshouses at Plymouth, his native place. The foregoing particulars may be gleaned from the brass tablet which has been placed within the last year or two in the chancel of St. Katherine Cree church.
393. The Feast of All Saints (November 1st) was instituted by Pope Boniface in the seventh century, to commemorate the conversion of the Roman Pantheon into a Christian church, and its dedication to the Virgin and all the martyrs. This festival was for many years kept on May ist, but after the institution of "All Souls' Day" (November 2nd), it was transferred to the day preceding that solemn commemoration. The alternative designation for "All Saints' Day," is All Hallows' Day, conformably to the Anglo-Saxon halligan, holy. On this day Anglicans, as well as Roman Catholics, honour all the saints, and especially those who have no fixed days appointed to them throughout the year.
394. All Souls' Day (November 2nd) is a day set apart by the Roman Catholic Church for the remembrance of all the faithful departed, and the offering up of special prayers for the release of the suffering souls in purgatory. This solemn commemoration was instituted by St. Odo, Abbot of Cluny, in consequence of what was told him by a pilgrim returning from the Holy Land. The pilgrim having been compelled in the course of his voyage to land on a rocky island, whose sole inhabitant was a hermit, was assured by the latter that there existed among the cliffs an opening into the infernal regions, whence huge flames ascended, and the groans of the suffering souls could be distinctly heard. Moved by compassion for these poor souls, St. Odo appointed the day following, which was November 2nd, for a special Mass and commemorative service for the dead, a pious observance which was repeated on each anniversary as long as he lived. It is worthy of note in this connection, that the Chinese have in their seventh month what is called a "Feast of All Souls," upon which they offer up prayers for the deceased relatives; while the anniversaries of the dead were observed with peculiar solemnity by the Greeks, Romans, and Druids. The visitation by all classes in Paris of the beautiful cemetery of Père la Chaise on All Saints' Day is a trait which goes far towards redeeming the frivolities of the gay Parisians.
395. The Festival of the Nativity, or Christmas, literally the Feast of Christ, was not always celebrated on December 25th; but as soon as the Feast of the Annunciation was instituted it became fixed, as we now have it (see 367). It is customary for every Roman Catholic priest to say three Masses on this day, in honour of the three births of our Lord, viz.: His eternal birth in the bosom of the Father; His temporal birth in the stable at Bethlehem; and his spiritual birth in the hearts of the just. The Crib in the churches was first introduced by the Franciscan Friars in the thirteenth century (see 242).