Page 2, 25th May 1956

25th May 1956
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Page 2, 25th May 1956 — Story of the 'Angelus
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Story of the 'Angelus

Sir,—The announcement in your issue of April 20 that " the Angelus is 500 years old " next June must have created some astonishment among intellectuals. It may be true that 500 years ago " Pope Calixtus Ill directed that church hells should be rung between none and vespers. so that the faithful might pray for the help and protection of God against the enemy." But this was not the origin and the Angelus. At least from :he 13th century it was customat■ among the faithful to greet Our Lady, when the Salve Regina was sung in choir at the end of compline and as a sign of this the bells were rung.

Several striking instances of this devotion are known, In 1269, at the General Chapter of the Franciscan Order at Assisi, St. Bonaventure even ordered that the friars should instruct the people during their sermons " to greet the Blessed Virgin a few times. when the hells were rung in the evening." In N.E. Italy the Franciscans rang their bells three times after cornpline, while they said three Hail Marys. The salutation of the Virgin was not limited to this prayer either. At times people said the Salve Regina, like the monks and friars did in choir. And the Franciscan friar Tilessed Benedict of Arezzo, friend of Thomas of Celano, the author of the Dies irae, missionary in the Holy Land

and, for \ ears, inmate of the friary at B■zantium, knew a prayer which seems to have heen similar to that said to-day : Angelus domint lorutus est, Maria.

' Sessavalle's statement that " it is from the Franciscan towers that the first Angelus re-echoed over the world," sounds rather exaggerated. Yet the Friars Minor may claim this devotion as theirs from the mid-13th century onwards. Still, even the monks of Montecassino knew the Angelus in those days. A document to this effect has been published by Dom D. M. Inguanez in Miscellanea cassinese of 1932.

By all means let us follow up the invitation of Fr. Julian Kish, president of the Hungarian League of America, to pray the Angelus. We can safely do so without celebrating a fictitious centenary.

(Dr.) S. J. P. van Dijk, 0.F.M,

4a. South Parks Road, Oxford.

Several correspondents have sent copies of Archbishop Gilmartin's "The Angelus" (Irish C.T.S.), for which we thank them. It is often said that the Church owes the universal recitation of the " Angelus" to the " bad" Pope. Alexander VI. This seems a very exaggerated view as he is not mentioned in the C.T.S. leaflet. It would be interesting to know what part that rather maligned Pontiff did play in the promotion of this devotion.—EDITCIR " C.H."




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