Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Reform Of The Roman Breviary By Pope Saint Pius X. The Apostolic Constitution "Divino Afflatu" Of 1 November 1911.


Text is from Wikipedia - the free encyclopaedia,
unless stated otherwise.




Portrait of Pope Saint Pius X (1835-1914),
257th Pope of The Roman Catholic Church.
Date: 23 April 1910.
Author: Bain News Service, publisher.
(Wikimedia Commons)


The Reform of the Roman Breviary, by Pope Pius X, was promulgated by that Pope with the Apostolic Constitution "Divino Afflatu" of 1 November 1911.

An Apostolic Constitution (Latin Constitutio Apostolica) is the highest level of Decree issued by the Pope. The use of the term Constitution comes from Latin Constitutio, which referred to any important law issued by the Roman Emperor, and is retained in Church documents because of the inheritance that the Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church received from Roman Law.

By their nature, Apostolic Constitutions are addressed to the public. Generic constitutions use the title Apostolic Constitution, and treat on solemn matters of the Church, such as the promulgation of laws or definitive teachings. The forms Dogmatic Constitution and Pastoral Constitution are titles sometimes used to be more descriptive as to the document's purpose.

Apostolic Constitutions are issued as Papal Bulls, due to their solemn, public form. The next highest category, after an Apostolic Constitution, is an Encyclical Letter.


A Leaf from a Breviary.
Artist: Francesco di Antonio del Chierico (1433–1484),
Italian Manuscript Illuminator.
Date: Third -Quarter 15th-Century (Renaissance).
Current location: Walters Art Museum
Baltimore, United States of America.
Source/Photographer: Walters Art Museum.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Roman Breviary is the title of the book obligatorily used for celebrating the Roman Rite Divine Office from the revision of Pope Pius V (Apostolic Constitution Quod a nobis, 9 July 1568) to that by Pope Paul VI (Apostolic Constitution Canticum laudis, 1 November 1970).

A minor matter was the printing, in a separate section, called the "Ordinary", of those parts of the Psalter that were to be recited frequently, perhaps several times in the same day, such as the Invitatory, Hymns for the Seasons, Blessings, Absolutions, Chapters, Suffrages, the Lord's Prayer, Benedictus, Magnificat, Te Deum etc.

Much more radical was a completely new arrangement of the Psalms, distributing them or, when too long, dividing them, so as to have approximately the same number of Verses in each day's Office. The length of the Offices of the Breviary were reduced (for example, Matins went from eighteen Psalms recited on Sundays and twelve on Ferial Days, to nine Psalms or parts of Psalms, never more, with the result of reaching a fairly equal number of Verses for each day - between 360 and 497 - whereas the former Office of Saturday contained 792, and that of Sunday, 721).


This change, made with a view to restoring the original use of the Liturgy, which provided for the Chant or recitation of the entire Psalter each week, and the accompanying changes in the rubrics concerning the precedence between Saints' Days and the Sunday and Ferial Offices, was meant to remedy the situation whereby the multiplication of Saints' Days had made celebration of Sundays and Ferias, and consequently of certain Psalms, very rare.

With the reform, the Psalter was once again recited integrally each week without suppressing the Feasts of Saints; the proper Liturgy of Sundays and weekdays was restored; the readings of Holy Scripture, "Proper" to the Seasons of the year, were Privileged.


English: Pope Benedict XV.
Français: Photo de Benoît XV prise vers 1915.
Date: Circa 1915.
Source: Library of Congress.
Author: Unknown. See Source for details.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Pope Benedict XV modified the "Typical Edition" of the Roman Missal (Missale Romanum), in 1920, to accommodate the changes made by Pope Saint Pius X.

Each day, therefore, had its own Psalms, as arranged in the new Psalter, except certain Feast Days, about 125 in number, viz., all those of Christ and their Octaves, the Sundays within the Octaves of the Nativity, Epiphany, Ascension, Corpus Christi, the Vigil of the Epiphany, and the day after the Octave of the Ascension, when the Office is of these days; the Vigil of the Nativity from Lauds to None and the Vigil of Pentecost; all the Feasts of the Blessed Virgin, of the Angels, Saint John the Baptist, Saint Joseph, and the Apostles, as well as Doubles of the First-Class and Second-Class and their entire Octaves.


The Office for the last three days of Holy Week remained unchanged, except that the Psalms for Lauds were from the corresponding days of the week in the Psalter, and, for Compline, those of Sunday. For all other Feasts and for Ferias in Eastertide, the Psalms were those of the new Psalter, while the rest of the Office was from the "Proper" or "Common".

When a Feast has special Antiphons for any of the Major Hours, it retained them with its own Psalms. Except for certain Feasts, the Lessons of the First Nocturn were to be the current Lessons from Scripture, though the Responsories were to be taken from the "Common" or "Proper". Any Feast that had its own Proper Lessons retained them; for Feasts with their own Responsories, those with the Common Lessons were to be read.

Pope Pius X ordered that these changes, proposed by a Committee of Liturgists appointed by him, and adopted by the Congregation of Rites, be put into effect, at latest, on 1 January 1913.



Pope Saint Pius V.
Artist: Bartolomeo Passarotti (1529–1592).
Date: Circa 1566 (Renaissance).
Current location: Walters Art Museum,
Baltimore, United States of America.
Source/Photographer: Walters Art Museum.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The aging, enthroned Pope turns toward the viewer, while making the sign of Blessing with his Right Hand. Pope Saint Pius V (1566-1572) belonged to the Ghislieri family, and on the top of the back of the throne is his family's Coat-of-Arms, crowned by the Papal Tiara and The Keys of Saint Peter, a symbol of the Papacy's descent from Christ's Apostle.

Through the Apostolic Constitution, Divino afflatu, by which Pope Saint Pius X promulgated his Revision of The Roman Breviary, he abolished The Psalter established by Pope Pius V.

By the Motu Proprio "Ab hinc duos annos" of 23 October 1913, Pope Pius X added to his Reform of 1 November 1911: No Feast was to be fixed to a Sunday, except The Holy Name of Jesus and The Blessed Trinity - later, The Feasts of The Holy Family and of Christ The King would be added. The Octaves were equally Simplified.

These changes made it necessary to modify the Roman Missal, also. This was effected in the 1920 "Typical Edition" of the Missal, promulgated by Pope Pius X's successor, Pope Benedict XV.


Through the Apostolic Constitution, Divino afflatu, by which Pope Pius X promulgated his Revision of the Roman Breviary, he abolished the Psalter established by his predecessor, Pope Pius V, and forbade its use, declaring that those who were obliged to recite the Divine Office, every day, failed to fulfil this grave duty unless they used the new arrangement.

The wording of his Apostolic Constitution echoed closely that of his predecessor's Quod a nobis, promulgating the Tridentine Roman Breviary, and also the same predecessor's Quo Primum, promulgating the Tridentine Roman Missal. It included the paragraph: "This we publish, declare, sanction, decreeing that these our letters always are and shall be valid and effective, notwithstanding Apostolic Constitutions and ordinances, general and special, and everything else whatsoever to the contrary. Wherefore, let nobody infringe or temerariously oppose this page of our abolition, revocation, permission, ordinance, precept, statue, indult, mandate and will. But if anybody shall presume to attempt this let him know that he will incur the indignation of Almighty God and of his Apostles the Blessed Peter and Paul.

Quod a nobis concluded with: Nulli ergo omnino hominum liceat hanc paginam Nostrae ablationis, abolitionis, permissionis, praecepti, statuti, indulti, mandati, decreti, relaxationis, cohortationis, prohibitionis, innodationis, et voluntatis infringere, vel ei ausu temerario contraire. Si qui autem hoc attentare praesumpserit, indignationem omnipotentis Dei, ac beatorum Petri et Pauli Apostolorum eius se noverit incursurum.



Psalm 150.
Another point, controversial at the time of Pope Pius X's Breviary reforms,
was the suppression of the immemorial and universally-held usage
of reciting Psalms 148, 149, and 150 at the end of Lauds.
Available on YouTube at

An Article, published in the September 2003 issue of "The Angelus", associated with the Society of Saint Pius X, remarks: "The distribution of the Psalms in Saint Pius X's Breviary was entirely new. It only partially took into account the ancient tradition of the Church, for example, abandoning the number of twelve Psalms at Matins, a number consecrated by a tradition going back to the Desert Fathers and expressly codified in the Rule of Saint Benedict. Another point, controversial at the time, was the suppression of the immemorial and universally held usage of reciting Psalms 148, 149, and 150 at the end of Lauds, daily. This amounts to saying that the Breviary of Pius X did not have so much in common with that of his predecessor and that Clerics were significantly unsettled in their habits ! "

To correspond to the new Psalms, the Antiphonary of the Traditional Roman Office was also almost completely overhauled, as well. Pre-1911, there were 141 unique Antiphons in the Psalter. Post-1911, there were 220. Only sixty-two Antiphons were recognisably the same, and several of these added words or removed them. Many of the overlapping ones were those for the special Seasons (Advent, Lent, Passiontide), not for the per annum (Ordinary Time) Ferias. Thus, seventy-nine Antiphons of the Pre-1911 Breviary were removed, and 158 unique to the Post-1911 Breviary introduced.


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