Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Maundy Thursday. Lenten Station At The Papal Arch-Basilica Of Saint John Lateran.

Text from The Saint Andrew Daily Missal,
unless otherwise stated.

Maundy Thursday.

Station at Saint John Lateran.

Plenary Indulgence.

Double of The First-Class.

White Vestments at Mass.

English: Papal Arch-Basilica of Saint John Lateran. Cathedral of The Bishop of Rome, Italy.
Latin: Archibasilica Sanctissimi Salvatoris et Sanctorum Iohannes Baptistae
et Evangelistae in Laterano Omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput.
Italiano: Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, Roma.
Polski: Bazylika św. Jana na Lateranie (znana jako Bazylika Laterańska),
katedra biskupa Rzymu, Włochy.
Photo: September 2005.
Source: Own work.
Author: Stefan Bauer,
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Lenten Station was formerly held at Saint John Lateran, which was originally called The Basilica of Saint Saviour.

The Liturgy of Maundy Thursday is full of memories of The Redemption. It formerly provided for the Celebration of Three Masses:

The First Mass for The Reconciliation of Public Penitents;

The Second Mass for The Consecration of The Holy Oils;

The Third Mass for a Special Commemoration of The Institution of The Holy Eucharist at The Last Supper.

This last Mass is the only one that has been preserved, and, at it, the Bishop, attended by twelve Priests, seven Deacons and seven Sub-Deacons, Blesses The Holy Oils in his Cathedral Church.

"Roman Pilgrimage: The Lenten Station Churches".
Available on YouTube at

"The Lenten Stations Pilgrimage in Rome".
Available on YouTube at

Side-Chapel in The Basilica of Saint John Lateran.
 San Giovanni-in-Laterano is the Cathedral Church of Rome.
Photo: October 2008.
Source: Own work.
Author: Maros M r a z (Maros).
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Reconciliation of Public Penitents.

The Church, endowed with the power of laying down the conditions necessary for the validity of The Sacrament of Penance, required, in the first Centuries A.D., that, after open Confession of sins of public notoriety, described by The Fathers of The Church as Capital Sins, The Absolution should be preceded by the complete fulfilling of the "Satisfaction" or "Penance".

Hence, The Rite of The Reconciliation of Penitents, who, on Maundy Thursday, received The Sacramental Absolution of the sins for which they had done Public Penance during Lent. To this may be traced The Easter Confession following The Forty Days' Penance.

In the beginning of the 4th-Century A.D., Private Penance came more largely into vogue, and this led gradually to the reversal of the practice aforesaid to that now in general use, the Absolution being given immediately after the Confession, and being followed by the performance of the Penance imposed.

The Coffered Ceiling of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, Rome, Italy.
Photo: March 2010.
Source: Own work.
Author: Grenouille vert.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Sinners, who had undergone a course of Penance, were granted on this day “the abundant remission of their sins”, “which were washed away in The Blood of Jesus”. Dying with Christ, they were “cleansed of all their sins, and, clad in the nuptial robe, they were admitted once more to the banquet of The Most Holy Supper”.

The Blessing of The Holy Oils.

This Blessing took place with a view to the Baptism and Confirmation of the Catechumens during Easter Night. The Bishop exorcised the Oil, Praying God “to instil into it The Power of The Holy Ghost”, so that “The Divine Gifts might descend on those who were about to be Anointed”.

Before the Prayer "Per quem haec omnia", there used to be a Form of Blessing of the good things of the Earth, with mention of their different kinds (fruits, milk, honey, oil, etc), of which we still find examples in The Leonine Sacramentary. Of this Form, there remains nothing in The Canon of The Mass, except The Conclusion, which, on Holy Thursday, retains its natural meaning, since it immediately follows The Blessing of The Holy Oils.

Side-Chapel in The Basilica of Saint John Lateran.
Photo: 2005-07-06.
Original Photo: [1].
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Oil of The Sick, which is The Matter of The Sacrament of Extreme Unction, is the first to be Blessed, before the Pater. Formerly, this used also to be Blessed on other days.

The Holy Chrism, which is The Matter of The Sacrament of Confirmation, is the noblest of The Holy Oils, and The Blessing of it takes place with greater pomp, after the Clergy have Communicated. It is used for The Consecration of Bishops, in The Rite of Baptism, in The Consecration of Churches, Altars and Chalices, and in The Baptism or Blessing of Bells.

English: Choir and Apse in The Basilica of Saint John Lateran, Rome.
Deutsch: Chorraum und Apsis von San Giovanni in Laterano, Rom.
Photo: September 2005.
Source: Own work.
Author: Stefan Bauer,
(Wikimedia Commons)

The third Holy Oil, which is Blessed immediately after, is that of The Catechumens. It is used to anoint the breast, and between the shoulders, of the person to be Baptised, for The Blessing of Baptismal Fonts on Holy Saturday and on The Vigil of Pentecost, at The Ordination of Priests, at The Consecration of Altars, and for The Coronation of Kings and Queens.

“Oil”, says Saint Augustine, “signifies something great.” Through the ages, and in many a land, it has always played a Mystical and Religious part. Soothing and restoring by its very nature, it symbolises The Healing wrought by The Holy Ghost (Extreme Unction); a Source of Light, it denotes The Graces of The Holy Ghost, which enlighten the heart; flowing and penetrating, it represents The Infusion of The Holy Spirit into Souls (Baptism, Confirmation); softening in its effects, it shows forth The Action of The Holy Ghost, Who bends our rebellious wills and arms us against the enemies of our Salvation.

The Holy Ghost is especially represented by The Olive Oil, according to The Blessings of Oil and of Palms, because The Dove, a symbol of The Holy Ghost, carried an olive branch in her beak; because The Holy Ghost came down upon Christ, The Anointed One; and because the olive branches, cast by the Jews in Our Lord’s path, foreshadowed The Outpouring of The Holy Spirit, which was to be given to The Apostles at Pentecost. The Balm, which is added to The Oil to make The Sacred Chrism, signifies, by its sweet perfume, the good odour of all Christian Virtues. Also, it preserves from corruption - another respect in which it is a Symbol of Supernatural Grace that protects us from the contagion of sin (Catechism of The Council of Trent).

English: Basilica of Saint John Lateran, Rome, Italy. With its length of 400 feet,
this Basilica ranks fifteenth among the largest Churches in the world.
Français: Basilique Saint-Jean-de-Latran, Vatican, située à Rome, Latium, Italie. Avec sa longueur de 121,84 mètres, cette Basilique se classe au 15è rang parmi les plus grandes églises au monde.
Photo: September 2010.
Source: Own work.
Author: Tango7174.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Mass for Maundy Thursday.

The Church, which Commemorates throughout the year in The Holy Eucharist all the Mysteries of Our Lord’s Life, today lays special stress on The Institution of that Sacrament and of The Priesthood. This Mass carries out, more than any other, the command of Christ to His Priests, to renew The Last Supper, during which He instituted His Immortal Presence among us at the very moment His Death was being plotted. The Church, setting aside her mourning today, Celebrates The Holy Sacrifice with joy. The Crucifix is covered with a White Veil, her Ministers are Vested in White, and the Bells are rung at the Gloria in Excelsis. They are not rung again until Holy Saturday.

Saint Paul tells us, in the Epistle, that The Mass is a “Memorial of The Death of Christ”. The Sacrifice of the Altar is necessary if we are to partake in The Victim of Calvary and share in His Merits. And The Eucharist, which derives all Its Virtue from The Sacrifice of The Cross, makes it Universal, as regards time and space, in a sense unknown so far. To Love The Blessed Sacrament is “to Glory in The Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ” (Introit).

English: The Tomb of Pope Leo XIII in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran.
Deutsch: Grab Leo XIII.
Photo: May 2007.
Source: Own work.
Author: Berthold Werner.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Christ takes on Himself to perform the Ablutions, prescribed by the Jews, during The Last Supper (Gospel), to show forth the Purity and Charity that God requires of those who desire to Communicate, for, as in the case of Judas (Collect), “whosoever eats this Bread unworthily is guilty of The Body and of The Blood of The Lord” (Epistle).

After The Mass, the Altar is stripped, in order to show that The Holy Sacrifice is interrupted and will not be offered again to God until Holy Saturday. The Priest, therefore, has Consecrated two Hosts, for, on Good Friday, The Church refrains from renewing on the Altar The Sacrifice of Calvary.

On this Holy Thursday, when the Epistle and Gospel describe for us the details of The Institution of The Priesthood and The Eucharistic Sacrifice, let us receive, from the Priest’s hands, that Holy Victim Who offers Himself upon the Altar, and, in this holy manner, fulfil our Easter Duty.

Mass: Nos autem.

The Late-Baroque façade of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran
was completed by Alessandro Galilei in 1735 after winning a competition for the design.
Photo: February 2007.
Source: Own work.
Author: Howardhudson.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Ite Missa Est is said and The Blessing given, followed by the Gospel of Saint John, at the beginning of which the Priest does NOT make The Sign of The Cross on the Altar, but ONLY on himself.

Immediately after Mass, the Celebrant incenses The Chalice containing The Reserved Host, which is carried in Procession to The Altar of Repose prepared for its reception within the Church. During the Procession, the Hymn Pange Lingua, from the Vespers of Corpus Christi, is sung.

On reaching The Altar of Repose, The Chalice, with The Reserved Host, is placed on it, and, after being incensed, it is placed in the Tabernacle.

Vespers are then said in The Choir.

14th-Century Gothic Baldacchino in The Basilica of Saint John Lateran, Rome, Italy.
Photo: March 2013.
Source: Own work.
Author: Wiki ktulu.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Vespers for Maundy Thursday.

The Pater Noster and Ave Maria, having been recited secretly, Vespers are at once begun with the first Antiphon (Psalm CXV.13. "Cálicem salutaris accípiam, et nomen Dómini invocábo". "I will take The Chalice of Salvation, and I will call upon The Name of The Lord".

The Stripping of The Altars.

At the conclusion of Vespers, the Priest, assisted by his Ministers, proceeds to Strip the Altars, whilst reciting the Antiphon Divisérunt and Psalm XXI (Deus Meus).

"The Divine Saviour applied this Psalm to Himself, by beginning it with a loud cry on The Cross, in order to teach us to continue it in the same sense" (Bossuet).

The Cloisters at the Basilica di San Giovanni-in-Laterano.
Photo: May 2006.
Source: Own work.
Author: Joonas Lyytinen Joonasl.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Washing of The Feet.

After The Stripping of The Altars, the Clergy, at a convenient hour, meet to perform the Ceremony known as The Mandatum. The Prelate, or Priest, puts on, over the Amice and Alb, a Violet Stole and Cope. Then, the Deacon, in White Vestments (as is also the Sub-Deacon) sings the Gospel "Ante diem festum Paschae" in the usual way.

The Officiating Priest then removes his Cope, girds himself with a Cloth, and, assisted by his Ministers, begins the washing of the feet of thirteen Clerics or thirteen poor people chosen for the Ceremony.

It is obvious that the number was originally twelve, in remembrance of The Twelve Apostles. According to a Tradition, the alteration was made by Saint Gregory the Great. This Holy Pope, when washing the feet of twelve poor men, noticed one more, of a very beautiful countenance. When he tried to know who he was, after the Ceremony, the mysterious poor man had disappeared. Saint Gregory believed it was an Angel, or Our Lord, Himself. The Official Liturgical Book, known as "The Ceremonial of The Bishops", prescribes the number as thirteen.

The Officiating Priest kneels before each one of them, washes, wipes, and kisses the foot presented, using the Cloth tendered by the Deacon.

Meanwhile, Antiphons are sung.

English: Cloisters of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, Cathedral of The Bishop of Rome.
Español: El Claustro de la Basílica de San Juan de Letrán, catedral del Obispo de Roma, Italia.
Português: Claustro da Basílica de São João de Latrão, catedral do Bispo de Roma, Itália.
Photo: 2005.
Source: Own work.
Author: Quinok.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Indulgences for Maundy Thursday.

Pope Pius VII granted a Plenary Indulgence to all who, on Maundy Thursday, perform some Pious Exercise (Reading, Meditation, Divine Office) for one hour in Commemoration of The Institution of The Holy Eucharist, provided that, being truly contrite, they go to Confession and Holy Communion on that day or on any day of the week, following.

He also granted a Plenary Indulgence to all who pay a visit to The Blessed Sacrament at Altars of Repose on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and Pray there for the intention of The Sovereign Pontiff, provided they have been to Confession and that they go to Holy Communion on Maundy Thursday or on Easter Sunday.

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