Wednesday, January 30, 2013. 3:15 - 4:30 pm

Abbot Hildemar and Benedictine Liturgy in the Ninth Century
by Jesse D. Billett - A.B., M.Phil., Ph.D. (Assistant Professor, Faculty of Divinity, Trinity College)

The liturgical forms that dominated in the Western Church down to the Reformation (and which survive today in the traditional liturgies still approved for use in the Catholic Church) were largely the result of a creative fusion of texts and customs that originated separately in either Rome or Frankish Gaul, a fusion effected partly as a result of the ecclesiastical policies of the early Carolingian kings in the eighth and ninth centuries.  Among the fruits of the Frankish liturgical reforms was a distinctively "monastic" way of performing the liturgy -- especially the Divine Office (the Liturgy of the Hours).  One of the most valuable sources on the creation of this Frankish Benedictine liturgy is a commentary on the rule of St. Benedict by a Frankish monk, Hildemar, written in the mid-ninth-century for students at the abbey of San Pietro al Monte in Civate, near Milan -- a text with a complex transmission history that has never been properly edited, but which is in process of receiving a collaborative translation.  Hildemar can write with grammatical pedantry (his preferred tone), polemical ferocity, or spiritual ecstasy, and his commentary gives us a glimpse of a controversy between Frankish monks about what it meant to follow the Rule of St. Benedict faithfully.  A traditionalist party favoured continuity with earlier customs (believed to be Roman) that they shared with cathedral canons and other diocesan clergy.  An advanced reforming party (of which Hildemar is a representative), urged strict conformity with the Rule in even minor liturgical details.  The reformers ultimately prevailed, first in the Frankish kingdoms, and later throughout Western Europe.mment on this new history and the related commentary.