Patriarchal Mass of the Sword

The Mass of the Sword (Messa della Spada) derives from the Anglican Patriarchate's heritage as Custodians of the Apostolic See of St. Mark at Aquileia. The mass may take place at a solemn mass celebrated by or presided over by the Archfather on 3 August, the Feast of the Invention of St. Stephen. For the purpose of celebrating the Mass of the Sword, the feast may be transferred, or else it may be celebrated as a separate votive mass. It is, however, preferable that it be celebrated on the 3rd of August, as that day has significance regarding both the spiritual and temporal authority of the Patriarchate symbolized by this mass.



  The Archfather may celebrate or not. If he does not celebrate, then he presides as usual from the throne, vested in the mantum and tiara. The usual Patriarchal ritual of this See that takes place after the vesting in the dalmatic takes place at this mass even if the Archfather does not celebrate. It is done before the primary procession.

  The Deacon of the Mass vests in red dalmatic as usual, but wears the morion helmet with red plumage. The Deacon carries the sword, a one-hand or hand-and-a-half sword of Crusader-era design, in the right hand leaning flat against the right shoulder, and cradles the Book of Gospels in his left hand and arm.


Beginning of the Mass:

  Upon arrival at the altar, the altar party reverences the altar, except for the Deacon, who does not bow or genuflect when holding the sword and/or Book of Gospels. Thereafter, the Deacon goes to the front of the altar on the pavement and salutes the altar.

The method of saluting with the sword is as follows:

1) The sword, beginning from its position of rest against the right shoulder, is raised straight up and forward, with the blade flat (parallel to the floor), until the right arm is straight and at approximately a 45-degree angle.

2) The sword is then returned to its position of rest.

3) The Deacon turns to the left approximately 45-degrees and repeats the salute as in 1 and 2.

4) The Deacon turns 90-degree to the right, i.e., approximately 45-degree to the right from his original front-facing position, and repeats the salute again as in 1 and 2.

Having saluted the altar, the Deacon, without bowing or genuflecting, places the Book of Gospels on the altar.

Going to the center of the altar on the predella, the Deacon salutes the Archfather, who then blesses him with the sign of the Cross.

The Deacon goes to the pavement and salutes the clergy in choir. Thereafter, he retires to the credence and gives up the sword and helmet, and then returns to the altar party.

The Prayers at the Foot of the Altar are said, and mass continues as usual until the Gospel.



  At the Gospel, the Deacon recites his prayers as usual and receives the blessing from the Archfather as usual. He then takes the sword and helmet and goes to the pavement before the altar, saluting the altar as before. He then takes the Book of Gospels cradled in the left hand/arm as before, and the Gospel procession forms otherwise as usual. When the procession reaches the place where the Gospel will be sung, the Deacon gives the sword to a server, and then gives the Book of Gospels to the Sub-Deacon. The Deacon then sings the salutation and announces the Gospel as usual. Taking the thurible from the thurifer, he censes the Book of Gospels, thereafter returning the thurible to the thurifer. Then he takes the sword again, and holding it in its usual position of rest, with his left hand on his breast, he sings the Gospel. Having completed the Gospel, the Sub-Deacon takes the Book of Gospels in the usual manner to the Archfather, the Deacon and the rest of the Gospel party following as described in the Ceremonial. The Book of Gospels is then returned. That all being completed, the Deacon returns to the sedilia and gives up the sword and then the helmet.



  At the Offertory, while the Archfather is still at the throne, the Deacon takes the helmet and sword again and goes to the center of the altar on the pavement and salutes the altar. He then goes to the throne and salutes the Patriarch, who blesses him with the Sign of the Cross. He then goes to salute the clergy in choir - and if the choir be split, then he salutes first those on the Gospel side and then those on the Epistle side. Then he goes to the chancel rail and salutes the people. That being completed, he goes to the credence table and gives up the helmet and sword. The Sacred Ministers and others then go to the altar for the offertory as usual.


Presentation of the Sword to the Archfather after the Mass:

  After the Last Gospel, the Archfather takes the tiara. The Archfather sitting at the throne, the Deacon takes the helmet and sword, which he places on a large red cushion, or else simply carries it flat, holding the handle in the left hand and supporting the blade flat in the right hand. He then goes to the pavement in front of the altar. He raises the sword up towards the altar once. He then goes to the throne. The Archfather rises, retaining the Patriarchal crown, and takes the sword. The Deacon retires to his own right and faces the Archfather. Having accepted the sword, the Archfather gives the salute in the usual manner, facing straight out from the throne, whichever way the throne is oriented. He then hands the sword back to the Deacon. The Deacon takes the Book of Gospels, and the procession from the sanctuary forms as usual. And note that if the Apostolic Blessing with Plenary Indulgence is to be given, it takes place before the Presentation of the Sword.





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