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"Catholic church services - how much in Latin?" Topic


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757 hits since 30 Jan 2017
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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redcoat30 Jan 2017 10:26 a.m. PST

Hi all,

I know this is not of *direct* relevance to medieval campaigns, but it's always interested me.

Proportionately, how much of your typical medieval Western European (Catholic) service was in Latin? And how much in the worshippers' own tongues?

Pro-Reformation textbooks will often imply that literally the whole shebang was in Latin, and that it was the C16th Protestants who introduced worshippers to the 'word of God' in their own tongues – hence the need to tone down the gaudy decoration and to introduce the pulpit and lectern, to focus worshippers' attention on the priest, whether he was sermonising or reading from the Bible or (for example, in later C16th England) Book of Common Prayer.

Prior to the Reformation, then, was there literally *no* worthwhile preaching for the average medieval congregation? Was it all just a series of Latin rituals – basically a strange 'magic show' – which the congregation were effectively there largely to watch, rather than participate in?

And if so, did medieval folk therefore actually know very little indeed about the Gospels that are the basis of the Christian faith? Were you to interview a medieval peasant, what could he tell you about Christ, the disciples, the Acts of the Apostles, etc.?

What do our medieval experts think?

Bill Rosser Supporting Member of TMP30 Jan 2017 10:32 a.m. PST

When I was growing up prior to Vatican 2, the mass was in Latin except for the sermon.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP30 Jan 2017 10:37 a.m. PST

The educated classes, including clergy, nobility, merchants, were conversant in Latin. So it was not so much a "magic show" as you … imply.
However, there were many scandals about the illiterate village priest who didn't know a word of Latin.
The Reformation did indeed emphasize preaching in the vernacular.

Not that it's relevant to your question but I grew up in pre Vatican II days when the Mass was entirely in Latin. But the congregation knew what was up.
Epistles, the Gospel and the homily were of course in English.
The ritual was in Latin.
I'm not all that sure that the change to the ritual being in the vernacular was a Good Idea, but that's an argument for an anti Vatican II site. Not a wargaming one. grin

During Lent, one of the readings was about Susannah and the elders. In English. It gave me impure thoughts.

Clays Russians30 Jan 2017 10:54 a.m. PST

Interesting, as a Protestant that attends mass on occasion (because I enjoy it and I derive peace from it) your imput is interesting regarding Vatican Il.

Random Die Roll Supporting Member of TMP30 Jan 2017 11:02 a.m. PST

Don't always assume that the educated classes included the clergy. Many of the clergy were trained by observation of the ritual. That is the accepted origin of the phrase "Hokus Pokus"

Stryderg30 Jan 2017 11:11 a.m. PST

My understanding (which is limited, since I wasn't there):
The ritual portion was in Latin, the homily was in vernacular, and their might be one copy of the Bible in the local church, but more likely only in the cathedral.

So interviewing the local peasants about the foundation of their faith might be a one-sided affair.

troopwo Supporting Member of TMP30 Jan 2017 11:25 a.m. PST

Would have been that way from what, the Coucil of Trent right up to Vatican ll.

I wonder if the Gospel and homily were in the vernacular before that too?

Stryderg, don't forget, the printing press probably had as much to do with the protestant movement as much as the actual grievances. Mass printing created an information war for the time. Access to everyone as well as I suspect an interest in literacy.

Personal logo Swampster Supporting Member of TMP30 Jan 2017 11:35 a.m. PST

Wall paintings and sometimes windows could be used to illustrate various stories, creating (in theory) a sounder knowledge of the key stories.
Until the Counter-reformation, much of the service was beyond the rood screen or similar, with the priest partly or almost completely obscured from the congregation. When added to the priest having his back to the congregation and the words frequently said very quietly, much of the mass would be virtually inaudible.

GonerGonerGoner Inactive Member30 Jan 2017 12:17 p.m. PST

In mediaeval Britain most of the service was in Latin and most of the congregation would have understood little. Part of the reason for the ornate decoration of Catholic churches so the faithful could be inspired by the decoration and why the reformation swept away the decoration as services shifted to the local language so people concentrated on the words rather than the pictures.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Jan 2017 12:49 p.m. PST

Even in many post-reformation churches of 'mainline' protestant sects the 'ritual' part of the service had only limited contact with the mass of the congregation. This was one of the reasons for the exodus of the more 'radical' sects from parts of Europe to other parts of the world.

I think that most high Medieval churches would have had a Bible, or at least some part of it. Usually the gift of a patron as a full hand-written Bible may have cost as much as building a simple church.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP30 Jan 2017 12:52 p.m. PST

There's no point at all in preaching the homily in Latin if the congregation didn't speak it.
If the priest even bothered with one.
The nuns would skin me alive for saying this, but the Reformation had a point. (They called it the Protestant Revolt.) grin

dapeters30 Jan 2017 1:19 p.m. PST

I believe that the Eastern rite churches have always been in the local language. The nobility in the early middle ages thought reading and writing less than masculine (they come around by the late Middle ages.) Literacy in the Middle ages in any language is pretty low. The reformation comes along and suggest that the only way one can understand God is to read the Bible for oneself. Then the counter reformation comes to similar conclusion about the need for literacy and general education. The byproduct of folks learning to read was …they could read anything.

uglyfatbloke30 Jan 2017 3:46 p.m. PST

I western Christendom the whole thing was in Latin – or in quite few cases the priest made 'Latin' noises. There was nothing for the congregation really. The priest did n't even face the congregation.

Personal logo War Panda Supporting Member of TMP30 Jan 2017 10:11 p.m. PST

Yes as John and Bill mentioned in their replies: all in Latin, bar the sermon. In certain cases in medieval times the sermon was certainly said in Latin. And of course as mentioned already there was a time where the Sanctuary was separated by a veil or curtain as a refection of the place of the Lord's presence in the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Jerusalem which was concealed by the veil of the Sanctuary.

Was it all just a series of Latin rituals basically a strange 'magic show' which the congregation were effectively there largely to watch, rather than participate in?

This was less a magic show than a ritual in Latin would seem now. Latin was the language and voice of Holy Mother Church. A voice which was meant to be one of comfort and consolation. In our modern world saturated by Hollywood it sounds much more like the language of the Witches of Eastwick.

@Clays Russians: I met an amazing Protestant girl once who said exactly the same thing :) She was going out with a Catholic man who was completely overbearing when it came to converting her (he almost made me leave the Catholic Church ;) )

It also could be argued that the modern post Vatican II vernacular language of the liturgy doesn't necessarily render greater clarity on the meaning of the ritual then when it was spoken in Latin. Just ask my kids :)
Education and explanation is needed in either case.


There was nothing for the congregation really. The priest did n't even face the congregation.

Yes correct but the change of orientation of the priest wasn't to change the understanding of the congregation's role but to reestablish the primacy of the place of 'sacrifice' which is the altar. It is a memorial of the sacrifice and making present the one sacrifice of Calvary and it was felt that both the priest and congregation should 'both' face the altar rather than 'both' face the tabernacle.

The Last Conformist30 Jan 2017 11:15 p.m. PST

In Romance Europe, the vernacular was considered to be Latin, albeit in a rustic or informal form, for about the first half of the middle ages (or during the dark ages, if you take the middle ages to begin only around AD 1000). Additionally, the priest would have spoken the Latin of the mass with a strong proto-French or whatever accent. So I wouldn't exclude that the common folk actually understood a fair, if decreasing with time, bit of the service.

This would obviously be completely different in Celtic, Germanic, or Slavic Europe, or in Berber-speaking bits of North Africa before Islamicization.

Old Wolfman31 Jan 2017 8:03 a.m. PST

And the priest or bishop would be facing in the same direction *as* the congregation,except during the homily.

jowady31 Jan 2017 8:57 a.m. PST

Remember that until Vatican II the Congregation actually had little participation in the Mass itself. I can remember as a small child attending "High Mass" in which the choir sang all the responses and the Congregation was pretty much an audience, except for the Homily and Communion. Larger Churches would have had a copy of The Vulgate Bible, which would become the Church's accepted text, which was in Latin. The Bible wouldn't appear in English until 1382. At the time that the Printing Press was invented there were around 30 translations of the Bible so versions in Common languages were around however illiteracy remained high and the Catholic Church has never stressed the Bible as a whole as an object to be studied. True, the Gospels provide a central theme to the Mass but you generally do not see the emphasis on Bible Study that you see in many Protestant Denominations.

Virtually all Priests would have spent some time in a Monastery being trained. Generally however Village and even Parish Priests would most likely have been illiterate. Priesthood was often considered hereditary in the Early days, remember that Celibacy was not a rule until the Second Lateran Council in 1139. Prior to that however the Church had tried to discourage marriage by placing what amounted to a Church tax on Priests who married, resulting in quite a few Priests taking "Hearth Women". Of course off-spring from these relationships weren't allowed to inherit. This inheritance problem, with Church Property being conveyed to Sons of Priests was one of the main reasons for the Priestly Celibacy rules adopted at the Second Lateran Council.

Of course the Mass is still said in Latin today, if you watch the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass from the Vatican you will see the Pope celebrate Mass in Latin. And there are those who still celebrate the Tridentine Mass (pre Vatican II with the Priest facing away from the congregation) today, although this is rejected by Rome. BTW, just as a "full disclosure statement", I am Roman Catholic myself.

uglyfatbloke31 Jan 2017 9:23 a.m. PST

Where parish churches were 'appropriated' by monasteries the priest (thus a vicar rather than a rector)was provided/appointed by the monasteries, so quite a lot of them were n't what you'd call 'the brightest and the best' to begin with; I expect they tended to be the ones that the Abbott felt he could do without. .
I think outright total illiteracy was fairly uncommon – though there are certainly examples of it – but I doubt if that many parish vicars (or rectors for that matter) had enough grasp of Latin to really know what their bible actually said even if they could read the words. I think I can empathise; I find reading anything other than really, really simple Latin documents a bit of a challenge at the best of times and I expect I would struggle (AKA 'flounder miserably') with anything other than the gospel stories that I'm relatively familiar with….and maybe not even them.

Toronto4831 Jan 2017 12:14 p.m. PST

The question of the influence of religion in Medieval Europe is a topic that is as important a topic or even more so then genres like Military or Economic History. In many ways it is the key to any subject that relates to medieval life.

The first thing to realize is that there ere no different religions just the "Church" Religion was how how people tried to understand what was going on around them and often it involved as much "Devil" as "God". Religion was the dominant factor in everyday life encompassing such things as education, medicine, social customs and relationships between peoples either as individuals or groups like towns, princes or emperors. The Church legitimatized the authority of the secular rulers and law and was itself an important player in politics and was the counterbalance to secular power. The Church was an important land owner in its own right and was supported by "tithes" which were levied taxes either monetary or more common in kind.

The calendar was set by religion and regulated by feast days These were not only religious" celebrations but popular events that gave structure to life , a means of telling time and practical suggestions as when to plant and harvest Local celebrations and travels gave the people a welcome break Priests could use these as means of instruction holding up the lives of saints as good example to follow Liturgies and religious events was often the only " mass" entertainment While much of the liturgy would have been in Latin the people would understand the basics of what was going on. Priests and more importantly Bishops did not want the average person to become involved in complex theological items as this was their role the people were educated through such items as carvings paintings and frescos that in many cases covered the entire walls of the church These were often very vivid and in the era where print and color was absent would have been very attractive and stunning You can imagine people going around looking at the various events depicted and being told by others what they were seeing Being told about the fires of hell was good but seeing a painting of the same thing in all its gory details was something else. There were also theatrical events such as passion plays and lives of saints that were put on in public spaces that not only gave instructions but were fun to watch as such

Individual festivals often incorporated past "pagan" events thus giving a continuation of life Different regions and cultures could express their own identity through festivals as they do today Fairs and markets were often based on festivals so were important economically as well Larger churches gave space for these markets and in many a lot of the church as devoted to commerce as much as religion. Today's cathedrals were once the local community halls and were surrounded by merchants professionals schools and others thus playing an important part in town and village life

For everyday people the church dominated their life literally from cradle to grave as seen in baptisms, weddings funerals and a very important series of confessions and penitence Medieval people had a fixation on heaven and hell and most feared that if they were not good enough they would end up in hell. Making up for sins or showing your status as a "holy" person was an everyday constant Today we see this as being superstitious or a means by which the Church enriched itself and controlled the people At the time is was just basic life and accepted as such In time as literacy and communications improved there were opportunities and the means by which some began to question these aspects of life This could be dangerous as religious and secular authorities both saw the Church as a stabilizing force in the community Of course there were many opportunists on both sides that used the Church for personal power an enrichment which was a factor as common as the festivals

At the same time there were many others, who honestly believed , that they were doing what is right The struggles between these factions is the history of the Medieval age As such it can be "complex", to say the least, with as many theories and opinions that we find in any study of the past.

Today we have very little idea of what medieval life was like and the importance religion played Sometimes we can see a little trace in our own festivals or in the life of what were once small and remote rural communities where religion is still important There is always the example today of the life many people lead in what are areas ruled by religious extremists and zealots with again people divided between what they see as right and wrong

uglyfatbloke31 Jan 2017 1:34 p.m. PST

Toronto, there's really very little of significance that we can't find out about medieval life if we make the effort.
Cathedrals were not, however, community halls and nothing much commercial happened in churches near churches? yes, because churches tended to be at or near the market square.
Just about any one who made a career in the secular (in an ecclesiastical sense) clergy did so for their own benefit- a lot of regular clergy too.
Fairs (and it's worth looking into what 'fair' meant in the Middle Ages)took place at the same time as festivals because it was convenient for weather/produce reasons or were rooted in traditional celebrations/events which often pre-dated Christianity …like Christmas for example.
The church did not legitimise the authority of the state (king), it lived on the back of it. It was not in any sense a counter to secular authority, it depended on and -and was a prop to secular authority.
Church festivals did not in any sense regulate sowing or harvesting or any other aspect of agriculture except for making the work more complicated by banning work on a Sunday.
Very few people had the faintest idea what the Mass was about; lots of priests did n't understand it either. Most monks (regular clergy) were not pursuing a vocation, they were taking the only job on offer for indigent younger/youngest sons.
Great swathes of people did not have baptisms, weddings or funerals because they simply could n't afford them; churches were n't that big on charity.
The old tale that monasteries introduced better farming is simply untrue. Monasteries drove people off the land to make big farms ( in England and Scotland that often meant sheep ranches) to procure a big income to facilitate building bigger monasteries, land speculation and money-lending..
In sort, the main contribution of the church to medieval society was to soak money out it. There's very little to say about it that is good.The main driving force was personal and institutional greed for both money and power.
Redcoat's surmise is spot-on. The medieval church did little or nothing for the parishioner (except relieve him of the terrible burden of money of course) and the Mass really was just an unintelligible ritual for almost everyone. people attended because they were obliged to do so and they'd been taught to fear damnation.

uglyfatbloke31 Jan 2017 2:29 p.m. PST

Dapeter; the view that the nobility saw literacy as being unmanly or whatever is firmly rooted in Victorian prejudice – not to say that nobles might disdain a 'nerd'.
If most of the gentry/nobility and burgess class (not everyone who lived in a town was a burgess of course) in England or Scotland could read, it would be odd to expect less of their counterparts in France or Spain or the Low Countries.

Oh Bugger31 Jan 2017 2:39 p.m. PST

"and the Mass really was just an unintelligible ritual for almost everyone."

And yet people, quite ordinary ones, were willing to fight or simply just die for the right to hear it. Perhaps they were not very bright? Or perhaps your conception of them and what they did or did not understand is flawed.

Peter Heather's book The Restoration of Rome cast a cold, but clear eye on the development Frankish Christendom. Some Catholics, but not this one, disliked it for that. I'd suggest reading it for those seeking enlightenment on the issues being aired here.

Toronto4831 Jan 2017 3:07 p.m. PST

See UFB an example of the difference of opinions

Your statement that the church did very little good and only soaked money out of society is a modern concept that was also in existence at the time and fully developed after the Reformation We should never make sweeping generalized statements based solely on current opinion. The Middle ages were full of people who lived their faith with joy and because they chose to do so. That is what I am referring to when i say we have difficulties in understanding the past as we do not know how or what they actually thought We have modern minds conditioned by modern concepts and varied opinions that we use to build our own ways of thinking and approach to everything we do.

If you read the documentation that has survived from that time say the writings of Thomas Acquinas, Hildegarde of Bingen St Francis of Assisi etc you will see that faith was oftentimes genuine and that there was good as well as evil. There are always two sides to every story

uglyfatbloke31 Jan 2017 3:14 p.m. PST

Well, people can be manipulated, but also people are sometimes willing to fight to preserve something just because it's what they are accustomed to or and it's probably the most significant factor in this case because they fear eternal damnation or even just because if there's a fight they don;t want to miss it. Moreover a great many people who fought (and I'm guessing you're referring to the wars of religion in France and Germany particularly) fought because they were forced to do so and for sure some fought because they were not very bright or were at least easily led.
People will fight for incomprehensible things and we can all hold irrational beliefs…for example I believe Scotland can win the 6 Nations and beat he All Blacks in November.
As for my conception of what medieval people did or did not understand…well….I'm a pretty well -qualified medieval scholar and I can't think of any reputable medieval scholar who would disagree with what I wrote.
Also, what does Peter Heather's book have to do with this? We're discussing the later middle ages.

Oh Bugger31 Jan 2017 4:59 p.m. PST

I think that reading Heather as I suggested followed by Bartlett's The Making of Europe might give a better informed perspective on the topic under discussion. Given the massive influence of Frankish Christianity its worth understanding how it came about and why it dominated Europe for so long.

I was actually thinking of the Prayer Book Rebellion and the Pilgrimage of Grace.

I doubt reputable medieval scholars universally hold the view that across Christendom "The medieval church did little or nothing for the parishioner". I suspect their views are more nuanced like Heather and Bartlett I suppose.

The OP said medieval rather than later middle ages hence my contribution.

redcoat31 Jan 2017 6:05 p.m. PST

Reading this Wikipedia article on Eamon Duffy's Catholic-revisionist work, The Stripping of the Altars…

link

…and especially the criticism of that work (outlined towards the article's end) by Tyndale's biographer David Daniell, one gets the strong sense that there is still major disagreement between the Catholic-revisionists and the pro-Reformation historians about how much medieval congregations knew of the contents of the Gospels. Perhaps the degree and quality of medieval vernacular preaching simply varied dramatically from place to place and from century to century.

A fascinating subject!

uglyfatbloke31 Jan 2017 6:16 p.m. PST

It certainly varied from place to place ..enormously in fact. For every surplice-filler jibbering mumbo-jumbo there would be a serious, committed priest doing his utmost to connect with his parish and doing his utmost for his flock. In fact that is what really drove the reformation in Scotland and – I would think – in other places too.
You could make a pretty good case that that is the case to-day. There's loads of parish priests/ministers who genuinely do whatever they can to help people; you can't ask more than that.

uglyfatbloke31 Jan 2017 6:26 p.m. PST

We kind of lost track of the OP; the short answer is …. really everything would have been in Latin – or at least Latin noises. Medieval priests did n't really do sermons as we would think of them…in fact they mostly did n't do much of what we would think of as parish duties, but really that was n't what they were expected to do. First and foremost they were expected to celebrate mass before the people; whether the people understood it was n't significant.

Toronto4831 Jan 2017 7:47 p.m. PST

The Mass, while the central focus of the liturgy, was not the sole means of worship or of bringing religion to the masses As I suggested in my first post things such as daily sacraments, passion and mystery plays and more importantly the integration of ritual into every day life were also important and a lot that would have been in the local language or vernacular

uglyfatbloke01 Feb 2017 3:09 a.m. PST

Passion & Mystery plays would certainly have been in the local vernacular, though not generally 'produced & directed' by the church – they tended to be more a 'private enterprise' thing.
Hardly anyone other than clergy (and by no means all of them) had daily sacrament/ritual. The medieval church as an organisation was, above all things, a career vehicle. Medieval society would have functioned perfectly without it; in fact the church was an economic burden with no real benefits. The threat of eternal damnation – sometimes allied with the threat of penalties including violence – was what gave the church power.
All power structures depend on the ability of the few to impose their will on the many and making the many pay for the comfort of the few. That's what ideology is for. The medieval church was no exception.
I was thinking about people being 'willing to die' for faith in the wars of religion. Overall I'd suggest it's more a case of being 'willing to kill'.

Oh Bugger01 Feb 2017 4:14 a.m. PST

"All power structures depend on the ability of the few to impose their will on the many and making the many pay for the comfort of the few. That's what ideology is for. The medieval church was no exception."

Indeed and ditto the Reformation. Yet faith existed in a meaningful way not just evidenced by martyrs but by ordinary people who to their great disadvantage chose to adhere to their beliefs. I tend to think they knew why they did so.

uglyfatbloke01 Feb 2017 6:30 a.m. PST

No disagreement here, though I'd suggest that a very large proportion of the 'ordinary people' who adhered to their preferred version of faith despite threats did so out of peer pressure as ell as the threat of eternal damnation. The revers applies as well of course; people who were willing to risk all to hasten change rather than to preserve the existing structure. Also, the power of tradition and a fear of change is likely to have been a major factor for many.

redcoat01 Feb 2017 2:49 p.m. PST

We must of course be careful of the logical fallacy that any belief system in which people have been inculcated must of necessity be meaningful and worthwhile if those people are willing to suffer/die/kill for it.

uglyfatbloke01 Feb 2017 3:50 p.m. PST

Spot on Redcoat.

Personal logo War Panda Supporting Member of TMP01 Feb 2017 4:25 p.m. PST

We must of course be careful of the logical fallacy that any belief system in which people have been inculcated must of necessity be meaningful and worthwhile if those people are willing to suffer/die/kill for it.

Very true and it should be most obvious to any rational logical person whether religious, non-religious, Christian or non-Christian. And also true is the opposite. At a time where man orientates himself towards an ever growing narcissistic apathetic view of existence I think it every bit as important to state this opposite. It does not necessarily mean a belief system is meaningless or worthless if at times people are indeed willing to suffer, die or even kill to persevere its value for all.

Oh Bugger01 Feb 2017 4:30 p.m. PST

Indeed but it rather belies the idea that they didn't understand the belief system in the first place which I think was your original pitch.

uglyfatbloke01 Feb 2017 6:12 p.m. PST

I think it was more to do with not understanding the ceremonies since they were in Latin.
Not sure what you mean by 'the opposite' Warpanda. If people are willing to fight, die and/or kill to preserve or procure fair and decent treatment for all that's one thing; if they are willing to do so to further a specific ideology that's another. The whole purpose of political and religious ideology is to endure that a small number of people get to impose their will on a larger number of people. Structured ideology is pretty much the opposite of liberty, so why would anyone want that?

Personal logo War Panda Supporting Member of TMP01 Feb 2017 9:00 p.m. PST

Not sure what you mean by 'the opposite' Warpanda. If people are willing to fight, die and/or kill to preserve or procure fair and decent treatment for all that's one thing; if they are willing to do so to further a specific ideology that's another.

When the specific ideology IS the means to preserve fair, just and decent treatment for all (all- who seek peace that is)

uglyfatbloke02 Feb 2017 3:38 a.m. PST

No prob;em with that Warpanda, I just can't think of an ideology to which that would apply in practice.

dapeters03 Feb 2017 11:03 a.m. PST

Sorry UFB, if you're talking about the late middle ages, sure, as burghers are becoming knights through their wealth, there not drop other skills. At the same time when retainers are paid in rations and individual accounts are kept down to the number of cups of beer one received, not to mention indentures, education (as we know it) made sense. The local Lord need be able to read to keep an eye on things (which as I understand it the origin of all writing.) If you mean the dark ages then you're dealing with cultural norms and different gender identities at least in North Western Europe.

uglyfatbloke03 Feb 2017 2:32 p.m. PST

No, I don't mean the Dark Ages. Not much point in reading if there's damn-all to read. There again I feel rather like that about newspapers. Not sure about a time then retainers were paid in rations, though rations being part of the 'remuneration package' is a different thing of course.

Beaumap08 Feb 2017 7:17 a.m. PST

Mass was of course NOT celebrated in front of the people. It was celebrated the other side of a Rood screen to bar the ordinary person. Mass for the masses was also limited to receiving the bread (wafer), and not the wine. The main social effect was to emphasis the huge gulf between the priest and the laity.

I love the Hussite response. When they demanded they receive communion 'in both kinds' they accompanied it with cartoon battle flags showing a goose drinking from the communion cup! My Czech pal took pains to remind me that 'huss' is Czech for 'goose'. Huss was the first person after apostolic times to translate the Bible into the vernacular. He also set many hymns to popular tunes. This was equally revolutionary. Jan Zizka is reputed to have been converted purely by hearing such hymns through an open window.

Congregational participation in anything whatsoever was radical and unacceptable. Understanding was not just discouraged, it was usually actively prevented, which is why in many countries during the Reformation upheaval, possession of a vernacular Bible was punishable by death. In many cultures, only priests participated at all in the Mass, and so zero content was not in Latin. Even royalty was only expected to observe. Ironically, before the Reformation, the public preaching of both the Crusades and the selling of indulgences were so effective partially because they were so rare – and outside the church building.

uglyfatbloke08 Feb 2017 10:53 a.m. PST

Good points Beaumap.

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