Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Saint Thomas of Canterbury
Today is the feast of St. Thomas of Canterbury, it is of double rite. St. Thomas of Canterbury, or St. Thomas Becket, fell foul of the political machinations of King Henry II and was slain by the King's soldiers in Canterbury Cathedral on December 29th, 1170. The liturgical celebration of his feast entered Western calendars almost immediately after his canonisation.
Mattins has, as usual, three nocturns and nine lessons. The antiphons and psalms are taken from the Psalter for Tuesday. In the first nocturn the incipit of the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans is read. In the second nocturn the lessons are historical and in the third nocturn the lessons are from a homily of St. John Chrysostom on St. John's Gospel. At Lauds a commemoration of the Octave of the Nativity is sung.
At Mass the Gloria is sung, a commemoration of the Octave of the Nativity is made, the Credo is sung and the preface and communicantes are of the Octave of the Nativity.
Vespers are of the Octave of the Nativity but from the chapter of the follwing Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity with a commemoration of St. Thomas Becket and of the Octave of the Nativity.
Following the 'liturgical books of 1962' St. Thomas is reduced to a commemoration in the fifth day within the Octave of the Nativity. Festal psalmody is used at mattins and lauds, as on the feast of the Nativity (this contrasts with the practice for third order octaves in the old rite). At the Hours the antiphons and psalmody are ferial. Mass is of a day within the Octave, with Gloria, commemoration of St. Thomas (at read Masses), Credo, preface and communicantes of the Nativity. Vespers are of the Nativity without any commemorations. In pre-1911 practice the Octaves of St. Stephen, St. John the Evangelist and the Holy Innocents would have been commemorated in addition to that of the Nativity and the antiphons and psalms taken from the Office of Martyrs.