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This year Easter is on March 23rd and this is the earliest it (and therefore Lent) will ever be in our lifetime. There is one possible earlier date, March 22nd, but the last time it occurred was in 1818 and the next time it is due is in 2285.

So today is what in the old calendar used to be called Sexagesima Sunday, meaning that it was approximately the 60th day before Lent (from the Latin sexagesimus “sixtieth”). The preceding Sunday, Septuagesima “seventieth”, and the following Sunday Quinquagesima “fiftieth” formed the Sundays of the pre-Lenten season or “Septuagesimatide” which ends on Ash Wednesday when Lent proper begins.

The Collect for this Sunday was in honour of St Paul, because on this day the “Station” in Rome was in the Church of St Paul-without-the-Walls

Deus, qui conspicis quia ex nulla nostra actione confidimus : concede propĂ­tius ; ut contra adversa omnia Doctoris Gentium protectione muniamur. 

O God, who seest that we put not our trust in any deed of our own, mercifully grant that by the protection of the Teacher of the Gentiles, we may be defended against all adversities.

The “Station” was the church in which a special pontifical high mass for the whole of Rome (and by extension the whole of Christendom) was said on the Sundays in Lent. The main churches of Rome took their turn as the Station church each Sunday.

Guerenger says of today:

A Rome, la Station est dans la Basilique de Saint-Paul-hors-les-Murs. C’est autour du tombeau du Docteur des nations, du propagateur de la divine semence, du père de tant de peuples par sa prédication, que l’Eglise Romaine réunit les fidèles en ce jour où elle veut leur rappeler que le Seigneur a épargné la terre, à la condition qu’elle se peuplera de vrais croyants et d’adorateurs de son Nom.

At Rome, the Station is in the Basilica of Saint Paul-without-the-Walls. It is around the tomb of the Doctor of the nations, of the propagator of the divine seed, of the father of so many peoples by his preaching, that the Roman Church reunites the faithful on this day when she wishes to remind them that the Lord has spared the earth on condition that she is peopled with true believers and worshippers of his Name.

I have no idea whether this tradition is still carried out in St Paul’s-without-the-Walls under the new calendar. But I can’t see anything on its website to suggest that it is.

Posted on Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 07:40AM by Registered CommenterSi Fractus Fortis in | CommentsPost a Comment

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