‘The Source of Damasus’ Inquiry on the Proper Time to Celebrate Mass in London, British Library, Stowe 944 and in London, British Library, Cotton Caligula A. xv

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This is the first thorough study of a text occurring in two Anglo-Saxon manuscripts. The Latin source of the Old English text preserved in mss. London, BL, Stowe 944 and London, BL, Egerton 3314, fols. 9-72 + Cotton Caligula A xv, fols. 120-53 (Cameron B.12.10) was unknown. The essay provides evidence for the OE text being a translation of a Latin text on liturgical questions. This discovery allows understanding the very nature of the OE work, fosters its correct classification and provides a rationale for its collocation in the two Anglo-Saxon mss. Conceived as a dialogue between pope Damasus and Jerome on the hour of the mass, the OE text turns out to be a translation of one of the short pseudo-epigraphical writings on liturgical questions, which circulated abundantly both on the Continent and in England. The dialogue occurs in several medieval canonical collections on the Continent and might have had its origin in the early Carolingian period. In the course of its transmission, the Latin took different forms, at a certain point of its tradition, incorporated additional material, growing into an altogether different work.The text under analysis is the only version attested in medieval England and one of the few in a vernacular language. It opens with an inquiry from Damasus to Jerome about what hour of the day mass should be celebrated. Jerome answers by reminding Damasus of the decision of the First Council of Nicaea and declares that mass should not be celebrated after the third hour on Sundays, whereas, on the other holy days, no celebration should take place in the fifth, sixth and seventh hour. Different provisions are presented for ferial days. A brisk reply from Damasus to Jerome concludes the dialogue. The Old English text is edited anew and translated into modern English. The essay has been peer-reviewed and is part of a volume featuring 11 contributions by international scholars.The book, published within one of the most prestigious international series, the ‘Münchener Universitätsschriften. Texte und Untersuchungen zur Englischen Philologie’ (published by Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main), is one of the two volumes in honour of Professor Hans Sauer, Full professor at the University of Munich (chair of English), retired in 2012. The volume is reviewed by P. Shaw and R. Stephenson, “RES” 92 (2013), pp. 195-196.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFact and Fiction from the Middle Ages to Modern Times. Essays Presented to Hans Sauer on the Occasion of his 65th Birthday – Part II,
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Publication series

NameMünchener Universitätsschriften. Texte und Untersuchungen zur Englischen Philologie, 37

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