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Musical Musings: Solemnities

Trinity Sunday

by Francis Mershman
Transcribed by William Stuart French, Jr.
In Memoriam William Stuart French, Sr.

This article is reprinted here with the kind permission of Kevin Knight, who has undertaken a project to transcribe an online version of the 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia.

While this article is taken from a volume written well before the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, it is still relevant from an historical perspective, allowing us to study the history of Trinity Sunday. It is currently celebrated on the Sunday after Pentecost, the new Lectionary titling it Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.

The first Sunday after Pentecost, instituted to honour the Most Holy Trinity. In the early Church no special Office or day was assigned for the Holy Trinity. When the Arian heresy was spreading the Fathers prepared an Office with canticles, responses, a preface, and hymns, to be recited on Sundays. In the Sacramentary of Saint Gregory the Great (PL LXXVIII 116) there are prayers and the Preface of the Trinity. The Micrologies (PL CLI 1020), written during the pontificate of Gregory VII (Nilles II 460), call the Sunday after Pentecost a Dominica vacans, with no special Office, but add that in some places they recited the Office of the Holy Trinity composed by Bishop Stephen of Liège (903-20). By others the Office was said on the Sunday before Advent. Alexander II (1061-1073), not III (Nilles 1 c), refused a petition for a special feast on the plea that such a feast was not customary in the Roman Church which daily honoured the Holy Trinity by the Gloria Patri, etc., but he did not forbid the celebration where it already existed. John XXII (1316-1334) ordered the feast for the entire Church on the first Sunday after Pentecost. A new Office had been made by the Franciscan John Peckham, Canon of Lyons, later Archbishop of Canterbury (d.1292). The feast ranked as a double of the second class but was raised to the dignity of a primary of the first class, 24 July 1911, by Pius X (Acta Ap. Sedis III 351). The Greeks have no special feast. Since it was after the first great Pentecost that the doctrine of the Trinity was proclaimed to the world, the feast becomingly follows that of Pentecost.

NILLES, Kal. man. (Innsbruck, 1897); BINTERIM, Denkwürdig keiten, I. 264; KELLNER, Heortology (London, 1908). 116; BÄUMER, Geschichte des Breviers (Freiburg, 1895), 298.

Transcribed by William Stuart French, Jr.
In Memoriam William Stuart French, Sr.

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV
Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company
Online Edition Copyright © 1999 by Kevin Knight
Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor
Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York
Reprinted by permission of copyright owner.

See New Advent Catholic Website

See also CNP Liturgical Planning Page for Trinity Sunday

 Back to Solemnities Index

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