The Mozarabic Rite

When King Alfonso VI of Castile conquered Toledo in 1085, it was being disputed as to which rite Iberian Christians should follow: the Roman rite or Mozarabic Rite. After other ordeals, it was submitted to the trial by fire: One book for each rite was thrown into a fire. The Toledan book was little damaged whilst the Roman one was consumed. (Another story has both books survive: the Toledan book was not burned while the Roman missal was ejected from the fire.) Henry Jenner comments in the Catholic Encyclopedia: “No one who has seen a Mozarabic manuscript with its extraordinarily solid vellum, will adopt any hypothesis of Divine Interposition  here.” Source


My ‘reading’ ( a grandiose term for skimming bits of Wikipedia…) is becoming more and more interesting.  The Mozarabic Rite, still rightly celebrated in these peculiar do-it-yourself  times, was developed and instituted in early Christian Iberia (Spain and Portugal) and was further refined under the Visigoths, Saint Isidore giving the liturgy its final form before the Muslim invasion and the establishment of Al-Andalus.  Mozarabic refers to those Christians living under Moorish rule in Spain. There was, however, much debate about the propriety and legitimacy of the rite following the recapturing of Toledo during the Reconquista: as well as the trial by fire, there was a battle between two knights, to establish the supremacy of either the Toledan or the Roman Rite.


Revered for its ornate liturgical beauty, the rite is still celebrated in a few parishes in Spain, in Rome and in New York, as well as being celebrated by the Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church. It was also celebrated twice by Blessed Pope John Paul II The Great. Here is some Mozarabic chant to listen to.  

I used to frequent a particular charity shop in London. When the lady in charge asked me how I was and when I inquired in response how she was, she would always say ‘I am blessed, I am blessed’. We are blessed.


The images shown are of Mozarabic architecture at the Monasterio de San Miguel de Escalada. Rights here , here  and  here

This entry was posted in Architecture, Catholic, Christianity, Churches, Culture, History, Liturgy, Mass, Music, Popes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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