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Monday, 18 May 2009

High Mass at the Pantheon

The Pantheon is one of the most impressive buildings of ancient Rome which still survives intact. Built in 31 BC by Marcus Vispanius Agrippa in the aftermath of the Battle of Actium, it was destroyed by fire in 80AD and then rebuilt by Hadrian in 126AD. The inscription across the facade reads:

M·AGRIPPA·L·F·COS·TERTIVM·FECIT

which means "Marcus Agrippa, the son of Lucius, consul for the third time, built this." It is interesting that despite several other words being abbreviated, the word "tertium" appears in full. In his Noctes Atticae, book 10, (Latin - English) Aulus Gellius reports the controversy over whether one should say "tertium" or "tertio." Even Cicero hesitated to express a definite opinion and advised Pompey to have the ambiguous abbreviation "tert." inscribed on the Temple of Victory which was consecrated in his third consulship. It seems to me that Marcus Varro's solution as reported by Gellius, makes a cogent case for a distinction.

Quibus dictis...

In 609 the building was consecrated by Pope Benedict IV to Sancta Maria ad Martyres and this year marks the 1400th anniversary of that consecration. Last week, Solemn High Mass in the usus antiquior was celebrated for the occasion. J P Sonnen of Orbis Catholicus reported on the event, with the information that the celebrant was from Australia, the deacon was from Italy and the subdeacon was from the United States. It is encouraging to hear that the schola cantorum consisted of priests and seminarians from Pontifical Universities in Rome. Here is J P Sonnen's video of the first part of the Mass:

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