Damp, drizzle, 40s...

In other words, more or less an ordinary winter morning; it suddenly occurred to me to check to see when the Internet says that sunrise happens: not until 0730ish, over two hours away. There is sunrise, and then the hour when Dawn is predicted to lift her coruscating tresses above the horizon, then something else called 'nautical dawn'-- haven't ever kept them all straightened out in my poor head. 

It is the feast of Saint Peter Nolasco (CE, Introibo, Wiki) and also the 'second feast' of Saint Agnes (Introibo). Saint-Eugène will be streaming Holy Mass at 1000. Time for Prime and first breakfast.

Cardinal Schuster, in his Liber sacramentorum, names today the feast of the Nativity of Saint Agnes while admitting that most authorities regard today's commemoration as her 'octave'. If in fact the ancient Church kept Saint Agnes's Nativity, she is in rarefied company indeed because so far as I know the only other nativities kept in the Church's liturgical year are Our Lord's, Our Lady's, and Saint John Baptist's-- as I see the Benedictine prelate goes on to explain.

The most recent authorities on the rubrics are of opinion that this second feast of the famous Roman martyr is merely that of the Octave of her natalis. The ancient Sacramentaries, however, show most clearly that to-day is celebrated the actual temporal birth of St Agnes, so much so that they call this feast: Sanctae Agnae de nativitate, to distinguish it from the other which they term de passione sua. The Gelasian Sacramentary expresses itself with the utmost precision on this point: Sic enim ab exordio sui usque in finem beati certaminis extitit gloriosa, ut ejus nec initium debeamus praeterire, nec finem

The Church usually celebrates the day of a saint's death as his natalis; but at Rome, the early popes made an exception to this rule for St Agnes, and on account of the fame which her cultus acquired, the day on which she was born to divine grace and to the light of this world was also solemnized. 

In later times the scholastics, speaking of the feasts of the nativity of the Baptist and of the Blessed Virgin, declared that the Church celebrates these two births alone with liturgical rites, because all the others were stained by original sin. The ancient feast Sanctae Agnae de nativitate does not, however, oppose the teaching of the theologians, since in this case no privilege in any way detracting from baptism is concerned, but it merely celebrates the glories of the most pure martyr who was filled with divine grace from her cradle. Further, the object of this feast is not the birth of St Agues qua talis, but, as is usual to this day when the Church solemnizes the centenary of the birth of any of the saints, the occurrence of the birthday is taken advantage of to honour and celebrate directly the eminent sanctity of this most valiant and spotless Roman Virgin...

In the Collect we pray thus: 'O God, who dost gladden us by the yearly festival of blessed Agnes, thy virgin and martyr; mercifully grant that, as we honour her in this office, so we may follow the example of her holy life'. As a matter of historical interest, we also give the words of the Collect which is found in the Gelasian Sacramentary: Adesto nobis, omnipotens Deus, beatae Agnetis festa repetentibus, quam hodiernae festivitatis prolatam exortu ineffabili munere sublevasti....  Equally beautiful and solemn is the Secret in the Gelasian Sacramentary: Grata tibi sint, quaesumus, Domine, munera quibus sanctae Agnetis magnifica solemnitas recensetur; sic enim ab exordio sui usque in finem beati certaminis extitit gloriosa, ut ejus nec initium debeamus praeterire, nec finem....

Saint Agnes is one of the privileged souls whom the Lord fills with his prevenient grace, and espouses to his heart from their tenderest years. The Church justly rejoices to-day in the perfume of those lilies of virginity amongst whom the Immaculate Lamb feeds and takes delight; for, as the blood of the martyr was a fruitful seed bringing forth new Christians, so the example of her spotless chastity drew a numerous company of virgins to follow the Divine Bridegroom. In the Gregorian Sacramentary the final blessing or the Oratio super populum, which is still included in the Missal but only for use at the Lenten Stations, is the same prayer as that one quoted above from the Gelasian Sacramentary for the Collect.

I do recall that the use of the orationes super populum was restored in the Novus Ordo missal but have no idea of the rubrics: in my experience they are notable for the thrice-repeated amen or perhaps that is the 'solemn blessing'. At one or the other of them in any case someone in the church always says amen at the wrong moment or begins to. The folks at Introibo are rather more succinct than Cardinal Schuster: "Les historiens ne sont pas d’accord s’il faut y voir l’octave de la fête du 21 janvier ou au contraire l’anniversaire même de la naissance de la Sainte comme l’atteste le sacramentaire Gélasien", the historians aren't in agreement as to whether to view today as the 'octave' or (as the Gelasian Sacramentary attests) as the anniversary of the Saint's birth.

While I had read some time ago that Carmelite Father Reginald Foster OCD had died, beyond remembering him in the week's officium defunctorum, I haven't thought at all about him or his work since. I noticed this morning John Byron Kuhner's account of Father's funeral on the 21st, the feast of the Roman Saint Agnes. 

At France Musique, there's to be a contest (we all can vote!) for the best version of Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber's Mystery Sonatas. I don't think I've ever listened without finding an aspect or two or many to appreciate. 

Post Sextam. I had forgotten that today is the feast of Blessed Charlemagne; Dom Prosper Guéranger in l'Année liturgique points this out, and the Catholic Encyclopedia article is here

... In the year 1000 Otto III opened the imperial tomb and found (it is said) the great emperor as he had been buried, sitting on a marble throne, robed and crowned as in life, the book of the Gospels open on his knees. In some parts of the empire popular affection placed him among the saints. For political purposes and to please Frederick Barbarossa he was canonized (1165) by the antipope Paschal III, but this act was never ratified by insertion of his feast in the Roman Breviary or by the Universal Church; his cultus, however, was permitted at Aachen [Acta SS., 28 Jan., 3d ed., II, 490-93, 303-7, 769; his office is in Canisius, "Antiq. Lect.", III (2)]....

Dom Prosper is rather more generous in his recognition of churches where the Blessed is venerated, ahem; beyond Aachen, these days who knows, I suppose. There are lovely, interesting photographs here and here; the text is in French.