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gation Days, derived from the Latin rogare, to beseech. Every Sunday throughout the year, formerly, had a particular name, that itş respective position in the calendar · might be known. On this Sunday and the three following
days, extraordinary prayers and supplications are made, as a preparation for the devout observance of our Saviour's ascension, on the next succeeding to them; and which you may observe is called Ascensian Day, of Holy Thursday.
Mr. ConstaNCE. It is so; but, before noticing it, - you will allow me to say, that the whole of this week - was formerly observed by thanksgivings for the return of
Spring, and an humble supplication for blessings upon the fruits of the earth, in addition to the services you have already mentioned. Mamertus, Bishop of Vienną, has the credit of first observing it in this way, to avert, as is supposed, some impending calamity upon his diocese.
WILLIAM. Whatever might have been the intentions of those who formerly appointed the whole of this week to public prayer, few persons now hold any day in remembrance excepting the Thursday; and this principally on account of a regulation made by Queen Elizabeth, that the people should, once a year, with the curate and sub-stantial men of the parish, walk in procession; and that, in these perambulations, appropriate prayers should be offered by the curate,' at all convenient places, giving thanks to God for the increase and abundance of his blessings.
. . . . CHARLES." I suppose then that the custom of beating the bounds, as it is termed, in every parish, on this day, is the remains of this old enactment of Elizabeth.
WILLIAM, No doubt it is; very few persons, however, follow 'in procession now: the school-boys of each parish are the chief actors in a festival which was for merly observed with every external mark of devotion,
The priest used to bear the cross about in solemn procession, and no one passed it without bestowing the accustomed bow of homage. It was, therefore, called Cross Week, which name it now retains in all Catholic countries. Grass Week and Gang Week were terms by which it also was distinguished; the former in token of the fasting or abstinence, when green sauce and salads were substituted for flesh; and the latter, in reference to the processions so frequent throughout the week.
MR. CONSTANCE. It has been remarked, that the present custom of beating the bounds, may probably owe Its enactment to the reign of Elizabeth; its origin, I believe, can claim an earlier date, and may be attributed to a yearly procession amongst the ancient Romans, in honour of their god Terminus, who was believed to preside over boundaries, or land-marks. Indeed, there are few processions, or festivals of any kind (particularly those of a, religious nature), but may have taken their rise from the practices of the heathen nations. The early. Christians, desirous of confirming the Pagan converts in their new religion, adopted, in many instances, similar periods of religious observances. Thus we find, that the keeping of Christmas with joy and feasting, was to supply the place of the Bacchanalia and Saturnalia of the Romans; and the celebration of annual festivals to the Saints and Martyrs, was in lieu of the solemnities practised at the entrance of the sun into the signs of the Zodiac, in the old Julian Calendar ; while your own pleasing commemoration of this first day of May, owes its origin to the feast of Floralia, So much importance, indeed, was attached to this adaptation of Christian worship with idolatrous forms, that we are told by Bede, in his Ecclesiastical History, that Pope Gregory the Great informed Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, that after mature deliberation on the affair of the English, he was of opinion
that the temples of the idols in that nation ought not to be destroyed, but that they should be sprinkled with holy water, and the idols replaced by more appropriate emblems: and because our ancestors sacrificed oxen in their pagan worship, he directed the object of the sacrifice to be exchanged; and on the day of the dedication or nativities of the martyrs, whose relics these newly-made churches contained, to kill the cattle, and celebrate the solemnity with religious feasting. Until the Reformation, the greatest respect was paid to these observances; and even after that great event, and notwithstanding all processions were abolished, we find them stil handed down to us, (as in the case of Holy Thursday, when each parish has its procession and dinner,) although upon so limited and insignificant a scale, as scarcely to be noticed by any persons but parish officers and school-boys. In Catholic conimunities, however, Holy Thursday, or Ascension Day, is still observed by a splendid service.
ANGELINA. It is so, and is one of the festivals noticed by Lady Morgan, in her “Italy.” She says this is an important day at Rome, and that the whole foreign population roll on in endless succession to the Vatican; the church and palace assuming the air of the court of a military despot, from the immense variety of costumes exhibited. Besides the soldiers on duty, the male foreigners assume the garb of a warrior, as a ready passport to the Sistine Chapel. The immense crowd causes indescribable confusion, and renders it utterly impossible for any persons to attend to the ceremonies of the day, which consist of the representation of the cross, a grand procession to the Paoline Chapel, to take the sacrament, and finally the washing of pilgrims' feet by the Pope, who gives a concluding benediction from the balcony.
Mrs. CONSTANCE. Our celebration of so important an event as the Ascension of Christ into heaven, which
occurred in the presence of one hundred and twenty disciples, is, I think, a necessary act of devotion ; not only as a grateful testimony of our remembrance of the Saviour of the world, but as an assurance of our faith in that which was intended to confirm his disciples in their belief of a joyous resurrection to eternal happiness, as a reward for whatever sufferings they might undergo, in disseminating the principles of the gospel. As far back as the year 68, according to some authors, the Christian church did reverence to this miraculons circumstance. But, as it has been before observed, the Rogation days were abolished at the Reformation. The next Sunday has some reference to this day, I believe.
WILLIAM. It has, Ma'am, being called Sunday after Ascension Day; but this period was formerly known by the name of Expectation Week, descriptive of that anxiety of the Apostles for the further confirmation of the divinity of Jesus, which he had promised to send them. The descent of the Holy Ghost was, therefore, considered by them a fulfilment of this promise ; and the commencement. of their public ministry is dated from that period. The festival of Whitsuntide is also commemorative of a like manifestation to the Apostles ; when a sound came down from heaven “ as of a rushing, mighty wind,” which filled them with the Holy Ghost, and empowered them to speak with spiritual tongues.
CHARLES. Pray what is the meaning of the term Whitsuntide?
MR, CONSTANCE, Various definitions have been given. It used to be customary to baptize at this season of the year, as well as at Easter, when those persons who had received that important ríte, as also those who were about to receive it, were expected to appear in white garments, and hence is the name of Whit-Sunday. The Greeks, for the same reason, call it Bright Sunday, on account of
the many bright. white garments which were then worn. Pentecost, by which the season of Whitsuntide is understood, is a term derived from the Greek, and signifies Fiftieth. It is applied to a feast celebrated by the Jews, fifty days after their Passover, in commemoration of the Law being delivered to Moses from Mount Sinai on that day; while the Christians, seeing that the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles was at an equal distance from their feast of Easter, retained the title of Pentecost in our church for the Christian festival of Whitsyatide, or rather to express the whole period of time from Easter to Whit-Sunday. · Charles. The three days after Whit-Sunday are red letter days; are there any particular services on those occasions ?
William. Whit-Monday, Whit-Tuesday, and Whit-Wednesday, are now merely kept as holydays, their religious character being almost extinct. Notwithstanding, the collects and other services are extremely appropriate, and esteemed by the truly pious."
Maria. Although Whitsuntide is still ą season of amusement, I have understood that great alteration has taken place within the last two centuries, as to the manner and kind of the popular festivities. Plays, founded on sacred subjects, I believe, were formerly enacted in the principal towns.
Mr. Constance, They were so ; and which representations afforded opportunity for a variety of impious and irreverent displays. They consisted of the most striking incidents of the Old and New Testament dramatized, and performed on moveable stages or theatres, so as to enable the exhibitors to pass from one street to another ; and as it was usual for many companies to be engaged at one time, it was not an unfrequent occurrence, to see & dozen or twenty of these pageants in a day,