Monday, 9 June 2014
Repost: In which Catholicus refutes the myth of Paul VI's Whit Monday story by checking the calendar
On Wit Monday, the day after Pentecost when everyone is required to be funny, in 1970, Pope Paul VI turned up in the sacristy for Mass. Red vestments had been laid out on the vesting bench.
"Che diavolo sta succedendo?" [Oh, dear, what is going on?] intoned the Holy Father. "Non ti ricordi che ho abolito l'ottava di Pentecoste?" [Do you not remember I abolished the Octave of Pentecost?] he continued. "Dove sono la casula verde?" [Where is the green chasuble?]
"Beh, Santo Padre, oggi, 18 maggio 1970, è la festa del martire, San Giovanni I. Così i paramenti devono essere di colore rosso." [Well, Holy Father, today, 18th May 1970, is the feast of the martyr, Saint Pope John I. So the vestments should be red.] replied the sacristan.
"Beh che rovina alcuni miti, vero?" [Well that will ruin a few myths, won't it?] chuckled Paul VI.
You can read the myth here and here and all over the place. Or in fact read it below:
Years ago I told this Pentecost Monday tale and it has made the rounds.
It stands being repeated.
I think this stands as a lesson for what happens when we lose sight of continuity.
Take this for what it may be worth. Some years ago I was told this story by an elderly, retired Papal Ceremoniere or a Master of Ceremonies who (according to him) was present at the event about to be recounted.
You probably know that in the traditional Roman liturgical calendar the mighty feast of Pentecost had its own Octave. Pentecost was a grand affair indeed, liturgically speaking. In some places in the world such as Germany and Austria Pentecost Monday, Whit Monday as the English call it, was a reason to have a civil holiday, as well as a religious observance.
The Monday after Pentecost in 1970 His Holiness Pope Paul VI rose bright and early and went to the chapel for Holy Mass. Instead of the red he expected, there were green vestments laid out for him.
He queried the MC assigned that day, "What on earth are these for? This is the Octave of Pentecost! Where are the red vestments?"
"Santità," quoth the MC, "this is now Tempus ‘per annum’. It is green, now. The Octave of Pentecost is abolished."
"Green? That cannot be!", said the Pope, "Who did that?"
"Holiness, you did."
And Paul VI wept.