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A History Of The Mass And Its Ceremonies In The Eastern And Western Church -Rev John O'Brien A.M.

WHETHER in imitation of the high-priest of the old law, who always celebrated barefooted, or through profound respect for the Holy Eucharist, there were some in times past who used to say Mass in their naked feet. This was the practice of certain monks of Egypt until forbidden by the Holy See (Cassianus, Institute., lib. i. cap. vi.) It is never allowed by the existing order of things to celebrate barefooted; the rubric distinctly says that the priest must have shoes on (pedibus calceatus).

With the Nestorians, however, the case is very different; for, according to them, it is considered a great offence to say Mass with the feet covered. They require them to be entirely bare from beginning to end, as an evidence of deep respect towards the Blessed Sacrament (see, among others, Smith and Dwight, ii. 229). According to Burder (Religious Ceremonies and Customs, p. 180), the Armenian clergy, when assisting in choir, never wear anything on the feet, but the celebrant of the Mass always wears a light black slipper.

Ancient Rules regarding the Color of the Shoes worn at Mass.—Although bishops in the early days could wear any color they pleased in what was termed their sandals, yet for priests and those of the lower order of clergy black was always prescribed. The Council of Exeter, held in A.D. 1287, ordained that the clergy should wear no other than black boots; land in a council held in London in 1342 it was enacted that they should not wear green or scarlet leggings. Bishop Waneflete, in the statutes he drew up for his college at Oxford, strictly forbade the use of a low kind of shoe called high-lows; also red peaked boots, and everything of that kind which was not suitable to the priestly state and the holy canons (Dr. Rock, Church of Our Fathers, ii. 244).

At the adoration of the cross on Good Friday the sacred ministers doff their shoes out of respect. The Romans, we are told, walked barefooted at the funeral of Augustus, in testimony of the great respect that should be paid such a man.








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