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

Up to the fifteenth century the right and left of the altar were settled by the position of the priest standing before it. The part which was opposite his right hand was the altar’s right, and that opposite his left the altar’s left. This ordinance is now exactly the reverse, for the designations of right and left are taken from the Crucifix, and not from the position of the priest; so that the right of the altar now is the part to the right of the Crucifix—that is, the Gospel side; and the left, the left of the Crucifix, or Epistle side. According to Father Le Brun (Explication de la Messe, i. 171, note), this change was first introduced by Patricius, Bishop of Pienza, in Italy, about the year 1488, and Pope Pius V. adopted it afterwards in his recension of the missal. It is well to bear this in mind when reading such works as those of Durandus and Pope Innocent III., who wrote prior to this time, for what they invariably call right is the left according to the present discipline. This rule also holds good in every other case, at Mass and out of Mass, where it becomes necessary to make a distinction of this kind—such, for instance, as in sprinkling with holy water, in putting incense in the thurible, and in incensing anything.








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