Saturday, 26 March 2011

The traditional Catholic coronation rite

Some excerpts, taken from the Pontificale Romanum (before the ceremony was deleted from it in 1968):

The oath 

The King-elect walks up to the Metropolitan and, genuflecting before him and with his head bare, makes the following profession, saying:

I, N., with God's consent the future King N., profess and promise in the presence of God and his Angels to bring about and maintain law, justice and peace, as far as I am able to do so, in the Church of God and in the nation subject to me, having a fitting respect for the mercy of God, as best I can devise in accordance with the counsel of my faithful subjects.  I will also give due and canonical honour to the Bishops of the Churches of God and preserve involate those things which have been conferred upon and rendered to the Churches by Emperors and Kings.  I will give fitting honour to my Abbots, Counts and Vassals in accordance with the counsel of my faithful subjects.

....After this, the King-elect reverently kisses the hand of the Metropolitan.

The conferral of the regalia

When the gradual has been sung, the Metropolitan sits before the altar at the faldstood wearing his mitre.  The King is led... to the Metropolitan.  He makes obesiance to him, as before, and genuflects before him.  The Metropolitan then takes a sword... and hands it, unsheathed, to the King, saying:

Take the sword lifted from the altar by our hands - unworthy, yet consecrated by the authority of the holy Apostles - which is granted to you in virtue of your kingship and ordained by God in virtue of our bless + ing for the defence of the holy Church of God.  And remember that which the Psalmist prophesied, saying: "Gird your thigh with your sword, mighty one"; so that you might wield it with the same force of justice, destroy with power the mass of iniquity, and fight for and protect the holy Church of God and her faithful people; and that you might faithfully cut off and rout both false men and enemies of the Christian name; that you might mercifully help and defend widows and orphans; restore that which is desolate and, having restored it, preserve it; avenge injustice; and confirm that which is well disposed.  In so doing, as a outstanding devotee of justice, made glorious by the triumph of virtue, may you be worthy to reign without end with the Saviour of the world....

When this has been done, the sword is replaced in its scabbard by the ministers and the Metropolitan girds the King with the sword, saying:

Gird your thigh with your sword, mighty one, and take note that the righteous conquer their kingdoms not with the sword but by faith. 

The King, having received the sword, presently rises, draws it from its scabbard and brandishes it in a manly fashion.  He then wipes it on his right arm and replaces it in the scabbard, and he genuflects again before the Metropolitan.  Then the crown is placed on his head....

Receive the crown of the king, which is placed on your head by our hands - unworthy hands, but yet the hands of Bishops.  In the name of the Fa + ther, and of the S + on, and of the Holy + Spirit.  May you understand it to signify the glory of holiness, honour and the work of bravery, and may you know that through it you are a participant in our ministry, so that, as we are understood to be pastors in interior matters and the guiders of souls, so you in external matters may assist us as a worshipper of God and a strenuous defender of the Church of Christ against all adversity; and that you may always serve as a useful governor and a profitable ruler of the realm that has been given to you by God and committed to your rule through the office of the blessings of us who act in the place of the Apostles and all the Saints; so that, adorned with the jewels of  virtue among the glorious heroes, and crowned with the prize of eternal happiness, you may glory for ever with our Redeemer and Saviour Jesus Christ, whose name and authority we believe you bear....

Then, as he continues to genuflect, the Metropolitan gives him the sceptre, saying:

Receive the staff of virtue and truth, and know that with it you shall reward the pious, terrify the wicked, show the way to those who err, stretch out our arm to those who have fallen, scatter the proud and make revelation to the humble; and may Jesus Christ our Lord open his door to you, he who says of himself: "I am the door: whoever enters through me will be saved"; he who is the key of David and the sceptre of the house of Israel; that which he opens no-one may close, and that which he closes no-one may open.  May he be a guide to you, he who leads the captive out of the prison house and guides him who sits in the darkness and the shadow of death; and may you be worthy in all things to follow him of whom the prophet David sang: "Your seat, O God, is eternal: the rod of governance, the rod of your rule".  Imitating him, may you love justice and have a hatred for iniquity, because it is for this reason that God has anointed you - your God, who has anointed you to be an exemplar of him whom he anointed before all his ministers before the beginning of time with the oil of exultation, Jesus Christ our Lord....

....The Metropolitan leads the King, with the sceptre in his hand and wearing the crown on his head, with the other prelates... to the throne... and enthrones the King on the throne, saying:

Stay, and keep henceforth the place mandated to you by God, by the authority of almighty God, and through the present investiture conducted by us, and by all the Bishops and other servants of God; and, insofar as you see the priesthood as standing closer to the sacred altars, remember that greater honour is due to you in your own domain, as the priesthood, being the mediator between God and men, makes you the enduring mediator between the priesthood and the people.