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Pistoia 141

Pontifical of Pistoia in Italy

Manuscript reference: Pistoia, archivo capitolare del duomo, mss 141

folium 24v - 25v

around 1050; mss copied from mss Lucca 607

published in C. Vogel & R. Elze, Le Pontifical Romano-Germanique du Dixième Siècle, Cita del Vaticano 1963, pp. 54-59.

translation from the Latin by John Wijngaards

The rite here published is also found almost identically in three other manuscripts: Eichstatt Sacramentary, Bamberg 53 and Lucca 607. It belongs to the family of Pontificals we call 'Mainz B'. Specific words or characters proper to this manuscript have been printed in green on this page. They are editorial changes, or mistakes, introduced by the scribe who copied the manuscript from its original. Or they reveal the specific original from which he copied. For an overview of how the rite developed see here.

A. Ancient Ordination Rite

Ad diaconam faciendam

1. To make a woman deacon

The word 'diacona' was ancient. Later the word 'diaconissa' (deaconness) became common.

Episcopus, cum diaconam benedicit, orarium in collo eius ponit. Quando autem ad ecclesiam procedit, portat illud super collum suum, sic vero, ut summitas orarii ex utraque parte sub tunica sit.

2. When the bishop ordains a woman deacon, he imposes a diaconate stole on her neck.

She however wears this stole on her neck whenever she enters church, but in such a way that the two extremities of the stole are visible from under her tunic on both sides.

The stole originally indicated the full status of the diaconate. Whoever wore a diaconate stole without ordination was excommunicated (Synod of Laodicea 363 AD).

Exaudi, Domine, preces nostras et super hanc famulam tuam N. spiritum tuae benedictionis emitte, ut coelesti munere ditata, et tuae gratiam possit maiestatis acquirere, et bene vivendi aliis exemplum praebere. Per.

3."Hear, o Lord, our petition and send down on (name) your maidservant the Spirit of your ordination so that, since you have conferred on her your heavenly office, she may obtain favour with your majesty and may present to others the example of a good life. Through . . . "


The ordination prayer - EXAUDI - is the oldest part of the woman deacons' rite of ordination.

More information here!

B. Mass for the ordination of a woman deacon - purged form

Many ancient 'ordination' elements have been purged from the formulary of this Mass: the ordination prayer EXAUDI, the ordination preface, the laying on of the diaconate stole and the woman deacon's special role in communion. Only the ordination preface is still there, at least in substance. Omissions are noted against a purple background.

The whole Mass now focuses on 'the vow of sexual abstinence' required of the deacon. This makes it all the more curious to distinguish the mass from other masses (i) for the ordination of an abbess; (ii) for the consecration of virgins ("who decide to live a life of celibacy in their own homes"); (iii) for the consecration of a widow who has professed chastity; and (iv) for the consecration of a nun.

Missa ad diaconam consecrandam

4. The mass to consecrate a woman deacon

Antiphona. Deus in nomine tuo

5. Antiphon: "God in your name save me" (= the antiphone is taken from Psalm 54,1 (old numbering 53,3).

Deus, castitatis amator et continentiae conservator, supplicationem nostram benignus exaudi et hanc famulam tuam propitius intuere, ut quae pro timore tuo continentiae pudicitiam vovit, tuo auxilio conservet, et sexagesimum fructum continentiae et vitam aeternam te largiente percipiet. Per.


"God who loves chastity and preserves sexual abstinence, kindly hear our supplication and look with mercy on this your maidservant, so that she who out of respect for you has vowed the purity of sexual abstinence to you, may preserve it with your help and may receive the sixtyfold fruit of her sexual abstinence and eternal life as your gift. Through [Jesus Christ Christ our Lord who lives with you for ever and ever. Amen].

The contents of this prayer focus on the support women deacons need in their commitment to sexual abstinence.

Lectio elistolae beati Pauli apostoli. Require in dominica post pentecosten, feria IIIIa. Fratres, nescitis, quoniam corpora vestra.

7. Reading of the letter of the blessed apostle Paul. Look it up it in the Sunday after Pentecost, weekday 4a. "Brethren, do you not know that your bodies . . ." [= 1 Corinthians 6,15-20]

Graduale. De necessitatibus meis, Domine.

Versus. Ad te, Domine.

Allel. Amavit eam Dominu et ornavit.


8. Graduale song: "From my needs, Lord . . ."

Verse: "To you, o Lord, I lift up my hands . . ." [= Psalm 88,10]

Alleluia verse: "The Lord loved her and adorned her . . ."


[Addition above the text:] Postea fiat letania, consecranda prostrata. Finita letania dict episcopus hanc orationem.

9. Kyrie (eleison)

[Addition above the text] Afterwards comes the litany while the woman to be consecrated lies prostrate. When the litany is finished, the bishop says this prayer:

In the old rite, the litany preceded the actual ordination.

Preces famulae tuae, quaesumus Domine, benignus exaudi, ut assumpta castitatis gratiam, te auxiliante, custodiat.

10. "Kindly hear, we beg you o Lord, the prayers of your maidservant that, having taken on the grace of chastity, she may preserve it with your help. Through."

Instead of the ancient ordination prayer, a prayer for chastity is substituted which formerly was used when the woman deacon put on her veil.

Sequitur Consecratio

11. There follows the consecration.

This is presented as 'another' ordination prayer.

Deus, qui Annam filiam Phanuelis, vix per annos septem sortitam iugale coniugium, ita in annos octoginta quattuor in sancta et intemerata viduitate servasti, ut noctibus ac diebus orationes ieiuniaque miscentem, usque ad prophetiae gratiam sub circumcisione Christi tui, iustus remunerator, adduceres; quique deinceps per apostolicam institutionem sanctarum huius ordinationis manibus foeminarum, sexum ipsius adolescentulas ac iuniores instrui cum sancti chrismatis visitatione iussisti, suscipere dignare, omnipotens, piissime rerum omnium Deus, huius famulae tuae arduum et laboriosum nec satis discrepans a perfecta virginitate propositum, quia tu creaturarum omnium conditor probe nosti mundiales illecebras non posse vitari: sed cum ad te venitur per te, numquam animas semel vivificatas vel terribiles passionis vel deliciarum blandimenta sollicitant. Nam sensibus, quibus ipse dignaris infundi, nichil est desiderabilius quam regnum tuum, nichil terribilius quam iudicium tuum. Da ergo, Domine, ad petitionem nostram huic famulae tuae inter coniugatas trigesimum, cum viduis sexagesimum fructum. Sit in ea cum misericordia districtio, cum humilitate largitas, cum libertate honestas, cum humanitate sobrietas. Opus tuum die ac nocte meditetur, ut die vocationis suae talis esse mereatur, quales per spiritum prophetiae esse voluisti. Per.

12. God who preserved Anna, Phanuel's daughter, who escaped the yoke of marriage after just seven years, for eighty-four years in holy and unblemished widowhood, so that you, just remunerator, led her who day and night mixed prayer with fasting, to the grace of being a prophet at the circumcision of Christ,

God who has further ordered, through the intention of the apostle(s), that the hands of these women which are sanctified by this ordination equip her gender - i.e. adolescent and young women - with the visitation of sacred chrism,

deign to accept, omnipotent overarchingly devout God, the commitment of this maidservant of yours, a commitment that is hard and laborious and not so far removed from perfect virginity,

because you, designer of all creatures, rightly understand that the attractions of the world cannot be avoided, but that, when refuge is taken in you, through you neither terrible sufferings nor the lure of pleasures can ever seduce souls once they have been brought to life; for to senses into which you deign to instil [your values], nothing is more desirable than your kingdom, nothing more horrific than your judgment.

[Give] therefore, Lord, at our request to this your maidservant fruit [= reward] which is thirtyfold among married women, sixtyfold for widows.

May her mercy be tempered by a clear focus, her freedom by uprightness, her social graces by soberness.

May she be intent on your work day and night. Grant this that she may merit to be such on the day of her calling as you wished her to be by the spirit of prophecy.

Through our Lord, [etc.]

This ancient ordination preface is now interpreted as referring only to the woman deacon's vow of sexual abstinence.





The imposition of the diaconate stole has now been omitted.



No imposition of the veil.




a prayer omitted

Ad annulum dandum.

Accipe annulum fidei, signaculum spiritus sancti, ut sponsa Dei voceris, si ei fideliter servieris. Per.


16. At the giving of the ring

"Receive the ring of faithfulness, the seal of the Holy Spirit, so that you may be called a Spouse of God if you will serve him faithfully."

During the wedding ceremony husbands would give a ring to their brides, which perhaps also carried their seal.

Ad torquem.

Accipe signum Christi in capite, ut uxor eius efficiaris, et si in eo permanseris, in perpetuum coroneris.

17. At the torque [= a crown?]

"Receive this sign of Christ on your head in order that you may be made his wife and that, if you remain with him, you may be crowned for eternity."

The meaning of 'torquis' here is not clear. In classical latin it denotes a clasp round the neck, or a chain hanging from the neck or a necklace. Here it seems to indicate a round quasi-crown on the head.



Rubric about antiphon to be sung by bystanders is omitted.



dedication prayer over woman deacon omitted

[Secundum Matheum.] In illo tempore respondit Jesus et dixit: Non potest homo accipere.

20. [According to Matthew] "At that time Jesus answered and said, 'Human beings cannot understand this' . (text is actually from John 3,27-30)

Offertorium. Miserere michi Dimine

21. Offertory. "Have mercy on me, o Lord".

the woman deacon's offering a gift to the bishop is omitted


Munera, quaesumus, Domine, famulae et sacratae tuae, quae tibi ob consecrationem sui corporis offert, simul ad eius animae medelam proficiant. Per.


22. Secreta prayer.

"May the gifts of your maidservant and consecrated woman which she offers to you for the dedication of her body, at the same time be of profit to her for the healing of her soul. Through [etc.]."


Vere dignum, aeterne Deus. Per impsum te deprecamur, omnipotens Deus, ut haec oblatio quam tibi pro famula tua offero, sit in oculis tuis semper accepta et sicut sanctis tuis eorum fide recta pervenit ad coronas. ita eam devotio te iuvante perducat ad veniam, ut mereatur per hoc sacrificium a cunctis emundari sordibus delictorum et reconciliatam tibi per Christum sereno vultu respicias et omnia eius peccata dimittas, severitatem quoque iudicii tui ab ea clementer suspendas et miserationis tuae clementiam super eam benignus effundas. Per Christum dominum.

23. Preface.

It is truly right, eternal God, etc. . . . Through him we implore you, almighty God, that this offering that I present to you for your maidservant, may in your eyes always be acceptable, and just as for your saints their unwavering faithfulness leands to their crowns, may so her devotion through your help lead her to forgiveness, so that she may deserve through this sacrifice to be cleansed from all the stains of crimes and, since she has been reconciled to you through Christ, you may look on her with a serene face and forgive her all her sins, that you may also mercifully suspend from her the severity of your judgment and pour out over her the clemency of your compassion. Through Christ our Lord.


Infra agendam: Hanc ergo oblationem servitutis nostrae sed et cunctae familiae tuae, quaesumus, Domine, quam tibi offero pro incolumitate famulae tuae, ob devotionem mentis suae pius ac propitius clemente vultu suscipias, tibi vero supplicantes libens protege, dignanter exaudi. Diesque nostros.

24. During the action [= the consecration prayer of Mass):

"Please accept, piously and propitiously with merciful eyes, this offering from your servant [= the bishop] and from your whole family, Lord, which I present to you for the wellbeing of your maidservant considering the devotion of her mind. Liberally protect those who make supplications to you, and hear them in accordance with your dignity. And our days [etc.]."


Benedic, Domine, hanc famulam tuam precioso filii tui sanguine comparatam. Amen.

Benedictionis tuae gratiam, quam desiderat, consequatur: et sine ulIa offensione maiestati tuae dignum exibeat famulatum. Amen.

Cursum vitae suae impleat sine ullis maculis delictorum et superet in bonis actibus inimicum. Amen.

Quod ipse praestare digneris qui eum.


25. Blessing.

"Bless, Lord, this maidservant of yours who has been bought with the blood of your Son!" - AMEN [= response by the people]

"May she obtain the grace of your blessing, and may she offer a worthy service to you without offending your majesty in any way!" - AMEN

"May she complete the course of her life without any stain of sin and may she overcome the enemy [= the devil] through good deeds!" - AMEN

"What he may grant who [lives and reigns with you, etc.]."

Communio. Servite Domino in timore et exultate eum in tremore.

26. Communion antiphon. "Serve the Lord in fear and exalt him with trembling".


Bonorum, Deus, operum institutor, famulae tuae cor purifica, ut nichil in ea quod punire, sed quod coronare possis, invenias. Per.

27. Post-communion prayer.

"God, initiator of all good works, purify the heart of your maidservant so that you may not find anything to punish, but things to crown."



Woman deacon's receiving communion from the bishop in the sanctuary itself is omitted.

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