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Rare Catholic Missal Used In England During Reign Of Henry VIII, 1527


Missale ad Usum Insignis ac Preclare Ecclesie Sarum, Francois Regnault, Paris, 1527.


Scarce relic from the period when King Henry VIII of England was still Catholic. This would have been one of the last Missals used to celebrate legal Catholic Masses in England before they were outlawed later in the century. In 1527, Henry VIII began his negotiations with Rome to obtain a divorce from his wife, Catherine, so he could marry Anne Boleyn. He would ultimately fail in this, causing his schism with Rome, and being declared head of the Church of England by Parliament in 1534. To reflect Henry s new status, the Canon of the Mass in existing Missals was defaced to change the word PAPA (Pope) to REGE (King) and the word HENRICO (Henry) added. In addition, the word PAPA was deleted from several other references in the Calendar. Slight changes such as this would not be enough for many. A complete new liturgy was issued by 1549; and Henry s successor, Elizabeth I, established the anti-Catholic Penal Laws, ushering in a reign of persecution lasting with diminishing severity until 1829.

This Missal is in the SARUM Rite, used by Catholics in England before the Council of Trent issued a standard Missal in the Tridentine Rite in 1570. SARUM is the Latin word for Salisbury, the town in which the rite was initiated in the Middle Ages. Many similarities to the Tridentine Rite can be seen throughout the Ordinary of the Mass in the Canon and the Consecration.

This copy is a scarred, but still remarkably complete survivor of that tumultuous era, complete with the defacing of the Canon by a censor (see illustration). Although printed in France, it is in a contemporary English binding, which can be dated from 1527-1534 in ornately tooled and paneled burnished calf over wooden boards. Covers firmly attached. Small quarto (8 x 6 ). Spine in three panels offset by raised bands and gilt-stamped label. Printed fine black letter type in red and black throughout. Full page woodcut general title and three full page woodcut sectional titles. Historiated woodcut initials and illustrations throughout. Minor wear at extremities of binding and lacks leather straps. Despite significant marginal loss to all pages, only a few at the beginning and end have loss of text. Occasional marginal notes in a scholarly hand. Collates complete: + (8); a - r (8); s (6); A - G (8); H (6); A - F (8); G (4). Pagination: fo. (1-8); fo. i - cxlii; fo. i - lxii; fo. i - lii.