1st Edition

Liturgy and Society in Early Medieval Rome

By John F. Romano Copyright 2014
    320 Pages
    by Routledge

    320 Pages
    by Routledge

    The liturgy, the public worship of the Catholic Church, was a crucial factor in forging the society of early medieval Rome. As the Roman Empire dissolved, a new world emerged as Christian bishops stepped into the power vacuum left by the dismantling of the Empire. Among these potentates, none was more important than the bishop of Rome, the pope. The documents, archaeology, and architecture that issued forth from papal Rome in the seventh and eighth centuries preserve a precious glimpse into novel societal patterns. The underexploited liturgical sources in particular enrich and complicate our historical understanding of this period. They show how liturgy was the ’social glue’ that held together the Christian society of early medieval Rome - and excluded those who did not belong to it. This study places the liturgy center stage, filling a gap in research on early medieval Rome and demonstrating the utility of investigating how the liturgy functioned in medieval Europe. It includes a detailed analysis of the papal Mass, the central act of liturgy and the most obvious example of the close interaction of liturgy, social relations and power. The first extant Mass liturgy, the First Roman Ordo, is also given a new presentation in Latin here with an English translation and commentary. Other grand liturgical events such as penitential processions are also examined, as well as more mundane acts of worship. Far from a pious business with limited influence, the liturgy established an exchange between humans and the divine that oriented Roman society to God and fostered the dominance of the clergy.

    Contents: Introduction; Mass in early medieval Rome; Shaping the papal court by liturgy; Unifying the city through liturgy; Defining a society through worship; Prayer in Roman society; Conclusion; Appendices; Select bibliography; Index.


    John F. Romano is Assistant Professor of History at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, where he teaches ancient and medieval history and serves as Chair of the History Department. His research interests focus on medieval liturgy, and he has previously published articles in Mediaeval Studies, Viator and Sacris Erudiri.

    Liturgy and Society in Early Medieval Rome is a fine study that brings to light some important liturgical sources in a way that enriches our understanding of liturgy’s dynamic function in society.” Yitzhak Hen, American Historical Review

    'John F. Romano has provided an excellent resource for those interested in early medieval Church history and Church history in general, and on how the life of the Church permeated both the clerical and the secular societies.' Hortulus

    'John Romano has managed to produce a rigorous and engaging monograph that successfully broadens our understanding of the early history of the papacy and its liturgical activity. Through his meticulous research, Romano shows how the liturgy functioned to shape public perceptions of the papal court and how it helped to negotiate the power of the papacy in Roman society. ... Serious students of the early Roman liturgy and the early history of the papacy will find this monograph to be an essential starting point for their own research.' Medieval Review