Missa de Venerabile Sacramento

Praecentor

Information booklet about the recording of Cantores Sancti Gregorii. This programme is built around the reconstruction of the early 16th century liturgical practice in the Heilige Stede Kapel in Amsterdam, namely, the votive Mass of the Blessed Sacrament celebrated weekly together with the procession with the Miraculous Host. The central piece of this concert is the famous Occo Codex, luxurious choirbook made for Heilige Stede Kapel by the workshop of Petrus Alamire, from which we chose Josquin's Missa Pange lingua and several motets connected to the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Plainchant and other liturgical elements also come from graduals and missals of local provenance.

ABOUT THE PROGRAMME

I

t was the week before the Palm Sunday, March 15, 1345. The

priest of the Oude Kerk went to visit a sick, dying man in

Kalverstraat to hear his confession and administer the

extreme unction and viaticum and had no idea that the

consequences of what he was about to do would still be

remembered more than 6 centuries later and be known as The

Eucharistic Miracle of Amsterdam. What all the accounts seem to

agree on is that the dying man vomited after having received the

Blessed Sacrament, the Host was thrown into fire by his caretakers

but on the following day it was observed it had remained intact.

They called a priest who tried to take it back to the Oude Kerk, but

the Sanctissimum kept returning back. The miracle was promptly

confirmed by the city council as well as officially recognized by the

bishop of Utrecht, Jan van Arkel. Within little more than 2 years, on

October 21, 1347 the chapel Terheylighenstede (The Holy Place,

Locus Sacer) was consecrated by the auxiliary bishop of Utrecht,

Nythardus. The site of the miracle quickly became a very

important pilgrimage destination for the Low Countries and

beyond (with some rather important pilgrims, such as, in about

1484, Archduke Maximilian of Austria, who was later to become

the Holy Roman Emperor). Considering the importance of religion

in the Late Middle Ages as well as the close relationship between

religion on one hand and trade and travel of the peoples on the

other this must have been a very important factor in the rise of

Amsterdam to importance and its flourish.

F

ast forward to early 1500’s. After two fires, in 1421 and 1452,

the chapel is rebuilt as a rather large hall church with 3 naves of

equal height. On the northern end of the transept, on the

Kalverstraat side was the ‘Holy Corner’ (the spot where the miracle

had happened) with the fireplace. While detailed information

about liturgical observances in the Heilige Stede remain sparse,

especially because of the events of the late 16th century, both

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