What Can the Middle Ages Do For Me?

In the recent discussion about congregational singing, the conversation went down a highly interesting side path on vernacular singing in the medieval liturgy. I’ve been down this road before, and this is often where the trail leads. Someone is sure that vernacular singing in the liturgy never happened. When presented with the evidence that it did, the position becomes that it never should have happened. When presented with evidence that some clergy in fact supported and promoted it, the position becomes that this was a local abuse and an exception from the universal norm.

I won’t review the evidence from the Middle Ages here – you can find that in the last chapter of my little book. I wish to look rather at what we do with the evidence. What interests do we bring to it? How do cultural biases affect our interpretation? What precedents do we hope to find? There is no absolute neutrality, for me or for anyone else. At our best, we hold lightly to our preconceived opinions so that new information can stretch and change us. At our worst, we hunt for evidence to solidify our pre-existing biases. The question becomes: What can the Middle Ages do for me?

Roman Catholics in past eras have wanted the Middle Ages to do various things for them. German-speaking Cecilians about a hundred and fifty years ago were anxious to find evidence that vernacular hymns were not sung in the Middle Ages at the Missa Cantata (the fully sung High Mass), but only at devotions and spoken Low Masses. Why? They were fighting a battle to eliminate vernacular hymns from the High Mass of their day. They wanted to eliminate ‘secular’ music from the church – especially 18th century Viennese orchestral music – and to restore sacred chant and polyphony. It would have been handy if the evidence showed that their position was the immemorial tradition of the Church.

The nineteenth-century Cecilians weren’t opposed to unearthing evidence of medieval vernacular hymnody – in fact, some of them were leaders in such hymnological investigation. There is no mistaking their counter-Reformation zeal to prove the Protestants wrong, to de-throne Martin Luther, the so-called father of German hymnody, and to show that the pre-Reformation Church deserves all the credit for developing vernacular hymnody. That is, as long as it wasn’t at High Mass. Latin High Mass in the 19th century – that was their issue.

About 75 years ago, in the 1930s and 1940s, some German-speaking liturgical reformers had different hopes in mind for the Middles Ages. Now it would be handy if the evidence showed that vernacular hymns were sung in the medieval liturgy, even at Latin High Mass. Why? The Liturgische Bewegung [liturgical movement] was taking up the 1903 call of Pope Pius X for active participation by promoting both congregational Latin chant and congregational vernacular hymnody. Leaders were noticing that success came quicker with German hymns. The (illegal) custom of singing vernacular hymns at High Mass hadn’t yet died out entirely, despite the Cecilians’ efforts. If this custom could be shown to have deep roots in medieval Catholic liturgy, so much the better. Active participation – that was their issue.

The Cecilians lost an important battle in 1943. The Holy See ruled that the immemorial custom of singing German hymns at Latin High Mass, though praeter legem [outside the law], would henceforth be permitted in Germany (which then included Austria). After Vatican II in 1967, Musicam Sacram extended the permission universally and spoke of “substituting” hymns for Latin Mass propers. Before long, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal spoke not of “substituting” hymns. It simply listed several options, including propers (first option) and vernacular hymns (last option). Now it’s your choice.

And not everyone is happy about that, not by a long shot. Passions run deep about whether the reformed liturgy is legitimate, or beautiful, or sacred, or what Vatican II really intended. Some people think that something has gone badly wrong. Too much inculturation of secular influences, too many options, too much creativity, too much local control, too little obedience to Rome, too little universal legislation from Rome, and on and on – you’ve heard it all.

What can the Middle Ages do for us in 2010? They can provide an alternative to our current woes and a model to which to return. The rather esoteric question of whether vernacular was sung in the medieval liturgy is really about our current liturgical crisis. If only we can find a universally accepted understanding of liturgy in the Middle Age. If only we can find that everyone used Latin, that everyone followed the books, that everyone even had the same books, that everyone excluded secular influence, that everyone knew what the abuses were. Our real issue? The liturgical crisis 45 years after Vatican II.

But asking the Middle Ages to do all that for us is rather like asking what Pope Gregory thought about financial regulation, or William Durandus about universal health care. Consider: the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship did not exist. Most bishops were not appointed by the Pope. Most Christians had no reason to know the name of the Pope. Thankfully, the major medieval papal document on music, Docta sanctorum patrum of 1324, was ignored by everyone. Had it not been, there wouldn’t be any Renaissance polyphony as we know it. The bishop was the chief liturgical legislator in his diocese. Lots of tropes (text or music or both) were added locally to most every part of the liturgy. Nobody ever sent a trope text to Rome for approval. Most of them were in Latin. But in many places, these “tropes” (if you will) were in vernacular. Nobody asked whether it was approved or Roman or sacred. Nobody was struck by how medievally quaint it all was, compared to the post-Trent settlement.

The bewildering variety of the medieval liturgy need not scare us. It’s not necessarily a model for how things should be now. Our questions are our questions, nobody else’s. But let’s let the medieval questions be theirs too. Believe it or not, they weren’t asking about Summorum Pontificum or the Reform of the Reform. They didn’t have a position on the guitar Mass. Instead of seeing precedents, for good or ill, sometimes it’s a lot of fun just to see as much as we can of what really might have been back there.



  1. Ah, this is worthy of a good historian’s epistemic humility, which is often in short supply in when sides in the liturgy wars try to deploy history as a weapon.

  2. Thanks, Anthony, for this timely reminder. The past is too real, too complicated, and too fascinating to simply become an extension of current day questions.

    (Besides, they didn’t know what they were doing either. Plus ça change!)

  3. Thanks Anthony for a very timely and helpful entry. As a merely occasional historian I am helped by what you disclose and the balance with which you do it. I think people who say we have to go back to the way things have “always” been need instruction like this. Unfortunately this seems to include those who “Liturgiam Authenticam” is a commanding a return to the “traditional Latin” of the Mass, to the exact words that have “always” been used. Peter Jeffrey has shown with exquisite care how false such a statement would be. By the way, I am not campaigning against the new translation into English, just the uninformed rationale for it. Thanks again.

  4. I really don’t think the majority of Catholics want to return to a previous era,especially the Middle Ages, they want a timeless, faith reality celebrated liturgically. They don’t want mystifying liturgies, but mystery and mysticism. They want dignified and majestic liturgies that give glory to God and aid in their collective reverent relationship to God. They want awe and wonder. I think you could take the current lame duck English Mass or the new one and have the Tridentine Order and rubrics, but use the current lectionary, lay readers, but kneel for Holy Communion and most people who gravitate to the EF Mass would be more than thrilled. Add some good English chant for the introit and antiphons and metrical hymns here and there and they’d be in heaven. All this with the current calendar, collects, prefaces, and Eucharistic prayers. You could even use the Mass of Creation or any other popular setting. Just what is the aversion to the Tridentine Order and rubrics in the Vernacular with lay participation? I know, Rome won’t allow it yet, but why not?

  5. I have much the same question with regard to theology. As someone who loves and studies Thomas Aquinas, I get annoyed with those who want to see in him some sort of system into which we can feed our questions and, presto, out pops an answer. We need to take more seriously Thomas’ own historical boundedness (for instance, his “argument from motion” really depends on an account of motion that Newton has largely rendered inoperative) when thinking about his relevence today.

    My own hobby horse in this matter is the appeal to “organic development” in liturgy, and the way it is somehow combined with a rhetoric of “liturgical abuse.” Didn’t all organic development begin with liturgical abuse (i.e. departing from the established norm)? The first time the Creed was inserted in the Mass, should the celebrant have been reported to the (not-yet-existent) CDW?

    History is a messy business. Employing the past for present-day purposes is an even messier (albeit absolutely necessary)…

    1. It depends on whom is doing the innovating. There is a tradition on Pentecost at the Roman Panteon where they pour bushel baskets of rose petals through the roof which rain down on the people below–like the descent of the Holy Spirit. St. John Cantius parish in Chicago has imported this practice. I think it’s a lovely idea, but could anyone claim this is an “organic development”? If some suburban parish in America started some other practice as novel as this, the liturgy police would come shouting, “no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.”


  6. My parish down the street has four hymns, the pastor gives a good homily but it seems like a Protestant communion service. The personalities of the three priests have a big effect on my perception of the service. A parish about twenty miles away has three hymns (usually no preparation hymn) the same ones as the parish down the street. However, it also has a sung Prayer of the Faithful and a sung Eucharistic Prayer. I feel like I have been to an Orthodox Liturgy. The two priests there have little effect on my perception of the service. Maybe encouraging a sung Mass, e.g. greeting, Prayer the Faithful, Eucharistic Prayer, Lord’s Prayer at the principal Mass each Sunday would accomplish much more with much less effort than changing the text, adding the Propers, cutting out hymns, and encouraging the EF. My parish down the street did sung Masses for Christmas and I heard a lot of positive comments afterwards.

    1. I think that is the point of many comments. Liturgy done well is really more important to many than EF or OF (as it should be ).

    2. Depends a GREAT deal on the singer’s voice. We had an associate pastor a few years back who literally could not carry a tune in a bucket. He also sang anything he thought he could get away with. The result was downright painful and had a profoundly detrimental effect on the congregation’s experience of the Mass. Add that to his wretched homilies, and often-obnoxious demeanor, and attendance at Masses he presided over was pretty low.

  7. It always seems to come back to SC 23: “…careful investigation is always to be made into each part of the liturgy which is to be revised. This investigation should be theological, HISTORICAL and pastoral. Also the GENERAL LAWS governing the structure and meaning of the liturgy must be studied in conjunction with the experience derived from recent liturgical reforms and from the indults conceded to various places…care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow ORGANICALLY from forms already existing.”

    If not for precedent, we should certainly examine the medieval period as well as the sub-apostolic period for illustrations of “general law”. We must not be too reliant on academic historical research, however. After all, we were once told that the 2nd eucharistic prayer was derived from the earliest ROMAN anaphora. Organic development offers a prudent response to an unchecked reliance on using historical research to influence and create liturgical…

  8. I’m a skeptic on the application of “organic change.” It certainly isn’t a Biblical model, unless one considers the dreamwork of blankets lowering from heaven with pigs and shellfish. I don’t think that’s what’s involved with the Church’s challenge to contemporary culture either. Are we asking for the West to convert organically on abortion: to eliminate 3rd trimester and federal funding over the next decade, then tackle 2nd trimester in the 2020’s? Sometimes a human being needs a kick in the pants. And sometimes the plea for organic development is a ruse for self-satisfied stasis.

    A better model would be harmonization; in other words, does a new development play/pray well with existing forms? Additionally, does it jive with the greater principles of SC: participation, intelligibility, a pruning of peripherals and frills, a care and concern for the liturgy beyond the rubrics alone?

    At root, our decisions about preparing liturgy should be less about finding historical or theological precedent, or even making sure this week’s liturgy is less than two steps removed from last week, but a rather pragmatic: does it help people pray more deeply and be open to greater holiness?

    1. Does a new development play/pray well with existing forms? Isn’t that a pretty good test for whether the development is organic? I think that there are specific requests that Sacrosanctum Concilum made (e.g. multi-year reading cycle) that are not organic, but I don’t see organic development as at odds with participation, intelligibility, and other requests made by SC that you cite.

      I disagree pretty much completely with your final paragraph. SC was not as much about radically changing the liturgy as much as it was about opening up what was already there and sharing it with God’s people. Hasn’t the Holy Spirit guided liturgical development? Shouldn’t we allow for that guiding? Wouldn’t it be arrogant of us to believe that we always recognize it immediately?

  9. Well, I don’t think that one mention of “organic” development is any indication it was a major guiding principle of Vatican II. Participation, to give one example, is mentioned in other documents, and clearly was more in the forefront of the thinking of the council bishops.

    To turn the question around: can’t God work in knocking someone off a horse? When the situation calls for it. Organic development as a major liturgical principle: it just wasn’t there at Vatican II. SC wasn’t really for or against it, as much as it attended to other, more important principles.

    1. And that’s likely because every knew that Trent had frozen organic development, thus making subsequent changes when the thaw occurred seem non-organic. The issue of organic development is not a problem of the liturgical reforms of Vatican II but of the Tridentine era. The more revolutionary reforms in sacramental praxis and liturgical music of Pius X would likewise not be seen as “organic”.

  10. A lot of abuses happened in the Mass during the Middle Ages, especially in the later part. Most were suppressed by Trent. So just because something was done the late Middle Ages does not mean it should be done now.
    One of the most beautiful Masses I have ever seen and heard was the one at the National Shrine this past Saturday. It was a Mass that gave me a glimpse as to how awesome the Lord must be in His Sanctuary. And yet, apart from the normal Gloria in excelsis, not one hymn was sung in the vernacular or even in Latin during this Mass, and how wonderful that was! Extra biblical texts in lieu of the assigned Propers should be an occasional exception to the singing during the celebration of the Mysteries (i.e. the Mass). The Divine office, devotions, etc, are a different matter.

    1. If no hymn was sung in the vernacular or even in Latin, pray tell, what language was being used??

      I still get shivers at attending Mass at the National Shrine…that crabby, displeased-looking mosaic of Christ is just plain scary…a real turn off.

      1. I wasn’t there, but I presume rather than “hymns”,
        in the sense of strophic songs inserted into the liturgy,
        the music consisted of the singing of the propers and the
        ordinary. (Although the Gloria and Sanctus are hymns
        of a sort.)

        I thought everyone loved that mosaic, I’m surprised
        you have that reaction to it. It’s certainly not the cuddly
        buddy Savior of some representations.

        Chacun à son goût

      2. Dear Geraldine,
        Yes, they were strophic hymns in many cases, either to replace or to follow part of the so-called proper or ordinary. Other times they were shorter vernacular acclamations.

    2. Ted, But my point is that “abuses” is not a self-evident concept, as your post seems to imply it is. In the 14th and 15th century some people did things which they thought were good and holy. Others disagreed. The 16th century gave us very new structures and ideas; one cannot retroject them back into the Middle Ages without misunderstanding the Middle Ages. On one point – vernacular singing at Latin High Mass – it increased dramatically in the 16th and 17th century in some places, with the support and approval of Catholic bishops.

      1. Fr. Anthony, I think this is interesting, the vernacular singing of the Mass, but one has to remember that the priests, deacon and altar servers still said every bit of the Mass in Latin all this going on as the choir sang. There were two different things happening together but not always simultaneously. This still occurs in some places when the Mass is sung with the choir in Latin. The choir will sing the Gloria or Credo, while the priest recites it and then he goes and sits until the choir finishes. I don’t like this disconnect and have tried to avoid it in my parish’s High Mass and the 1965 missal says don’t to do it. But today I find that those who re- institute the EF Mass continue to do it. At any rate, if you do it, that is have two different tracks, the choir track and the priest track, it seems that the choir could sing the parts of the EF Mass in English even today, as long as the priest is doing his “thing” in Latin. Would I be wrong? It certainly wouldn’t be what Vatican II’s proposal for reforms would have envisioned. I think the 1965 missal is closer to it than the 1970 missal, but I digress.

  11. Father
    The middle ages can offer Chartres cathedral and its stained glass and sculpture that is full of meaning. I suspect that is was the visual aid to teaching of its day. And it looks good.

    1. And remember a lot of sculpture and interior architecture was also painted. What we see today was not necessarily what was intended.

  12. Not to mention hospitals, school and houses for the poor. Nowadays this would be called Catholic Social Action.
    In its “wisdom” the UK government closed the Catholic Adoption Agencies putting the sentiments of gay people above the chance for “hard to place” children to find families.
    Shame on “Bliar”. Well I feel more strongly than that but this blog tries to be polite.

  13. Peter, your comment on adoption in truly curious. In the States, many dioceses have dropped out of the adoption business un-coerced. It’s dried up almost to a trickle. Our diocese outsources as of last summer. Maybe the UK is different.

    The truth is that people have many options these days, but if the Catholic Church wanted to institute organic development on this score, it would promote adoption among couples, both those with children and those without, and urge those Catholic couples to deluge both private and state-run adoption services with willing candidates.

    In fact, the pouty approach of “If you make us consider gays, we’ll take our toys and go home,” might even be a sin of omission, given the huge numbers of kids without permanent homes.

    Here in the US well over 100,000 kids are waiting to be adopted, with almost a half million more in foster care. All too often the Church doesn’t change and adapt when it can, and seems to prefer a misty-eyed backward glance to history instead.

  14. Thank you, Anthony, for a thought-provoking post.

    One of the underlying themes in the responses so far is the different perceptions people have of (a) holiness and (b) reverence. I’d suggest that the either-or syndrome is not terribly helpful to discussing this.

    Additionally, it’s a question of the ambient culture. No one so far has questioned whether the Middle Ages can do anything for us at all, given that our culture, our spirituality and our scholarship is so different from those of the people of that era.

    1. Well, that kinda begs the question, don’t it? That is, the assumption of a chasm of difference.

    2. Mr Inwood, are you sure our spirituality is so different from that of medieval people?
      In what way?

      For that matter is the spirituality of all of us so homogenous?
      Who is to say that the spirituality of some reader here is not closer to that of Thomas Aquinas than to yours or mine or Fr Ruff’s?

      1. Yes, I’m quite sure that our spirituality is very different from that of our medieval forebears. The way in which we pray is different, our symbolism and images are completely different. Our “sentimentality” is totally different.

        And yes, I agree that our present-day spirituality is not at all homogenous. Cultural and linguistic differences come into play here, too. For example, I can pray very easily in French, when using the French tongue (I am effectively bilingual), but when I translate French words and images into English I cannot pray through them. Similarly, I find much of Spanish and Polish spirituality alien to me when translated.

        Another major difference is that intelligent people who have learned to think for themselves have a noticeably different spirituality from those who have not. This is not intended to be patronising, but the “warm fuzzy” kind of prayer is very different from the clean, clear lines of the kind of prayer that I personally find nourishing. (ctd)

      2. (ctd) This is why I think people will have a considerable shock when they discover exactly what the medieval prayer texts of the Missal actually say in their own language. I predict that many (especially priests) will not be able to pray through them.

        The question then will be, as one English bishop has put it, “It’s all very well talking about fidelity to the Latin, but what if the Latin is no good to start with?”

      3. Paul: I see the prayers in the liturgy (esp. the Mass) as a school of prayer to learn from, not as a snapshot of some other time which is quaint at best and laughable at worst. Perhaps that’s what is meant by “organic development”, that future generations’ accretions to the liturgy are not at odds with what has gone before because they have received the tradition handed onto them and grown within it, instead of simply make the liturgy mesh with their time and place. (I could be completely wrong on this, of course.)

        I liken it to the Koch curve embedded in a circle. The circle is the realm of Catholic orthodoxy and orthopraxy, and the triangle (which gets embellished to become the Koch curve) is our experiencing of that authentic Catholicism. The perimeter of the Koch curve approaches infinity with each successive iteration, but it never exceeds the boundary of its circle.

        Is that too obtuse?

      4. Jeffrey, with all respect, I think this image doesn’t work. The whole reason a reform was needed was because the liturgy went in the wrong direction in significant ways over time. SC uses “participation” 17 times, which obviously is meant to correct a problem which entered in very gradually (infrequent communion, little comprehension of Latin, etc.) By comparison, SC uses “organically” only once. Even in a minimalist redefintion of ‘participation,’ and even in a maximalist emphasis on ‘organic,’ SC remains pretty revolutionary and implicitly contains a strong judgment on liturgical history.

      5. Dom Ruff, I interpret SC’s use of “participation” to be continuous with earlier Church documents on the matter, most notably De Musica Sacra (from 1958). This was continued after Vatican II in Musicam Sacram of 1967. I particularly like DMS 22-34 (although the people at some EF Masses need to be reminded about DMS 32!) and MS 15-17. Or are these dead letters that clash with SC?

        If Latin was truly a problem, why didn’t SC get rid of the problem by removing Latin? Was it because it’s a “compromise document”?

        You mention the count of particular (explicit) words in SC, and then speak of its implicit “strong judgment on liturgical history”. You’ll need to convince me of that. SC praises the liturgy (both in history and of its day) even from its opening paragraphs, unless that was all Conciliar “lip service”.

      6. (PS)

        Dom Ruff, I affirm that SC calls for particular reforms to restore elements that were dropped, trim back elements that were needlessly duplicated, and simplifying certain elements. That is certainly an implicit judgment on the history of liturgical reform. But it is a far cry from what several commenters here say, disparaging the 1962 missal so nonchalantly.

        This second comment is off-topic, and I don’t know who here is qualified to answer it (and that’s not meant as an insult, if it sounds like one…), but why were SOME duplications eliminated (like the “Ecce Agnus Dei”) while others retained (like the “Agnus Dei”)? (I bring up those two because they seem – to me, at least – to be linked.)

      7. Sorry for the barrage of comments, Dom Ruff, but I just realized I didn’t address your opening remark.

        “reform was needed … because the liturgy went in the wrong direction in significant ways over time”

        Is that wrong direction found in the various prayers (from the ordinary and propers) in the 1962 Missal that were excised from or substantially altered in the 1969 Missal? Or was it found in the WAY the liturgy was viewed and celebrated?

  15. Hello Todd
    My point at first was just to point out that the Church used to do many good works. Now governments do much of this. Without saying whether the change is good or bad one can say that this was something that the Church could take credit for of the Middle Ages.
    On adoption I suspect that the role played by different agencies differs between the UK and the US.
    In the UK the courts place children in the care of the local authority (government) and this may in turn propose that the child is placed with adoptive parents. The courts have to approve and make the legal adoption order.
    Each authority has its own adoption service which is short of cash. Private (usually charitable) agencies help to fill the gap. Their role is to identify, check, prepare and propose adoptive parents and then provide support afterwards.
    The Catholic agencies could only propose married couples as the Church cannot endorse sinful relationships. Cont.

  16. Cont.
    The local authority and most other agencies do accept unmarried and gay couples. The Catholic agencies had great success in finding parents for “hard to place” children, older, disabled or troubled children and those in sibling groups. They also had a good record in having few failed placements.
    The Leeds agency alone may be able to continue after a court case. This agency was only approached by the local authority as the agency of last resort. Do read the judgement.
    So the Church did nothing to hinder children finding homes and much to help.

    I live in Jersey, an island that is not part of the UK and is 12 miles from France. New Jersey is named after Jersey. We have no private adoption agencies here and UK children may not be placed here. We do tend to follow affairs in the UK closely. During the Middle Ages we were part of the diocese of Coutances on the Normandy mainland. The last French priest left in 1999 and only a few French nuns remain. Not England!

  17. Geraldine o Mathune :
    I thought everyone loved that mosaic, I’m surprised
    you have that reaction to it. It’s certainly not the cuddly
    buddy Savior of some representations.
    Chacun à son goût

    We must run in different crowds; I’ve never met anyone who did like it. It really gives me the creeps.

    1. Msgr. Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington has an interesting essay about the Christ in Majesty mosaic on the Archdiocese blog. As he points out, very few people are neutral on the image.

      Having seen it “live” from a number of different locations in the Basilica, including the loft at the opposite end of the church and just beneath it on the ambulatory floor, I find it infinitely more attractive than the rather cartoonesque mosaic work completed in 2006 and 2007.

      1. I did not read all the comments on the blog, so someone else may have already said this. To my eyes, the initial impression given by the position of the arms is how reminiscent this is of depictions of various multi-armed Indian and Hindu deities. The “frowning” expression of the face compounds this impression.

      2. I’ve been to the Shrine many times. When I was in the seminary in the 1970’s there were horrible names given to it many of which I can’t post in this comment. I have a love hate relationship with it and find Christ the Judge to be somewhat severe, but shouldn’t He? But the on-going joke was that Mary has been appearing quite often at the Shrine over the years and her message is always the same, “Build me a beautiful shrine on this spot!” For what it’s worth.

      3. I’m with the crowd that finds the apse mosaic far too Hitlerjungendlich.

  18. “Yes, they were strophic hymns in many cases, either to replace or to follow part of the so-called proper or ordinary.”
    Fr. Ruff, are we talking about the same thing? are you speaking of the Middle Ages?

    I thought Ms Gonzalez was asking about this:
    “One of the most beautiful Masses I have ever seen and heard was the one at the National Shrine this past Saturday. It was a Mass that gave me a glimpse as to how awesome the Lord must be in His Sanctuary. And yet, apart from the normal Gloria in excelsis, not one hymn was sung in the vernacular or even in Latin during this Mass”

    1. Yes! You’re right. I was talking about the Middle Ages, the topic of the post, and not the Shrine last week. I misunderstood.

  19. Fr. Ruff — is there any way the Singmesse or its Polish equivalent could be revived? I suspect that the vernacular Mass has reduced the need for for these types of Masses. I’ve always wanted to attend an EF celebrated in this way.

  20. Not only is “that mosaic” ugly, pretty much the entire basilica is a monument to glittery kitsch…there was no beauty to be found in touring the entire basilica…just overdone & glittery ornamentation. It is a monument to the worst money can buy.

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