Friars against the monks! Monks against the friars!

I found this delightful marginal addition to Edmund Bishop’s Liturgica Historica (New York: Oxford, 1962 edition). Someone is clearly updating the bibliography (the book was originally published in 1918).


This particular book belonged to Niels Rasmussen, OP, as the plate shows, and was sent to him by a Danish correspondent whose work I don’t know. Perhaps Rasmussen added the reference, or maybe Jorgen Rudfeld (Radfeld? not sure about that handwriting) did. I can’t read Danish, and I haven’t tried an automatic translator on the inscription. [Updated: Andrew Casad tells me it says, “It is a gift from one of the tertiaries on behalf of all to be followed by another book they’re awaiting from England.” Thanks, Andrew!]


By the way, the pasted-in article (1950) takes a “friars against the monks!” line in its attacks on Dom Moeller, OSB, and, oddly, also on Ralph of Tongres (d. 1403; one might think it would not be worthwhile to dispute with him). “Ralph of Tongres is still alive in all those, who, conscious and unconscious, prefer the symbols of the past because they are blind for or afraid of those of the present. Even in modern studies the friars are still the scapegoats for everything liturgical which these men dislike; they have become the occasion, if not the cause, of every shortcoming, every augmentation which can possibly be traced to or regarded as still another detail or motive of the decay in late medieval and renaissance liturgy. The historical Ralph is always in the background to attest how wicked and un-Roman it was.” S. A. van Dijk is here to defend the friars from all these calumnies!

The 1950 article concludes, “With all this one cannot deny Bernard [of Porto]’s evidence that the lessons of Whitsun Eve had been reduced from twenty-four to twelve quia curia aliquando tedio affecta, aliquando negotiis impedita erat [because the Curia was affected by weariness at times and hindered by business at others]. But Bernard could not imagine that two centuries later someone from Tongres would undertake to lecture pope, cardinals, chaplains, and friars. If he had known it, perhaps he would have added a few words of explanation, because Bernard had what Ralph of Tongres seems to have lacked: a sense of reality and a love of truth.” Whew.

Unfortunately, this article did not help me much in my quest for theological work on the Litany of the Saints, but it does read a bit like a very academic Daily Show script. I wonder if Rasmussen would have sided with van Dijk (friars gotta stick together!), or disagreed with him. Maybe sometime I’ll look it up.

You don’t even have to go into the archives at Hesburgh Library to find interesting historical debris linking to the Liturgical Movement.


  1. Karl Liam Saur : But what about those nefarious canons and clerks regular?

    I’m not sure if they’re waiting in the dugout, or already got knocked out in an earlier bracket.

    I’m also amused by van Djik’s complaint about scapegoating in a passage that’s literally scapegoating a 15th c. monk for all modern scholars he doesn’t like.

  2. The dedication shows it is a gift to Niels on behalf of the tertiaries (“Third Order Dominicans,” as they are sometimes still called) associated with Skt Andreas Kloster (St. Andrew’s Priory) in Ordrup, north of downtown Copenhagen. It is dated September 1, 1963. I suspect the occasion was Niels’ ordination to the priesthood.
    The note gives the author of the book to follow, but I can’t decipher what it is; first name looks like “Edward.”

    1. @Hans Christoffersen:
      Oh, actually, the note refers to the book itself: “Edmund Bishops bog.” Presumably Rasmussen saved the card and inserted it into the book when it arrived.

      Unfortunately the blog only allows photos of a certain (small) size, but I have a full size version here.

  3. I knew Nils during the period when he lived and studied in Washington DC at Catholic University. He was too young to have been ordained in 1963. Perhaps profession? He was a scholar but would have laughed at some of this sort of thing. His death was very untimely.

    1. @William Pearson:
      I was in Niels’ last doctoral seminar on Medieval Liturgy when he died (fall of ’97). I am glad some of his books are still in the Notre Dame Library. Many, for some reason, especially duplicates, went to Loome’s Books in Stillwater where they were for sale at the North American Academy of Liturgy first Minneapolis meeting shortly after his death (January of 1988). Many of us who had been his students were saddened to see this.

    2. I too knew Neils when I studied for my M.Div. at Notre Dame, ’80-83. He was a great teacher. Loved his accent. Friend of another Dominican in the Theology Dept., who taught Systematics. I was saddened by his untimely death.

  4. William Pearson : I knew Nils …. He was a scholar but would have laughed at some of this sort of thing.

    I can confirm that one may be a scholar and still find this sort of thing laughable. 🙂

  5. He was born in 1935. I knew him. We visited when he came home to see his mother in Copenhagen and in South Bend during my novitiate year in Mishawaka in 1982-83.

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