Liturgy, Space, and Community in the Basilica Julii (Santa Maria in Trastevere)
The Basilica Julii (also known as titulus Callisti and later as Santa Maria in Trastevere) provides a case study of the physical and social conditions in which early Christian liturgies 'rewired' their participants. This paper demonstrates that liturgical transformation was a two-way process, in which liturgy was the object as well as the agent of change. Three essential factors - the liturgy of the Eucharist, the space of the early Christian basilica, and the local Christian community - are described as they existed in Rome from the fourth through the ninth centuries. The essay then takes up the specific case of the Basilica Julii, showing how these three factors interacted in the concrete conditions of a particular titular church. The basilica's early Christian liturgical layout endured until the ninth century, when it was reconfigured by Pope Gregory IV (827-844) to bring the liturgical sub-spaces up-to-date. In Pope Gregory's remodeling the original non-hierarchical layout was replaced by one in which celebrants were elevated above the congregation, women were segregated from men, and higher-ranking lay people were accorded places of honor distinct from those of lesser stature. These alterations brought the Basilica Julii in line with the requirements of the ninth-century papal stational liturgy. The stational liturgy was hierarchically organized from the beginning, but distinctions became sharper in the course of the early Middle Ages in accordance with the expansion of papal authority and changes in lay society. Increasing hierarchization may have enhanced the transformational power of the Eucharist, or impeded it.
Monks singing the Office and decorated initial A[sperges me.]. Gradual Olivetan Master (Use of the Olivetan Benedictines), illuminated manuscript on parchment ca. 1430-1439. Italy, Monastero di Santa Maria di Baggio near Milan, Ca 1400-1775.
Beinecke Ms1184: The olivetan Gradual. Gradual. General Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgment of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).