The Roman Rite is the main liturgical rite of the Latin Church, the main particular church sui iuris of the Catholic Church. It is the most widespread liturgical rite in Christianity as a whole; the Roman Rite became the predominant rite used by the Western Church, developed out of many local variants from Early Christianity on, not amounting to distinctive rites, that existed in the medieval manuscripts, but have been progressively reduced since the invention of printing, most notably since the reform of liturgical law in the 16th century at the behest of the Council of Trent and more following the Second Vatican Council. The Roman Rite has been adapted over the centuries and the history of its Eucharistic liturgy can be divided into three stages: the Pre-Tridentine Mass, Tridentine Mass and Mass of Paul VI; the ordinary form of the Roman Rite Mass is now that which Pope Paul VI promulgated in 1969 and Pope John Paul II revised in 2002, but use of the 1962 Roman Missal remains authorized as an extraordinary form under the conditions indicated in the 2007 papal document Summorum Pontificum.
The Roman Rite is noted for its sobriety of expression. In its Tridentine form, it was noted for its formality: the Tridentine Missal minutely prescribed every movement, to the extent of laying down that the priest should put his right arm into the right sleeve of the alb before putting his left arm into the left sleeve. Concentration on the exact moment of change of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ has led, in the Roman Rite, to the consecrated Host and the chalice being shown to the people after the Words of Institution. If, as was once most common, the priest offers Mass while facing ad apsidem, ad orientem if the apse is at the east end of the church, he shows them to the people, who are behind him, by elevating them above his head; as each is shown, a bell is rung and, if incense is used, the host and chalice are incensed. Sometimes the external bells of the church are rung as well. Other characteristics that distinguish the Roman Rite from the rites of the Eastern Catholic Churches are genuflections and keeping both hands joined together.
In his 1912 book on the Roman Mass, Adrian Fortescue wrote: "Essentially the Missal of Pius V is the Gregorian Sacramentary. We find the prayers of our Canon in the treatise de Sacramentis and allusions to it in the 4th century. So our Mass goes back, without essential change, to the age when it first developed out of the oldest liturgy of all, it is still redolent of that liturgy, of the days when Caesar ruled the world and thought he could stamp out the faith of Christ, when our fathers met together before dawn and sang a hymn to Christ as to a God. The final result of our inquiry is that, in spite of unsolved problems, in spite of changes, there is not in Christendom another rite so venerable as ours." In a footnote he added: "The prejudice that imagines that everything Eastern must be old is a mistake. Eastern rites have been modified too. No Eastern Rite now used is as archaic as the Roman Mass."In the same book, Fortescue acknowledged that the Roman Rite underwent profound changes in the course of its development.
His ideas are summarized in the article on the "Liturgy of the Mass" that he wrote for the Catholic Encyclopedia in which he pointed out that the earliest form of the Roman Mass, as witnessed in Justin Martyr's 2nd-century account, is of Eastern type, while the Leonine and Gelasian Sacramentaries, of about the 6th century, "show us what is our present Roman Mass". In the interval, there was what Fortescue called "a radical change", he quoted the theory of A. Baumstark that the Hanc Igitur, Quam oblationem, Supra quæ and Supplices, the list of saints in the Nobis quoque were added to the Roman Canon of the Mass under "a mixed influence of Antioch and Alexandria", that "St. Leo I began to make these changes. During the same time the prayers of the faithful before the Offertory disappeared, the kiss of peace was transferred to after the Consecration, the Epiklesis was omitted or mutilated into our "Supplices" prayer. Of the various theories suggested to account for this it seems reasonable to say with Rauschen: "Although the question is by no means decided there is so much in favour of Drews's theory that for the present it must be considered the right one.
We must admit that between the years 400 and 500 a great transformation was made in the Roman Canon". In the same article Fortescue went on to speak of the many alterations that the Roman Rite of Mass underwent from the 7th century on, in particular through the infusion of Gallican elements, noticeable chiefly in the variations for the course of the year; this infusion Fortescue called the "last change since Gregory the Great". The Eucharistic Prayer used in the Byzantine Rite is attributed to Saint John Chrysostom, who died in 404 two centuries before Pope Gregory the Great; the East Syrian Eucharistic Prayer of Addai and Mari, still in use, is much older. The Roman Missal is the liturgical book that
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