SUNDAY, 5 JANUARY
- 5.30 pm Epiphany Eve Chapter Mass
MONDAY, 6 JANUARY
- 10.25 am Morning prayer (Lauds)
- 11.00 am Pontifical Mass celebrated by His Excellency Monsignor the Archbishop
- 4.00 Vespers, Rite of the OmnesPatriarchæ and Blessing with the Holy Eucharist celebrated by His Excellency Monsignor the Archbishop
The Feast of Epiphany (6 January) has become important for the people in the course of time, even with a “nostalgic” touch, traditionally marking “the end of the Christmas season”. Actually, rather than the end of the Christmas season – postponed to the next Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (1st Sunday after Epiphany, 12th January this year) – Epiphany marks the peak moment of the season.
Along with Easter, Christmas and Pentecost, Epiphany is one of the four main liturgical feasts, and its celebration underscores this, starting from the typical Vigil Mass, which is part of the Ambrosian liturgical custom, held at the Duomo on the afternoon of Sunday, 5 January (5.30 pm).
Like in the East, even the Ambrosian tradition celebrates the Feast of Epiphany with great solemnity. With a wealth of miscellaneous images, the liturgy presents the many manifestations of the Lord: the adoration of the Magi, the Baptism in the river Jordan, water turned into wine at the marriage at Cana, and the multiplication of bread.
To date, besides the Pontifical Mass (11.00 am), the Archbishop celebrates the Second Vespers, at 4.00 pm, with a special Rite. The Lucernario, an ancient and qualifying feature of the evening prayer, is followed by the old Ambrosian antiphon of the OmnesPatriarchæ (from the first words of the original Latin text, as it is still performed at the Duomo). It celebrates the revelation of Christ in the Christmas Mystery, proclaimed by the patriarchs in the Old Testament, announced by the prophets and manifested with the birth in Bethlehem, confirmed by the announcement of the angels to the shepherds and by the apparition of the star in the sky, the revelation that manifests with the welcome given to the Redeemer by the just.
According to tradition, this Antiphon is sung four consecutive times, seemingly indicating that the announcement of the Messiah’s birth spreads throughout the earth to the four cardinal points. The first four times the Antiphon is recited by the various members of the liturgical assembly: by the puericantores, the Music Chapel and the Primicery of the Metropolitan Chapter. Finally, the Archbishop himself at the altar, facing the people, along with the Cathedral’s Canons, proclaims the announcement of the Mystery of Christmas, the manifestation of Christ to the world, in song for the fourth and final time.