Bugnini’s Big Blunder

As our guest blogger we welcome today the inimitable Fr John Hunwicke. Fr Hunwicke writes:

I return today to the vexed question of whether St Ermentrude of Sigmaringen should be included in the Kalendar of the Ordinariate use.

Ermentrude, readers will remember from previous posts, was a virgin of Wurttemberg cruelly and unjustly imprisoned in Sigmaringen Castle by an Elector of the Holy Roman Empire who sought bigamous marriage with her (in a not insignificant prolepsis of the Protestant Reformation). Ermentrude resisted the Elector’s blandishments, and escaped from her incarceration with the aid of a young novice of St Gallen. An account of the escape can be read in the Old High German of Odo of Konstanz, later translated as De Polygamia Christiana. Readers will no doubt be familiar with the edition by Erasmus (Rotterdam, 1482).*


Ermentrude subsequently reached England, where she took refuge in the convent of St Frideswide in Oxford. There she not only worshipped from time to time at St Thomas’s church in that city, but (music being one of her many talents) she perfected a variation of the Tonus Peregrinus which later received the unqualified approbation of Dr H D ‘Patrimony’ Palmer.**  John of Malmsbury (Early English Text Society, Misc 437) tells us that Ermentrude’s version was in use a century and a half later, at the Priory of Osney.

Ermentrude’s feast was unique in the Catholic Church in being originally celebrated on the date of her escape from incarceration. It was extended to the universal calendar by special favour of Boniface VIII, a celebrated connoisseur of plainsong. Alas, in the revisions of the malevolent Annabile Bugnini ( you knew he would get into the story somewhere!), this hapless maid sank without trace.

Who can doubt, considering her connections to this University, that she should be commemorated by Ordinariate Catholics with renewed fervour? I respectfully suggest a single of the ninth class with suspended octave. (And if you subscribe to the recent superstition that suspended octaves are a mere figment of the liturgiological imagination (as does even the great Louis Bouyer in his recent Memoires – available alas only in French ) I refer you to Dom Gregory ‘Patrimony’ Dix in an early monograph A Suspicion of Spensions (Faith Press, 1932).)

*I am grateful to my friend Professor Tighe for this invaluable information.
**This reference was kindly supplied by my friend and colleague Monsignor Andrew Burnham

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