This dissertation examines the forms and social ramifications of public worship in the city of Rome ca. 700. I focus upon the first extant Western Mass liturgy, which we have thanks to a pivotal source, the First Roman Ordo (OR I). A thorough examination of its historical background provides new information about the mode of worship in a critical period, the ways in which people's lives were influenced by ritual, and the challenges faced by popes.
This document was produced under Pope Sergius I (687-701), but in approximately the mid-eighth century, new chapters were added and others underwent modification. The discovery of this revision leads to a reassessment of the textual transmission of OR I.
OR I opens an incomparable window on the structure of the emerging papal court: the ministers of the pope and the precious furnishings they used. The great annual rituals exalted the pope and organized his court, a critical task because of the sometimes violent conflicts that broke out at papal elections.
This dissertation provides a complete reconstruction of the papal Mass of Easter Week ca. 700, including the liturgical actions, music, prayers, the architecture and artwork of the churches, and the state of the city when it was held. In doing so I resolve divergent interpretations about the Mass of OR I, and find that the laity participated in it. The Mass balanced gesture and music, included no sermon, and is best characterized as representative of ancient liturgy. I criticize the claim that it is a "Byzantine" or "Greek" liturgy.
A conversation takes place among Roman sources of the seventh and eighth century: liturgies like OR I had the power to forge and sustain unity among people. The roots of this tendency can be found in the dislocation experienced in Rome at the time, but were also influenced by how people behave in groups and the biological makeup of humans.
This dissertation demonstrates the influential afterlife of OR I. It became the standard Mass form for liturgies throughout Western Europe and eventually, the Christian world. I conclude with methodological reflections about the study of liturgy.