The Golden Legend: Sexagesima
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The Sexagesima beginneth when is sung in the Church, at office of the mass: Exsurge
domine, and this endeth the Wednesday after Easter day; and was instituted for redemption,
for signification, and for representation. For redemption it was instituted. For
Melchiades the Pope and Silvester instituted that men should eat twice on the Saturday, to
the end that they that had fasted the Friday, which should always be fasted, were not
grieved. And in rechaet then of the Saturdays of this time, they adjousted and joined a
week of the Lent thereto, and called it Sexagesima. That other reason is for
signification; for that time signifieth the time of widowhood of the Church, and the
wailing of the same for the absence of her spouse which was vanished into heaven. There be
two wings given to the Church. The first is the exercitation of six works of mercy, and
the fulfilment of the ten commandments of the law, for sixty make six sithes ten. And by
six be understood the six works of mercy, and by ten the ten commandments of the law. The
third reason is for representation. For the Sexagesima representeth also the mystery of
redemption. For by ten is understood the man, which is the tenth penny which is made and
formed to that he be the reparation of nine orders of angels, or for that he is formed of
four qualities to the body. And to the soul he hath three powers, that is to wit memory,
understanding, and will, which be made that he serve the Blessed Trinity, to the end that
we believe firmly in him and love him ardently, and diligently we have and hold him in our
mind. By six be understood six mysteries, by the which the man is redeemed by Jesu Christ,
the which be the Incarnation, the Nativity, the Passion, his descension into hell, his
resurrection, and his ascension into heaven. And because that the Sexagesima stretcheth
unto the Wednesday after Easter, that day is sung: Venite benedicti, etc. For they that
fulfil the works of mercy shall hear in the end: Venite, as Jesu Christ witnesseth. And
then shall the door be opened to the spouse, and embrace God her spouse. And it is warned
in an epistle, that she should bear patiently tribulation, as S. Paul did, in the absence
of her spouse. And in the gospel that she be always ententive to sow good works, and that
she that had sung as despaired: Circumdederunt me gemitus mortis, now return for to demand
that she be holpen in her tribulations, and require to be delivered in saying Exsurge
domine adjuva, etc., which is the beginning of the office of the mass.
And this doth holy Church in three manners. For some be in holy Church that be
oppressed of adversity, but they be not cast out. And some that be not oppressed ne cast
out. And some that be oppressed and cast out. And because that they may not bear
adversities, it is to dread and great peril lest the prosperities all to-break them.
Wherefore holy Church crieth that he arise as to the first in comforting them, for it
seemeth that he sleepeth when he delivereth them not. She crieth also as to the second,
that he arise in converting them from whom it seemeth that he turneth his face from them
in putting them from him. She crieth also as to the third, that he arise in helping them
in prosperity, and in delivering them.
The Golden Legend or Lives of the Saints. Compiled by Jacobus de Voragine,
Archbishop of Genoa, 1275. First Edition Published 1470. Englished by William
Caxton, First Edition 1483, Edited by F.S. Ellis, Temple Classics, 1900 (Reprinted 1922,
This chapter is from: Volume 1: Sexagesima
Scanned by Robert Blackmon. email@example.com.
This text is part of the Internet
Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and
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© Paul Halsall, September 2000