Stowe Missal

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The Stowe Missal

The Stowe Missal is a work of Irish provenance, a sacramentary rather than a missal as it is so-called. It contains not everything needed for the rite, but rather what portions a certain priest most likely needed for traveling and celebrating the liturgy in remote places. The book itself dates to approximately AD 750, though Dr. MacCarthy has demonstrated that the Mass contained within the volume is likely of the 6th c. (AD 500s). The liturgy in the Stowe Missal is the only surviving example of the Divine Liturgy for the Celtic rites still extant (there are a few other books for Office, such as the Bangor Antiphoner). Other missals from Celtic areas or with Celtic connections fall firmly within Gallican or Roman liturgical tradition. The Liturgy itself follows the basic Western model common to Roman and Gallican rites. The Canon of the Mass is the Gelasian Canon, and includes a single Preface of Irish origin unknown in any other rite. Besides material common to the Roman and Gallican rites, there are also a few prayers or phrases from the Coptic, East Syrian, and Ethiopian rites. The impact of Spanish liturgy is also clear upon the text. The Nicene Creed in the liturgy has the filioque inserted by a latter hand in the margins above the line. The Stowe Missal is believed to have been in use and added to at the monastery of Lorrha in Ireland from the 8th c. onward, and likely was compiled at Tallaght in Dublin, Ireland by Culdees associated with Saint Maelruain and Saint Aengus the Culdee. This missal is also the oldest surviving extant copy of Western liturgy.

The book derives its name of Stowe from the Stowe library of the Dukes of Buckingham where it was contained for a few centuries after its discovery at Lorrha in Ireland.


"Liturgy and Ritual of the Celtic Church" by F. E. Warren

Selections from F. E. Warren's "Liturgy and Ritual" online - Non-Chalcedonian site.

Catholic Encyclopedia: The Celtic Rite.

"The Stowe Missal" in "Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy", XXVII (1886) by Dr. Bartholomew MacCarthy

"Journeys on the Edges", Dr. Thomas O'Loughlin, 2000

"Celtic Theology", Dr. Thomas O'Loughlin, 2001