ROME DAY 15: Folders, Funky Tomatoes, and Foolish Altars

wdtprs.com | 10/17/2019 | View all posts by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf →
princia (Posted by) Level 3


Sunrise… 7:22… Sunset… 18:28 and the Ave Maria is at…. ? Why 18:45, of course.

And somebody finally bit and asked “What is that Ave Maria bell? Is that the Angelus?”

Angelus - Roman - Curia - Calendar - Custom

No, it is not the Angelus, which is said at 18:00, traditionally. This is specific to the Roman Curia, upon whose calendar this appears by now by long custom, harking back to another day.

The “Ave Maria” indicates the time of the ringing of the Ave Maria Bell, which once upon a time let people know at what point in the day they were when there were not an abundance of clocks. Think about how, in Rome, a canon sounds at noon, booming out over the City. Noon was important, because that’s when appointments and contracts began. Church appointments still begin at noon. There was a great solar clock tracing the analemma on the floor of Santa Maria degli Angeli. When the spotlight from the sun crossed the midday mark on the floor, a signal flag went up from the roof of the church. Spotted from the Gianicolo, a canon sounded the hour.

Ave - Maria - Point - Work - Day

The Ave Maria signaled a turning point in the work day in the Curia. A bell rang, approximately one half hour after Sunset, 3 times, then 4 times, then 5 times, and then once. That indicated the change of the religious day from day to night.

Approximately, because the sunset changes but the Ave Maria stays fixed for a while, then changes in 15 minute increments. Hence, since right now the Ave Maria is rung at 18:45, as it is from for some days, then 17:45 is 23rd hour of the day and 19:45 is the 1st hour of the next day.

Roman - Curia - Cardinals - Officials - People

In the Roman Curia, Cardinals and other officials would still receive people in audience for the hour after the Ave...
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