Catholic Church as of 1913
Gallican Rite by Henry Jenner
The Gallican Rite is a historical version of Christian liturgy and other ritual practices in Western Christianity. It is not a single rite but a family of rites within the Latin Church, which comprised the majority use of most of Western Christianity for the more significant part of the 1st millennium AD. The rites first developed in the early centuries as the Syriac-Greek rites of Jerusalem and Antioch and were first translated into Latin in various parts of the Western Roman Empire Praetorian prefecture of Gaul. By the 5th century, it was well established in the Roman civil diocese of Gaul, which had a few early centers of Christianity in the south. Ireland is also known to have had a form of this Gallican Liturgy mixed with Celtic customs.
The Gallican Rite was used from before the 5th century, and likely before the Diocletian reform in AD 293 Roman Gaul, until the middle or end of the 8th century. There is no information before the 5th century. Very little then, and throughout the whole period, there was, to judge by existing documents and descriptions, so much diversity that, though the general outlines of the rite were of the same pattern, the name must not be taken to imply more than a very moderate amount of homogeneity. The Rite of Iberia was used from the 5th century in Roman provinces within the Roman civil diocese of Hispania to the end of the 11th century. It lingered as an archaeological survival in chapels at Toledo and Salamanca. It was so nearly allied to the Gallican Rite that the term Hispano-Gallican is often applied to the two. But the Iberian Mozarabic Rite has, like the allied Celtic Rite, enough of an independent history to require different treatment, so though it will be necessary to allude to both by way of illustration, this article will be devoted primarily to the rite once used in what is now France. Of the origin of the Gallican Rite, there are three principal theories, between which the controversy still needs to be settled. These theories may be termed: the Ephesine, the Ambrosian, and the Roman.
The Ephesine theory, first put forward by William Palmer in Origines Liturgicae, was once prevalent among Anglican scholars. According to it, the Gallican Rite returned to one brought to Lyon from Ephesus by St. Pothinus and Irenaeus, who had received it through Polycarp from John of Patmos. The idea originated partly in a statement in the 8th-century tract in a manuscript, which refers to the Service of the Gauls (Cursus Gallorum) to such an origin, and partly in a statement of Colmán of Lindisfarne at the Synod of Whitby (664) respecting the Johannine origin of the Quartodeciman Easter. This theory "may be dismissed as practically disproved," according to Henry Jenner in Catholic Encyclopedia.
The second theory is that which Louis Duchesne puts forward in place of the Ephesians. He holds that Milan, not Lugdunum (Lyon), was the principal centre of Gallican development. He lays great stress on the incontestable importance of Mediolanum (Milan) as the capital of the Western Roman Empire from 286 to 402 and of the Church of Milan in the late 4th century and conjectures that a liturgy of Oriental origin, introduced perhaps by Auxentius the Arian bishop of Milan from 355 to 374, spread from the capital city, Mediolanum, to the Roman provinces in Gaul, Hispania, and Britannia. Duchesne points out that "the Gallican Liturgy, in the features which distinguish it from the Roman, betrays all the characteristics of the Eastern Orthodox liturgies" and that "some of its formularies are to be found word for word in the Greek Orthodox texts, which were in use in the Churches of the Syro-Byzantine Rite either in the fourth century or somewhat later," and infers from this that, "the Gallican Liturgy is an Oriental liturgy, introduced into the West towards the middle of the fourth century." Duchesne does not, however, note that in certain other vital peculiarities, the Gallican Liturgy agrees with the Roman, where the latter differs from the Oriental. Controverting the third or Roman theory of origin, he stresses that Pope Innocent I (416), in a letter to Decentius, bishop of Gubbio, spoke of usages which Duchesne recognizes as Gallican (e.g. the position of the Diptychs and the Pax) as "foreign importations" and did not recognize in them the ancient usage of his own Church. He thinks it hard to explain why the African Church should have accepted the Roman reforms while Ambrose, himself a Roman, refused them. He assumes that the Ambrosian Rite is not Roman but Gallican, much Romanized later and that the Gubbio variations of which Innocent I complained were borrowed from Milan.
The third theory is perhaps rather complicated to state without danger of misrepresentation and has not been so definitely stated as the other two by any one writer. It is held in part by Milanese liturgists and by many others whose opinion is of weight. To state it clearly it will be necessary to point out first specific details in which all the Latin or Western rites agree with one another in differing from the Eastern, and in this, we speak only of the Mass, which is of far more importance than either the canonical hours or the occasional services in determining origins.
Hence, the Western or Latin Liturgy went through three phases, which may be called, for want of better names, the Gallican, the Ambrosian, and the Roman stages. The holders of the theory no doubt recognize that the distinction between these stages is rather vague and that the alterations were, in many respects, gradual. The Ephesine may be dismissed as practically disproved of the three theories of origin. To both of the other two the same objection may be urged that they are primarily founded on conjecture and on the critical examination of documents of a much later date than the periods to which the conjectures relate. But at present, there is little else to go upon. It may be well to mention also a theory put forward by W. C. Bishop in Church Quarterly for July 1908, to the effect that the Gallican Liturgy was not introduced into Gaul from anywhere but was the original liturgy of that country, apparently invented and developed there. He speaks of an original independence of Rome (of course, liturgically only) followed by later borrowings. This does not exclude the idea that Rome and the West may have had the germ of the Western Rite in common. Again the theory is speculative and is only very slightly stated in the article.