Burying the ‘Alleluia’ for Lent

5 Buried Alleluia

by JEFF DILLON

In a lead up to the Lenten season, the Dunedin Latin Mass Society decided to embrace a centuries-old tradition, which is still performed in many places overseas, and carry out a “burying the alleluia” ritual. 

A suitably ornate example of the word “Alleluia” was found and printed off from the Internet onto fine paper.

The printed form was then enclosed in a cardboard box, which was placed and wrapped in a good quality plastic bag to protect the box.  

The day before a recent Sunday Latin Mass at the old Dominican chapel beside St Joseph’s Cathedral, a suitable size hole was dug in the adjacent grounds. The next morning, before Mass, more than 50 people gathered to witness the ceremony.

Fr David Hercus spoke about the tradition and its significance, before the box containing the example “Alleluia” was formally buried.

A small wooden cross with the inscription “Here Lies the Alleluia” was placed there to mark the spot.  

Overseas, similar ceremonies are carried out between Septuagesima Sunday and the beginning of Lent proper to emphasise that the saying or singing of the “Alleluia” is discontinued during Lent — only to burst into life again with full gusto during the Easter vigil Mass or Easter Sunday Mass.

So the Dunedin Latin Mass Society will gather around the grave site on Easter morning before Mass and exhume the buried “Alleluia” before carrying it into the chapel, where once again the “Alleluia” will be joyfully performed in recognition of Christ’s Resurrection.

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