This morning turns up the warmest of the year — 16° at daybreak running time — though breezy and oddly cool to the skin, medium pollen. My legs felt heavy, but the mile passed in 9:07, much to my surprise. One of these days I’ll run my mile in a time of less than nine minutes, which will positively amaze me. I’m not in it for the personal records, but I do usually push myself. At about the halfway mark this morning, weary heavy legs almost convinced me to settle into a leisurely jogging pace, but I set me jaw (metaphorically) and pressed on. Morning Office, groceries, hot breakfast, and some bibliographic delving.
In the late morning, and continuing into the afternoon, I succumbed to temptation. You may remember that about a week ago, I predicted that the Plague Cross would demand further attention; today was the day. It turns out that there are varying iterations of the Plague Cross. The instance that Fr Schrenk flagged up derives (apparently) from the 1890s (according to the source, the Wellcome Trust image site), evidently from Italy (from the Italian explanatory note). I was curious to know more about this tradition and prayer, and after just a little exploring I noticed that here are crosses with several different orders of letters on the cross.
I didn’t suppose that I have the historian’s Sitzfleisch and critical nous to arrive at an authoritative account of the origin and development of the Plague Cross tradition, but I thought I might go a little earlier than the late nineteenth century. I came up with several sources, some of which skew markedly toward the occult(!) (toward which I have no inclination), but one of which cited a Franciscan source for not only a slightly different Plague Cross, but a full liturgy for the expulsion of malign influences, the plague in particular, from a given site. The liturgy in question is associated with the name of Bernard [a/k/a Bernardo, Bernhard] Sannig, OFM, ‘Bernard of Silesia’, a man of considerable prominence in Czech ecclesiastical history, but who has left only a scant trace in English-language literature. This is a shame among liturgy nerds, since the source in which I found his ‘Remedium contra Pestem’ — Collectio Absolutionum Benedictionum Conjurationum Exorcismorum, Rituum, et Ceremoniarum Ecclesiasticarum, et Administrationis Sacramentorum; nec non Modum Visitande et Adjuvani Infirmos, Opus Parochis, et Curam Animarum Gerentibus Perutile, et Necessarium — includes boatloads of other rites and ceremonies. He evidently published not only this Collectio, but also a Rituale Franciscanum and a more general Rituale ecclesiasticum and a popular hymnal. Sannig has a long, detailed Wikipedia page in Czech, but none whatsoever in English. (You may wish to read the Google Translate version of the Czech page, which does a good job — so far as I can tell — of conveying his life and career.) The edition of the Collectio that I found via Google Books was printed in 1842, but goes back to the early eighteenth century (Venetiis, apud Jo. Baptistam Recurti, 1736). Sooner or later, I’ll go track that down, too.
Anyway, finding out about Bernard/Bernardo/Bernhard took a long time, making a good Inkscape svg of his version of the Plague Cross likewise (though I’m getting somewhat more proficient at Inkscape), and I spent the rest of the afternoon working on a translation of the Remedium contra Pestem. Then an afternoon Rosary with SMMS, pizza, and the second Jurassic Park film.