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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Quasimodo: In song and story

(Cuasimodo celebration in Chile)
Quasimodo Sunday is the Sunday after Easter, so-called because of the incipit (first Latin words) of the introit
(“entrance” chant) traditionally used by the Catholic Church on that day. 

This chant begins with quasi modo geniti infantes (English
translation:  “as if in the manner of newborn babes”).  The full chant, which was derived from wording within 1 Peter 2:2, reads as follows:  As newborn babes, alleluia, long for pure spiritual milk, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.  Rejoice in honor of God our helper; shout for joy to the God of Jacob.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the “newborn babes” are the newly-baptized Easter neophytes, as well as all those who are renewed through the Resurrection.

Ironically, a fictional character who was named after this historical tradition has become even more generally known than the tradition itself.  Victor Hugo’s Quasimodo, after whom The Hunchback of Notre Dame was named, was an outcast from the start.  Abandoned as a newborn babe, he was discovered on the foundlings’ bed at the Cathedral of Notre Dame on Quasimodo Sunday.  Hugo described him as having a huge wart that covered his left eye, as well as an extremely hunched back.  Wikipedia reports that, although Quasimodo was certainly named after the day on which he was found, the name “Quasimodo” also implies that he was merely “as if in the manner of” a person rather than fully human.

Quasimodo Sunday is also referred to as the Octave of Easter (occurring on Easter’s eighth day), as St. Thomas Sunday (referring to the “Doubting Thomas” scriptural passages that are read on that day), as Low Sunday (perhaps in relation to “high” Easter Sunday), and – more recently (initiated by Pope John Paul II) – as Divine Mercy Sunday (in honor of St. Faustina, whom he canonized).  Pope Benedict XVI will be
beatifying Pope John Paul II on Divine Mercy Sunday - May 1, 2011.


Copyright May 1, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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