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Catholic World News News Feature

Mozarabic Rite Celebration at St. Peter's December 15, 2000

VATICAN, Dec. 15, 00 (CWNews.com) -- Archbishop Francisco Alvarez Martinez of Toledo, Spain, will preside at the celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy in the Mozarabic rite in St. Peter's Basilica on Saturday, December 16.

This will be the third time that the Mozarabic rite has been used in the Vatican basilica. During the Second Vatican Council the Archbishop of Toledo presided at a Mozarabic ceremony. And again on May 28, 1992, Pope John Paul himself presided at a Mozarabic liturgical celebration of the feast of the Ascension.

The Mozarabic rite arose in Spain during the 8th century, when the country was under Muslim domination. When Pope Gregory VII extended the Roman rite to what was then the known Christian world, there was some resistance in Spain-- particularly among faithful Christians who lived in regions heavily influenced by the dominant Muslim culture. Those who resisted became known as "Mozarabs"-- the term used to identify Christians who had submitted to Islam.

The city of Toledo soon became a center of the Mozarabic liturgy, and the Christian tradition was preserved there through the centuries, despite Islamic pressure. In fact the Mozarabic rite became a focal point of Christian unity in Spain during the years when the society was under Muslim control.

In the 11th century, when Alphonse VI of Castille arrived in Toledo to reassert Christian control, the fate of the Mozarabic rite again became a controversial issue. Eventually a compromise was reached, allowing the used of the Mozarabic liturgy in six parish churches of Toledo. The Mozarabic tradition endures today in Toledo in among perhaps 1,000 Christian families elsewhere in the world.

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