« Ass, Brothers of the Ass, Feast of the Asseburg, Rosamunde Juliane von »

Ass, Feast of the

ASS, FEAST OF THE: A popular entertainment provided by the Church in the Middle Ages in several cities of France. The aim, as in the miracle-plays, mysteries, moralities, and many minor points of the ritual, was to impress the facts of Bible history upon the minds of the ignorant, and to give general religious instruction. At Rouen a drama was presented at Christmas-tide, in which the prophets, Moses, Aaron, John the Baptist and his parents, Simeon, Nebuchadnezzar, Vergil, and the Sibyl appeared in appropriate dress and announced the coming of a redeemer. The story of Balaam was one of the scenes, and the ass was made to speak by the help of a priest concealed between the legs. At Beauvais a young woman with a child in her arms, and mounted on an ass, was led in procession through the streets on Jan. 14, in commemoration of the flight to Egypt. Mass was then said, during which “hinham” was substituted for certain of the usual responses. There was a similar festival at Sens, and an ass’s feast at Madrid on Jan. 17, in the course of which the story of Balaam’s ass was recited. In the fifteenth century these feasts were forbidden because abuse had crept in and they had become a scandal. The ass naturally figured frequently in Palm Sunday processions, and a picture of an ass was often introduced in the churches at that time. See Boy-Bishop; Fools, Feast of.

Bibliography: S. du Tilliot, Mémoires pour servir à l’histoirs de la fête des fous, p. 14, Lausanne, 1741; C. F. du Cange, Glossarium, s.v. “#8220;Festum asinorum”

« Ass, Brothers of the Ass, Feast of the Asseburg, Rosamunde Juliane von »
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