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NECKAM


734


NECROLOGIES


Neckam (Xecham), Ai.f.xander of, English scholar; 1). in Hertfordshire, 1157; (1. lit Koinpsey, Woroestershire, V217. llis first studioa were in the abbey .school of St. .\lbans; his higher courses began in Paris, in the school of IV'tit I'ons. In IISO he com- menced his career as teacher with great success, hi.s comprehensive knowU'dge of philosophy and of theol- ogy, and his Latin st_\le, both in prose and verse, at- tracting many students to his lectures. Returning to England in il.'^G, he was first appointed teacher at Dunstable, and afterwards at St. Albans. After join- ing the .Vugustinian Order, he was chosen, in 1213, Abbot of Cirencester.

Neckam was a prolific writer on various subjects, but his works are, for the most part, still in manu- script. He wrote a grammar, commentaries on Scripture and the works of Aristotle, theological trea- tises, and sermons. He also translated the Fables of jEsop into elegiac verse. Only two of his works, however, have been printed: the "De naturis rerum" and the poem "Dc laudibus divinae sapientix" (ed. Th. Wright in Rolls Series). In the former he dis- cusses the heavens, thestars, the atmosphere, the earth, water, and living organisms. Neckam is the first European author to mention the mariners' compass.

Hc.NT in Diet, of Sat. Biogr.. s. v.; F£ret. La facuUt de theologie de I'unirersUi de Paris . . . moyen ige, 1 (Paris, 1894). 268-70; Hctiter, Komendator. II (Innsbruck, 1906). 224-25; Histoire lit- Urairede la France, XVIII (Paris, 1S35), 521-23.

J. P. KiRSCH.

Necrologies, or, as they are more frequently called in France, ohituain.'s, are the registers in which religious communities were accustomed to enter the names of the dead — notably their own deceased mem- bers, their associates, and their principal benefactors — with a view to the offering of prayers for their souls. The institutions which maintained such necrologies dilTercd almost a-s much as the form in which the en- tries were made. There are necrologies connected with cathedral chapters, others (and those the most numerous) belonging to monasteries and religious houses, others to colleges, such as, e. g. the Sorbonne (in Molinier et Longnon, "Obituaires", I, 737-52), others to collegiate churches, others again to parishes, while, as for the registers themselves, some are drawn up in the form of marginal entries in martyrologies or calendars, others form a book apart, but arranged according to the days of the month, others again are mere disorderly lists of names, which seem to have been written down just as they were sent in, or as occasion arose. Not less diversified are the names by which these i-egisters were known. Perhaps the commonest was marlyrologium, because they often took the form of mere additions to the martyrologium, or list of martyrs and saints commemorated on each day. We find also necrologium, memoriale morluo- rum, or memoHale fralrum, morluologium, liber obi- luum, and, more rarely, obittuiriiis, sometimes, owing to its connexion with the calendar, calendarium, some- times, because the mon;i.stic rule was commonly bound up in the same book, liber reguhe or simply regula, sometimes, from the occasion when it was read aloud, liber cai>ituli (chapter book), sometimes, in reference to the entries of the names of benefactors, liber fundationuni, or liber bencfaclorum. Also, al- though Molinier seems to contest this usage ("Lea Obituaires frangais", p. 22), such a collection of names, consisting largely of benefactors, was occasion- ally called liber vikr (book of life).

No better description of the purposes served by those lists and of the spirit which animated the whole institution of necrologies can be foundl than that contained in the preface to the Winchester book of the eleventh century known as the "Hyde Register". In spite of its length, it deserves to be quoted entire: "Behold, in the name of God Almighty and of our Lord Jesua Christ and of His most Holy Mother, the


cver-stainlesa Virgin Mary, and also of the twelve holy Apostles by whose teaching I lie world is rcinlcred glorious in the true faith, to whose lioiiiiiir lliis Min- ster, wliich is called the New Minster in (lisliMcliiin to the old monastery hard by, there are set down here in due order the names of brethren and monks, of members of the household also \J(innlinriorum (sic)), or of benefactors living and dead, that by the perish- able memorial of this writing they may be written in the page of the heavenly book, by the virtue of whose almsdeeds this same family, through Christ's bounty, is fed. And let also the names of all those who have commended themselves to its prayers and its fellow- ship be recorded here in general, in order that remem- brance may be made of them daily in the sacred cele- bration of the Mass or in the harmonious chanting of psalms. And let the names themselves be pre- sented daily by the subdeacon before the altar at the early or principal Mass, and as far as time shall allow let them be recited by him in the sight of the Most High. And after the oblation has been ofTered to God by the right hand of the cardinal priest who cele- brates the Mass, let the names be laid upon the holy altar during the very mysteries of the sacred Mass and be commended most humbly to God Almighty; so that as remembrance is made of them upon earth [sicut eorum meinoria agitur in terris — a phrase from the Ordinarium Missa;], so in the life to come, by His indulgence who alone knows how they stand or are hereafter to stand in His sight, the glory of those who are of greater merit may be augmented in Heaven and the account of those who are less worthy may be lightened in His secret judgments. Be ye glad and re- joice that your names are written in Heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with God the Eternal Father and the Holy Ghost, there remains all honour, power, and glory for ever and ever. Amen."

This account is particularly interesting, because, although the laying of the necrology upon the altar during Mass afterwards fell into disuse, and the names were read in chapter instead of in choir, still the extract clearly shows that the book of obituaries had its ori- gin in the old "diptychs" (see Diptych), or tablets, upon which were formerly entered the names which were read out by the priest at the Commemoration of the Living and the Commemoration of the Dead in the Canon of the Mass. So far as can be seen, the recitation of the names of the defunct bishops in the diptychs was later on represented by the reading of the martyrologium proper, while the commemoration of benefactors and other deceased was retained in the form of a necrology. It will be remembered that in the everyday Requiem Mass {missa quolidiana de- fundorum) of our Missals, the priest is first directed to pray "pro defunctis episcopis seu sacerdotibus", next "pro fratribus, propinquis et benefactoribus", and lastly "pro omnibus fidelibus defunctis". This corresponds to the classification here, viz. of those included in the martyrologium, those named in the necrology, and those not specially mentioned at all. The entry of the names of the dead in the register of a monastery or other religious institution, and the con- sequent participation in the prayers and good works of all its members, was a privilege which, from the eighth century onward, was greatly coveted. Such mutual rights of the insertion of the names of de- ceased brethren in each other's necrologies was a con- stant subject of negotiation between different abbeys, etc., and at a somewhat later date it became the cus- tom for monasteries to send messengers with "mor- tuary rolls" (roluli) requesting the promise of prayers which were to be entered on the roll and engaging the senders to pray for the deceased brethren of the mon- asteries who rendered them this service. (But for this see Rotuli.)

Although the entries in the extant necrologies of monasteries and cathedrals are generally of the brief-