Music of the Millennium

A Dramatic Performance of the Apostolic Liturgy for Saint Martial by Ademar of Chabannes

New York's Ensemble for Early Music (Frederick Renz, director)

Saturday, 2 November 1996, 8 PM

Marsh Chapel, 735 Commonwealth Avenue

(BU Central Stop on the Green "B" Line)

Tickets: $10, $5 for students and seniors

Historical Background

In 1029, some four years before the millennium of the Passion, Ademar of Chabannes prepared a new apostolic liturgy for the patron saint of Limoges, Martial. The legend that had grown up around Martial in the previous decades expressed many of the themes of the millennial generation (1000-1033): the importance of Jerusalem and the apostolic life; the value of relic cults and pilgrimage; the centrality of the Peace of God as both a popular religious movement, and a penitential movement among the warrior aristocracy. Ademar's liturgy was a bold effort to capitalize on the groundswell of support for this cult. Nonetheless, it foundered on the rocks of ecclesiastical jealousy and a wavering popular support that, when threatened with divine chastisement for supporting such innovation, abandoned Ademar and his monastic following.

Although plans for the performance of Ademar's apostolic liturgy began smoothly on August 3, 1029, they were interrupted shortly before it was to begin by a boisterous public debate between Ademar and his enemies. The show apparently went on, but the apostolic project was still-born. By dawn on the following day, Ademar was slinking out of the city, his project a failure. The apostolic liturgy survived, however, among the 1000 folios of autograph manuscript that Ademar prepared including many pages of forgeries describing his success in blunting the attacks of his enemies and then left behind at Limoges before making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where he would die. Even after the apostolicity of their patron was reintroduced two generations later, the monks of Saint-Martial never again performed Ademar's apostolic mass.


This apostolic liturgy has recently been transcribed by the distinguished musicologist, James Grier of Yale University. Professor Grier, along with New York's Ensemble for Early Music (director, Frederick Renz), has agreed to supervise and stage a performance of Ademar's apostolic liturgy for St. Martial, for the first time in nearly 1000 years.

See also: Richard Landes, Relics, Apocalypse, and the Deceits of History: Ademar of Chabannes, 989-1034 (Harvard University Press, 1995), chapters 10-13.

This program is funded in part by the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities,
a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Return to Events Page

Return to CMS Home Page

Copyright ©1996 by center for millennial studies - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED