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Justin Martyr (Apol., I, 65), who writes: "When we have completed the prayers we salute one another with a kiss [ allelous philemati aspazometha pausamenoi ton euchon ], whereupon there is brought to the president bread and a cup of wine." This passage clearly shows that in the middle of the second century the usage already obtained — a usage now claimed as distinctive of the liturgies other than Roman — of exchanging the kiss of peace at the beginning of what we call the Offertory. Myst., v, 3) speaking of the time between the washing of the celebrant's hands and the Sursum Corda which introduces the Anaphora, or Preface, says, "Then the deacon cries out aloud: 'Embrace ye one another and let us salute each other. In Rome, however, the kiss of peace was more closely united to the Communion, and it must have followed shortly after the Pater Noster as it does at present. XXXVIII, 1101): "After this [the Lord's prayer ], Pax vobiscum is said, and the faithful salute each other with the kiss which is the sign of peace." The Roman Ordines, the Stowe Missal which represents Irish usage at an early date, and a chorus of liturgical writers from the eighth century onwards attest that wherever Roman influence prevailed the Pax invariably followed the great consecratory prayer and the Pater.
The language of many Oriental Fathers and of certain conciliary canons further confirms this conclusion as to the primitive position of the Pax. Thus Pope Innocent I in his letter to Decentius ( A. 416) blames the practice of those who give the Pax before the Consecration and urges that it was meant as a token that "the people give their assent to all things already performed in the mysteries". lt is easy to understand that the usage which placed the kiss of peace before the Offertory Was prompted by the remembrance of those words of our Lord (Mat., v, 23-24): "If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath anything against thee; leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother: and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift." It seems to be pretty generally held that this position before the Offertory was the primitive position of the liturgical kiss of peace even at Rome. However, the rival theory, that there were originally two occasions when the kiss of peace was given, one before the Offertory and the other before the Communion, does not lack probability; for St.
It is in accordance with this symbolism, so universally understood and practised, that the Church enjoins the kissing of many holy objects, e.g.
The prohibition against kissing the dead which was issued by the Council of Auxerre, A.
It 578, almost certainly had some relation to the abuse at that time prevalent of placing the Blessed Sacrament in the mouth of the dead or burying It with them.
It may be added that throughout the Middle Ages an almost religious solemnity attached to the public exchange of a kiss as a token of amity.
Remarkable examples of this may be found in the history of the quarrels of Henry II with St. Cordis", 1, 3) speak in a similar tone and use language which implies that the Pax preceded the oblation of the elements.