Feast of Asses

Feast Of Asses a ridiculous festival of the Roman Catholic Church, celebrated in Rouen and some other cities of France, to commemorate the flight into Egypt. It was not uniformly observed, but the following were generally among the ceremonies, especially at Beauvais. A young woman with a child in her arms was made to ride on an ass. Followed by the bishop and clergy, she was conducted to the church, and a sermon was preached, in which the high qualities of the animal that enabled the Virgin and child to escape from Herod were lauded. During the ceremony, a ludicrous composition, half Latin, half French, was sung with great vociferation, in praise of the ass, of which the last stanza may serve as a specimen:

"Amen dicas asine Jam satur de gramine Amen, amen itera Aspernare vetera. Hez va! Hez va! Hez va! Hez! Bialx sire asnez, car allez, Belle bonche car chantez"

In Rouen it was celebrated about Christmas; in other places, as, for instance, at Beauvais, on the 14th of June. Several popes, papal legates, and bishops endeavored to suppress it, but it maintained itself until the 15th century, when Nicholas de Clemangis, by his work Dae novis celebritatibus non instituendis, and especially the Council of Basle by a decree, caused the suppression of this and a number of similar festivals.-- Ducange, s.v. Festum Asinorum; Moreri, s.v. Fete; Schrockh, Kirchen- Geschichte, vol. 28; Wetzer u. Welte, Kirchen-Lex. 4:710.

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