81110 Dourgne,
Tarn, France
 Tel: (33) 5 63 50 32 37
Benedictines, Subiaco Congregation
(Founded in 1890)

  • Latin/English, Editions d'En Calcat, 1955/1956  complete Psalter (with psalm titles & NT titles), OT Canticles  distributed over 5 weeks  

  • Matins used only as a Sunday and Festal (1st Order feasts) vigil office;

  • Daily Lectionary (read at the beginning of Compline) from  Scripture, Fathers (Patristic) Contemporary Doctors;  

  • Martyrology  

  • Veritas Horarum (hours to be prayed at proper times)  

  • Day's office no longer than the Officium Parvum.

  • (requested by Rome: Congregation for Religious)  prepared for communities with a more Marian spirituality and  who wished more variety than the Officium Parvum.  

  • Latin/English, Darton Longman & Todd, 1962  complete Psalter distributed over 2 weeks  

  • Seasonal, Festal Offices, Commons & Commemorations  

  • Complete daily Lectionary



Fr. Urbain Seres, OSB (ca 1947)

 Fr. Marie de Floris, OSB

Abp. Gabriel-Marie Garrone

  • Coadjutor Abp. of Toulouse (1947)

  • Abp. of Toulouse (1956)

  • Pro-Prefect, Congregation of Catholic Education (1966)

  • Cardinal Prefect (1967-1980)



     Several circumstances converged to bring the Benedictines of En Calcat into the world of "short breviaries".

         First, there was Pius XII's Encyclical, Mediator Dei of 1947, in which he encouraged greater participation of active (teaching, hospital, etc.) communities of Sisters and Brothers, as well as lay people, in the liturgical life of the Church, including the Divine Office. The Encyclical was, in so many ways, an approval by Rome of the liturgical movement (begun in the previous century by Prosper Gueranger, OSB,  of Solesmes, but made a pastoral movement by Lambert Beauduin, OSB,  at the Malines Conference in 1909) throughout the Catholic world. 

         Second, Father Urbain Seres, a monk at En Calcat, was profoundly involved in the CNPL (The French national center for liturgical activity) and was concerned with the pastoral ramifications of the liturgy in the life of communities of active Sisters, Brothers and lay people.

         Third, Archbishop Garrone had been appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Toulouse, and throughout his life as Archbishop, then Cardinal and Prefect of the Roman Curia's Congregation for Catholic Education, added his encouragement, support and literary talents to the efforts at En Calcat.

         Fourth, the Abbey had recently received a legacy (financial gift).

        Fifth, several communities approached the monks for an office which would provide a  liturgical prayer, a complete office providing the best of the existing Roman Breviary, but well able to be included in the schedule of a busy community's (or individual's) day.

After several meetings which included the monks, Archbishop Garrone (who translated the psalms in French), Canon Rene Desjardins (who was responsible for the hymns), the Abbe Viale (who decided on the final lectionary), and others in 1948, the Abbot, Fr. Marie de Floris, decided to use some of the funds from the legacy for the project of preparing a new office and provided all the monks an opportunity to become actively involved in the liturgical movement.

The team would meet, study, share ideas, then develop and publish, with the Abbey as publisher, a new office.  By 1950, a typed manuscript was more or less ready.

Guiding Principles
  • The book would be called   Livre d' Heures  The complete Psalter would be  used - (the new Pius XII Latin version and a new French version of the same translated by Archbishop Garrone).
  • The principle of veritas horarum would be used (the hours would be prayed at their correct time of day or evening or night).
  • Readings would be provided for each day of the year: scripture, according to time tested usage of the Church; patristic lessons would be included, as well as a daily Gospel pericope.
  • Matins (the night office) would be used only as a Vigil office for Sundays and certain high ranking Feasts;  during the week, the office would begin with Lauds.
  • A Martyrology would be included.
  • The psalms would be distributed over 5 weeks (4 weeks of psalmody, the 5th week -  canticles from the Old Testament).
  • The Sunday office would remain the same for each of the 5 weeks.
  • The office would not exceed the length of the Little Office of the BVM (then used by several communities and lay persons).
  • Both Latin (the Pius XII Psalter of 1945) and French would be provided, as many communities were international.
  • The Monks would assist, with liturgical catechesis,  those communities which adopted the new text.  There would be seminars, a demonstration record, & a ceremonial. 
After the 2nd Vatican Council, when the Consilium (the Vatican agency responsible for new liturgical texts mandated by the Council reforms) prepared the new Liturgia Horarum (first edition, 1972), it used many of the same principles of Livre d'Heures.


Livre d'Heures

  • The first edition of Livre d'Heures appeared in 1952;  with assistance from the Monks, 8 communities started using it immediately.

  • By the end of 1952, there were 20 communities, (about 5300 Sisters and Brothers) and several lay persons using it. 

  • In July 1953, a (phonograph) record was produced and a ceremonial booklet was printed;  work also began on a Latin/English edition, as well as editions in Latin/Spanish, Latin/Italian,  Latin/Portuguese, with the collaboration of non-French abbeys.  Many of the French communities who used the new book were international in membership and wanted vernacular translations as well as the Latin for all their members. 

  • A second all French edition ("pocket") was prepared in 1954. 

  • By December 1955, the first half of the Latin/English edition, the "office" section with the Psalter (Fides psalms and Old Testament Canticles translated by Mary Perkins Ryan) had been printed by Joh. Enschede in Holland; the Lectionary and Martyrology were completed by June, 1956.  Book of Hours was available in a 1 or 2 volume set. 

  • By 1956, Livre d'Heures was the community liturgical prayer of  80 Congregations in France, England, Australia, Belgium, Spain, Burma, Cameroun, Canada, Egypt, US, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Japan, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malta, Peru, Turkey and Venezuela.  More communities would join the roster over the next several years. 

  • An all English edition was planned for publication in 1966-1967, but the project was abandoned because of the newly adopted policies at Rome of both the Congregation for Religious and the Consilium (responsible for new liturgical texts) , both of which wanted communities to move away from short breviaries (including the Little Office of the BVM)  and adopt the Roman Breviary (in whole or in part) and the forthcoming Liturgia Horarum, (in whole or in part.)  Pope Paul VI's own Motu Proprio, Ecclesiae Sanctae (6 August, 1966) emphasized the same ideas.

The Office of Our Lady
  • Some active religious communities were "Marian" in their outlook and spirituality, and even in their prayer life.  Several of them had adopted, or had written into their constitutions (rules of life), that the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Officium Parvum) would be their liturgical prayer.
  • Even with the 1953 publication of Cardinal Bea's "Amplior" edition (which enhanced the Little Office to some degree), the majority of the psalms would never be used, nor would there be provision for a daily lectionary, a Gospel pericope, proper Feasts and other commemorations.
  • Many communities sought help from The Congregation for Religious in Rome, and the Congregation asked the Monks of En Calcat to prepare an office to meet the liturgical prayer needs of these communities.  Fr. Dominique Hermant, OSB, was put in charge of the project, and with the collaboration of the monks and others, an initial all Latin edition (a prototype) was sent to several communities and to Rome for reaction and feedback.
  • Cardinal Valeri, Prefect of the Congregation for Religious in 1955, approved the project, and the Abbey began the work of preparing the first edition (in Latin/French), which was printed in a 2-volume set by Tardy in 1959. 

Fr. Dominique Hermant, OSB, today

  • Again, because of the international membership of many of the communities, other editions needed to be prepared, and the collaboration of non French abbeys was sought and arranged.
  • The 2-volume Latin/English edition, published by Darton, Longman & Todd, appeared in 1962; the German edition, printed by Herder & Co., appeared in 1963. 
  • A Latin/Spanish edition followed shortly, and a Dutch edition, published privately by the Archbishop of Utrecht, was also printed. 
  • The Office of Our Lady, although initially requested and approved by the Congregation of Religious, was, after 1966, along with other short breviaries,  not encouraged for use by communities, who were urged to adopt all or part of the Roman Breviary and its successor, the Liturgia Horarum

From left to right:  Fr. Louis Arnal, OSB, monk of  En Calcat,
and at the time of this photo (1959), Procurator General
for the Subiaco Congregation of Benedictines,
Pope John XXIII,
Fr. German Barbier, OSB, Abbot of En Calcat (1953-1965),
and Fr. Dominique Hermant, OSB, who had primary responsibility for the
preparation and publication of the various editions of The Office of Our Lady,
and who was Abbot from 1965 to 1978.  

Pope John, when he was Papal Nuncio to France (1944-1953) had made a private retreat at En Calcat.  Fr. Barbier, then prior, was his retreat Master.

The occasion for this photo  was the Abbey's presentation of a copy
of The Office of Our Lady to the Holy Father during a private audience (ca. 1959).

Photos courtesy of the Benedictine Monks of En Calcat.

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