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date: 14 October 2019

Divine Officelocked

  • Ruth Steiner
  • , revised by Keith Falconer


A series of worship services performed in the course of each day and night in the Roman Catholic Church. After discussion of the Office’s early origins, this article describes the Divine Office as it is presented in manuscripts of the Middle Ages; for information on its structure and content after the reform of the breviary called for by the Council of Trent and completed in 1568 under Pius V, and that of Pius X (1911), see Righetti and Pascher. Vatican Council II called for a fundamental renewal of the Divine Office; the Latin text to implement this was published in 1972 under the title Liturgia horarum (see Liturgy of the Hours).

The origins of the Divine Office may be traced back to early Christian customs of praying at regular times of the day. These times included the early morning and late evening, and sometimes the third, sixth and ninth hours. Such prayer, though probably private in the earliest centuries, became public no later than the emancipation of Christianity under Constantine (313). The Divine Office already existed in a variety of forms and with differing customs by the end of the 4th century, and services may have retained a certain looseness of structure for as much as a hundred years after this....

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