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The Sarum rite was the traditional rule of liturgical worship for Catholics in England, and to some extent in the rest of the British Isles, for many years. It is related to the Roman rite, and to various other historical regional or diocesan versions. It is not used today, though I gather there are still Catholics and Anglo-Catholics who are interested in it (and even some Orthodox churches).

I've heard two stories about why it's defunct. Both relate to the restoration of the hierarchy in England, and of normal church order, in the nineteenth century.

  1. English Catholics were asked whether they wanted to retain Sarum or adopt the Roman rite, and they chose the latter.
  2. Despite the wishes of the local populace, Rome imposed its own rite in a quest for global liturgical conformity.

Which of these, if either, is true?

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And here I thought the was going to be about the Lord of the Rings. – jackweinbender Jun 29 '13 at 14:18
up vote 3 down vote accepted

In addition to Wikipedia, I find the Catholic Encyclopedia useful for historical queries. It has an article on the Sarum Use.

The Use of Sarum was initiated there (=Salisbury) in the eleventh century and spread throughout southern England. It was suppressed by the English Reformation and especially during the reign of Elizabeth I.

Catholic Encyclopedia notes: During the few years of the reign of Mary Tudor an attempt was made in England to resuscitate the Sarum Use, which lingered on for sometime afterwards among the Seminary priests of persecution times; but it is now wholly obsolete, except, as the reader will have remarked, in so far as the Dominican, Carmelite and kindred Uses, cling, like that of Sarum, to certain liturgical practices derived from early Roman discipline, but which the Church has allowed to fall into desuetude.

That is, once Catholicism was outlawed, the Use of Sarum with its associated ceremonial became all but impossible to celebrate outside seminaries, and even they were suppressed. When catholics became tolerated again (with the Catholic Relief Act of 1778), and restored in 1829, it was the Tridentine Rite to which English Catholics turned as that was most readily accessed from the continent.

Neither of your options is really true: it was never suppressed by Rome, but it wasn't really a realistic option to recover.

As Matthew has noted in his answer, Anglicanorum coetibus has allowed Anglicans to join the Church [Yours Truly included], bringing their patrimony with them. It is a little ironic that elements of the Sarum Use are being re-introduced to the English Church with Anglicans influenced by the Oxford Movement, which made a conscious effort to draw on "English" pre-Reformation practices within the context allowed by law.

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I cannot answer your question concerning exactly how the English moved away from this Rite. As I understand it this Rite was never officially suppressed by Rome. The Rite however is not completely defunct.

The Catholic church recently authorized an Anglican Use Rite. Pope Benedict promulgated this in 2009 with the document Anglicanorum coetibus. (We are blessed at my parish to have a priest with 5 children and a wife!) Parts of the Sarum Rite are used in this and there is discussion of reviving the entire Rite for Catholic Anglican Use parishes. The text of the document would allow this. The difficulty as I understand it is that this Rite would be unfamiliar to most Anglicans coming into communion with Rome. I hear that there are some Western Orthodox who use this rite as well as some high Anglicans who preserve it.

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