Claudio Salvucci is the founder of Evolution Publishing, where he served as editor and compiler of the American Language Reprint series (1996-2007), the Annals of Colonial North America series (2002-2005), and the ALR Supplement series (2008-2013), specializing in historic Algonquian and Iroquoian vocabularies and texts. After discovering the Indian Masses and finding they were almost unknown in liturgical and Catholic circles, he devoted himself to studying them and promoting them via his book The Roman Rite in the Algonquian and Iroquoian Missions and via articles in Latin Mass Magazine, New Liturgical Movement, and Liturgical Arts Journal. He founded Ancilla Press in 2015 to publish devotional books and to revitalize American Catholicism through its own native traditions. In 2020 he was asked to be Communications Director for the North American Province of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter; there he continues to study the Roman liturgy while editing the Meménto newsletter, the Missive blog, and the yearly calendar and Ordo.
A liturgical project aiming to preserve the Indian Masses
of the Native American Missions
The name Gradual (Graduale Romanum) is also used for the book that contains the music sung by the choir at Mass. The name comes from this most important chant, but the book contains the plain-song music for the Ordinary…and all the Propers for the year.
The inclusion of all the different uses together in one book will enable the Gradual of the Seven Nations to be used not only for a complete cycle of year-round Masses by historic missions such as Kahnawake and Odanak, but also for occasional Indian Masses on feasts, celebrations, and gatherings of Native American interest. This combination of local and universal should make it particularly adaptable and well suited to preserve these liturgies into posterity.
Ancilla Press hopes to eventually publish the Gradual of the Seven Nations as a full-fledged liturgical book that befits its service in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. But at present we are still in the early stages of compilation.
Our first task is to collect and clean up all the relevant chants and then lay them out in a way that is accessible to modern choirs. Some amount of rearrangement of the originals will be necessary, and in a few cases where only manuscripts of the Masses exist, these will need to be typeset.
We have decided to progress through each of the various liturgies one at a time, and then retain these as chapters in the final Gradual.
To raise money and gauge interest in the project, Ancilla Press will be making each different Indian Mass available in spiral-bound editions suitable for choir use.
First to be published is the Use of Kanesatake, which you can read more about in an article of mine for Liturgical Arts Journal. Though a quite archaic and rather simple liturgy, with only a handful of Introits and Mass settings, the Kanesatake Use can be used for a wide array of seasonal and common Masses.
We also could use your spiritual support, particularly prayers for the successful conclusion of the project and the restoration of the Indian Mass to North American Catholicism.
This year of 2023 marks the 350th anniversary of the death of Catherine Gandeaktena, who is in many ways the patroness of this project. Before she died in the odor of sanctity on November 6th 1673, she had co-founded the mission of St. Francis Xavier in Kahnawake and forged a devout Catholic community out of converts from 20 different nations. Kahnawake would become the home and final resting place of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, and the capital of the Catholic confederacy known as the Seven Indian Nations of Canada. Its liturgical tradition was the most highly developed of all the missions, so it will have the honor of being the very first section in the Gradual of the Seven Nations.