Christ the Eternal High Priest in Two Images by Maximilian Schmalzl, C.Ss.R.
Fr Neil J. Roy, S.T.L., Ph.D.
Featured on the cover of the Ordo offered by Romanitas Press is an engraving of Christ the Eternal High Priest designed by Br. Schmalzl (+1930). Fr. Roy explains the profound theology behind the details of the image.
Republished from the journal, Antiphon [14.1 (2010), pgs 17-29], with the author's kind permission.
Fr Neil J. Roy, S.T.L., Ph.D., is a priest of the Diocese of Peterborough, Ontario, and taught Liturgy and Sacramental Theology at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. He recently edited Benedict XVI and the Sacred Liturgy: The Proceedings of the First International Conference on the Sacred Liturgy, Fota Island, Ireland, 12 July 2008 (Dublin: Four Courts, 2010).
* * * * *
…Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,
“Thou art my Son, Today I have begotten thee”; As he says also in another place, “Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek.”
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. (Heb 5:5-10)
Of all the books of the Bible, the Letter to the Hebrews presents the most sustained and penetrating treatment of Jesus Christ as the new and eternal high priest appointed by God to redeem the human race from sin and its consequences. Of unknown authorship, Hebrews has been identified by the Jesuit exegete Albert Vanhoye and others as a homily rather than a letter, indeed a homily delivered in the context of an actual celebration of the Eucharist. Whatever may be its original literary format and venue, Hebrews explains that Jesus “has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (Heb 6:20). Cistercian scholar Roch A. Kereszty, in a brilliant exposition of the eucharistic references in Hebrews, notes the extended exegetical treatment of Psalm (109)110 Dixit Dominus addressed to a Hebrew-speaking audience in or near Italy, possibly even at Rome:
Apart from the short (and probably later) addition of the epistolary conclusion (13:19, 22-25), Hebrews is not a letter but a work of ancient Christian exegesis in the literary form of a homily, and …a homily at a eucharistic service. Within the homily, Psalm 110 fulfills a structurally decisive role, with its verses 1 and 4 serving as a refrain, unifying the important points of the doctrinal exposition. By means of this psalm the author shows that Jesus, the preexistent Son, is both the promised royal and priestly Messiah. Even though it is described in the cultic terms of the expiatory rites as performed by the high priest on Yom Kippur (Leviticus 16), Christ’s sacrifice is not the performance of a ritual. It is his freely given obedience to God from the beginning of his earthly life that culminates in the voluntary offering of his body (10:1-10) and in the entry into the heavenly sanctuary through his blood (9:12, 14; 10:19).
Hebrews provides particularly insightful commentary on the mysterious figure and role of Melchizedek. Mentioned first in the Book of Genesis, Melchizedek emerges in sacred Scripture after Abram’s defeat of the kings at Hobah, north of Damascus:
After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Maker of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High,who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. (Gen 14:17- 20)
Melchizedek figures again in Psalm (109)110 Dixit Dominus, familiar to many as the first psalm of Vespers II on Sundays:
The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Ps 110:4)
Regarding the mysterious king and high priest Melchizedek, Genesis affords but little information. The reference to Melchizedek in Psalm (109)110 likewise serves merely as a passing allusion. Hebrews, by contrast, furnishes quite a few details about this figure. In point of fact, the mysterious king (melekh) of justice (zedek) and of peace ([Jeru]salem/shalom) is mentioned in Hebrews eight times: 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:1, 10, 11, 15, 17. Hebrews discourses at length on the superiority of the order of Melchizedek over that of Aaron. We are indebted to Hebrews likewise for the unambiguous identification of Jesus with the order of the priest-king Melchizedek:
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him; and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, and has neither beginning nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest for ever. (Heb 7:1-3)
Unlike the priesthood of Aaron, which was transmitted from father to son through human generation, the priesthood of Melchizedek constitutes a spiritual order superior to the Aaronic or Levitical priesthood:
One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.
Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not according to a legal requirement concerning bodily descent but by the power of an indestructible life, the power of an indestructible life.
For it is witnessed of him, “Thou art a priest for ever, After the order of Melchizedek.” (Heb 7:9-17)
Whereas the priestly ministry of Aaron and his descendants could not achieve the remission of sins, the high priesthood of Jesus Christ did accomplish, once and for all, the redemption of the human race:
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all in the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. (Heb 9:11-12)
The mystery of Christ’s eternal high priesthood according to the order of Melchizedek finds vivid expression in several images designed by a Bavarian artist whose works likely are best known for their inclusion in multiple editions of the Missale Romanum published in Regensburg, Bavaria by the renowned Verlag Pustet. Friedrich Pustet II (1831-1902), son of the first Friedrich Pustet (1789-1882) who had founded the eponymous publishing house, commissioned a Redemptorist lay-brother, Maximilian Schmalzl (1850-1930), to adorn the frontispiece and other important pages of the Roman Missal with suitable illustrations. Brother Maximilian, replacing the designer-artist Johannes Evangelista Klein, who had died on 8 May 1883, supplied Pustet with two separate illustrations featuring Christ as the eternal high priest described at length in the Epistle to the Hebrews.
The first, a steel engraving in black and white (figure 1), portrays Christ standing directly below the Father and the Holy Spirit. The heavenly realm occupied by the Father and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove is ringed with pearls and framed by a pattern of interlocking scallops. The Lord’s feet are planted not on the altar below him, but on a grape vine just behind the altar, culminating in a cross or tree of life. The sturdy vine shoots forth generous leaves and bears grapes for the Eucharist. At their extremities, the tendrils of the vine enclose fourteen roundels depicting busts of the apostles and evangelists, all of whom gaze upon the sacred host and chalice held aloft in either hand by the Lord Jesus. A beam behind Christ’s shoulders completes the image of the cross thereby suggesting the letter ‘T’, the first letter in the incipit of the Roman Canon: Te igitur. The Lord is arrayed in an appareled alb over which he wears a dalmatic and over that in turn an ample chasuble in the Gothic style. The fringes of a stole hang down beneath the dalmatic. From behind Christ’s halo protrude the ends of the signboard each marked with the letter ‘J’, an obvious reference to the statement of mockery commissioned by Pilate: Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum (Jn 19:19).
In the foreground stands a modest yet solid oblong altar of stone. Two short columns support the mensa or table. The entire altar stands on a stone platform. Just below the mensa, the facing of the altar displays in relief a lamb lying atop a book while a chalice drains out its mystic contents onto the stone platform or support. Wheat sprouts from the ground at either end of the altar.
The hierarchic arrangement of the apostles follows their order in the Roman Canon. Within the arc formed by the biblical scroll and the arms of the cross are Peter and Paul together in the roundel to the right of the Lord’s head (viewer’s left), while Andrew occupies the opposite roundel to the left of the Lord (viewer’s right). The privileged position of these three apostles is reflected elsewhere in the Mass of the Roman Rite, specifically in the prayer Libera nos, immediately following the Lord’s Prayer:
Deliver us, we beseech thee, O Lord, from all evils, past present, and yet to come, and by the intercession of the blessed and glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God, together with thy blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and Andrew, and all the saints, mercifully grant us peace in our days: that by the abundant help of thy mercy we may be always free from sin and secure from all disturbance.
Then from the Lord’s right to his left in descending order come:
James, John (beardless), Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon, Jude Thaddeus, and Matthias. The apostles from Peter to Jude Thaddeus belong to the Communicantes prayer within the Roman Canon. Matthias, who replaced Judas, however, belongs to the Nobis quoque, in the second half of the Canon after the Narrative of Institution and Consecration, directly following the Memento etiam of the dead.
In the top corners above the scroll, and hence apart from the realm of the apostles, the evangelists Mark and Luke look down from slightly smaller roundels toward the Lord. According to tradition, Mark had served as the amanuensis of Peter whereas Luke, a Gentile, had been a disciple of Paul. Consequently, Peter is regarded as the chief source and guide of Mark, whereas Luke’s gospel reflects Paul’s influence. Without the benefits of distinctive attributes to aid us in reading the iconography, it is difficult to identify individual evangelists and apostles. Hierarchical arrangement, evident in the ordering of the apostles below, however, suggests that Mark, in view of his relationship to Peter, deserves the position right of God (viewer’s left) and above Peter, whereas Luke occupies his place on the left of the Deity (viewer’s right).
In the bottom corners, two full-size kneeling figures flank the altar. On Christ’s right (viewer’s left) a crowned and nimbed Melchizedek kneels at the foot of the altar looking intently toward Christ. Melchizedek mirrors Christ, holding in his right hand a host and in his left a chalice. Meanwhile, on Christ’s left, kneels Aaron vested as a high priest of the Old Covenant, complete with turban and ephod (Ex 28:4), his hands folded over his breast. Aaron lacks a halo. A thurible stands at the base of the altar close to Aaron’s bended knee. Unlike Melchizedek, who looks into the face of Christ, Aaron bows his head, not daring even to raise his eyes at the gifts which Christ displays.
A scroll stretches overhead in an arc from one end of the crossbeam to the other proclaiming: Tu es sacerdos secundum ordinem Melchisedech. Ps. 109. The halo of each divine Person of the Trinity features a cross. The Father’s halo divides the word secundum of the scriptural passage on the scroll without obscuring any part of the message. As the Holy Spirit hovers between the Father’s breast and the head of Christ the eternal high priest, the Father raises his right hand in blessing. His thumb and first two fingers proclaim the mystery of the three divine Persons in one God, while his two last fingers are bent in honor of the Son’s two natures: human and divine. The pose resembles the act of blessing used for centuries by the bishops of Rome.
The Father holds his left hand aloft in a gesture of dismissal, as though sending forth the Son the Holy Spirit as his love. For “God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his own will” (Heb 2:4).
This mission of the Spirit recalls the spiritual anointing of the Son by the Father immediately upon his baptism at the Jordan (Mt 3:16-17; Mk 1:9-11; Lk 3:21-22; Jn 1:32-34). In addition to recalling the theophany at the Jordan, the figure may represent an epicletic moment in the Lord’s Eucharist.
Christ gazes heavenward, offering to his Father the life-giving Bread and the saving chalice of the Eucharist. It is significant that the stigmata of the Lord’s passion and death remain visible on his hands and feet. As he offers his eucharistic Body and Blood, the Lord Jesus also shows his heavenly Father the wounds by which he redeemed the human race. It is worth noting that Christ, whose nimbed head pierces the frame of the heavenly realm presents to the Father in eternity the marks of the world’s redemption:
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. …For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. (Heb 9:11-12, 24)
God therefore sealed his covenant by means of an irrevocable oath; hence Christ remains forever an eternal high priest, in contrast to the priesthood of Aaron, which came to an end:
This makes Jesus the surety of a better covenant. The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Heb 7:23-25)
Christ’s priesthood, then, remains spiritual. In other words, it constitutes a priesthood “according to the order of Melchizedek.” Precisely for this reason, Schmalzl has adorned Melchizedek with a halo and portrays him as bearing a close resemblance to Christ, whereas Aaron bears no such likeness to the Lord and looks downward in his presence. In this way the artist illustrates the superiority of the spiritual priesthood of Melchizedek over the priesthood of Aaron, transmitted through human generation from father to son.
Even more striking is the resemblance of Melchizedek to Christ in another rather similar depiction by Schmalzl of Christ the eternal high priest (figure 2), which he featured sometimes as a title page and sometimes as a Te igitur page in the Pustet missals during the last decade of the nineteenth century. A full color picture of Christ in this exalted role, the second illustration addresses the viewer more directly and conveys a clearer message.
Christ, surrounded by a golden mandorla, stands not on a vine or tree, but on an altar. The mensa is incised with crosses at each corner and presumably also at the center. The aureole is framed by the pattern of alternating scallops in red, white and blue. Christ is clad in high-priestly vesture, but even more completely and formally than in Figure 1. Over his unappareled alb, which cascades down over his feet to the altar, the Lord wears the tunicle, the dalmatic, and the chasuble. The tunicle is the vestment proper to the subdeacon, the dalmatic proper to the deacon. Both vestments represent diaconia, that is ministry or service. The chasuble, distinctive of the priesthood exercised by presbyters and bishops, covers the other vestments just as charity is to cover the other virtues of the Christian: “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Col 3:14). Those Catholic priests who owned or used copies of the Roman Missal decorated by Schmalzl and published by Pustet, would have grasped at once the spiritual meaning of the vestments worn by Christ in the illustration. After all, bishops, priests, and deacons all had to recite specific prayers as they donned each vestment immediately before participating as sacred ministers of the Mass.
The clergy similarly would have recognized the authority signified by the immense pallium hanging from Christ’s shoulders, namely, that of an archbishop or metropolitan, the highest-ranking bishop within an ecclesiastical province. The pallium is a thin vestment woven from the wool of lambs blessed annually on 21 January, the feast of St Agnes, virgin and martyr, in the eponymous basilica erected over her tomb. The lambs are presented to the Pope, who entrusts them to the care of the nuns of St Cecilia in Trastevere. Their virgin wool furnishes the material for the pallia, which are then stored in an urn beneath the confessio of St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican until they are conferred by the Pope upon newly designated archbishops.
Contrary to his posture and gaze in Figure 1, Christ in Figure 2 looks directly at the viewer, presenting the Host over the chalice as though about to distribute Holy Communion. In the top corners two angels, one clad in a golden cape over a purple tunic, the other wearing a reddish-yellow mantle over a pale green tunic, bend the knee in adoration the Lord. The vine-leaf motif fills in the background and wheat grows up behind the altar. Above Christ’s aureole a roundel displays the hand of God the Father reaching down in blessing. Beneath Christ, on the facing of the altar, a second roundel displays the Lamb of God bearing the banner of the resurrection as it sits upon a book with seven seals (see Rev 5:6, 6:1). To Christ’s right (viewer’s left), a third roundel shows the pelican in its piety feeding its young from its breast. This clearly is an allusion to the Eucharist by which Christ feeds his faithful flock. On Christ’s left, a fourth roundel contains a phoenix rising from the ashes, a reference to the resurrection of the Lord. Both the pelican and the phoenix are secondary symbols inasmuch as they derive not from sacred Scripture, but rather from medieval legends. Like the central mandorla, the roundels are framed by alternating multi-colored scallops.
The depiction of Christ the eternal high priest displaying the sacred Host above the chalice in Figure 2, because it is simpler in arrangement than Christ surrounded by the apostles and evangelists in Figure 1, emphasizes to greater advantage than Figure 1 the dignity of Christ’s high-priestly office. Robed in tunicle, dalmatic, stole, chasuble, and pallium, Christ in Figure 2 conveys the fullness of the priesthood as exercised in the Church by the highest rank of bishop. The color of the vestments, a rich carmine red, symbolizes Christ’s love for his Church, proven by the sacrifice of his blood.
Even more striking, as noted earlier, is the resemblance of Melchizedek to Christ. More so than in Figure 1, Melchizedek in Figure 2 looks like a crowned profile of Christ on the altar. Granted, Melchizedek in Figure 2 lacks tunicle, dalmatic, stole, and pallium, signs of the high priesthood of the New Law. He lacks furthermore a cross in his halo, normally a sign of the Divinity. Unlike Christ, who presents to the faithful a Host of unleavened bread, Melchizedek offers to God a loaf of leavened bread. Yet in his youthful vigor and confident demeanor he seems identical with the Christ who stands on the altar in the glory of the mandorla. Even the color of his chasuble matches that of Christ’s high priestly vestments. The similarity bears further consideration.
Perhaps Schmalzl or his mentors intuited what St Ambrose of Milan (d. 397) maintained concerning the real identity of Melchizedek. In his fourth mystagogical lecture, recorded between 380 and 390 in the De sacramentis, Ambrose identifies Melchizedek with Christ.
Arguing that the sacraments of the Christians are more ancient and more divine than those of the Jews, Ambrose points out that for the sacrifice offered in the presence of Abraham, Melchizedek brought forth the bread and wine; hence he was the author of that sacrifice.
Nevertheless, Ambrose insists that Christ is the author of the Christian mysteries. By his usual rhetorical method of posing and answering questions, and by a close reading of the Letter to the Hebrews, Ambrose arrives at a remarkable conclusion:
Therefore Melchizedek offered bread and wine. Who is Melchizedek? “Without father,” it says, “without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.” The Letter to the Hebrews has this: “Without father,” and “without mother.” You have: “like unto the Son of God.” “Without mother” the Son of God was born by heavenly generation, because he was born of God the Father alone; and again he was born “without father” when he was born of the Virgin. For he was begotten not by the seed of man, but was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, having been brought forth from the womb of a virgin. Melchizedek, too, was a priest in all things “like unto the Son of God,” to whom it is said: “Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Who then is the author of the sacraments except the Lord Jesus?
If Melchizedek actually was a christophany, then this may explain the oblique reference in the Roman Canon to Melchizedek’s offering among the sacrifices of the Old Testament, which prefigured the bloody sacrifice of Calvary and its unbloody counterpart in the Eucharist. Rather than refer to “the bread and wine offered by your priest Melchizedek,” as does the current English translation prepared by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) [Ed.--Note any references to the Novus Ordo Missae in this piece does not imply support for it, but merely to acquaint priests with the text found in Eucharistic Prayer I which in this case, is similar to that of the old Roman Canon, but which in 2010 many priests were unfortunately not familiar with], the Latin version is far more subtle:
Upon which things deign to gaze with a propitious and calm countenance, and to accept them as Thou wert pleased to accept the gifts of thy just servant Abel, and the sacrifice of our Patriarch Abraham: and that which thy high priest Melchizedek offered to thee: a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim.
Supra quae propitio ac sereno vultu respicere digneris: et accepta habere, sicuti accepta habere dignatus es munera pueri tui iusti Abel, et sacrificium Patriarchae nostri Abrahae, et quod tibi obtulit summus sacerdos tuus Melchisedech, sanctum sacrificium, immaculatam hostiam.
The phrase “quod tibi obtulit summus sacerdos tuus Melchisedech, sanctum sacrificium, immaculatam hostiam” leaves open the possibility that the appearance of Melchizedek was really a christophany, and that Abraham actually was favored with a glimpse of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, just as the later visit of the mysterious three visitors in Genesis 18 would commonly be regarded as a theophany: the triune God appearing to Abraham as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This depiction of Christ the eternal high priest, flanked by Melchizedek on his right and Aaron on his left, affords priests and members of the lay faithful alike much worthwhile food for thought on the nature and the dignity of Christ’s role as priest of the new and eternal covenant sealed with his own precious blood.
The illustration deserves deeper consideration than a fleeting glance offers as one reads in a minute or two the first page of the Roman Canon. With the restructuring of the Mass of the Roman Rite since 1969/70, many of the sumptuously decorated Pustet missals were plundered for their magnificent art, particularly the spectacularly colored and gilded title pages and Te igitur leaves. Some of the more expensively ornamented leaves such as this found their way into frames now hanging in rectories and private homes. Others remain intact in their original binding, safely tucked away in some hidden spot, awaiting the day of discovery, perhaps even of renewed use as a liturgical book. Copies in all sizes have circulated on ordination invitations and on holy cards to commemorate the first Mass of neophyte priests.
How apposite in the Year for Priests to frame and enthrone in one’s office or private quarters Brother Max’s delightful tribute to the once and future priesthood. [Ed.--in 2010, the Antiphon journal was offering a full-color reproduction of the cover image on our Ordo. It's no longer available.]
1 Scriptural citations are drawn from The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (Westminster: Catholic Truth Society, 1966).
2 Albert Vanhoye, La Structure Litteraire de l’Epitre aux Hebreux (Paris: Desclée De Brouwer, 1963). For a presentation in English of the chief conclusions, see: Vanhoye, A Structured Translation of the Epistle to the Hebrews, trans. James Swetnam (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1964) 3-7; Vanhoye, Old Testament Priests and the New Priests, trans. B. Orchard (Petersham MA, 1986) 228-32; “Hebrews,” The International Bible Commentary (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1998) 1766; Roch A. Kareszty, The Wedding Feast of the Lamb: Eucharistic Theology from a Historical, Biblical and Systematic Perspective (Chicago/Mundelein IL: Hillenbrand, 2004) 70-78.
3 Kareszty, Wedding Feast of the Lamb, 70-71.
4 On the decision of Pustet to replace the deceased Johannes Evangelista Klein with Redemptorist Brother Maxilimilian Schmalzl as the house illustrator of the firm’s liturgical books, see Otto Denk, Friedrich Pustet, Vater und Sohn. Zwei Lebensbilder, zuglieich eine Geschichte des Hauses Pustet (Regensburg: Pustet, 1904) 119-22. For the biography of Maxilimilian Schmalzl, see Leonard Eckl, Bruder Max. Lebensbild des Künstlers Fr. Max Schmalzl, C.Ss. R. (Regensburg: Pustet, 1930).
5 “Libera nos, quaesumus, Domine, ab omnibus malis, praeteritis,praesentibus et futuris: et intercedente beata et gloriosa semper Virgine Dei Genetrice Maria, cum beatis Apostolis tuis Petro et Paulo, atque Andrae, et omnibus Sanctis, da propitius ope misericordiae tuae adjuti, et a peccato simus semper liberi et ab omni perturbatione securi.” Libera nos, in Missale Romanum anno 1962 promulgatum, eds Cuthbert Johnson and Anthony Ward, Bibliotheca “Ephemerides Liturgicae” Subsidia Instrumenta Liturgica Quarreriensia, Supplementa 2 (Rome: Centro Liturgico Vincenziano, 1994) 1117, p. 316.
6 “… Panem sanctum vitae aeternae et Calicem salutis perpetuae.” Canon Romanus, Missale Romanum (Vatican City: Vatican Press, 2002) 92, p. 577.
7 Obtulit ergo Melchisedech panem et vinum. Quis est Melchisedech? “Sine patre,” inquit, “sine matre, sine generationis ordine, neque initium dierum neque finem vitae habens.” Hoc habet ad Hebraeos epistola. “Sine patre,” inquit, et “sine matre”: Habes: “similis filio dei.” “Sine matre” natus est dei filius generatione caelesti, quia ex solo deo patre natus est, et iterum “sine patre” natus est, quando natus ex virgine est. Non enim ex virili semine generates est, sed natus de spiritu sancto et virgine Maria, utero editus virginali. “Similis” per omnia “filio dei” sacerdos quoque erat Melchisedech, quia et Christus sacerdos, cui dicitur: “Tu es sacerdos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchisedech. Ergo auctor sacramentorum quis est nisi dominus Iesus?” Ambrose, De sacramentis, 4.12-13 in De sacramentis/De mysteriis. Über die Sakramente / Über die Mysterien, ed. Josef Schmitz, Fontes Christiani 3 (Freiburg: Herder, 1990) pp. 141-42.
8 Supra quae, Canon Romanus (MR 2002, 93, p. 577); translation mine.