1st Vespers of Advent in the Basilica

His Holiness celebrated vespers in the Vatican Basilica, always grand.

Here is a shot.  There are many things of merit here.


  • Leo XIII’s great chair is back.  It looks like it is going to be a keeper.
  • The Pope is wearing a Roman style cope and stole with a classic pattern.  Did someone find the keys for the old dusty wardrobes?
  • The M.C. Mons. Guido Marini (whom I met today – nice fellow) has a very nice surplice in the traditional style.
  • The Pope’s cinture with the heavy fiocco slipped down, exactly like they do when I use that type.  Hmmmm….
  • The Holy Father’s alb looks pretty decent!  Hard to see white on white, but it was nice.  He needed a different miter, however.   Brick by brick.
  • The M.C. in the left of the photo is lifting the Holy Father’s alb as he steps.  Just as one should when serving.

Also, a blast from the past: Advent, last year.  Compare and contrast.

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35 Responses to 1st Vespers of Advent in the Basilica

  1. Ted says:

    Just wondering what others think about the Holy Father’s crosier that was introduced by Paul VI. Its 60′s style looks to me very dated if not downright uninspiring and ephemeral.

  2. TNCath says:

    I believe that the alb was the same one he wore the week before at the “Ring Mass” for the cardinals.

  3. Henry Edwards says:

    He needed a different miter, however.

    Well, it was nice to see one tall enough to at least resemble a real papal miter.

  4. Bill says:

    Ditto on the crozier comment. That, too, may eventually go, but I think B16 actually has a real affection for Paul VI who, I believe, ordained him bishop.

  5. mike c says:

    Mitre? What I saw was another conehead mediocrity. When he dons the papal tiara, then there will be something on which to comment. (Awkward turn of phrase, but I didn’t end with a preposition :-)

  6. PAUL says:

    I hate to be critical but I see from other photos that the deacons’ dalmatics don’t match the cope. Both are fine vestments, but surely it is not beyond the Vatican to get matching sets?

  7. David says:

    Yep. Don the tiara and 86 that gauntly bend crucifix staff, and he\’ll be good to go.

  8. Dustin says:

    Enough with the tiara fantasies. Honestly. You all know better.

    I quite admire the crozier. It’s been around a while, and I hope it remains. Funny, for all the complaints about old vestments and regalia being tossed aside, there sure is some eagerness around here to fill up the dumpster behind St. Peter’s.

    Personally, I don’t care for lace. But that’s just me, and I don’t announce my opinions as fatwas. Otherwise, HH looks rather splendid today.

  9. Augustinus says:

    Paul – do you have a link to other photos?

    Whatever else, these latest liturgies are definitely steps in the right direction.

  10. Jordan Potter says:

    Dustin said: Enough with the tiara fantasies. Honestly. You all know better.

    Of course we do — why do you think we’d like to see the Pope wearing his tiara again? ;-)

  11. Matthew Mattingly says:

    The Pope looked magnificent, especially in the gold throne instead of the white armchair. That chair always looked ridiculous, like something out of someone’s living room.
    I remember last years Advent vespers were horrible, with off-key Italian contemporary hymns, and the same old tired vestments JP II used to wear.
    This year was magnificent. Altar just like as before Vatican II, beautiful old-style vestments for the Pope, Msgr. Guido Marini, and the attendant deacons (doesn’t matter that their dalmatics didn’t match the Pope’s cope, they were beautiful!!) Piero Marini would have had them wearing those ugly violet vestments with the African motif (they must have order full sets in red, and violet). Everything was Gregorian Chant, Latin hymns, Latin responses. Nothing felt “ad libbed” like last year.
    In a word, it looked traditional Roman Catholic, and not quasi-Roman Catholic/Anglican/Lutheran like in the past.

  12. In the Usus Antiquior, a bishop wore the cloth gold mitre during penitential seasons instead of the precious mitre. The etymology of the latin, however, would suggest that this form of mitre was originally embroidered with gold. One might theorise, therefore, that the Pope is wearing a subdued mitre for the Season of Advent. I believe this could be Benedict’s 27th mitre!

    As for lace, I don’t care for it much, but sometimes you will see a really lovely lace surplice. Sadly, Msgr. Marini’s surplice isn’t one of those. The Pope’s secretaries, at his Anniversary/birthday Mass in the Square in April wore quite nice lace rochets. Father Z, please get one of those for Msgr. Marini.

    How splendid to see Leo XIII’s throne returning: long wished-for.

    Michael.

  13. Cristhian says:

    and do not forget the deacons and their dalmatics. Latin style, like the old days.

  14. PAUL says:

    Augustinus – here is a link, no doubt others are also available http://news.yahoo.com/photos/ss/events/wl/033002pope/im:/071201/ids_photos_wl/r2404670235.jpg;_ylt=ArVZ9pr38jklUK6MhPp_zKJgWscF

    You can just see a bit of a dalmatic, but its clearly a different shade from the cope. Both are beautiful, they just don’t match.

  15. Habemus Papam says:

    Altar again just like pre-Vatican II? Spe Salvi ignores Vatican II. Leo XIII throne becoming a permanant fixture. All is good. (Except the Staff!)

  16. Maria says:

    Dustin said: Enough with the tiara fantasies. Honestly. You all know better.

    You know what they used to say, “Enough with the Motu Proprio fantasies” ;)

  17. James says:

    I’m also glad the tiara is gone. The Pope is our shepherd, not our king. He is the Vicar of Christ; vicar=agent, representative. Supreme Pontiff; pontifex=bridge-builder. Servus Servorum Dei. His authority is spiritual, not earthly.

    The new crozier, I think, is very nice. Our Holy Father is carrying the Cross as his staff to shepherd us, his flock.

  18. Jonathan Bennett says:

    While I do not object to the Papal crozier being a Crucifix I must admit that the one used by John Paul II and Bendict XVI, based on the pectoral cross of Paul VI, is quite ugly. There is no reason why His Holiness cannot carry a nice gold crozier with a Crucifix, or better yet the Papal cross with the three horizontal bars.

    As for the tiara, we can only hope and pray that this great symbol of the Papal Office returns to use.

  19. michigancatholic says:

    The tiara doesn’t bother me one way or the other. However, I’m glad that Pope Benedict is taking the papacy seriously enough to dress the part. It’s important to his plan to restore beauty, meaning and identity to the Church and to us.

    I’d rather see him dressed like a pope than looking like he’s wearing the drapes, which has been my impression of some papal costumes of the mid to recent past.

    James, Christ spoke of us as sheep, but not only as sheep. It was a metaphor.

  20. Theodorus says:

    Whether you like it or not, the Pope is a king: he is the Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City and he has absolute executive, legislative, and judicial powers within the Vatican. While today most of the kings and queens are merely fugureheads of their states, the Pope is an absolute monarch, and there is nothing wrong if the Pope chooses to wear the tiara.

  21. Demerzel says:

    Hehe, I think Fr Z mixed up the years. The picture link is for the 1st Vespers of Advent in 2005. The 2006 one is http://img479.imageshack.us/img479/632/benedetto8967ls4.jpg ;)

  22. I’m very happy to see these changes in the style of papal liturgical celebrations. More proof that what came before was really from Archbishop Marini and the Holy Father was simply too nice and diplomatic to force otherwise.

    I agree that as long as the dalmatics are of the same liturgical color it really doesn’t matter if they match the cope (or a chasuble at mass) exactly. Matching vestments look nice but are not a necessity I think.

    As regards the pastoral staff I think people should keep in mind that prior to the pontificate of Paul VI the Pope only held a pastoral staff (topped by a cross but NOT necessarily a crucifix) to give the final blessing. While the use of a staff with a crook at the top had fallen out long ago even the “use” of a staff at all (that is to say, the Pope walking with it) had also fallen into abeyance. Paul VI revivied it and, since he favored contemporary art, used the very modern-looking staff that became famous in his pontificate. However, I wonder if Pope Benedict uses the staff he does not only out of devotion to Paul VI. Many people are unaware that another such staff was also made specifically for Pope John Paul II by the same artist. It appears similar to the one used by Paul VI but it is, in fact, a separate staff. Perhaps it is out of devotion to John Paul II, whom he served personally and for much longer, that Pope Benedict uses the staff he uses? In addition, it is made of aluminium and is, therefore, VERY easy to carry. Perhaps the Pope would prefer not to carry something more ornate and, therefore, heavier? Then again, perhaps there are plans for him to have one of his own that will indeed appear differently?

    At any rate, it occurs to me that devotion, or attachment to an item belonging to John Paul II rather than Paul VI might explain more easily Pope Benedict’s continued use of this staff. As for a staff with three bars…despite John Paul II having used one like this (from the time of Leo XIII) to open the Holy Door in 1983, it is a contrivance that has no basis whatsoever in history. It was “made up” at one point so that the Pope’s cross would supercede the patriarchal cross with its two bars. In fact, other than in works of art, there is no evidence that Pope’s made actual use of such a cross…EVER.

  23. Ben D. says:

    Matthew Mattingly,

    Everything was Gregorian Chant, Latin hymns, Latin responses.

    Were the psalms also in Latin?

  24. Father J says:

    I am blessed to be in good company… those heavy tassled quality cincture’s can be a pain Fr Z but not if one isn’t afraid to make them secure instead of loose. If you look at the Holy Father’s left-side, the last loop is tighter. If one ensures the cord is pulled down so that loop is closed, the cincture will not unravel… and it looks smarter anyway than having loose hanging loops… *{];0)

  25. Ben D.-

    Yes, the psalms were also in Latin! In fact, the only vernacular bits were the reading, the individual intercessions, and brief “summaries” of the psalms which were read before each was chanted. The Vespers was overwhelmingly Latin. :-)

  26. fUNNY THING ABOUT the white armchair. If one was unaware of the Papal Throne (ala Leo XIII) one would think the white armchair fine. It is not like the star trek sanctuary from which I once “presided”. But when we dust off the beauty of the older items, we see how much these modern items (much worse the postmodern) pale in comparison.

  27. Father Z says “compare and contrast”.
    Well, I have.

    The traditional vestments and the use of a traditional papal throne seem to me to emphasise not Pope Benedict himself, but the spiritual office he holds as Vicar of Christ, and its continuity down the centuries.

    The modern vestments simply seem to say “Look at me”.

  28. Fr. N says:

    Love the Pope, love the cope, love the throne, love Don Guido. Hate the lace.

  29. I noticed that the clasps on the cope bears three protruding tiaras similar to those worn by Pius XII and John XIII. Intriguing but nice.

  30. Andrew says:

    As the photos posted by Syriacus show, the altar cross is once again where it belongs. Don Guido is now three for three!

    And the Pope is again wearing the pontifical dalmatic. Wonderful!

  31. Syriacus says:

    Yes, Andrew, and also the papal dalmatic (at a Mass for simple poople in hospital, totally in Italian, with popular singing and prex III etc…) . Besides: wonderful calix with icons (something ‘oriental’) and…the host! The host in now of the traditional width and very traditionally ‘decorated’ (very much like this: http://www.canonsregular.com/Elevation%20of%20Host%20220.jpg
    -alas no close-up photos of the Pope’s Host) .

  32. Patrick says:

    The vestments are nice. I wonder why His Holiness wears an alb at all. Why not rochet? Traditionally the alb would not have been worn for vespers. As for the Tiara — that came out of a childish “My crown’s bigger than yours” argument with the Holy Roman Emperor. I would say, if His Holiness has removed it from the coat of arms, he probably won’t put it on his head.

  33. Jess says:

    Though there is much to comment on at the Vespers, I have to register a thumbs up on the acolyte with the tonsure — truly beautiful.