Pentecost Monday: For what it’s worth

Take this for what it may be worth.  Some years ago I was told this story by an elderly, retired Papal Ceremoniere or a Master of Ceremonies who (according to him) was present at the event about to be recounted.

You probably know that in the traditional Roman liturgical calendar the mighty feast of Pentecost had its own Octave.  Pentecost was a grand affair indeed, liturgically speaking.  In some places in the world such as Germany and Austria Pentecost Monday, Whit Monday as the English call it, was a reason to have a civil holiday, as well as a religious observance.

The Monday after Pentecost in 1970 His Holiness Pope Paul VI rose bright and early and went to the chapel for Holy Mass. Instead of the red he expected, there were green vestments laid out for him. 

He queried the MC assigned that day, "What on earth are these for?  This is the Octave of Pentecost!  Where are the red vestments?"

"Santità," quoth the MC, "this is now Tempus ‘per annum’.  It is green, now. The Octave of Pentecost is abolished."

"Green? That cannot be!", said the Pope, "Who did that?"

"Holiness, you did."

And Paul VI wept. 

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Which reminds of Paul VI’s alleged lament that he had not read his promulgation of the Novus Ordo before signing it.

  2. Don Marco says:

    And many in the Church wept with him and still weep.
    However, the Missale Romanum Editio Typica Tertia 2002 indicates the following:

    “Ubi fera II vel etiam III post Pentecosten sunt dies quibus fideles
    Debent vel solent Missam frequentare, resumi potest Missa dominicae
    Pentecostes, vel dici potest Missa de Spiritu Sancto.”

    Translation: Where on the Monday and also the Tuesday after Pentecost
    the faithful must (attend Mass) or have the custom of attending Mass, the Mass of Pentecost
    Sunday may be repeated, or one may say the Mass of the Holy Spirit.

  3. Mila says:

    Truly sad. So currently, of the three great feasts, Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, the last one is the only one without an octave. We still weep indeed.

  4. Me says:

    Can you give me a proper citation for this item.
    By the way I used to be a member of your parish.

  5. Don Marco says:

    The text is found in the Missale Romanum Editio Typica Tertia 2002, p. 448.

  6. CaesarMagnus says:

    That reminds me of a story of a bishop in the Northeast U.S. who was browsing in a Catholic bookstore and came across a new official liturgical book or translation or something and someone heard him say outloud, “I don’t remember voting on this.”

  7. John says:

    The instruction permitting the vestige of the Pentecost Octave on Monday and Tuesday is also noted in the Ordo published annually by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

Comments are closed.