Benedict’s Pontifical Mass in St. Peter’s? Maybe 2 December

Corriere della Sera‘s Luigi Accatoli has an article about the possibility of Pope Benedict celebrating Mass in the Basilica of St. Peter with the extraordinary use of the Roman Rite he derestricted with Summorum Pontificum.

Accatoli raises the interesting question of what would be done to substitute the old papal courtiers, abolished by Paul VI. 

Here are a couple excerpts (in my translation):

No Pontiff has usd the old Missal for 40 years: it could happen on 2 December

Luigi Accattoli

CITTÀ DEL VATICANO  – A new direction for culture and rites in the Vatican: Yesterday the Pope nominated Giovanni Maria Vian director of L’Osservatore Romano and consecrated as bishop the Milanese priset Gianfranco Ravasi who will have the role of "minister of culture"; in the next few days there is awaited the nomination of the new "master of ceremonies" to replace Archbishop Piero Marini.  After the arrival of the new master of ceremonies it is "probable" that the Pope will celebrate a Mass with the old rite, in St. Peter’s, obviously entirely in Latin: it could happen in 2 December, the first Sunday of Advent.

Nothing precise is known about the Pope’s intention to give bishops an "example" of his own choice to use the older rite, byeond the reception of requests of the faithful, as the Motu Proprio he published in July provides.  The rumor is circulating both on the lips of those who hope in such a gesture, which says that he would definitively clear "through customs" the old Missal which is still encountering resistance in spite of the recent derestriction; and also among those who fear that the Pope is making the gesture because it would be "another step away from the Council".

"Right now it’s only a rumor", says a monsignor who is neither for or against it, "but everyone is talking about it around here and I believe he is going to do it even if he risks stirring up some polemics, because Catholics who are less than 50 years old have never seen a Pope celebrate Mass with his back to the people and speaking the ‘Eucharistic Prayer’ in a low voice."  In the meantime, the ‘court’ which accompanied the Pope in these celebrations was abolished and I really want to see how an old papal Mass would be carried out today!"


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  1. Patrick Jude, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia says:

    It would be good if the Holy Father would publicly celebrate Holy Mass in the extraordinary form on the start of the new liturgical year if not earlier, beside, nothing is better than leadership by example.
    However an error to point out would be that His Holiness would not be leading us in facing Liturgical East, i.e. back to the people because the high altar in St. Peter is facing east and therefore he would still face the people unless His Holiness plan to celebrate Mass at the altar of the of the chair

  2. EJ says:

    As soon as Tornielli confirms this, I’ll believe it, and not a nanosecond before – don’t you all remember MP-mania? – Tornielli truly is an insider and has the prudence to wait until he is certain that something will probably occur before he reports on it.. he got the MP right and on schedule. Corriere della Serra, Inside the Vatican and Sandro Magister are as much vaticanistas as Mahony, McCarrick, and Martini are pro-tridentine.

  3. Monica says:

    In all fairness…if the Pope is going to do the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Mass then he should at least allow songs like…”Gather Us In”, “Sing to the Mountains” etc…so the Richmond, Virginia Diocese can participate too.

  4. EJ: I wouldn’t underestimate Accatoli. He is pretty well-informed.

  5. Garrett says:

    Notice how the priest uses two seemingly negative qualifiers (low-voiced Eucharistic Prayer and back to the people) to differentiate between the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of Mass. Not good, and not neutral, IMHO.

  6. RBrown says:

    Tornielli truly is an insider
    Comment by EJ

    It seems to me that by defnitioa journalist is not an insider.

  7. RBrown says:

    Should be: by definition a journalist is not an insider.

  8. M Kr says:

    Fr. Z:

    Is it true that in the old rite, if the Pope wants to celebrate a “High” Mass, the only option he has is the Papal Mass, i.e. he cannot celebrate a High Pontifical?

    If that is the case, then how frequently did Popes generally celebrate Papal Masses in the old days? Did they just mostly say low masses except on special occasions?

  9. M Kr: My understanding is that the Solemn Pontifical Mass celebrated by the Pope himself was not too common. Mass would more often be celebrated in his presence, which had its own variations in the rubrics.

  10. Jonathan Bennett says:

    The Solemn Pontifical Mass celebrated by the Pope was a rare event even back in the day, only taking place a couple times a year. If you watch the old videos on Youtube of the Coronation Masses you will notice that the Cardinals and everyone else seem to be all over the place- thats because they are. This form of the Mass was highly complex, albeit beautiful, for it’s time and I doubt it could be successfully pulled off today, not matter how capable the Master of Ceremonies.

    Now, Mass celebrated in the presence of the Pope is possibility. Or Papal Low Mass.

    But there are a few things that would have to be straightened up. The Pope no longer has a throne or the tiara; the Papal court is gone; and a lot of people, bishops included, will be angry with such a thing.

  11. CDB says:

    RBrown: by definition a journalist is not an insider.

    Which definition is that?


    Dear Fr. Z – One of my top speculative questions after 7/7/07 was when would
    Pope Benedict say the TLM in public for the first time. I hope Accattoli’s
    (apparently hostile) source is right about the date, anyway – it makes sense.

    I have a question – is concelebration possible with the extraordinary form?
    If it is, the Pope could invite Cardinals Martini, Tettamanzi, Ricard,
    Vingt-Trois, Lehmann, O’Malley and the other usual suspect cardinals to
    concelebrate the TLM with him.


  13. RBrown says:

    Which definition is that?
    Comment by CDB

    According to the definition of the word itself–the journalist records the events of the day. The one who records the events has to be a spectator–like a referee in sports. If he is a participant, then he’s not able to witness all the events but is much occupied with the inner workings.

  14. Much easier to be photographed celebrating Low Mass in his priavate chapel, but there is nothing to stop him giving himself the right to celebrate Pontifical Mass, if he should so choose. He is after all the Supreme Legislator.

  15. Berolinensis says:

    I wanted to say the same thing as Fr Blake: I think it is the most probable scenario that he will celebrate Pontifical Mass. I think he wouldn’t even need to formally change a law, just do it implicitly by announcing that he is going to so celebrate. I can’t see the full Papal Mass of 1962 coming back.

  16. Mathew Mattingly says:

    What’s the problem with just re-instating the Papal court and all the color that went with it for when the Pontifical Tridentine Latin Mass is celebrated? Who knows, the formality and beautiy of the Tridentine Latin Mass celebrated by the Pope might influence how the ordinary awful Papal Novus Ordo Masses are celebrated in Saint Peter’s.
    I don’t think it would be much trouble to bit by bit restore the entire Papal court and all that goes with it. After all, Paul VI threw it all in the trash in one day! Benedict XVI isn’t that crass, and probably seek to restore it bit by bit rather than cause shockwaves and ruffled feathers, and the liberal Bishops and Monsignori having collective hissy0fits.

  17. Father Bartoloma says:

    “…says a monsignor who is neither for or against it.”

    The kind of indecisive political rot that I’m glad this pope is going against the grain on. “Qui non est mecum, contra me est.”

  18. Richard T says:

    Well, the Pope seems to be giving an annual Golden Rose, and has brought back some of the traditional wardrobe, so possibly some of the Court positions will return as well.

    What next? I’d like to see the return of the sedia gestatoria, flabella and Noble Guard; far more dignified than those rather naff Popemobiles. Oh, and galeri for the Cardinals please.

    However, being sensible for a moment, I’m not sure that the Pope approves of hereditary posts. The Golden Rose has only been awarded to shrines, not individuals, and there haven’t been any awards of the Order of Christ or of the Golden Spur.

  19. Joseph says:

    The pope’s new MC would do well to seek advice from Griciliano. The Institute seems to be adept at resurrecting the old “episcopal households” for ceremonies there. I’m not being catty – they really know how to showcase the glories of the extraordinary form. While it would be a bit silly to resurrect most of the “hereditary” offices considering that there is no longer any Italian nobility, I’m sure that when the ostrich feathers and the sedia are brought out, people will still be duly impressed.

  20. AALEX1 says:

    The Bishop of Monterey will aloow the use of the extraordinary form of the Mass (Tridentine) but only in one location. Those interested in the old rite, must go to the southern tip of the Diocese. This will require some parishioners to travel nearly 300 miles round trip to attend a traditional Mass.

  21. John Polhamus says:

    “What’s the problem with just re-instating the Papal court and all the color that went with it for when the Pontifical Tridentine Latin Mass is celebrated?”
    No problem, in theory. Practically, the problem would be the re-installed Papal Court (composed of Cardinals with day jobs) learning the rubrics of the Papal mass in time to celebrate it in December. Not very likely. But a possibility which still sends a frissant of excitement down the spine!

    “I can’t see the full Papal Mass of 1962 coming back.”
    …just yet. Give it time.

    “…there is nothing to stop him giving himself the right to celebrate Pontifical Mass…”
    True, and the prospect of “The Papal Mass” (as opposed to any old papal mass) sort of assumes that he would be doing it in St. Peters. Pontifical Mass at the Throne becomes more likely if he were to do it in his Cathedral Basilica at St. John Lateran…does it not?

  22. Michael says:

    Why would a Pope who removed the tiara from his coat of arms even consider bringing back any of the ceremonial that went with the Papal Mass?

  23. Tom S. says:

    IIRC, Father Z said some time ago, on the occasion of a rumor to this effect that having the Pope celebrate the Extraordinary Form would be a big deal for the Bishops – a very big deal. Because of that I think it is bound to happen. And would not the first Sunday of advent be the perfect time?

    Plus, with reports of Bishops celebrating the EF coming in pretty regularly now, His Holiness better get busy, lest he find himself behind the curve, so to speak. (I can’t believe that I am able to type that last sentence. Did you ever think, really think, that this would happen??)

  24. Bernard says:

    Just wondering how the Pope would celebrate ‘The Papal Mass’
    according to the 1962 missal WITHOUT doing it exactly as John
    XXIII did?

  25. Richard T says:

    Michael says;
    “Why would a Pope who removed the tiara from his coat of arms even consider bringing back any of the ceremonial that went with the Papal Mass?”

    Because the tiara had become (rightly or wrongly) primarily a symbol of earthly power, of a territorial prince, but the ceremonial of the Papal Mass is about the glory of God.

  26. Charles A. says:

    Bringing back the true Papal Mass – with the cardinal attendants, the ‘court’ and the guard in uniform, etc. – is just simply unreal. Even if it could be mustered it would be – since the genie’s been out of the bottle for 40+ years – the worst kind of play-acting. Perhaps the PCED should issue regulations on a scaled-down Papal Mass (more like the old Pontifical High Mass), and also a scaled down Pontifical Mass (more like the priest’s Missa Cantata or Pontifical Mass at the faldstool, when deacon and subdeacon can be mustered).

    Btw, the tiara was not really used at the Mass per se, but only in the solemn processions into and out of the basilica. During the Mass, the Pope wore the mitre (pretiosa or auriphrygiata).

  27. Charles A. says:

    Question: how did the old Papal Mass differ (i.e. was it scaled down) when celebrated at the Altar of the Chair (as it was when episcopal consecrations [ordinations] took place)? that is as opposed to when it was celebrated at the Alter of the Confession (which you can see on youtube)…

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