BOOK REVIEW: Reprint of travel size 1962 Missale Romanum

UPDATE (4 Sept): Be sure to look at “brendan”‘s comment below.  He checked on the availability of this Missale.

A while back I wrote that if you were looking for a perfect gift for a traditionally minded priest you might consider this reprint of a travel-sized volume  of the 1962 Missale Romanum.

One of you kind readers made a donation through the button on the left side bar so that I could buy one.   I am grateful for that.

Here is my review.

First, the details.

It costs $225, without shipping.  It is a hard cover in a slip case.  The dimensions: 8½” x 6″ x 1½”.  Thus, it is really slightly larger than I would consider a true travel-sized volume.  I have an old truly portable Missale Romanum printed by Benziger in 1957, which has soft leather cover and is the size of your average smaller format paperback, about half the size of this new book.  That is what priests really need.  However, none of that takes away from the utility of this new book.

Let’s look at it closely.

These days, in my opinion, the physical construction of liturgical books is terribly deficient.  How does this book stack up?

The book is hard bound and covered with a faux leather, which looks good, promises to be durable, is nice and bright in color, but has a slightly plastic feel to the hand.

The gold on the pages is done fairly well.  The cover has a nice Cross impression, front and back.

There may be a problem down the line with the binding, as you can see from this closeup of the binding just as the title page.


The paper is very fine, thin and smooth, high quality I believe.  It feels good and cool to the touch.  It seems durable.

Priests know that ribbons and page turning tabs are very important in a missal.   Bad ribbons and bad tabs can make your life miserable.

The ribbons are decent, though a tiny bit stiff.  They may loosen up a little with use.   They are synthetic.  Someone took the time to burn the ends, so they would not start to fray.

There are only five ribbons, but I am not sure how they could have bound in more, given their width.  Given how fine the paper is, were the ribbons a little narrower, they might tear the paper rather than turn the grouping of pages.

The tabs are a bit of a problem.  They are large enough to get your fingers to grasp.  However, when the book was put into the slip case, the tabs obviously pressed against the inside of the slip case and caused havoc with the pages.  And since the pages with the tabs those of the Ordinary, this is a problem.

I am not happy about this.  I will probably attempt along the line to iron these out.  They are on every page where there are tabs.  I suggest that the slip cover be altered somehow.  I don’t think that making the cover larger in relation to the pages is the way to go.

How are the pages to read?  No real problems there.  The only observation I have is that the black print doesn’t strike me as truly black, but rather a very dark gray.  Also, the red of the rubrics seems a bit on the pale side to me.  The print just doesn’t leap off the page at you, which is, I think, desirable.

You can click the image above for a large view.

Just to get your bearings, compare the red of the cover to the red of the print and the black of the tab to the black of the print.

Here is the book in its slip case with a little 6 inch rule, so that you can get an idea of its size.

My bottom line is that this book is still going to be the perfect gift to a traditionally minded priest who does not already own a copy of the 1962 Missale Romanum.

  • First, it is a good size, even for travelling, though not perfect.  Something even smaller would be great.  With a caveat about the binding it should stand up pretty well.
  • Second, it is large enough to use on an altar as a regular altar edition.  That is an advantage.
  • Third, editions of the 1962, a true 1962 edition are really hard to get.  One reprint edition on sale for some years now, often called a 1962 is not really a 1962, as I explained elsewhere.  Therefore, this book fills an important niche.
  • Fourth, the book has some dignity.  The color image at the Canon is nice.  The font is easy to read.
  • Fifth, giving this book to a priest who doesn’t have an older Missal could encourage and support him.  I suspect some priests will really only have the chance to say the oler Mass in private when they are travelling or on vacation.  Therefore this small format book is very good.  Were it any larger, a priest might just not chose to haul it around.
  • Sixth, the sales of this book help the community at St. John Cantius in Chicago.  A worthy way to help worthy men.

They still need to polish this edition, perhaps in the next printing.  Before then they could adjust the slip cases.

It is still, in my estimation, a perfect gift for a traditionally minded priest.

I am very glad to have this book.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Fr. John says:

    Next question: As a priest, what items do I need in my mass kit if I’m traveling and expect to say mass in the extraordinary form, away from a church? Does the old rite spell this out for you? (i.e. – is the chalice veil required? must I pack a chasuble? etc)

    Thanks for the review.

  2. Fr. John: You would benefit from altar cards, even if you just print them out and laminate them. Definitely a pall. A Greek corporal would be excellent.

    Mass vestments are certainly called for. I think you can get very light weight travel sets, such as were used by military chaplains.

    Gosh…. would that not be a great cottage industry for a good seamstress? (After careful careful careful consultation with a priest who knows what he is talking about!)

    I believe a chalice veil is highly recommended in the GIRM for the newer Mass.

  3. Henry Edwards says:

    I ordered a copy of this traveling missal to give to a “traditionally minded priest”. The feel of it in the hand was so sumptuous that, as a true lover of finely crafted books, I really hated to give it up. But I agree about the problem of the tabs crinkling pages when the missal is inserted tabs-first into the slip case. In the one I got — exactly one page was so crinkled — the first page of the Canon opposite the nice color cut, the one page I’ve have most preferred preserved in its presumably pristine original condition. With so expensive a book, the publisher should have put a whatever inside the slipcase to prevent the missal from going in so far as to shove the tabs back into the pages.

  4. Henry. Exactly. The issue of the tabs and of the potentially weak binding are my greatest concerns. But it is a fine book in other respects.

    And thanks for the idea of putting the book in the other way, tabs out. I may put another ribbon inside the case to help draw the book out.

  5. Timothy James says:

    Fr. Z,
    Apparently you aren’t the only one who likes this new Missale Romanum, at the Cantius Web Store you get a “Sorry, this item is
    temporarily out of stock!” message. I guess thats a good sign!

  6. Timothy: Well… I did post about it and link it when I got the news of its existence. That usually drives traffic pretty effectively.

    They should have sent me a review copy as Mr. Bradshaw did for his new A guide to the Celebration of Low Mass according to the traditional Roman Rite


  7. Fr. John says:

    This priest Travel Missal looks very good. I have been learning the Mass from “the other one that calls itself Missale Romanum + 1962 -Published by Roman Catholic Books.” It is ok once you get the Canon inserts fixed by adding the “sed et beati Joseph…. However, I did notice a problem, which could be major or even funny for a priest with no latin knowledge. Within the Canon where the rubrics are supposed to be red and the Canon black for reading, there is a rubric printed in black – Iungit manus. Near the bottom of page 297. If I found this one, there could be many like in the Missal. As soon as the other Missale is back in stock, I am buying it.

  8. Fr Arsenius says:

    It’s nice that someone is producing a travel-sized version, but the pricing is outrageous: US$225! That’s considerably more costly than the full-sized version. When you throw into the mix the design flaw with the tabs and the slip case, the overall value is rather less than what they’re asking for it.

    I’ll wait for the movie version.

  9. Mark says:

    Fr. Z,

    Would it be in “bad form” for a layman such as myself to read from this Missale Romanum during Mass following along with the Priest?



  10. Henry Edwards says:

    Mark: Would it be in “bad form” for a layman such as myself to read from this Missale Romanum during Mass following along with the Priest?

    This would be precisely the same as following along on the left-hand (Latin) side of you English-Latin hand missal, and surely no one would suggest there’s anything wrong this this practice, which any layman who feels comfortable with Latin might naturally follow. (My own Latin is not so fluent as 1983 canon law requires for all Roman rite priests, so for this purpose I try to carefully study the Latin propers and readings in advance of each TLM I attend.) Indeed, this appears to be exactly what Pope St. Pius X (whom we commemorate tomorrow in the older rite) meant when he urged that

    “f you wish to hear Mass as it should be heard, you must follow with eye, heart, and mouth all that happens at the Altar. Further, you must pray with the Priest the holy words said by him. You have to associate your heart with the holy feelings which are contained in these words and in this manner you ought to follow all that happens on the Altar. When acting in this way, you have prayed Holy Mass.”

  11. Mark: Would it be in “bad form” for a layman such as myself to read from this Missale Romanum during Mass following along with the Priest?

    Remember, that this new volume is just a book. You can use a hand missal with vernacular side by side. You can use an entirely Latin missal. Use whatever you want.

    You can opt not to have any book at all.

    However, whatever you use, don’t make Mass merely an intellectual exercise.

  12. Mark says:

    Father & Henry,

    Thank you for your comments.

    First, I should have been clear: I own a hand missal with Latin on the left and English on the right. I rarely refer to the English any longer as my Latin has improved over the course of the two and a half years of daily study, driven by my passion for the Latin Language and passion for the Church.

    There were a couple of underlying issues that I will now expose for you to consider further:

    (1) I feel that I am more “actively” engaged in my “participation” when I “assist” with my mind & soul as well as with my mouth – “dixit secreto” – in joining with the Priest’s Prayers and Responses from the Missal. These prayers are unbelievably wonderful and mysterious on so many levels, especially in Latin. I’ve heard so many people complain about the horrendous translations in the Novus Ordo Missal. I’ve noticed that the “Old Missal” is not exempt from bad translation, either. Although it is much better overall.

    (a) I’m a revert and “learning” as much as possible about the faith day by day. Thus, Father Z’s comment above regarding making Mass merely “an intellectual exercise” is a case well taken – I’m in fact concerned with this myself. As a former scientist and now technologist, I tend to enjoy intellectual exercises. Frankly, I never thought I would find intelligence in religion – I used to think that religion was anti-intellectual a year and a half ago, before my reversion. I hope you all will forgive me for my ignorance in this matter.

    (b) By simultaneously reading, imaging, mouthing all that the Priest & Servers do, am I doing anything wrong or blasphemous? Is this not my role in “assisting”? Henry appears to answer this in the negative, is this true, Father?

    (2) Recently, I purchased an Alter Missal and noticed the detailed instructions/actions (much more red, if you will) for the priest which provides a better understanding of what is going on during Mass contrary to what my hand missal provides. Many of you have a greater understanding of the rubrics, ecclesiology and a much better understanding of Forma Extraordinaria than myself through your experiences with the older rite and “being Catholic” for much longer than I.

    It is these things, along with a sense being behind in my understanding, that are at the root of my questions and concerns herein.

    Again, thank you for your comments.

    In Christo fratrem tuus,


  13. brendan gamble says:

    Fr. Zs Gold Start For The Day Father Z: I checked with the bookstore to find out when they would be getting a new shipment of the travel size Altar Missal, and, in addition to saying at this point they don’t know, they also told me that the shipment that was sent to them was damaged, so St John Cantius is in the process of re-doing them. That would probably explain the poor quality (especially of the binding) that you explained. I intend to get a copy for myself, as one other gentleman explained, I very seldom look at the English on the hand missal, plus the fact that from time to time I have trouble reading small print. This would helpmy eyesight greatly. Thanks. Brendan 

  14. brendan: Your comment was really helpful. Thanks for posting that! Good work!

    You get a gold star for the day.

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