Implementing Summorum Pontificum at Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (Washington, DC)

I received a good bit of news today.  A WDTPRS reader sent me a copy of correspondence with the Rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C., Msgr. Walter R. Rossi.

Here is the interesting part:

Lay folks from parishes or Latin Mass communities established by local ordinaries in full communion with the Holy See will be able to schedule public pilgrimages to the Shrine and use the extraordinary form provided that they have a priest with them who is able to celebrate this Liturgy.


So!  It looks as if the older form of liturgy will be possible when groups come.

I wonder if they will be welcoming to priests saying private Masses?

I don’t know very much about how the Shrine is set up for these things.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Papabile says:

    Having served at the Shrine for four years while attending CUA, I can assure you the Shrine has ALL the necessary things to offer the Holy Sacrifice in the extraordinary use of the Roman rite.

  2. Folks: I accidentally deleted some of your perfectly good comments. Sorry about that. I hope you don’t mind reposting.

    Again, my apologies.

  3. Chironomo says:

    All of this is taking off like wildfire… a mere two weeks after September 14th! Would anyone care to consider what the liturgical landcape will look like, say three years from now? Five years? After Rome sends clarifications on Summorum to all Bishops? I am truly grateful to be a part of the Church at such an important time in history, although I believe that for the most part, the Catholic faithful have NO IDEA how historic these times are. One brick at a time….

  4. BT says:

    I can confirm that they seem to be welcoming to priests who wish to offer private Masses in the shrine. I attended one offered there on September 14th, in the chapel of Pope St. Pius X.

    I suppose it’s a legal question… but could the rector of a shrine turn away a priest wishing to offer a private Mass simply because he wishes to offer it according to the extraordinary form?

  5. Vox Clamantis says:

    Father Z, I think you must have overlooked another e-mail in the chain of correspondence that I had with the Rector of the National Shrine. In it, he stated that “those priests who wish to celebrate the Mass of Blessed John XXIII will be welcome to do so at the Shrine.” I then wrote back inquiring if this also applied to the laity and received the statement that you have set out in your posting.

    This represents a new policy at the National Shrine. Previously, the Traditional Latin Mass had not been allowed under the indult Quattuor Abhinc Annos and the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei Adflicta. Indeed, I wrote to Cardinal McCarrick when he the local ordinary protesting that we who love the Traditional Latin Mass were personae non gratae at the National Shrine; he replied sympathetically but did nothing to change that status. Happily, it is now no longer our position there.

    Wouldn’t it be great if a national pilgrimage could be arranged with Apostolic Nuncio as the celebrant of a Solemn Pontinfical Mass at the National Shrine? I believe that the nuncio in Canada celebrated the TLM at a parish there some time ago. Just a thought, but what a thought!

    Deo gratias!

  6. danphunter1 says:

    The Shrine has a lovely crypt chapel which has unbelievable acoustics.
    Gregorian chant intoned down there makes an average schola sound like German Benedictines chanting Vespers.
    Sign me up for a group requesting the Tridentine Mass at the Shrine.
    I know a military chaplain who would be willing to offer the Mass there.

  7. Looks like I got deleted.

    Like I said:

    I had an email from Fr. Weston, the liturgist at the Shrine. It says, in pertinent part:


    Thank you for your note and for your question. We have some of
    the items needed to celebrate the Extraordinary form of the Mass. A
    list of our inventory for that purpose is “in process.”

    Thank you,
    Father Weston”

    Sooo . . . why not a national Traditional Pilgrimage sometime next year? Solemn Mass on the great high altar, not to mention the buzz of a hundred priests on the side altars during the day, the national solidarity of traditionalists coming out of the closet, with the Shrine as a backdrop, would be wonderful.


  8. Stephen M. Collins says:

    Count me in also. Maybe a whole new blog is needed for those planning to visit Wahington, D.C., who would want to be at such a Mass. Once a core would be established for a given date, everyone else could find out about it, and make their own plans to join the group. Talk about “wildfire”!

  9. Father Bartoloma says:

    When I was in the seminary at St. Charles Fr. Weston was a very good friend. I am sure that he would be MORE than accomidating to any priest who would like to offer the Extraordinary Form.

  10. EJ says:

    “Wouldn’t it be great if a national pilgrimage could be arranged with Apostolic Nuncio as the celebrant of a Solemn Pontinfical Mass at the National Shrine?”

    Bingo! I had thought of the same thing – especially reminiscing about the Mass offered by Cardinal Stickler in the 90’s at St. Patrick’s in New York… why settle for the Nuncio (who knows if he would agree to it) … Cardinal Castrillon would be far better! Any suggestions as to how we can get the momentum going on this? Especially now with the authority of Summorum Pontificum on our side, something like this seems entirely possible. The Shrine after all is America’s National Marian Shrine – and those attached to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite should be able to lead a pilgrimage there – maybe even a yearly one as at Chartres – why not!

  11. jonathan messer says:

    I, too, would head to DC in a heartbeat for a TLM/Pilgrimage to the National Shrine…Imagine the sight of thousands coming together on one day for this…What a message that would send!

  12. Mendicant says:

    Good news about the National Shrine! Does anyone have any inside information about current provisions for private morning celebrations of the Extraordinary Form in Saint Peter’s in Rome? I would assume that, if anywhere, such celebrations would be welcome there of course. I’m curious as to whether anyone knows if the altar servers St. Peter’s have been trained to serve these private morning Masses or if the priest needs to be able to provide his own server.
    (I’m going to Rome in a few months and am looking forward to offering Mass in the E.F. at St. Peter’s one morning while there.)

  13. One way to get the ball rolling would be to start an Internet information clearing-house for a national pilgrimage. Then, quietly poll the pastors of TLM communities and gauge their interest, mentioning the website while doing so. Regular blog-like updates would help.

    (I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I don’t think I am the man for the job, though, and I was hoping the topic would come up on a “big blog” so I could throw out the net and see what could be dragged in in terms of leadership.)


  14. Another thing:

    We would need a sponsoring institution (like, say, St. Mary’s in DC) to see about reserving the shrine for that day.

    14 Sep 2008 falls on a Sunday, and that might be a problem.


  15. I have taken the liberty of staking a claim on wordpress:


  16. Maynardus says:

    Hmm… July 7th falls on a Monday next year. I’d think a Saturday would be best for real working people and families. This definitely has merit but it needs some serious thought…

  17. Maynardus says:

    March 19th is the anniversary of the Pope’s election and it falls on a Saturday. It would be a good day to do something like this and it would tie-in with the theme of GRATITUDE to the Holy Father for the immense gift he has given the Church!

    Just musing…

  18. LCB says:

    Now if they will just install the statue of Our Lady of America, then we would be set.

  19. Obadiah Wildblood says:

    I visited the Shrine a few days ago & wandered into the shop (the one on the west side of the lower level). I noticed that they are selling Latin-English hand missals for the Mass of St Pius V/Bl John XXIII/Tridentine rite/1962 typical edition/extraordinary form/genuine double-rectified busthead aged-in-the-keg Mass/or what you will.

    I complimented one of the shop assistants, asking her to thank the manager for carrying the book. The shop assistant said that the missals had been prominently displayed on a table where they were highly visible, until “the powers that be” ordered that they be taken off the display table.

    I just repeated my compliment & my thanks. But if anyone else visits the shop, I suggest you thank the staff for making the missal available.

    I also talked to one of the docents. I said I had heard about the Tridentine Mass offered at the Shrine in one of the side chapels on 14 Sept, & wondered whether this would become a part of the schedule of regular Masses at the Shrine. The docent in question didn’t know, but encouraged me to circulate a petition to that effect, and submit it to the Abp of Washington and the rector of the Shrine.

    As soon as the Motu Proprio came out, a friend in Australia wrote to Cardinal Pell asking him to celebrate a Pontifical High Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney. I believe the Cardinal agreed, & that such a Mass has been scheduled.

    “Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come. For winter is now past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers have appeared in our land, the time of pruning is come: the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. The fig tree hath put forth her green figs: the vines in flower yield their sweet smell. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come. My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hollow places of the wall, show me thy face, let thy voice sound in my ears: for thy voice is sweet, and thy face comely.”

    Our long ecclesiastical nightmare is over – winter is now past – the voice of the Introibos is heard in our land. We need to ask our bishops to follow the lead of Cardinal Pell & Abp Hart of Melbourne & the bishop in Vermont.

    Anybody in DC want to get the ball rolling on asking the Abp to pontificate at the high altar of the Shrine? I’m game.

  20. Bernadette says:

    I visit family in D.C. fairly often and always attend the TLM at St. Mary’s. I also usually spend a day at the Basilica. I would love to be able to attend the extraordinary Mass there.

  21. Brian Crane says:

    The Shrine’s gift shop has gotten much better over the past few years. In general, my experience has been that the Shrine staff (docents and shop workers) are not always very knowledgeable.

    It would be great to have a TLM in the crypt church!

  22. chris K says:


    I’m with you, but I think it’s all coming together!

  23. Fr.Visitor says:

    Thanks Fr. Z for posting this.

    Concerning private Masses at the Basilica:

    I personally know the priest who offered the Mass on 9/14 (and it wasn’t me).
    The last time I offered a private Mass at the basilica was on 9/11. I offered according to the ordinary form. At the time, and I will soon check to see if things have been changed, the visitor sacristy on the crypt level which visiting priests can use, was not at all well provisioned for the offering of the extraordinary form. This means that a priest who desires to exercise his right to offer a private Mass according to the ordinary form would have to bring, at least, his own Missale, maniple, and altar cards. The chalices are in bad condition. They are the cheap catalogue-bought kind and all but one have almost no gilding left inside the cup which holds the Precious Blood. [Even the Novus Ordo Missal in Latin (I think it was the 1970 edition; it is certainly not the most recent one) is in terrible condition with its binding broken and pages falling out.]
    While the Byzantine vestments are very beautiful, the Roman vestments are very cheap looking. There are albs but no amices. I think there is one sort-of-cincture thing. (The albs have attached velcro “cinctures.”
    I found a white chalice veil and white burse, but no maniple, and neither of these two latter match any vestment in the closet.
    I don’t know if this has been remedied since 9/14. Thus, visiting priests should be forewarned to bring their own items. [There are unconsecrated hosts (large (not the frisbee size) and small), wine, metal cruets, and altar linens.]
    Perhaps brother priests reading this blog might confirm what I have said.
    And if the sacristy is not yet up to parr, perhaps there of some K of C Councils which might contact the Basilica and donate the specifically needed items.

  24. To implement the Summorum Pontificum in our own way we are working on a website listing (we hope) all Latin Masses and allowing a search feature with maps and directions. Come visit and send us your additions and corrections!

    Vive Cristo Rey,
    Mary Alexander

  25. Papabile says:

    Father Visitor:

    Next time you need the right vestments at the Shrine, just take the elevator up to the Main Church’s sacristy. They are stored in the flat drawers on the east side.

    They have maniples, chalice veils, burses, humeral veils in all liturgical colors, etc.

    Yes, the albs etc. are mostly off the rack cheap stuff.

  26. JASON says:

    This would be ideal! The shrine’s bookstore is the best Catholic bookstore I’ve ever been in and it has many classics including e.f. hand missals and breviary. It’s definately boost sales in addition to graces.

  27. Fr.Visitor says:

    Thank you Papabile for that information….but….

    Are you sure that visiting priests who want to offer a private Mass are permitted to go to the upper church’s sacristy?

    In my experience of offering private Mass more than a dozen times at the Basilica, the only key given out is to the crypt level visitor’s sacristy.
    It is that crypt level sacristy which is utilized by the vast majority of visiting priests which needs to be stocked with the proper liturgical items for the extraordinary form.

  28. FranzJosf says:

    Medicant: On another thread here, Fr. Michael Darcy relates that he celebrated the TOM in St. Peter’s on Sept. 14. Read his remarks and find his e-mail here:

    Scroll way down almost to the bottom.

  29. My experience of saying (“private”) Mass at the Shrine mirrors that of Fr. Visitor. I had always thought that such pilgrim priests are limited to the guest sacristy in the basement. Does the shrine employ a full-time sacristan? Perhaps that is an arrangement they could set up as a student volunteer position.

  30. EJ says:

    Obadiah – I can assure you that Archbishop Wuerl, short of an extraordinary and near-miraculous change of heart, would never offer the extraordinary form, much less in public at at the Shrine. His public statement in reaction to Summorum Pontificum was chilly at best- basically saying “OK well since we have to recognize you people now and your preferences, my priest council will get back to you all and let you know how this will pan out here.” (yes that’s my spin on it) We are STILL awaiting word from the priest council, 11 days after the MP went into effect. This doesn’t surprise me, the “indult” community in downtown DC never made it to our past two archbishops’ list of places for a pastoral visit. Now if this were Cardinal Hickey, things could very well have been very different…similar perhaps to the situation in Sydney. But our past two archbishops, while personally orthodox, can’t seem to get their act together and authoritatively confront pro-choice politicians, given that this is the nation’s capital, well the situation is unfortunate.

  31. C Scarborough says:

    May would be a good month for a pilgrimage as well, since it’s Mary’s month! We’re already planning a trip to DC the last 2 weeks of May with some other families. College will be out, so our older children can come with us. May 22 is the Feast of Corpus Christi…that would be a wonderful day for a pilgrimage Mass. It’s also the feast of St Rita of Cascia (patron of ‘impossible’ cases)!

  32. The Holy Father may be visiting D.C in April. Perhaps he will celebrate Mass using the extraordinary form. Anyone have connections to whom they can suggest this?

  33. Fr. Michael Darcy says:

    So, what’s the final story about using the ‘goods’ in the main sacristy at the National Basilica for private Mass anybody know? Medicant as FranzJosf relates above I celebrated Extraordinary Form at St. Peter’s on Sept. 14th and several days afterwards email me and I’ll relate details

  34. “Does the Shrine employ a full-time sacristan?”

    Indeed, they employ four polish sisters as sacristans. They are very helpful. They dress in lay garb and might be hard to spot, but they are on the job, every day, sun to sun, and I am sure they would be thrilled to help a priest who wanted to say the Extraordinary Mass.


  35. Hammerbrecher says:

    I have seen many private 62 missal Masses at the many side chapels, especially in the lower level.

  36. David M.O'Rourke says:

    A suggestion was made above that rather than the Apostolic Nuncio one should get Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos to celebrate in the National Shrine. That raises an iteresting question. Does anyone know why he, as head of Ecclesia Dei vests according to the 1968 revisions when he celebrates Pontifical Mass in the Usus antiquior. E.g. he omits the tunicle and wears only the one mitre (the Precious Mitre) and he invariably avails himself of the 1968 option of leaving off the buskins and sandals (which date back to the days of Constantine.

    I realise that at the present time, most diocesan bishops with the exception of Archbishop Burke and Bishop Bruschewitz no longer possess the items which pre-Vatican II bishops were required to possess but one would think that Cardinal Hoyos would indeed wear all the Duds (to use Fr.Z’s word). I don’t take to bishops who dress down. Let The Usus Antiquior, especially in it’s Pontifical form be offered with full traditional splendour.

  37. Joseph B. says:

    I have some knowledge from a priest who works there that in the next year or two even, the high altar is going to be moved to the front replacing the moveable altar that is there now.

    That is just a rumor he heard, but I would not discount it.

  38. Joseph B.,

    Well, if we’re going to have a EM there, we’d better get crackin’!


  39. Fr.Visitor says:

    Extraordinary Form at the Basilica:
    Dare I encourage the good layfolk to flood the shrine with requests for the extraordinary form? There is no reason why the national shrine should not offer one extraordinary form Mass, at least on Sunday, if not daily?
    St. Mary’s on 5th and H already offers it at 9:00 am every Sunday and a solemn high Mass every 2nd Sunday at 5pm. Perhaps the shrine could offer it at another convenient time so as not to compete with St. Mary. [The current schedule lists Sunday Masses at 5:15 pm (sat), 7:30 am, 9 am, 10:30 am 12 noon (solemn), 1:30 (Spanish), 4:30 pm.] There are priests studying at CUA and the Dominican House of Studies (OP and non-OP) who could certainly make it possible for these Masses to occur since I do not know if the priests assigned to the shrine know the extraordinary form themselves. Or maybe if the demand is great enough our bishops will even ask the FSSP to send a priest to staff the shrine!
    A regular, at least weekly, extraordinary form of the Mass at the shrine would be both ideal and convenient for all Catholics, and especially for those studying at “The Catholic University.”

    PS to Hammbrecher: even if you have seen “many private 62 missal Masses at the many side chapels, especially in the lower level,” the truth is that those priests in the lower crypt, unless the lower crypt sacristy has been recently suitably provisioned, had to bring their own liturgical items with them which ideally should not be necessary, especially in the National Basilica.

  40. musicus says:

    I’m waiting for them to get rid of the kitchen table
    and begin using the “real” altar again.

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