Vatican not to reprint 1962 Missal

Our friends over at Rorate Caeli are reporting that Petrus says… (whew)… that Father Giuseppe Costa, the new director of the Libreria Editrice Vaticana (the Holy See’s publishing arm) are saying that they will not be reprinting the 1962 Missale Romanum.

To which I can only say…


The bindings of their liturgical books are pretty awful. They are expensive.  The books fall apart.

We should let the private sector handle this.  Market forces will produce better books than those the Holy See would print.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Nick says:

    I have been talking to local bookstores (eg Powells Books where I live) requesting that they start carrying the 1962 Baronius Press edition.

    This is very important that book stores are aware there is going to be a demand for those books because as more and more discover the TLM, more are going to want to know where they can get a copy.

    I strongly suggest people start asking their local bookstores to start getting 1962 Missals. (Weapons of Mass Instruction)

  2. I think this statement refers to the missals used by the priest at the altar.
    In one way it is sad that the Pope releases “Summorum Pontificum” and then the Vatican isn’t printing the books necessary for the extra-ordinary form to be said.

    The question is: where can one get an authentic 1962 Missale Romanum. I think a previous post hinted that the Roman Catholic Books version is not necessarily the 1962 Missal. At best it is a bit fuzzy as to whether it is authenically the 1962 Missal. The question is: which publishers are going to step up to the plate?

  3. Tim H says:

    “We should let the private sector handle this. Market forces will produce better books than those the Holy See would print.”
    Sounds like Fr. Z is Channeling Tom Woods or Jeffrey Tucker! And this, IMHO is a very, very good thing!

  4. Daniel Muller says:

    How about an editio typica downloadable from the Vatican Web site? It could be watermarked “For study purposes only.” And if a priest did actually do the Liturgical Press Looseleaf Lectionary thing and make his own Missale Romanum at Office Depot; well, that could in a way be a bonus, too: it would be proof that he understood Latin well enough to use a monolingual missal.

  5. REF says:

    Check this out:

    Missale Romanum: an exact reprint of Benziger’s classic 1962 edition of the traditional altar missal which was specially tailored for the USA dioceses. [NB: this is the May 1963 printing, i.e., the final “1962 edition” which includes St. Joseph’s name in the Canon]

  6. Brian Crane says:

    I hope the PCP edition is AFFORDABLE!

  7. Ian says:

    Whether or not it’s affordable we will be offering it. We added the Tridentine Breviary from PCP to our site today.

  8. Father Z, I have to take exception to the generalization of the Vatican impress bindings being universally bad. They’re not ALL bad. I’ve got a copy of the Missale Romanum 2002, and that book is a fine example of the art, one of the best bound books I own. On the other hand, the 1970 and 1975 editions are certainly really quite shoddy, and their crumpled polyester clown-colored ribbons are hideous! (Bugnini, j’accuse!) The 1970 copy I have was falling to pieces before I gave it some attention–rather a good sign, I think, as it was a working copy, and came to that state through liturgical use, it seems, unless the Liturgical Dance Brigade decided to play hockey with it, or something. But the 2002 edition shows they can do well if they put the effort into it. Unfortunately, that quality comes with an inflated pricetag, apparently, if it were even in stock.

    Also, Don Costa seems to leave the possibility open, that the bishops’ conferences could request such reprints. So, it’s a possibility, at least, but not a case where the Vatican Press will proactively be providing the editio typica, unfortunately. It would certainly make sense. Those are hard to come by.

  9. Quietus says:

    Could this not in fact mean that there are changes underway to the 1962 edition? New prefaces, saints from the post ’62 times — maybe a 2nd Confiteor, too, etc?

  10. JPSonnen says:

    You make a good point. They never produced a nice missal even back in the day.

  11. Barbara Epley says:

    Baronius Press is coming out with such goodies, check em out.

  12. AlexB says:

    Mr. Edgecomb:

    I respectfully beg to differ. Compare the Vatican Press 2002 Ordinary Form Altar Missal:

    to the Midwest Theological Forum version of same:

    They are not in the same league. Not in artwork quality, not in binding, and yes, not in price. The free market can indeed add value. And the Vatican edition has been out of print for about a year. If you need one today, MTF’s is your only option.

  13. Prof. Basto says:

    While I agree that the private sector makes better books as a rule, it would be nice to see the Holy See re-starting to print Official Vatican copies of the 1962 Missal.

    In a way, it is sad that they will not engage in printing one of the Missals currently in force in the Church, one of the current official Missals of the Latin Church.

  14. Mathew Mattingly says:

    Like the Episcopal Conferences, I don’t think the Vatican Publishing House is thrilled about the Motu Proprio, or the return of the Tridentine Latin Mass.
    Oh well, their loss is private publishing houses gain. And I know of at least three which are cranking out copies of the Missal of St. Pius V as fast as they can, but not fast enough to keep up with all the purchase orders from USA parishes and religious houses….even some seminaries.

  15. Dominic says:

    I’m inclined to think Quietus is right, and that the Vatican Press is prudently avoiding publication of a Missal that is likely to be updated soon. I fear my new Baronius Press motu proprio edition (which I eagerly wait for in my post each day) may be out of date almost as soon as it arrives!

  16. I am reminded of a whimsical thing I wrote for WDTPRS in print once, about using a notebook for a one volume version of the entire Missale Romanum (which the late Archbp. Bugnini said he would make sure could never be used again):

    Today, with the advent multiple volumes of the lectionary we have now a plethora of books.  And with the addition of so many new readings from Scripture in the different two year “daily” cycle and the three year annual cycle, you would have to push the Missal up to the altar on a two-wheeler if it were all in one volume.   Now that we stand at the dawn of the “information revolution” I suppose one solution would be to provide each sanctuary with two notebook computers linked with wireless LAN cards that could access a database on a CD-ROM containing every prayer and reading for that particular day.  Call it the Sacramentarium Cyberense Romanum.  The computer would automatically pick the readings based on its internal clock and calendar.  No more ribbons!  And can you imagine seeing the deacon bowing before the priest, asking for his blessing and then raising his shiny new liturgical notebook computer and proceeding to the ambo to proclaim the Gospel?  He would solemnly open its tasteful and liturgically correct cover (blue for Advent, right?), announce the reading, incense it, hit any key to take it out of its screen saver mode and begin, wreathed in the fragrant smoke lit by the glow of the 17″ display.  The computer could have special decorative covers, like some of the new large format books for the Gospel readings.  And if everyone had their PDAs and smartphones with them, they could scroll along with the texts in the pews, being able to see the original Hebrew, Greek and Latin sources together with commentaries by the Fathers of the Church and the current box-scores of baseball games they were interested in. The next step?   Sacramental ATM machines.  On the other hand, since the prayers of the Mass are now copyrighted by the bishops, they wouldn’t be able to publish and sell as many books that way.  After all, whenever they make some changes, every parish in the country needs to retool and obtain new books, sometimes at not insignificant expense.

    On more than one occasion at my residence in Rome, when the pre-Conciliar Missale Romanum grew legs and took a walk on us, I had to use my laptop, with high def photos of the correct pages loaded in the right order, until I could find a replacement.

  17. JML says:

    Would the ATM machines take donations and/or give indulgences :)(sorry, I could not resist)!

    Better yet, why not have LCD screens in each pew where we could read the black while the priest does the red. Also, we could read on-line the sermon as it happens. Thinking about it, it would help our hearing impaired worshipers.

  18. JML: Would the ATM machines take donations and/or give indulgences :)(sorry, I could not resist)!

    Of course!

    But only to distribute a nice card indicating the prayers and works to be performed. For information purposes. You can also read it on the screen, gratis.

  19. About private sector…

    But please, not Catholic Book Publishing (here in the U.S.)! They produce our current sacramentaries, breviaries and dominate in all ritual editions, and I think they could do a far better job.

    The artwork and covers are cheap and look it; I think the Pastoral Care of the Sick book could be laid out far better — but that may be primarily the bishops’ fault — and the Marriage Ritual book is a mess. How about having priests assist in designing the layout?

    The baptism and funeral books seem to work pretty well. However, in all cases, the ritual books lack anything supporting the singing of the these parts of the liturgy.

    Ah, I will stop there before I really start complaining…

  20. Actually, the Vatican publishes two different versions of the 2002 Missale Romanum. One is about $600 USD, the other is about $250 USD. The main difference is the art inside. The $600 USD one is actually very beautiful and has nice traditional art and is very similar to the on Midwest Theological Forum publishes (if it isn’t the same one). The $250 USD version has artwork that looks like it was done by kindergarteners. It is actually a pretty well constructed book though. This is the one we have in our parish. It has all the same text and chant as the more expensive version, but it is mainly the artwork that is just annoying more than anything else.
    If you can get past the cruddy artwork, it is definitely worth getting, and I think every parish should at least have that. Although for the dignity of the altar, I would really recommend picking up either the Midwest Theological Forum version or the expensive Vatican edition if it is something the priest would use regularly.

  21. AlexB and Roman Sacristan,
    Yes, the $600 one is quite a bit nicer. Alex, I was thinking more primarily of the actual binding itself, that is, the physical construction of the book more than the decoration. It is actually quite good, in that $200+ edition.

    But, with Roman Sacristan, I have to agree that the “illustrations” are horrible. They appear to be a completely unskilled attempt at reproducing Eastern iconography, but they certainly look as though they were done by someone with no ability in such. The Christ Pantokrator on the cover in gold with its big eyes looks like some kind of alien.

    I’m sure the much more expensive Missale Romanum is more beautiful and less of an assault on the eyes, but I would hope the construction of the binding itself would be at least of the same high quality as that hideously illustrated edition from the Vatican Press.

    Another point is: Why have illustrations at all? They’re not necessary, and there is no liturgically significant reason for them. An error-free text in big print on thick paper with sturdy tabs for the Ordinary, and excellent long-lasting binding are all that’s necessary. Gilding, glossy illustration, a rainbow of tacky ribbons (or “registers” in the trade; one can purchase finer ones separately than are usually bound in, the latter of which are difficult to remove/replace) and other gew-gaws are unnecessary.

  22. Derik Castillo says:

    I would like to comment on the Vatican bookbinding.
    Let me offer an example.

    I own the four-book set of the Liturgia Horarum from the
    Vatican Publishing House (Ordinary Use, of course).
    I think the books are expensive, but nowhere else I could find an alternative.
    The editio oeconomica is vinyl-covered, and looks/feels cheap, but the
    paper is high quality, the size is correct, the typesetting is
    good, and the binding has resisted normal wear and tear for three years.

    In the event that I would want my books hard-cover (they fall
    apart or get tired of the binding), I would go to
    a bookbinder and probably ask for a custom design on the cover
    (something related to ‘sicut cervus ad fontes aquarum’).

  23. RBrown says:

    I own the four-book set of the Liturgia Horarum from the Vatican Publishing House (Ordinary Use, of course). I think the books are expensive, but nowhere else I could find an alternative. The editio oeconomica is vinyl-covered, and looks/feels cheap, but the
    paper is high quality, the size is correct, the typesetting is
    good, and the binding has resisted normal wear and tear for three years.

    In the event that I would want my books hard-cover (they fall apart or get tired of the binding), I would go to a bookbinder and probably ask for a custom design on the cover (something related to ‘sicut cervus ad fontes aquarum’).
    Comment by Derik Castillo

    I own the same set, with vinyl cover, etc., purchased in 1990, and it is falling apart. I will not waste the money to have it rebound.

  24. Derik Castillo says:


    Good point, maybe my books will fall apart pretty soon. Maybe the binding changed since 1990, and they won’t. Among the alternatives, the least expensive (in my side of the budget right now) is to upgrade the binding (if the paper is in decent conditions). Do you know of another edition with higher quality?



  25. Daniel Muller says:

    I have had my four-volume leather Liturgia Horarum since the mid- to late-1980’s. (I had been able to practice with some old bilingual ones given to me by a relative who was a Lincoln priest, RIP.) I have always used them with plastic covers on them, and they are still in good condition. Then again, these days they are only driven to church on Sundays in a Cadillac. For daily use and travel, there is the Liturgia Horarum loaded on my Palm. Free and convenient.

  26. David M.O'Rourke says:

    REF said to check out PCP books. I just did, using the website he provides and was pleased to see that they are reprinting the old Brager’s accompaniments for Gregorian Chants (both the Kyriale and the Propers).

    The Bragers accompaniments were always about the best you could get and, in fact, I still have some from the old days. It is important not to fall into the purist trap that Gregorian chant must be unaccompanied. The Propers can be difficult and many choirs could benefit by the support of the organ well played. Furthermore, even with an accomplished choir, unaccompanied chant needs good acoustics to avoid sounding dry and sterile. Don’t worry about being authentic. In the days of the renaisance even classical polyphony was sometimes accompanied. The only thing with chant is that the accompaniment must allow the melody to flow unimpeded by heavy chords etc. The effect of good accompaniment can be very warm and beautiful and as I said, Bragers is among the best.

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