A reader requests help about baptism in older rite

I got a note via e-mail and I simply don’t have time at the moment to respond directly.  Perhaps you folks can help this person:


I know you are busy but I am hoping you will be able to answer this question for me.

Can Baptism according to the liturgical books of 1962 be celebrated in the vernacular?

Recently, a friend of mine had thier child baptized according to the older form and the priest who baptized did it in ther vernacular. 

My wife and I are expecting our second child and would like the child baptized in the older form – we asked the priest yesterday and he seemed very hesitant.  He also did not think that baptism could be celebrated in the vernacular according to the liturgical books of 1962.

Blessings in Christ – and a Holy and Happy New Year –

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. I was reading that part of the Rituale just recently. As I recall, the rubrics therein are specific as to when and where the vernacular can be used, particularly during the inquiring portion of the rite. (“What name do you give this child?” and so on.)

  2. I came across this same dilemma before we had our daughter baptised. Following 1962 permission was widely given for it to be said in the vernacular. In England, Archbishop Grimshaw was granted permission to use his English translation. With the Motu Proprio now published, I think it would be wrong to think that the old rite is frozen in time; permission should include indults which allow this sort of thing. We probably need more clarification on the issue. But it depends on what your pastor feels comfortable. We had all the exorcisms and the baptism itself in Latin, with the rest in the vernacular. It was an excellent balance in our opinion, but bear in mind that the Rite is for your child, and since babies can’t understand anything you should pick what most benefits the child rather than wayward relatives present! Have a search on my blog and you should find some useful material.

  3. Dennis DeVito says:

    I was just at a traditional baptism yesterday and it was in both the vernacular and latin ( I don’t recall the full details but the parts the Godparents recited, the Our Father, and I think some other part was in english the actual baptism- the puring of water and words was in Latin

  4. danphunter1 says:

    I have been to four baptisms in the traditional rite and the priest read the rite in Latin and then in the vernacular and explained exactly what was taking place ie: the exorcism prayers, salt in the babies mouth, blowing on the baby etc.
    The Churching of women was also given in the Latin and vernacular and then the baby was placed on the altar and consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This happened all four times.
    God bless you.

  5. David Jenuwine says:

    In the 1961 Collectio p. vii “Where English and Latin appear in parallel columns … the English may be used instead of the Latin. In these cases English is an authentic liturgical language. When, however, it appears after a Latin formula … it may … be read after the Latin formula … for the instruction of the people …”

    In the Baptism rite, the exorcisms are in Latin, the ephpheta and the following line are in Latin (Hebrew for the word ephpheta), the anointing with oil, baptismal formula, and anointing with chrism are in Latin. The rest is in parallel columns.

    (Practical Handbook of Rites, Blessings, and Prayers. 1961, The North Central Publishing Co., St. Paul, MN.)

  6. mike says:

    “The Godfather” movie is an excellent resource where the rite is portrayed in both languages.


  7. Eamonn says:

    We had our own Collectio Rituum in Ireland (essentially a variation on the Roman Ritual, which was approved by Rome in 1959) and it allowed a Latin and vernacular languages mix for baptisms, with appropriate rubrics. (Vernaculars in this case being English and Irish.) So in principle, mixing Latin and English shouldn’t be problematic.

  8. Michael says:

    When Monsignor Ronald Knox was asked to perform a baptism in English after it was allowed in 1950s he refused because, as he said, the baby did not understand English and the Devil understands Latin.

  9. Ron says:

    At my baby’s traditional baptism our FSSP priest used both English and Latin. The exorcisms were in Latin, as well as the baptism itself. (Even the baby’s name was the Latin version.) I guess one could have requested the whole thing be in Latin.

  10. Joan Burt says:

    If there is a question on a mother’s catholic status how do you check? My sister had a child over 50 from a second marriage and we were asked as godparents. I was uneasy to feel as if she’ll raise her catholic. Her two boys, over 18, were not raised catholic. My niece’s father lives apart from her and is a divorced catholic. I believe her wants to raise her catholic. Do you consider this a concern for my godchild as a baptised catholic?

  11. Does anyone know if a Latin-English version of the Tridentine rites of initiation are available on-line?


    In ICXC,


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