Ad orientem versus

I tip my biretta to Cacciaguida       o{]:¬)

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Mark says:

    I don’t understand…

    “Ad orientem versus…” death?

  2. John Hudson says:

    I can imagine this illustration being used as a new argument in favour of versus populum: “Look, if you celebrate ad orientem, you leave yourself open to attack from behind!”

  3. Mark says:

    Or “he’s behind you!”?

  4. Fr Ray Blake says:

    You mean ad Orientem demonstrates greater trust by the priest for the members of the congregation.

  5. Michael Hunt says:

    Stabbing in the back seems so much more cowardly

  6. Angelo says:

    Perhaps it’s related to St Thomas Becket of Canterbury,
    Bishop & Martyr, slain in his Cathedral by the soldiers of
    king Henry II while officiating at the altar ad orientem.

  7. JPG says:

    I think it is only to remind us of the Holy martyr Thomas a Becket.
    Martyrdom continues everywhere. I remember reading an account of a Mass in
    Leningrad during the twenties or thirties of the last century. It was written
    by Catharine De Hueck Doherty who I believe was at this Mass. The Mass was in a small Church in near darkness to make the identification of the congregation impossible or at least difficult. During the Mass the secret police came in and at the elevation of the Host shot the priest in the back killing him instantly. The captain of the guard went onto the altar
    crushed the consecrated Host and announced there was no God. After the police or guard left the congregants reverently consumed the crushed Host the cut out the piece of floor where the desecration took place and burned it. They then buried their martyred priest.
    I cannot cite the reference but this story has remained with me these twenty years since I first read it. Catherine recounted this when in a group of women complaining about Catholic action and the lack of priestly involvement. Her point was to redirect them to the true and more important role of the priest as the one who offers that sacrifice and whose presence is indispensible to the Church. I am sure many readers can relay similar stories of true martyrdom for the True Faith rather than selfsanctified suicideand murders of the Moslem extremists.

  8. Knot Bekett says:

    This miniature — if it’s intended to portray the martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket — takes some artistic license. While the slaying did occur in his cathedral (Canterbury), it wasn’t while he was offering the Most August Sacrifice, nor was he even at the altar at the time: it was whilst he was processing to the sanctuary to begin Solemn Vespers in the Octave of the Nativity.

  9. Paul says:

    It does appear to be a depiction of the martyrdom of St. Thomas a Becket, but a somewhat apocryphal one. St. Thomas was not celebrating Mass when attacked, he was in the nave of Canterbury Cathedral.

  10. Cacciaguida says:

    If you liked the picture (for which I must that Aquinas and More Catholic Goods Inc.), you may like my Becket Carol (tune: Good King Wenceslas):

    Good King Henry 2 got whipped
    On the Feast of Becket.
    Great his heart and eke his tongue —
    When that he could check it.

    But one day, “This priest,” said he,
    “Who shall rid me of him?”
    Now he’s got five Saxon monks
    Swinging whips abo-O-ove him.

  11. Matt Q says:

    John Hudon wrote:

    “I can imagine this illustration being used as a new argument in favour of versus populum: “Look, if you celebrate ad orientem, you leave yourself open to attack from behind!”


    LOL. I like that. Those Ad Populum folks should think the same way when going into the house. If you open door Ad Orientum, you leave youself open to attack from behind.

Comments are closed.