Madison (WI): Bishop celebrates Missa Pontificalis

Yesterday, the Bishop of Madison, H.E. Robert Morlino, celebrated a Pontifical Mass in the older rite with the help of members of the Institute of Christ the King.

I am waiting for details.

You might remember that Bishop Morlino had a change of view on the older form of Mass after Summorum Pontificum was released.

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  1. mary martha says:

    I was there! It was wonderful.

    My general review is that they don’t believe in starting small in Madison. I live in Chicago and usually attend St. John Cantius but regularly visit family in Madison so I was happy to have an opportunity to attend the extraordinary form Mass there this weekend.

    The Mass was evidently organized with the assistance of Institute of Christ the King priests and it was beautifully done. There was vesting of the bishop and then unvesting of the bishop (which I had never seen before). The music was lovely.

    The Cathedral burned down here last year, so the Mass was said in a parish church in downtown Madison. I think it might be the only church left here with at least a partial communion rail and side alters. The problem was… it’s still a rather small church so there really wasn’t enough room for the sheer number of people they had participating. There was the Bishop, and archpriest, deacon, subdeacon, MC, lots of altar servers and then two extra spare deacons who seemed to have no purpose whatsoever (any idea on what they were? They looked either like backup singers for the bishop, or bodyguards). I also wonder about the fact that the Bishop, archpriest, deacon, and subdeacon were wearing what looked like red vestments (quite nice ones) while the random extra deacons were wearing rose. I can understand that finding a full set of rose vestments might be a challenge… but wouldn’t it be violet if not rose?

    The good news is that the church was PACKED. Standing room only. Of course lots of families and a really great positive vibe. I left with what a friend calls a ‘liturgical high’.

    Hopefully in the future when I come up to visit Madison there will be lots of places to attend the extraordinary form here. Hooray for Summorum Pontificum!

  2. Mary Martha,

    Rose color is not very precise! Some are ghastly pink shades; however some years ago I saw a st of very deep rose vestments that magnificent. Perhaps the shade of red bespeaks more to the Sunday. Just a thought!

    Fr. Gregory

  3. Doug says:

    The two “extra” deacons could have been serving as liturgical chaplains. Were they wearing vimpa? Vimpa would look like sort of wide veils or shortish stoles and would be, properly, made from white silk. The two chaplains would hold the bishop’s mitre and crozier when not in use by the bishop. They would flank him at the throne and follow him in procession. (An interesting note: no one should follow the celebrant in procession EXCEPT in the case of a liturgical chaplain in the service of a bishop. The chaplains are allowed in this position because, liturgically, they “do not exist”. Similarly, if there is no place in the chancel for the chaplain to sit, he may actually sit in the throne if it is unoccupied by the bishop. Once again, this is because he “does not exist”. In the middle ages, if anyone other than a chaplain or the bishop had sat in the throne, he would have been considered a pretender and treated accordingly…..not good :-))

  4. mary martha says:

    The ‘extra’ deacons were wearing regular Rose Deacon vestments.

    They basically flanked him at the throne but they did not hold the crozier and mitre (by the way – there were two different mitres worn at different points of the Mass) some of the many altar servers had that covered. The extra deacons also stood on either side of the Bishop during the homily.

    I spoke to a priest who was one of the spare deacons and he told me the title was some kind of deacon of the throne (I forget). I generally get the feeling that lots of people wanted to participate on the big day and there were positions found for them.

    Perhaps the vestments were some very deep rose color. But honestly, they looked red. They were very beautiful and I can’t imagine that finding a full set of Rose vestments for Bishop, archpriest, deacon and subdeacon would be very easy to find here in 2007.

  5. TJM says:

    Bishop Morlino, what a holy and humble man, an example for the rest of the American episcopate. He actually believes
    in holy obedience. I’m very impressed and very happy for the people of Madison. I’m also pleased the Church was packed. There are some who
    comment on this website who don’t believe the folks actually want the TLM. I saw the Rorate Caeli Mass celebrated on EWTN. This should help
    further the mainstreaming of the TLM. Tom

  6. j m cianciara says:

    In a Pontifical Mass celebrated by a bishop in his own Diocese, Pontifical Mass at the Throne, there are two deacons at the Throne. Their function is somehow limited but they serve an important role. Consult the relevant section on the Pontifical Mass at the Throne, in “The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described,” by Adrian Fortescue, J.B. O’Connell & Alcuin Reid OSB or the “Cæremoniale Episcoporum.”

  7. ThomasMore1535 says:

    The two deacons in question are sometimes referred to as “honorary deacons.” They may only be used by an Ordinary who celebrates in his own diocese. For example, whenever Archbishop Burke celebrates a Pontifical High Mass in St. Loius, he has the two honorary deacons on either side of him (usually Msgr. Henry Brier, his secretary, and Fr. Thomas Kellery, liturgy professor at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary). However, whenever Archbishop Burke celebrates a Pontifical High Mass at, say the Institute of Christ the King’s seminary in Florence, which is, of course, outside of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, he does not have any honorary deacons.

    The honorary deacons sit on either side of the Bishop’s throne, but do not go up to the altar with him. They remain at the foot of the altar, and the Bishop is assisted at the altar by the main deacon (who chants the Gospel) and the subdeacon, just like a regular priest.

  8. Bill says:

    I have a separate question. What is the function of the archpriest? I presume he’s the “extra” who wears the cope, rather than a Eucharistic vestment? Thanks.

  9. ThomasMore1535 says:


    You’re right–the archpriest is the “extra” who wears the cope. Though he really isn’t an “extra,” since in terms of hierarchy he’s the second-highest minister in the Pontifical mass after the bishop himself. This is perhaps illustrated by the fact that in vesting the Bishop, the one thing that the archpriest puts on the Bishop is his ring, at the very end of vesting.

    Basically, the archprist serves to “assist” the Bishop in pointing out to him the text of the prayers to be recited in the Mass. In a Pontifical High Mass, there are no “altar cards” on the altar. All of the prayers, rather, are contained in something know, I believe, as the “pontifical,” or something like that. This has all the prayers of the Ordinary of the Mass. When the Bishop is at the altar, the archpriest stands to his left and holds this book open for him and points to where on the page the prayer is that he is supposed to say. This includes the prayers of consecration.

    Hope that helps. You might be interested to know that when the Pope celebrated a Solemn Papal Mass, the honorary deacons were REQUIRED to be Cardinal Deacons (something that was retained in Papal Liturgies following the reforms, then fell out of use, but has now been brought back by the new Marini, thankfully), and the archpriest was REQUIRED to be a Cardinal Bishop. The Cardinal Deacons would wear dalmatics, and the Cardinal Bishop would wear a cope, along with white mitres.

  10. Shane Drefcinski says:

    Fr. Z,
    Here are some further details. The Holy Redeemer Schola Cantorum sang the
    Chorale prelude–Nun Komm’ Der Heiden Heiland, J.S. Bach.
    Arrival of the Bishop in the Church–Cantate Domino, Heinrich Schutz.
    Vesting of the Bishop–Ihr habt nun traurigheit, Johannes Brahms.
    Of course, the Introit, Kyrie, etc. were chanted.
    Priests from the Institute of Christ the King chanted the Epistle and Gospel
    in Latin.
    Offertory–Psalm 84:2 and Ave Verum Corpus
    Communion–Isaias 35:4, Pange Lingua, Ave Maria (Rachmaninoff)
    Un-vesting of the Bishop–Sicut locutus est, J.S. Bach
    Final hymn: Salve Regina
    Postlude: Holy God We Praise Thy Name.
    The Mass was sublime. I wish to publicly thank Bishop Morlino, the assisting
    priests from the Institute of Christ the King, the Schola from Holy Redeemer
    parish, and all those people who played a role in this most beautiful act of
    worship of Our Lord.
    BTW–Thank you Fr. Z for the podcast of the prayers for the Third Sunday of
    Advent. I found them very helpful in preparation for this Mass.

  11. Tim Ferguson says:

    Madison is truly blessed to have a bishop of the caliber of Bishop Morlino. Prior to his election as bishop of Helena, Montana, he served as archpriest and homilist for the First Mass offered by a very good friend of mine (now a Marine chaplain).

    The music sounds sublime indeed, Dr. Drefcinski – Rachmaninoff’s Ave Maria is very beautiful. And Bach, well we all know that Bach is what the angels sing in worshipping the Lord in heaven. Mozart, they sing for the sheer joy of it :)

  12. Bill says:

    Thanks, Tom. Is he also the one who is vested with a humeral veil and holds the paten? As you can see, I’m a novice at the pre-PVI liturgy . . . I appreciate your help in understanding the ritual.

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