Pontifical Canon

I had a question from a reader:

Does anyone know if a digital form of the Pontifical Canon is available?

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  1. Someone asked the same question last year at the catholic Answers forum and no one responded. Must be hard to find.

  2. Sekman says:

    Could someone please enlightem me as to what the pontifical canon is?

  3. Paul Goings says:

    The Pontifical Canon is simply the Ordinary and Canon of the Mass, with the variant text of the Canon for Pontifical Mass, printed separately as a (typically) ornate edition. So, what is your correspondent seeking Father, the single sentence which mentions the bishop in the Canon?

  4. Geoffrey says:

    I have been looking for this also. The Pontifical Canon is not a liturgical book per se, rather it is comparable to altar cards. I thought the text for this would be found in the Roman Pontifical for the Extraordinary Form, but I cannot find it. Perhaps the text is in the Ceremonial of Bishops? I do not have this text…

  5. Carl H. Horst says:

    I believe the book referred to as the “Pontifical Canon” is the “Canon Missae Ad Usum Episcoporum Ac Praelatorum.” It is a liturgical book needed for a Pontifical High Mass. It includes the Mass Preparation (Preparation Ad Missam) prayers, the Vesting Prayers for a bishop (Orationes Dicendae Ab Episcopo), portions of the Order of the Mass (Ordo Missae(, the Prefaces in solemn tone, in ferial tone and sine Cantu, the Canon of the Mass (Canon Misae, the prayers of thanksgiving following Mass (Gratiarum Actio Post Missam) and several other prayers. We have found it very difficult to find and count ourselves quite fortuante to have obtained one.

    Carl H. Horst
    San Diego Traditional Latin Mass Society

  6. Deo volente says:

    Is this what you are looking for, Paul and Geoffrey? It is from the SanctaMissa.org site of St. John Cantius. I simply went to their site and searched “Pontifical Canon.”


  7. Geoffrey says:

    Deo volente:

    Thank you for the link, but the Canon of the Mass says: “et Antístite nostro N.” (“and for our Bishop N.”). Would that be different in the Pontifical Canon?


    Thank you for providing us with the official title and information. As a publisher, I have been interested in republishing/reprinting the Pontifical Canon, but that is next to impossible unless an original can be found! ;-)

  8. Geoffrey says:

    Here is an official definition:

    Pontifical (Episcopal) Canon – “A liturgical book containing the ordinary and canon of the Mass and certain forms proper to a bishop; it is used instead of altar-cards by bishops, abbots and protonotaries apostolic” (A Catholic Dictionary, 1958).

  9. Deo volente says:


    I’ve scoured the internet and Loome Books has this listed but not in stock:

    1. Book #AR594

    Canon Missae ad usum Episcoporum ac Praelatorum solemniter vel private celebrantium cui accedunt formulae variae e Pontificali Romano depromptae et cantus ad libitum. Romae-Tornaci: Typis Societatis S. Joannis Evangelistae, Desclee et Socii, 1934. Small Folio (33 x 24cm), 138pp + 35pp. Bound in red imitation morocco with gilt cross stamped on covers, all edges gilt, marker ribbons, lovely endpapers, several wood-cut illustrations in text, slightly rubbed, library pocket on rear paste-down, library stamps on title-page. Printed in red and black with musical notation. Accompanied by flexible cloth slipcase.
    Price: $650.00 NOT IN STOCK

    Google, however, did indicate that an article in the New Liturgical Movement in April, 2008 STATED that this book was being republished. I’ve scoured the site and can’t find it. Perhaps you’ll have more luck. It may be St. Catherine of Sienna Publishing.

    Don’t discount Sancta Missa. The F.S.S.P. may not have an on-line version, but I bet they have a source if you contact them.


  10. Deo volente says:

    Here is the New Liturgical Movement link. I also see that Geoffrey was over there!

    Apparently Shawn Tribe has contacted Baronius Publishing about this. No word on what has transpired as yet.

  11. Sacristy_rat says:

    Now I see how lucky I am to have this book! Ha! It is nearly essential for Pontifical Mass. If one doesn’t have one, the essentials should be put in a binder of sorts, and used as required. It is used as the altar cards are, but after the preface it goes on the missal stand…

  12. Paul Cavendish says:

    Gosh, $650 for a small folio edition! I paid £1 for a very similar copy ten years ago.

  13. Monica says:

    I don’t know what a Pontifical Canon is; however, I do have a question that I hope Fr. Z can answer. During homilies, is a priest allowed to tell the congregation to repeat after him out loud a phrase or sentence of his choice over and over again? Sometimes I go to Masses where the priest will tell us to repeat after him or tell us to respond to his questions by raising our hand during a homily. Thankfully, one of the Benedictine priests who would frequently do this in my Virginia Beach parish transferred to the Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania but ocassionally I stumble across a Mass where a priest will do this. Is this allowed or encouraged in any liturgical directives or instructions?

  14. Joey says:


    If I’m not mistaken, in Pontifical Masses, the phrase “et Antístite nostro N.” (“and for our Bishop N.”) would simply be replaced with “et me, indigno famulo tuo” (“and me, your unworthy servant”) if the bishop celebrates Mass in his own diocese. If it is outside his own diocese, he would pray “et me, indigno famulo tuo, et fratre meo N., (Archi)Episcopo huius Ecclesiae N.” (and my brother N., (Arch)Bishop of this Church of N.).

  15. Larry says:

    If you are looking for the formula used by the Pope refering to himself check the Vatican web site under papal travels and then presentation of the Missal. If you want it in printed form it is in the book published by the former MC Marini for the institution of the new pope.

  16. I well remember the Canon Pontificalis being used when I was young and served Mass regularly for an auxiliary bishop. It is used in place of Altar Cards and in pictures of Pontifical HIgh Mass e.g. that of Cardinal Hoyos at Westminster, it can be seen open in front of the tabernacle. When the prelate is away from the altar e.g at the throne or faldstool the Canon is taken to where he is. During the Lavabo it is moved to the Epistle side then returned to the middle. When the Preface begins the Missal is removed from the missal stand and the Canon is moved from it’s place in front of the tabernacle and placed on the missal stand where it remains until after the ablutions. The Canon may also be used in Low Mass and in my experience it always was. I thus had to know when to move it where.

    AFter praying for the Pope the bishop prays for “me ingigno SERVO (not “famulo”) tuo. I do not believe he prays for any bishop but himself regardless of whose diocese he is in. As I said above, I served for an auxiliary bishop and he never prayed for the Bishop Ordinary but only for himself. This remained the case when the Canon of the Mas went into English.

  17. Mitchell says:

    Thank you, Monica, for ruining my evening. That’s all I need in my diocese (on top of already having Bishop Trautman), a crazy Benedictine from Virginia Beach who wants to teach Interactive Homiletics 101 to his congregation. I’ll now be very weary of Benedictine habits when they come around.

  18. Ricardo Aleixo says:

    I have never come across this book the Canon Missae ad usum Episcoporum in digital format and I usualy download such books if they are available, as I do not always have acess to my personal library of liturgical books and manuals but I do have my laptop.

    I do however own two copies of this book (elephant folio) and they are rarer then hens teeth to come by and they are very expensive if you can locate a copy!

    Let’s not forget that every parish would have copies of the Missale Romanum and the Rituale Romanum in their cupboards but very, very few parishs would have their own copies of Canon Missae ad usum Episcoporum…as only bishops and certain prelates could use them. These books where also expensive to purchase even back in the day as usualy they are very ornate with gilded covers…

    It is like trying to locate a copy of the altar edition of the Pontificale Romanum, they just aren’t easily found because they wheren’t produced or printed in large numbers like the Missale Romanum…

    Also, it hasn’t been mentioned yet but these books usualy also have the propers and formulas of certain massses such as ordinations, etc…

  19. Fr. B. Pedersen says:

    I was fortunate to obtain this rare liturgical book as a gift from my former parish upon a recent reassignment. The cost I am told was at least $800. Loome was the bookstore that recently had a copy.

  20. Hermann says:

    The last edition of the Canon Pontificalis to appear was by Pustet in Regensburg (Germany)in 1962. Don’t ask me, what they did with the books, because they cannot have sold them all – possibly pulped them for lavatory paper or NO missals. I have only seen one (1) book of this edition and that was in the Liturgy Section of the University Library, Faculty of Theology, where I did research for my thesis. If you consult ZVAB.com (Zentrales Verzeichnis Antiquarischer Buecher), they do have a Canon Pontificalis at the moment – printed in 1727. Does anyone have 3.500,– Swiss Franks ready?

  21. Fr. Galvez says:

    Thank you very much to all for your help. I was not able to find a copy of this book searching for “Pontifical Canon”, but I think I am in the right track to obtain a copy after I searched for “Canon Missae Ad Usum Episcoporum Ac Praelatorum.” I am trying to organize a Pontifical Mass at the Throne in my diocese, so I am searching for all the liturgical books needed. If I am not mistaken I will also need a copy of an Evangeliarium. Anyone knows where I can get one? Any other book I will need? Is Terce usually sang before Mass at the Secretarium? If so, will I need another liturgical book for this?

  22. Ricardo Aleixo says:

    Fr. Galvez, I would try looking for these books in your Cathedral…they may simply have them lying around in the back of some cupboard collecting dust. They may permit you simply to borrow these books for the occasion. Usually these types of liturgical books where part of their regular sacristy’s inventory.

    Also, sometimes these books end up in the Diocese’s Archives or become part of diocese or cathedral museums.

    If it is a Pontifical Mass, yes, you will need a Evangeliarium but usualy most parishes that didn’y have this book simply used an extra copy of the Missale Romanum for the purpose of proclaiming the Gospel.

  23. Fr. Galvez says:

    Thank you Ricardo. The Cathedral burned some years ago, and I have already asked the personnel at the Diocese’s Archives. I haven’t heard from them yet, so I am assuming the worst. I did think of using an extra copy of the Missale Romanum, but in that case: would it be correct for the subdeacon to carry it in the beginning procession?

  24. joy says:

    Fr. Galvez,

    Here’s something on ebay, not sure if this is what you want.


    I put in ‘pontifical’ in ebay and that is what came up.


  25. Joy,

    That is not a Pontifical Canon but a book on ceremonial.

    There are two Pontifical Canons for sale on Abebooks at the moment. The cheaper of the two here:

    As some one suggested the easiest (and cheapest) option might be to do some wordprocessing and print something up.

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