Pope Benedict’s Mass for Pius XII – some images and comments

NLM has some screen captures of the Holy Father’s Mass today in honor of Pius XII.  They are kind of doing their own thing over there at NLM, but they sure post great liturgical photos! A real service and encouragement.  I am very happy to have seen these screen captures and that someone took the time and effort to put them up. 

Here are the shots I think most interesting.

First, note that the Holy Father is in a "historic" vestment, the so-called taglio filipino which is that "continuity" vestment between the Medieval style and the modern Roman pianeta.  He is wearing the pontifical dalmatic.

Next, note the physical arrangment of the Holy Father’s throne and the placement of the ambo…. now moved away from the main altar into the nave.

And this is simply a great shot.  Period.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. TJM says:

    Thankyou Father Z for posting these wonderful photos. I love the way the papal throne has been moved away from the altar. I always found
    it a bit disconcerting to see any celebrant (whether Pope, bishop or priest) seated directly in front of the altar. The emphasis just
    seemed wrong. By the way, I am always curious about the music used for these papal Masses. Is there a website that posts this information?
    All the best, Tom

  2. Maureen says:

    To steal a tune from Huey Lewis:

    “All I want from tomorrow
    Is to get it better than today.

    “Brick by brick, tile by tile,
    Further and further,
    Inch by inch, smile by smile,
    Fix it, make it better.” :)

  3. surge says:


    The Liturgy Office seems to hae started posting selected PDFs of the booklets for some papal Masses.
    These give the congregational music, but not details of the compositionss.

  4. surge: Thanks for that!

  5. Charivari Rob says:

    I’ve never been to St. Peter’s, and it’s hard to get my bearings from individual photos and screen caps (beautiful though they are).

    Just so I have this straight – This was taking place between the Papal Altar and the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter, right? With the throne and the anbo facing each other, or have I gotten completely turned around?

    Thank you.


  6. TJM says:

    surge, thanks much. Tom

  7. surge says:

    C Rob

    No, our Holy Father’s throne was on the Nave side not the Apse side of the Altar of the Confession, as described on the floorplan.

    Fr Z – no probs.

  8. MLS says:

    I found it odd that the two deacons incensed the altar at the beginning of Mass…is that how it would have been done in a Solemn Papal Mass?

  9. Nathan says:

    Charivari Rob: No, this throne and ambo (from the picutres at NLM) are set up in front of the Confessio, which would be at the point where the nave joins the crossing. I looked at footage of the Coronation Mass of Blessed John XXIII, and Pope Benedict’s throne is in roughly the same location as the “little throne,” where Pope John said Terce and vested for the Solemn Papal Mass. It is near the Altar of St Gregory the Great.

    It’s fun to speculate that, perhaps, Pope Benedict will eventually place the throne for Mass back to the Altar of the Chair. If nothing else, the drapes will hide the hideous (in my opinion) 1970s Altar mensa that now occupies the space in front of Bernini’s masterpiece.

    In Christ,

  10. Franzjosf says:

    I wonder if it is by design that the ambo faces the Liturgical North instead of the people in the nave??

  11. Nathan says:

    To speculate a bit further–could there be some in the Office of Papal Liturgical Celebrations who may be thinking about this setup of the papal throne to support a Pontifical Mass in the EF, as opposed to the Solemn Papal Mass in the EF? It might do a couple of things–first, some of the issues of the papal court ceremonial would be neatly circumvented (as one might have to deal with in trying to re-create conditions around the throne at the Altar of the Chair)and would allow the Holy Father the ability to distribute Holy Communion to the faithful (which didn’t occur in the Solemn Papal Mass).

    This would be analagous to the distinctions in the Pontifical Mass–from the throne and the faldstool. In this case, it would be from the “little throne” as opposed to the “throne at the Altar of the Chair.”

    Oh, it’s fun to dream…..

    In Christ,

  12. Charivari Rob says:


    So that would be the statue of St. Longinus visible to one side of the anbo and the bronze statue of St. Peter on the other?



    And (the bottom of) the statue of St. Francis of Paola just visible in the niche above the Pope’s throne?


    Thank you, surge & Nathan. I understand it now.

    Reading the website refreshed my memory about the outlines of other churches on the floor of the Basilica. How much space, do you think, would Sabine Chapel take up?

  13. Charivari: Good question! I would say about this much… that is the red box against the floor plan of the basilica.

  14. Richard says:

    NLM is doing real yeoman work documenting and commenting on what Fr. Z terms Pope Benedict’s “Marshall Plan.”

    They confine themselves strictly to liturgical matters, which chaffs a few people. They can be arcane in their discussions, which chaffs others. But let no one doubt they are doing work that urgently needs to be done – it’s the retrieval and reinstitution of an entire (largely lost) tradition – in its liturgy, sacred art and music.

    They fill a unique roll in the ongoing Reform, as does Fr. Z. Deo Gratias for both of them. And for these fantastic photos!

  15. GandhianCatholic says:

    Love what the Holy Father’s doing, but…

    1. I do not like seeing Eastern Catholic Patriarchs set aside like they’re nobodies. They’re equal in dignity with the Pope and if concelebration is going to happen, it might as well be with the Patriarchs, not the Cardinals.

    2. Would it have killed them to bring out the fanon, Leonine throne, and a taller mitra simplex? I know Pius IX used shorter mitres as well, but, this one just looks bad. And it’s high time the fanon was resurrected. Is a striped mozzetta really going to scandalize the progressives that much? (It’s not really that important to me, I would just like to see the Pope vested like something other than a normal metropolitan) Jeese, it’s not like it’s the tiara.

    3. The more I see the new pallium, the less I like it. I mean, I realize we’re stuck with it now, it’s just, it looks so untidy. It’s supposed to lay flat, but it doesn’t. Oh well, something else ruined that was better off left alone in the first place.

    4. It’s time to dump the VII dalmatics. They’re so…glitzy

    Currently praying for the beatification and canonization of Ven. Pius XII.

  16. Maureen says:

    I thought Eastern Catholics strongly disliked concelebration. Why would they want to concelebrate with the Pope, if they would prefer to assist in choro?

  17. Mitch says:


    I’m fairly sure that before VII concelebration was more common in the east then the west (where it was reserved to ordinations only). It would be nice to see a unique liturgy be formed for the Holy Father. Maybe not the old Papal Solemn Mass but a modification of it. That would include a place for Eastern Patriarch’s to Concelbrate. It would be nice to have some more Eastern elements in Papal Masses. A distinction should be made between the type of public Masses celebrated by the HF, a simple and a solemn Mass. The simple being more like the current Papal Mass, and the Solemn being a more exadurated form with more Byzantine and Oriental(ie Chaldean, Assyrian, Indian, etc.) Christian additions. Make the Solemn Papal Mass a more universal Mass, drawing on all Catholic Traditions. Also a special place for Patriarchs of various Churches needs to be included.
    While the old Solemn Papal Mass was incredible I think its form needs to be changed. The way John XXIII celebrated it should never be done again. Before you all kill me let me explain why. It clearly celebrated the Roman Church over the sui juris Churches. That needs to be changed. The Papal Mass needs to be made less Roman and more uniqually Papal.

  18. G says:

    Beautiful shots.

    “They are kind of doing their own thing over there at NLM, but they sure post great liturgical photos! ”

    Why the “but”? I’m not trying to cause trouble, but it sounds as if you have some objection, or at least a quibble with “their own thing” that they’re doing over there.
    Is there a problem with that site?

    By the way, has someone shown you this photo of the Holy Father?
    I don’t know how to post links to pictures.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

  19. G: Yes… someone showed me that photo. Vincenzo made it and posted it in this thread.  Talented guy.  I am glad to see others are finding it.

    And the “but”?  I wouldn’t read too much into it.

  20. TNCath says:

    I too like the arrangement of the ambo and throne. It better use makes use of the space in the basilica and is much more logical, especially for celebration of the Novus Ordo Mass.

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