1st Vespers of Advent with Benedict XVI – live

First Vespers of the 1st Sunday of Advent is on.

This is the first liturgical ceremony of the new liturgical year.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    I note from NLM’s picture of the same event that one of the cardinals has turned out in biretta. Can’t tell who as the picture is from behind.

  2. Fr Ray Blake says:

    Two censors? Has this ever been part of the Roman Tradition?

  3. Rellis says:

    Fr Ray, do we have to find a problem with everything? Here we have a very beautiful first vespers, with great traditional arrangements, vesting, etc. Let’s enjoy it.

  4. Piers-the-Ploughman says:

    It was a beautiful service, appreciated the Holy Father’s homily. I hope there will come a day when EWTN or some other place on the Internet will offer daily vespers, morning prayer, compline, etc, with wonderful music that the whole family can tune in to a pray along with.

    The color of the deacons vestment–was that blue?

  5. Richard says:

    No they are Violet

  6. Calleva says:


    The fifth picture down, do I spy Cardinal Law?

  7. Geoffrey says:

    I thought the two censers were a very nice touch. I am still trying to find out why the Pope himself doesn’t incense the altar like a bishop would at Pontifical Solemn Vespers, but oh well! Yes, Cardinal Law was there, as was Cardinal Pell who always seems to be in Rome!

  8. Nick says:

    The two deacons censing at the Magnificat is not the usual rubric but perhaps it is something archeologically Papal. I know the Orthodox have one or two deacons cense at Vespers.

    I find it annoying that the Papal Throne wanders to every corner of St. Peter\\\’s Basilica but for some reason there is a horror of putting it in front of the Altar of the C h a i r where it was for centuries.

  9. Fr Ray Blake says:

    Rellis, It is a real question, it seems unlike the Papal Office of Liturgy in its new form to invent things for the sake of it, nor, I think, is it part of the Pope’s plan to introduce novelties just because the look pretty.

  10. Franzjosf says:

    Yes, Fr. Blake, I’m wondering if it is an innovation or if there is a Roman precedent. And if it is an innnovation, I wonder why two deacons instead of one. (Lots of steps for the Holy Father to go up and down and around the altar, but one deacon could do it. Do they think it more solemn to have two, does the size of the Basilica have anything to do with it, is it an aesthetic decision? I’m curious.)

  11. Geoffrey says:

    Is innovation or adding a little something new always a bad thing? Has the liturgical “chaos” of the last few decades made us so fearful of actual organic development in the liturgy? Just food for thought…

  12. Flabellum says:

    The Sarum Rite involved multiple thurifers in great churches on major feasts; but I do not know about the history of ceremonial involving the Roman Pontiff. (Two thurifers are still preferred for a Corpus Christi procession, I believe.)

  13. Thomas says:

    Is it just me, or is Pope Benedict wearing a mantum? Or is it just a fancy cope?

  14. Akira Yamadori says:

    Are the two acolytes/altar servers in cowls monks, or is that just a different type of alb like as is used in the USA and other European countries.

    If they are monks, they remind me of monks from Abbaye St. Joseph de Clairval, in Flavigny, France (same town were the SSPX has a fairly big seminary)

  15. Franzjosf says:

    Geoffrey: Please note that neither Fr. Blake nor I said it was a bad thing. We’re asking to see if anyone knows the answer to a liturgical question. I would like to be educated upon this detail.

    Thomas: The same thing crossed my mind. It sure looks like a mantum, but I don’t know the exact difference from a cope to tell.

    Akira: I would guess the acolytes are from a monestery or congregation. Last year a group of canons (can’t remember which ones) served First Vespers of Advent.

  16. CatholicGandhian says:

    Thomas and Franzjosf,

    The Papal Mantum, from what I’ve heard, is supposed to be at least 7-10 feet long. Though, the distancing of the orpheries is definately wide for a normal cope, as it was with the Medici vestments. I do wonder if we will see the Mantum at Christmas, as Benedict was supposed to use a “cope” of Benedict XV’s at the Easter Urbi et Orbi. I only know of one cope from the reign of Benedict XV, and it was a masterpiece unfit to trim.

  17. Flabellum says:

    BTW, this question was previously discussed on this blog on 4th January 2008. https://wdtprs.com/2008/01/question-about-incensing-the-altar-at-vespers/

  18. surge says:

    Cavella & Geoffrey –
    Yes that’s Cardinals Law and Pell. It’s always very easy to spot Cardinal Pell in a group of cardinals, since he is head and shoulders above the others. (He is also very tall).

  19. Tom says:

    Surge – Cardinal Pell also always seems to wear the short slip-in collar, hence you can always see the black neckband, whereas most other cardinals wear the full white Roman collar. Aesthetically, I think the white looks better than the black – but this is not to be taken as a criticism of one form of collar against another.

  20. Geoffrey says:

    Franzjosf said: “Please note that neither Fr. Blake nor I said it was a bad thing. We’re asking to see if anyone knows the answer to a liturgical question. I would like to be educated upon this detail.”

    Oh of course, I was just posing some more questions for discussion. I’ve looked through all of my liturgical resources myself and can’t seem to find anything… yet!

  21. @ Thomas,

    That is not a Mantum; that is a Cope.

    For pictures of the real Papal Mantum, see examples here: http://traditionalcatholicism83.blogspot.com/2008/11/papal-mantum.html

  22. Many thanks to Flabellum for the link to Fr. Z’s post on the same subject on 4 January 2008. Some very interesting comments there !

    Quite simply, there is no precedent for the incensing of the altar by non-cardinalatial deacons coram Pontifice. It is not unknown in pontifical vespers, but it is new to papal vespers.

    I think the last word belongs to Fr. Guy Selvester in his comment on 4 January 2008. The action is not prescribed, but neither is it proscribed.

  23. The action is indeed not prescribed, and, indeed, not proscribed.

    But it’s no justification for a liturgical act to say it’s not proscribed. After all, lots of actions are not proscribed, and I don’t think we want to go down that slippery path.

    The ceremony, in any case, makes the best of an odd liturgy. I say odd because for reasons I have never quite understood, the new Liturgia Horarum doesn’t quite work as public liturgy. In some ways it’s the descendant of late Medieval private breviaries: very edifying for personal use, but not quite *something* in public celebration.

  24. John Polhamus says:

    How nice to see the value of the service of Vespers so publicly validated. It just makes you smile inside…and outside, too!

  25. Seminarian says:

    I do not believe that there is anything in the rubrics which calls for the two deacons incensing in the Modern Roman Rite. However, it is a long and ancient tradition of the Church, and one which the Easterners and Orthodox employ quite often when a Bishop officiates.

    Certainly, the Pope’s liturgical rite has always been a bit different from the Latin church as a whole. It seems to invoke not only more solemn gestures, but also brings in many, many, many, Eastern practices (Latin Gospel, special items used (i.e. the star placed over the bread, its name completely passes me at the moment, probably all the turkey, etc)

    Coming from this view, even if it is not explicitly used in recent times past by the Holy Father, it seems fitting as in it is a tradition of the Church universal and edifying. I would be willing to guess however, that this is not the first time it has been done this way with the Pope. My own knowledge lacks beyond being able to say definitively.

  26. Ted says:

    On Dec 5 the Supreme Court will either allow or disallow the usurpation of both the Constitution and the Government of the United States — easily the most pivotal decision since our nation’s founding — and the silence of the news media is deafening (if not downright scary).


  27. Doug Gates says:

    Does anyone have any information on the monks that were serving? Any ideas on what monastery they’re from? Thanks.

    Doug Gates

  28. eric says:

    the pope is so beautiful! these vestments and all the trappings are also very beautiful. I pray the Holy Father publicy celebrates the Traditional Mass soon and begins to do so regularly to make a powerful point.

  29. Nick says:

    I didn’t watch the live Vespers but it appears that the deacons are beginning the censing from the back rather than the front of the altar. The corpus on the crucifix also switches direction depending on whether mass is being said or not. Confusing. The old photographs have the crucifix and six candlesticks lined up down the center length of the altar with the corpus turned to the Altar of the Chair. Now they are positioned at the back edge.

  30. Sorry – I’m missing the point about having more than one deacon. Is that uncommon for the Latin Rite either at Vespers or at Mass?

  31. Geoffrey says:

    Father Deacon Daniel:

    Yes, usually there is only one censer in the Latin Rite (either form), hence the confusion. I personally have never seen two before. Is it an eastern element?

  32. Harold says:

    In the eight photo from the top who is the man in a tight black head and face cap? And what is that cap?

  33. Nick says:

    Patriarch Ignace Moussa I Cardinal (Daoud)

  34. Mark G. says:

    “Has this ever been part of the Roman tradition?”

    It is now.

    However, the vestigular flamalile should be pointed introspect instead of extrospect and should also have a red dot in the middle. The Holy Father is so lucky to have such a knowledgeable and supportive staff to authenticate everything he does.

  35. Franzjosf: the canons who served last year were canons of Premontre from St. Michael’s Abbey.

  36. Melody says:

    Fr. Sebastian: I’ve always thought masses at the abbey looked a great deal like the papal masses on TV. I never guessed how right that was. How blessed I am to be able to attend there. Does there happen to be pictures of last year’s celebration?

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