PCED: Clarification on the use of the ancient Ambrosian Rite

There has been a very interesting development in regard to the use the older form of the Ambrosian Rite.

My understanding is that priests and laypeople in those regions where the Ambrosian Rite has historically been used have encountered great resistance from authorities who should be supporting their interest in the older form of the Ambrosian Rite, with the 1954 Missale Ambrosianum, as it was before it was reformed (the parallel of the 1962 Missale Romanum).

A priest friend of mine, Fr. Jeffry Moore, serving in the Diocese of Lugano is stationed at Ascona.  He has gotten involved in the matter and has obtained some results.  As a priest of the Diocese Lugano, he belongs to a bi-ritual clergy.  There are many places in the area where the parishes are distinguished as Ambrosian or Roman.  Fr. Moore’s church has the distinction being of both rites.  Altars are designated specifically for the Ambrosian Rite.   His church in the past actually had a different sacristy for the Ambrosian use. 

People in the region are very sensitive about their Ambrosian identity.

Fr. Moore wrote to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei on 7 January 2009, which was hand delivered, and followed up with a meeting with Card. Castrillon Hoyos on 9 January together with 2 priests from Milan and 2 lay people.

At that time Fr. Moore was told that Summorum Pontificum applies also to the Ambrosian Rite.

Fr. Moore has now received a letter from the Secretary of the Commission , Msgr. Perl, as a follow up.

Fr. Moore asked me to put this up for all to see.

Here is (the author of the original letter to the PCED) Fr. Moore’s translation of that letter from the Italian original:

Reverend Father,

 Your letter of January 7, 2009 has had our attention but is still waiting for a reply.  You express a desire to “receive the comfort of having the approval of the possibility that also your Ambrosian students who ask for it can enjoy the benefits guaranteed by the Holy Father” in the Motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum”.

 While it is true that the Motu proprio of the Holy Father does not expressly cite the Ambrosian rite, it doesn’t exclude the other Latin rites; if the will of the Holy Father asserts for the Roman rite, considering that it is superior in dignity, consequently much more for the other Latin rites, including the Ambrosian rite.

 Wishing the blessings of the Lord on your pedagogical work, I greet you fraternally.

This is important not just because it applies to the Ambrosian Rite, but also for all the other Latin Rites which under law were in use before the reforms.  This would include the Dominican Rite, in which many religious have interest.


A couple past entries on the issue of the Ambrosian Rite… here and here.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Would it then also apply to the sarum rite? That would be really cool for our friends in england.

  2. Rellis says:

    The Sarum Rite was not (I think) of sufficient antiquity to survive Pius V’s “Quo Primum,” liturgical innovator that he was. :)

    However, this letter does begin to open the door to the surviving non-Roman Latin rites, including the Mozarbic, Braga, Ambrosian, Dominican, etc.

  3. Mitch: Good question. I have no idea. Was a Sarum Rite legitimately used at the time of the Council?

  4. Flambeaux says:

    When the Catholic hierarchy was restored in 19th century England, they elected to deploy the Roman Rite because no one had seen or used the Sarum Rite since the Reformation. There were efforts at reconstruction in the 19th and 20th centuries, but I’m not aware of any authentic preservation of the Sarum Rite between Cranmer and the present time.

  5. Christopher says:

    Fr Z,

    Could you comment on what the second half of this sentence really means? My Italian isn’t good enough to cope with such turns of phrase!

    ‘While it is true that the Motu proprio of the Holy Father does not expressly cite the Ambrosian rite, it doesn’t exclude the other Latin rites; if the will of the Holy Father asserts for the Roman rite, considering that it is superior in dignity, consequently much more for the other Latin rites, including the Ambrosian rite.’

    And along with Mitch, I’m curious to know what constitutes a ‘Latin Rite’… The Sarum rite is rather younger than the Ambrosian, but it would be a joy to see it restored.

  6. Robert of Rome says:

    I would offer a friendly amendment to the translation of the second half of the sentence which constitutes the second paragraph: “… if the will of the Supreme Pontiff applies to the Roman Rite, which is considered superior in dignity, it consequently applies all the more to the other Latin rites, including the Ambrosian Rite.”

  7. Christopher says:


    The earliest sources for the Sarum rite per se date from the thirteenth century, and consequently it can be demonstrated to predate 1370 in most respects. Although use of the rite was outlawed in 1559, that was a matter of English civil law, not canon law, and was certainly contrary to the mind of the Church. It’s hard to say which books were used by recusants after 1559 – but since the Missal of St Piux V wasn’t published until 1570, we can safely say that at the time of Quo Primum no other Catholic rite had formally replaced Sarum, which was in use throughout England by that point. Alas, the case for restoring the rites of York, Hereford, Lincoln, Bangor etc. is a little more tricky…

  8. don Jeffry says:

    I chose the word assert because of the argument that the Holy Father did not intend the Ambrosian rite. That is central to the issue, the intention of the Holy Father. See: https://wdtprs.com/2009/01/a-note-on-summorum-pontificum-and-its-interpretation/

    don Jeffry

  9. Derik Castillo says:

    For the canonical status of the Dominican rite click here

  10. Derik Castillo says:

    Sorry, the html tag got messed up


  11. MAJ Tony says:

    Our former* FSSP priest at Holy Rosary, Fr. Denis Duvelius, also a Third Order Dominican, who wrote “An Illustrated Introduction to the Dominican Rite,” has celebrated the Dominican Rite on several occassions, one of which, by the Grace of God I was able to attend. Our current Fraternity Priest, Fr. Magiera, refers to Fr. Duvelius as “the Oracle” with regard to the EF rubrics, kalendar, etc.

    Fr Duvelius has contributed on here https://wdtprs.com/2008/12/quaeritur-transferring-epiphany-for-the-tlm-to-sunday/ ) and was quoted, along w/Fr. Magiera and our Pastor/VG Msgr. Schaedel in an article Fr. Z reproduced here https://wdtprs.com/2007/07/archd-of-indianapolis-newspaper-on-older-mass/

    *former in both respects, as he incardinated to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis in 2005, for family reasons, as he’s a native of SE Indiana

  12. Mark M says:

    Flambeaux has made the proper point that the Sarum rite had not been in existence in the Catholic Church for less than 200 years. The argument put forward that Quo Primum’s principal could apply seems a logical one.

    There is also the point to be made that some consider the Sarum ‘rite’ to be really a ‘Use’ of the Roman rite. I know I may be splitting hairs, but then it would make sense that the hierarchy’s electing for the ‘Roman use’ of the Roman rite would rule out the Sarum.

    But I’d love to hear a convincing counter-argument! ;-)

  13. Lubeltri says:

    In fact, the Sarum Use HAS been celebrated licitly a handful of times in Britain in recent years.

    In 1997, Fr. Sean Finnegan celebrated Sarum Candlemas for the Oxford Newton Society. He posted a series of video clips of the Mass on his blog last year. The first clip can be seen here:


    Mario Conti, the Bishop of Glasgow, also celebrated the Sarum Use at the University of Aberdeen’s King’s College Chapel in April 2000.

    It’s not forbidden—perhaps Ecclesia Dei could officially state that it is allowed.

  14. Lubeltri says:

    Correction: Oxford NEWMAN Society

  15. Christopher says:

    Mark M,

    Didn’t Summorum Pontificum establish norms for two Uses of one Roman Rite? It would seem strange logic to conclude that other uses were consequently to be forbidden. As for the decision of the English bishops in the nineteenth century: surely that was a prudential decision, which in another age could be made in another direction. I’m surprised few people have commented on the potential advantages of the Rite. Unlike the Roman Use of the Roman Rite, the Sarum Use of that Rite is already a treasured part of the heritage of Anglo-Catholics, and it has also been of considerable interest among members of the Orthodox diaspora. Wouldn’t a Sarum revival in England be of wonderful service to the cause of ecumenism?

  16. Boko says:

    “dignity” isn’t quite the mot juste, though, is it?

  17. Thomas in W.Va. says:

    For those who are interested, the Carmelite rite is being celebrated bythe Carmelite monks in Wyoming. This rite was used by the Carmelites of the Ancient observance (O.Carms) up until the Council. The Discalced Carmelites (reform of St. Teresa) adopted the Latin rite soon after her death.

  18. A reader says:

    LOL! The guys at NLM jumped on your stuff and didn’t even link back to you. Teamwork, right?

    [Creating entries on blogs can be time consuming and it is easy to forget. I forget sometimes too. However, the issue of “teamwork” is of greater and greater importance. Like-minded blogs ought to work together better!]

  19. Mark M says:


    Summorum Pontificum is not necessarily the right yardstick here. Instead, Quo Primum’s principle of liturgical desuetude is more important.

    Yes, I agree that it is a very useful rite, particularly given the Western Orthodox’s attachment to it, and the (dying out) Anglo-Catholic parishes… but at the same time, just like laws can die out, Sarum has died out in the Catholic Church.

    I am not sure the instances cited by Lubeltri are fair, given that they are both recent, and are also in times where no-one is really sure about whether the action they are undertaking is licit anyway (and I say that with all due respect to Fr Finnegan, as I know him, and am sure he is an exception to that). It’s just that I heard CDW wrote a very snooty response to Abp. Conti’s celebration of it.

    Anyway, whether Sarum is licit or not, dead or not, there needs to be a will in the Church for its revival. That will was lacking at the Consecration of Westminster Cathedral; unless there’s a sudden improvement, I foresee it lacking until the Summorum Pontificum generation becomes middle aged and the corpus of orthodox liturgically-minded Catholics increases dramatically.

  20. don Jeffry says:

    “LOL! The guys at NLM jumped on your stuff and didn’t even link back to you. Teamwork, right?”

    Not at all the case. Dr. De Grandi assisted me all throughout the process and was present at the meetings and surely you must have noticed that his story was very different, very thorough and referenced his prior articles since he is one of the foremost authorities on the Ambrosian Rite. This is about his contributions as well. In Christ, don Jeffry

  21. T.J. in England says:

    As has been said, Sarum is now a defunct liturgy – I think that we can all lament the fact, but it is a fact. Had England not been severed from Rome at Elizabeth I’s accession, then I have no doubt that it would have continued and been a living usage until our present time.

    There’s a lot of talk about Anglo-Catholics using it, certainly in England that’s not the case – the word is used a fair bit, but that’s either as a means of dressing up personal idiosyncracies or anti-Romanism in ‘catholic’ or ‘high-church’ garb. Genuine Anglo-Catholics tend to use the Roman Rite (O.F.) or books like the English Missal (Roman Rite E.F. translated into liturgical English).

  22. Berthold says:

    In conversations conservative Anglicans (yes, there are still some left, despite the hard work of their ministers) occasionally remark that the ‘Roman’ liturgy is ‘Roman’ and not part of their own tradition. To what extent this is an excuse for delaying Conversion or a serious consideration, and so, to what extent Sarum provisions would attract more serious converts, I am not sure.

  23. Mark M says:

    Sarum is not used in Scotland either. It is often the Prayer Book liturgy of ’29, combined with the Roman Missal in some (very pleasing) way.

    Good point. So, the question comes back to “to what end?”. Hence I made the remark I made about the Cathedral.

  24. Mark M says:

    I am conscious that Father probably doesn’t want this thread hijacked any further than need be, but I remembered this piece by Fr Seán Finnegan on the legal status of the Sarum rite.

  25. Folks: This is really about the Ambrosian Rite.

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