Norcia, Italy: Monastery of S. Benedetto to celebrate Mass in both Uses

From Norcia, Italy:

July 1, 2009

July 7th, 2009 will mark the 2nd anniversary of the Motu Proprio of Pope Benedict XVI Summorum Pontificum. For this occasion, the monks of Norcia are pleased to announce a new liturgical apostolate, given to us by the Holy See. The Monastery of San Benedetto in Norcia has been asked to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in utroque usu –according to both the extraordinary and ordinary forms of the Roman rite. Please see the latest newsletter (HERE) for details on this special mission and an interview with our Prior, Fr Cassian Folsom, OSB. Feel free to copy from the letter and interview for your websites. By the middle of July we hope to have the technology in place to offer each day a recording on our website of the sung Conventual Mass in the extraordinary form.

As always we rely on your prayers and the kindness of your generosity.

In Christ,
Fr Benedict

Fr Benedict Nivakoff, OSB
Monastery of San Benedetto
Norcia, Italy

This is fantastic news.   In the heart of Italy.

Here is the text of the letter by which this initiative begins:


April 21, 2009

Very Reverend Father Prior:

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, from the very beginning of his pontificate, has made known his desire to foster the unity of the Church. As in the past so also today, the careful celebration of the Sacred Mysteries is a most efficacious instrument for achieving this goal.

For this reason, fatihful to the intentions of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, this Pontifical Commission, responding to your request, entrusts to the Monastery of San Benedetto in Norcia the special apostolate of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist “in utroque usu”, that is, both in the ordinary as well as the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, in collaboration with the Holy See and in communion with the diocesan bishop.

I am confident that your young Benedictine community will always support the pastoral activity of the Supreme Pontiff with faithful prayer,

With my best Easter wishes,

Dario Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, President
Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”


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  1. Maureen says:


  2. R says:

    I know Fr. Benedict and had the privilege to sing at his “first Mass” in Connecticut, USA, where he grew up:

    He, the Prior, and all the young monks of this growing community love the traditional Mass. Moreover, they live an authentic and very strict, traditional Benedictine life (it seems to me the fasting rules would leave many people incapacitated…). God bless them and all their benefactors!

  3. Michael says:

    Could someone explain why this was required? (Was it?) I thought Summorum Pontificum removed the necessity of obtaining permission. Did this have something to do with rules for monastic life I’m unaware of?

  4. Michael: The provisions of SP are aimed primarily at pastors of parishes. The monastery is not a parish.

  5. Gloria says:

    We had the privilege of celebrating two EF Masses at Norcia last October. It was the 20th anniversary of the FSSP and Norcia was our first stop. We were there for two days. The second day we had a High Mass, celebrated by Fr. Pendergraf, FSSP. The monks were our schola (wonderful)and another lady and I from our U.S.A. group were able, at the last minute, to sing with the pilgrim choir, directed by Fr. Bransich, FSSP. We also received the first blessing from a monk, newly ordained that month. I think he is the one in front on the right in the picture, Pater Maria Benedictus, O.S.B. To be in the place where Benedict and Scholastica were born is indescribable. God bless these good Benedictines.

  6. Gloria says:

    I should pay closer attention. Reading quickly, I didn’t notice the letter’s author. Indeed, it is Father Benedict, the young priest from whom we received the first blessing.

  7. Prof. Basto says:

    Fr. Z: “Michael: The provisions of SP are aimed primarily at pastors of parishes. The monastery is not a parish.”

    Dear Father,

    Wouldn’t the procedure of art. 3 of Summorum Pontificum apply to a monastery, as a “community of an Institute of Apostolic Life”?

    “Art. 3. Communities of Institutes of consecrated life and of Societies of apostolic life, of either pontifical or diocesan right, wishing to celebrate Mass in accordance with the edition of the Roman Missal promulgated in 1962, for conventual or “community” celebration in their oratories, may do so. If an individual community or an entire Institute or Society wishes to undertake such celebrations often, habitually or permanently, the decision must be taken by the Superiors Major, in accordance with the law and following their own specific decrees and statues”

    Perhaps this direct request to PCED, and PCED’s reply were needed:

    a) EITHER because of the special hierarchical organization of the Order of St. Benedict (that is not an Order like the others), in which each House has a great deal of autonomy, and in which the different Congregations are also autonomous vis a vis the Benedictine Confederation, to the extent that decision by the Superior Major (the Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation?) would not be in keeping with the internal organization of the Order, so that art. 3 of Summorum Pontificum is interpreted as not applying to O.S.B. monasteries as it would apply for communities of the other, more hierarchical, Orders.

    This would explain the necessity (and appropriateness, in view of the autonomy enjoyed by each House within the internal structure of the Benedictine Order) of the abbot/prior of each House to petition directly to the Holy See for a provision in lieu of the use of the procedure prescribed in article 3 of the Motu Proprio, as the use of art. 3, in the specific case of the Benedictines, grant an authority to the Major Superiors that is not in keeping with the particular law of the Benedictines and with their tradition of autonomous government of each community.

    b) OR because the procedure of art. 3 of the Motu Proprio was followed, the request was denied by the Major Superior (who is he, the Abbot Primate of the Confederation or the Abbot President of the Congregation?), and the community in question decided to insist on the matter, appealing to the PCED.

  8. Prof. Basto: This is probably for a number of reasons. We might also include the powerful “cover” this gives them in the face of criticism from Italian hierarchs.

  9. J. Basil Damukaitis says:

    This is the best example of Roman diplomacy!! Correcting the bishop without saying a word to him, and saving face of both while coming down gently, but firmly.

  10. JGarrity says:

    Fr. Z is right on the nose: this letter has a lot of political “cover.” I might add that because this gives them an apostolate to use both forms of the Mass, they have more of a duty to celebrate both forms of the Mass and not just one form of their choosing. (Because of the necessary internal harmony within a monastery, it might be considered as ambitious to try to celebrate both forms publicly.)

    In fact, I hear that while their daily Conventual Mass will be primarily in the Extraordinary form (starting on the 7th), the monastery hopes to celebrate in both forms on Sundays.

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