Votive Masses “Pro eligendo Summo Pontifice” during “Sede Vacante”

Our friends at Rorate have posted something useful in respect to how to celebrated Holy Mass during the time Sede Vacante.  I already posted about how to make changes to the Roman Canon (and I frankly don’t give a hoot about the other Eucharistic Prayers), HERE.

So… what about Votive Masses for the Election of a Pope during these “strong” days of Lent?  Thus Rorate with my usual treatment of black and red.

Among the votive Masses found in the missal are those, as described by Father Fortescue, as “ordered by the pope or the ordinary for certain grave occasions (pro re gravi).”  This includes the Votive Mass for the Election of a Pope.

This Mass may only be offered during the time of sede vacante.  It is said or sung in red vestments.  [Not white, as some have written to me.  This is because the Mass for election of a Pope – in the Usus Antiquior – is connected to the Votive Mass of, and our constant invocation of, the Holy Spirit, and also – probably – because pretty much everything have to do with Popes, including their funerals, are traditionally celebrated in red.  For the (Novus Ordo) Mass before the Conclave of 2005, Pro eligendo Pontificem, Card. Ratzinger, then Dean, wore red.  I include at the right an image from my book Ordo Rituum Conclavis, which governs these things right now.  The last line reads: In hac Missa adhibentur vestes rubri coloris… In this Mass red vestments are used.  That’s for the Novus Ordo.] A strict reading of the rubrics — #366-368 — implies the local ordinary must give permission.  (Several bishops have already given such permission.  In fact, a Solemn High traditional Latin Votive Mass for the Election of a Pope will be offered tomorrow in Westminster Cathedral.)  [I am sure many bishops have given permission.  Would people out there let me know if any of them have explicitly described also what to do with the Extraordinary Form?  Otherwise, I suppose those who use the EF just assume the permission and proceed, mutatis mutandis.]

Classified a Votive Mass II, a Gloria is said or sung during a Votive Mass for the Election of a Pope, even in Lent.  [Gloria!] There is no Credo on weekdays.  Although a Votive Mass II is permitted on Sundays of the second (but not first) class, that opportunity will not come up until 14 April, so the Sunday issue is probably moot.  (The Sundays between now and then are each first class Masses.) [One bishop’s statement I have seen says that that bishop does not give permission for these Masses on Sundays of Lent.]  The Mass may not be offered on Saint Joseph’s Day, also a first class feast on 19 March, nor can it be offered between 24 March and 8 April, which are all first class days.

Organ and flowers are permitted, even during Lent, during this pro re gravi votive Mass.  [But, you know, I would not use them.  Let us keep Lent as Lent.] A commemoration of the respective Lenten feria, however, must be made at all such votive Masses (therefore, a second collect, secret and postcommunion using the Lenten propers of the day).

The following are the propers for use in this votive Mass during weekdays in Lent.


If you don’t have a Missale Romanum you can check them out over there.  It was a good service that they provide them.  Give Rorate some traffic if you are interested.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    My bishop granted permission to celebrate this votive Mass on weekdays only, specifying white (not red) as the liturgical color. Not surprisingly, nothing was said of the EF.

  2. acardnal says:

    Father Z, can you clarify. I want to bring this to my parish priest’s attention. Your previous post I understood as allowing the use of white vestments in the OF or EF. Here is it says red for EF Masses. So is it red for EF Masses and white for OF? Thanks.


    [White can sub for any color. But for the Mass Pro eligendo… I am pretty sure red is used in both sides of the Roman Rite.]

  3. Father P says:

    In the OF one could also use the “commemoration” rules in order to keep Lent … Lent. Collect from the Mass for Election and the rest of the Mass from the ferial with violet vestments. (Rubrics at the beginning of the section Masses forward Various Needs).

  4. Hidden One says:

    It is my understanding that, according to the rubrics of the usus recentior, white vestments may always be worn at Mass.* Am I mistaken?

    *Neither the rubrics nor I say they should be… but let’s avoid that rabbit hole.

  5. greasemonkey says:

    Diocese of Albany. Permission granted. EF Mass celebrated this morning For the Election of the Supreme Pontiff. However we used purple vestments, no Gloria, and commemorated the Saturday in Lent.

  6. mpolo says:

    I think the rubric for the OF would indicate violet as the color (votive Masses with no proper color use a seasonal color). [I think the world will not crumble into ashes if one color or another is used.]

    Interestingly, here in Cologne, the Mass of Thanksgiving for Pope Benedict (Mass ended 15 minutes before 8:00 pm on the 28th) in the Cathedral was not celebrated as a votive Mass, but just the weekday Lenten Mass with the intention.

  7. BLB Oregon says:

    When something such as organ music and flowers are permitted, it is thought by those who specify the rubrics to be a positive good that is fitting, rather than an “oh, well, if you must, sure, that’s an excuse we’ll accept”. So while there is nothing wrong with doing without–sort of like having splendid feast day foods that are meatless nevertheless for St. Joseph’s feast day–there is also not actually a violation of Lent to allow things that would otherwise be out of place to momentarily break into the season in order to mark the extraordinary nature of the occasion for which such a special Mass is being offered.

    IOW, while deciding that the Mass can be offered in an altogether fitting way without these things comes out of a good and fitting intention, it is not the liturgical equivalent of accelerating at a yellow light to include them, either.

  8. padredana says:

    I am under the impression that for OF Masses for Various Need and Occasions (one of which is the Mass for the Election of a Pope) that if no color is specified it is assumed that white is used, not the seasonal color. Also the question arises as to what preface to use, since none is specified. It seems to me that we could use the Common Prefaces, the Preface of the Season.

  9. Father P says:

    Rubrics in OF (GIRM 347) for votives and various needs either a color suited to the Mass (given in the rubrics), the color of the day or season, or violet if penitential in character

  10. acardnal says:

    Fr. Z, thanks for the updated clarification on vestments.

  11. Lepidus says:

    Here’s a link to what Listecki did in Milwaukee. Nothing about the EF.


  12. pelerin says:

    I have just returned from the Mass in Westminster Cathedral which was this afternoon the 2nd March. Since the removal of the table altar the full majesty of the Traditional Latin Mass can be seen with an uninterrupted vista up to the High Altar. However a Sung TLM is unfortunately still a rare occasion there.

  13. mpolo says:

    Fr. Z has posted the rubric for the solemn concelebration by the Cardinals of this Mass; in the Missal itself, there is no indication of the option or requirement to use red. In the introduction to the Masses for various necessities from 2002 in Latin, we have: Hae Missae dici possunt cum colore proprio diei vel temporis aut cum colore violaceo, si indolem paenitentialem manifestant, v. gr. nn. 31, 33, 38 (cf. Institutio generalis, n. 347).

    Some few, like for the anniversary of a papal election, specify white. So I think we have to use violet in the Ordinary Form.

    Or am I reading this wrong?

  14. acardnal says:

    pelerin, what color vestments were used?

  15. John Nolan says:

    Westminster Cathedral Mass today – red vestments, second Collect, Secret and Postcommunion; organ music (improvisation on Veni Creator during Communion plus intro and recessional), Ubi Caritas as Offertory motet. I was wondering which Preface would be used – it was the one for Lent.
    Ave Regina Caelorum at end of Mass.

  16. pelerin says:

    acardnal – Red.

  17. Prof. Basto says:


    You post an image of the Ordo Rituum Conclavis. A liturgical book of the Office of Papal Liturgical Celebrations. It regulates only the solemn Mass of the Cardinals on the day of the start of the Conclave itself, as well as the liturgical norms of the Conclave.

    The modern Ordo Rituum Conclavis is the Novus Ordo equivalent of the old Ordo “De Conclavi et Electione Papae” found in the ancient Cæremoniale Romanum, the liturgical book (not to be confused with the Caerimoniale Episcoporum) that specifically governed the special liturgies of the Papal Court, back in the days when the Usus Antiquior was the only form of the Roman Rite. In the days of Paul VI the Old Caeremoniale Romanum was abandoned, and new forms for all the liturgies of the Apostolic See were invented. This “renewal” in the spirit of Vatican II included the promulgation by Paul VI of a new “Ordinem exsequiavum Summi Pontificis vita functi”, to regulate the Pope’s funeral, and of a new “Ordo sacrorum rituum Conclavis”, to regulate the liturgical actions associated with the Conclave. Upon the promulgation of Universi Dominici Gregis, those two ordos were named “Ordo Exsequiarum Romani Pontificis” and “Ordo Rituum Conclavis”, respectively. The new texts of those ordos, accomodated to the provisions of the new Apostolic Constitution, were approved by Pope John Paul II in 1999.

    Anyway, the “Ordo Rituum Conclavis” is a “Roman Ordo”, just like the “Ordo Exsequiarum Romani Pontificis”, the “Ordo rituum pro Ministerii Petrini initio Romae Episcopi”, regulating the revised rites of papal instalation; the Ordo for a Solemn Papal Mass with readings of the Gospel in Latin and Greek; the ordo for holding a Consistory, etc, etc. Those “Ordines romani”, prepared by the Office of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, are designed to regulate what happens in the special Liturgies of the Apostolic See only. Of course, the Apostolic See also leads by example in the liturgical field, but my point is that the norms of the Ordo Rituum Conclavis are not meant to be used by priests in general, just by the Cardinals involved in the Conclave.

    As for priests in general, the Roman Missal is the liturgical book to follow. It too (both in the EF and in the OF) contains norms about a votive Mass for the election of a Pope.

    Masses said by priests in general (and by individual Cardinals, Bishops, etc) differ from the Mass prescribed in the Ordo Rituum Conclavis also because the votive Mass prescribed by the Missal can be said several times during the days of the Sede Vacante. The Mass of the Ordo Rituum Conclavis, on the other hand, is celebrated once only, when the Cardinals are gathered and ready to enter in Conclave. They celebrate that one solemn Mass in the morning, and in the afternoon they go to the Conclave.

    Now, while the EF Roman Missal prescribes the use of Red, as the Ordo Rituum Conclavis also does for the solemn Mass of the Cardinals, the OF Roman Missal says nothing about authorizing red for that Mass. It seems that, during Lent, the correct colour for the “simple” votive Masses said by individual priests would be violet, or perhaps white.

    Am I wrong? [Probably.]

  18. *sigh*

    Having review the comments, above, it strikes me that a priest would not be committing a gross violation of any possible rubric in his choice to use either purple or red in the Ordinary Form. There is enough confusion here to leave the question open. And, of course, white can substitute in case of necessity.

  19. wolfeken says:

    Once again, the solution to all of the world’s problems is to simply offer the TLM!

  20. acardnal says:

    I asked and my parish priest complied: He offered a Novus Ordo (OF) Mass yesterday morning (Monday) for the “Election of a Pope” using the Propers from the Missal for same. He wore red vestments – Roman style with a maniple as he often does. He plans to celebrate this Mass several more times.

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