NEW “Pontifical Canon” for use by Bishops in the Extraordinary Form

I just received a copy of the recently reprinted Canon Missae ad usum Episcoporum ac Praelatorum pontificaliter vel non pontificaliter celebrantium, cui accedunt formulae variae e Pontificali Romano depromptae et cantus ad libitum – “Pontifical Canon” for short – done by Nova et Vetera in Germany.

This is the edition appropriate for use by bishops when celebrating Holy Mass with the 1962 Missale Romanum.  It was originally promulgated 19 March 1962.

How necessary is a new edition?  I found a single antique on Amazon for $1725.

The Canon Missae is used by bishops for the Ordinary of Mass.  It was usually a large format book, over-sized, with large print, easy to read and sing from by – ehem – older gents whose eyesight isn’t necessary the best.  It would be held for the bishop at the throne or faldstool and later propped up in the center of the altar, e.g., against the doors of the tabernacle.

My first observation to make about this new Canon Missae: it’s not large.

18.3 cm x 26 cm – not any larger than any other book, and actually smaller by far than most altar missals.

Here is an image with a pen for scale.

That said, the materials are good and it is well bound, as one might expect from a German publisher.

The pages are edged with gold and there are good page tabs for turning.

The “official business” page of the original.  As you can see it is a reproduction of a book from Ratisbon rather than Rome.

The type face, while not large, is easy on the eyes.

Consider, however, how the smaller format could be hard for His Grace to read and sing with ease.

There are three good quality ribbons to mark pages for His Nibs.

Price €185 or, today $200

So, it could be a useful for book for your community, especially in light of the fact that the older Canons and other books are probably by now showing signs of wear and tear.  It is good to have a back up or – in many cases – a lone edition.

But do take the size of the book, and type, into account.   Consider that most bishops today don’t know any Latin.  The Mass texts in Latin will be unfamiliar.  They won’t roll, mostly by memory, trippingly from their episcopal tongues.  If they also have to strain to read the type… well….

Thus, the book  – a tool for the New Evangelization – will be useful, but less useful than it could have been in a larger format.  I hope they will make a larger format.  (HINT HINT)

To buy or look around more click


I saw this same volume on Ebay for $440.  The publisher wants $200.

Order well ahead.  It took awhile.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Maybe good Fr Z you couple poke and prod not so gently your FSSP buddies to make one and add it to the Fraternity Publications catalogue ????

  2. Kathleen10 says:

    Sometimes I wonder at the prices of things on Amazon. One time I wanted a book that was very specific to my field. It was 200 dollars. I contacted the seller and asked them this question, “Would you take twenty dollars?”. It was all it was worth, to me. They took it. Sometimes the prices are outrageously high and the object is not worth it. The book I got was barely worth the twenty.

  3. Prayerful says:

    I will never be a bishop, but this does look a treat.

  4. greasemonkey says:

    This book is essential for a Pontifical Liturgy, but at Fr. Z rightly points out this volume is a tad small. It takes the place of the center altar card at mass, and so it should be a bit larger than the dimensions of this volume.
    Get one for your Bishop, and have his name embossed on the cover. That’s what I was planning to do when I sold the one I have listed for $440 on eBay! LoL I guess that’s not going to happen… Thanks Fr. Z!

  5. Gaz says:

    I have seen the volume used by the first Bishop of our diocese who was blind in his later years. the words of consecration are in text about an inch tall.

  6. JesusFreak84 says:

    Perhaps they printed it small to keep the price down in order to get this into as many hands as possible as soon as possible? [But it has to be usable as a Pontifical Canon.] This leads to another question: is there anything in Canon Law that says the Bishop couldn’t print it out bigger? [No. They were always larger!] I’d think most of our Bishops today are old enough that they may have learned all of this in seminary and just need a refresher, but I don’t know. [No. They didn’t get this in seminary or anywhere else.]

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  8. JesusFreak84 says:

    To clarify, I meant getting this into as many Bishops’ hands as possible. I read about how well the EF is loved in Africa, but I doubt many of those Sees have oodles of cash to spare, so keeping something at a form factor that allows more economical pricing can also help with gifting to mission Sees, etc.

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