I was in Fatima earlier this month and in the office to request Masses be offered for pilgrim’s intentions, I noticed a sign that said the stipend for a standard Mass stipend is 10 Euros but for “Trintario Gregoriano” Mass, it is 350 Euros.
I was told this is a month of Masses offered on consecutive days. Are you familiar with this?
Is this a European tradition?
You are asking about “Gregorian Masses”.
First, let’s make a couple distinction. Sometimes Mass in the Extraordinary Form is called “Gregorian”, because the Roman Rite goes back at least as far as Pope St. Gregory I “the Great” (+604).
Next, “Gregorian Masses” can mean Masses said at a “Gregorian altar”, that is, a “privileged altar”, that is, an altar to which certain added benefits or indulgences were once attached such that when priests said Mass there the indulgence was gained. These altars had the same privileges as the altar of the Roman basilica of San Gregorio in the Caelian Hill, where St. Gregory the Great had his monastery. That original Gregorian altar had a plenary indulgence for a soul in Purgatory. No Gregorian altars, called Gregorian altars ad instar, were so blessed after 1912. Also, the entire treasury of indulgences has been revised. Those privileges seem no more to apply.
Also, another way to understand “Gregorian Masses” refers to the custom in the Roman Church for Requiem Masses to be said on the third, seventh and thirtieth days after the death of a person.
That said… what are Gregorian Masses?
By this term we usually mean the celebration of thirty Masses for thirty consecutive days for the soul of someone who has died.
It is thought that Gregory the Great spread this practice, which was already a tradition by his day. Pope Gregory had these Masses said for, at least, a fellow Roman monk named Justus. At the end of the thirty days the dead monk appeared to his brother to let him know he was free from Purgatory. In any event, this became a widespread practice after Pope Gregory. I believe that the Dominican’s even had special Mass prayers in their Rite for this practice. (Dialogorum 4,57: Vade itaque, et ab hodierna die diebus triginta continuis offerre pro eo sacrificium stude, ut nullus omnino praetermittatur dies, quo pro absolutione illius salutaris hostia non immoletur.)
First, thirty Masses must be said on thirty consecutive days for the same intention. If the priest can’t say one the Masses himself, for any reason, he must arrange for another priest to say the Mass for that same intention on that same day so that the series is not broken. They are said only for the dead.
The Masses can be said anywhere, and they need not be Requiem Masses.
Because this is a heavy commitment, the stipend offered should usually be pretty generous. Given that very few priests are able to take their own chosen intention every day for 30 days, that is fitting. The stipend can be whatever is agreed on, of course. How much should it be? That can’t really be fixed down. I have done Gregorian series three times. On one occasion I was offered 450 euros, and the person who offered the stipend was very pleased to have found a priest who could do it. On another occasion I took far less, because it was requested by an elderly woman on a limited income for her dead husband. So, it depends on the circumstances. Whatever is decided, if the stipend is accepted, in justice the priest is strictly bound to fulfill his part of the commitment.
Friends, have Masses said for the dead… and for the living as well!