ASK FATHER: Gregorian Masses

poor souls purgatory massFrom a priest…


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.)

Basic guidelines:

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!


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Four Last Things, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. SanSan says:

    My mother had been dead for 4 years before I heard about Gregorian Masses! I sent $300 and received the lovely assurance that she will receive this gift! None of my loved ones will ever pass again without this series of Masses. I plan on having them said for my husband and myself prior to our death too!

  2. nemo says:

    On the website you will find a list of religious orders which can provide this service.

  3. Joseph-Mary says:

    Commissioned these sets of 30 Masses for both of my dear parents when they passed away through Aid to the Church in Need.

  4. A.D. says:

    How does one state the intention for the living or does one state it as “for the intentions of the requester”?

    Years ago I arranged for a Mass to be said for a nationally known person who had died and who was not a Catholic. It was never announced (written in the bulletin). Later I read somewhere that having an announced Mass for a non-Catholic was not allowed. Is that true?

    What about including more than one name or a family in the intention?

    Thanks for answers to these questions.

  5. jhayes says:

    Sansan wrote I plan on having them said for my husband and myself prior to our death too!

    They can’t be said until after your death – but this webpage explains one way to arrange ahead of time for that to happen.

    Since Gregorian Masses may be offered only for the dead, they cannot be said for one who is still living. Nevertheless, one can, and is well advised to, arrange to have them said for oneself as soon as possible after death. All one needs to do is simply send a request to that effect to the Salesians of Don Bosco with the customary $250 offering. We, in turn, will send you a certificate to be kept among your important family papers with instructions that it be forwarded to the Salesians of Don Bosco immediately upon your death. As soon as we receive notice of your death, we will proceed at once to arrange the Gregorian Masses for you.


  6. Matthew says:

    I do like the practice, but it is hard to find a priest, or a community of priests with any openings for Gregorian Masses.

    I wonder if there is some listing of priests who are in need of funds, and may have the time to say these masses. I’d be just as happy as having a priest in Cameroon as a priest in Chicago saying them.

  7. Kypapist says:

    What about Perpetual Mass associations? The Blue Army offers perpetual remembrances for a donation of $10, but they no longer have the beautiful cards available to send to the families; they now have modern illustrations which I do not care for. As I get older and know more of the “dearly or nearly” departed, I would like to have something readily available that has a lovely card and requests a small stipend.

  8. APX says:

    For those wanting Gregorian Masses offered, or who would like to enrol someone in a perpetual Mass remembrance and get a beautiful Mass card folder thing, you can get them here:

  9. Centurion_VII says:

    Here is also a way to have Masses (Gregorian and more) said from Aid to the Church in Need:

    Also, this organization is a great way to help the poor and persecuted Church around the world. They have been doing solid work in Syria, Iraq, Africa, and Central Asia.

  10. WmHesch says:

    “Indulgentiarum doctrina”- norm 20 says the Church wishes to apply the effects of Mass to the widest extent possible and abolished special privileges in that regard. I contend that means ALL ALTARS ARE NOW PRIVILEGED.

    Has the Apostolic Penitentiary ever clarified the meaning of this vague paragraph in Paul VI’s document??

  11. Pingback: A Problematic Divorce | The Benedict Post

Comments are closed.