Solemn Mass in Extraordinary Form at a major American seminary

I received word via email… the Traditional Latin Mass has “returned” to St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia.

This is an exceptionally good development.  They should should have it every week, at least.

Here are a few snaps from their flicker feed HERE.

My correspondent wrote that this is the… :

Feast of St. Martin of Tours, in our Martin of Tours chapel.  The seminarians have been asking the rector for a TLM, so he agreed!

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This looks like a Second Confiteor, doesn’t it.  Or, perhaps they are at the moment of the priest’s Communion and they are bowing with particular piety.

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Surely the Ite.

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The vestments are classics, cloth of gold woven through with angels. My home parish has a set not dissimilar to these. As a matter of fact, that set had been used in a movie with Robert DiNero, who played a priest who at one point sings a Solemn Mass.

Seminarians! Listen up!

If your seminary is not also teaching you about the older, traditional form of the Roman Rite, find another way to learn it on your own.

And I will remind you that the 1983 Code of Canon Law in can. 249 requires… it doesn’t suggest… it requires that all seminarians be taught both Latin so that they are very proficient and also any other language useful for their ministry.

Anyway, this is a fine development and they are all to be commended.

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  1. LeeF says:

    Regarding the last, important point, about the canonical requirement for Latin to be taught in seminaries, and not apparently only an intro course, but sufficient courses to lead to proficiency (i.e. beyond just Collins which doesn’t teach near enough vocabulary), the question is, is there a website that monitors this type of thing and lets everyone know? Perhaps Father would be willing to host at least a constantly updated pdf/excel file for same if someone would volunteer to track the information down.

    Another question for the canon lawyers is, who has standing under canon law to bring a complaint if a seminary is non-compliant, and to whom (or which discastery), should such a complaint be directed?

    Seminarians who receive pontifical degrees (STB/STL/STD) are required according to my understanding, to be proficient in Latin, Koine Greek and one modern foreign language, and if pursuing the higher degrees probably Hebrew as well. Surely seminarians at non-pontifical universities, who earn a M.Div., which seems the equivalent of a doctorate, could at least learn Latin and Spanish, or substitute another locally important foreign language for Spanish (obviously much tougher if it needs to be an Asian one).

  2. sekman says:

    A number of things come to my mind while reading this post:

    – The vestments are indeed fantastic, I too have seen similar sets before, unfortunately very few have been fully preserved with all the varying components.
    – The altar frontal is quite fantastic, while I tend to typically deplore the horrendously over-used coronation tapestry material it seems to fit the altar at which the Mass is being said, on the other hand the vesperal type frontal on the other side altar is so deplorable. The material has been grossly overused in the States.
    – This looks to me to be one of the first Masses offered in a seminary proper in some time. I know that many Masses were celebrated in the chapel of the seminary in St. Louis at one time, however, I don’t believe that is the case any longer. Certainly it is quite rare these days for a Solemn High Mass to be celebrated in the seminary itself.

  3. Andrew D says:

    Oh this is GREAT news! I live in Philadelphia and just signed my pledge for the Archdiocesan seminary fund drive. I had no idea this was happening so it goes to show that God rewards us when we put our faith in Him, His Holy Catholic Church and His future priests. There has been an uptick in the number of seminarians at St. Charles Borromeo and I believe this will only help. Praise God!

  4. Kerry says:

    Brick by brick by brick equals a seminary. Deo gratia.

  5. Ultramontane says:

    I have a friend studying there. I’ll have to message him and see if he was in attendance. Truly good news indeed.

  6. HJ says:

    This brings joy and hope to my heart.
    “If your seminary is not also teaching you about the older, traditional form of the Roman Rite, find another way to learn it on your own.” You bet :)

  7. APX says:


    As I have been witnessing, Canon Law isn’t all that particularly important to follow, and the enforcement of it is nil.

  8. This looks like a Second Confiteor, doesn’t it.

    Sure does. For some, a much anticipated highlight of solemn high Mass. Seriously, I do think the Confiteor chanted by the Deacon is one of the most appealing chants of Holy Mass.

  9. Nicholas says:

    We typically have one every year, but this is the first one we’ve had in a few years. Those vestments are an absolutely gorgeous set we use every year for all saints day.

    I end up going to one tlm per year, and this fulfilled my habit perfectly. I was very surprised by how many seminarians had never been to one, so I was glad the seminary offered it again.

  10. Papabile says:

    Question. Why is a second confiteor out of the ordinary for High Mass? I thought this was not dropped from the High Mass, just low. Am I missing something? It’s still in the Pontifical if I am not mistaken.

    Ironically, it was only after about 1999 that I ever heard a demand for the rubrical exactness in omitting the second confiteor. It was pretty much used everywhere I attended under Quattuor abhinc annos, and then Ecclesia Dei until the early 2000’s.

    In fact, while researching the Agatha Christi indult, I found that the whole thing was largely ignored, because it mandated all the changed to the 65 rite with 67’s Tres abhinc annos. At the time, the diocesan Priests who actually used the rite appealed to immemorial tradition, and often used the older form of Holy Week. In fact, the Pope himself used the older form of Holy Week at least once after promulgating reforms in 1955.

  11. magister63 says:

    Unfortunately, this beautiful seminary is slated to close:
    They are supposedly putting everyone in the Upper Side (the Thelolgate) and closing the college side, where this magnificent chapel is. How sad.

  12. ksking says:

    A young man from our home parish is discerning for the priesthood (second year) at St. Charles! It is wonderful to see that they are learning this liturgy! Prayers for all of our men in seminary.

  13. Papabile says:

    Can anyone explain the trend where every altar candle on every altar seems to be lit? I don’t understand it. The candles assist in signifying the Sacrifice is taking place, yet the candles on the High Altar and both side altars are also lit. I do not understand it.

  14. Papabile asked:

    Can anyone explain the trend where every altar candle on every altar seems to be lit? I don’t understand it. The candles assist in signifying the Sacrifice is taking place, yet the candles on the High Altar and both side altars are also lit. I do not understand it.

    As a priest ordained in 2003, I confess that I haven’t any set notion of how to manage the candles, other than the sparse rubrics of the Ordinary Form. So my approach to candles, especially on side altars, is to light them (a) when the saint above the altar is honored in that Mass or on that day (i.e., Saturday), or (b) when the occasion is especially festive.

    I realize the Mass, above, was in the Extraordinary Form, but the folks who lit the candles may have brought something like my mindset to the occasion: it’s special! Light ’em up!

  15. MattnSue says:

    I am slightly bummed that I wasn’t aware because I love this chapel at St. Charles’ Seminary. Wish I could have been there. In response to Papabile and Fr. Martin Fox, mass was for the Feast of St. Martin, and is St. Martin’s Chapel, so that may explain the candles.

  16. Rocha90 says:


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