Pope Francis celebrating Holy Mass ‘ad orientem’

Three years ago today, I posted about Pope Francis celebrating Holy Mass ad orientem versus at a side altar of St. Peter’s Basilica, where John Paul II is.  HERE

I wrote then:

His Holiness of our Lord, Pope Francis, recently celebrated Holy Mass ad orientem versus at the tomb of Bl. John Paul II which is in the Vatican Basilica.

I wouldn’t get too worked up about this.  Let’s not forget the appalling rearrangement of the Sistina after his election.

First, it would have been impossible to set up an ironing-board altar within the bounds of the Communion rail at the altar where John Paul is situated.  Believe me, those side altars in St. Peter’s don’t leave much room between the altar’s step and the rail.

He could have had an altar set up outside the Communion rail, but then we wouldn’t have been celebrating Mass on the tomb of the Blessed. [now Saint]

The only alternative was to put on the polyester vestment and celebrate as the architecture required.  He could have at least used a white vestment and used the Mass formulary for Bl. John Paul.

So, don’t get too excited about this.

At the same time, if someone flings in your face that you can’t have Masses ad orientem, send them this picture.   The fact remains: Francis said Mass ad orientem versus.

We need ad orientem worship.  Libs fear it.  That should be a good sign that it is salutary.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Polycarpio says:

    It’s hard to believe that St. John Paul II was ever “just” a “Blessed.” Happy feast of All Saints to everyone.

  2. Geoffrey says:

    Let us not forget that every Mass celebrated by the Holy Father in the Sistine Chapel after his very first one has been “ad orientem”. I look forward to the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord every year!

  3. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    So, in the photo, with the monument of the Venerable Pope Pius XII on his left, and that of Pope Pius XI on his right, the Holy Father is facing north notionally to celebrate ad orientem, given the construction of the altar?

    But, given the curious permanent arrangement of the Sistine Chapel, he celebrates strictly ad occidentem with his back to the east on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord every year though notionally ad orientem, while his first celebration with an altar occasionally disposed was the only time he truly celebrated ad orientem there (versus populum ad orientem).

    Why, by the time the Sistine Chapel was rebuilt, toward the end of the 15th c., did no one have the idea of putting the altar at the east? Failing that, why did they not follow the practice of St. Peter’s ‘next door’ and erect the altar to celebrate versus populum ad orientem?

    Whom ought I to read, to find such complexities addressed?

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