ASK FATHER: Liturgical jam up – Lenten Sunday, St. Joseph, Pope Francis’ Anniversary on same day

13 March 2013

From a reader…


19 March [3rd Sunday of Lent] is the anniversary of our Holy Father Francis’ “coronation”. In the 1962 Missal, this is to be commemorated. I am confused about the date, however: The Una Voce directory and Divinum Officium website both say to do it on 20 March, which is the transferred 1st Class feast of St Joseph. The actual anniversary is on a Sunday in Lent. From what I can find in the rubrics, there’s nothing that prohibits the commemoration on a Sunday in Lent.

It is quite the liturgical traffic jam, isn’t it.

First, Francis was elected Pope on 13 March.  This is a Monday in Lent (3rd Class).  So, there is a Commemoration Pro Papa under one conclusion at Low, Sung, and Solemn Mass.  Otherwise, the Votive Mass In die coronationis Papae et in eius anniversario can be read.

This is my understanding of what is to be done on Sunday, 19 March and following.  Pope Francis official ministry began on 19 March, his “installation” Mass.  It is also the Feast of St. Joseph.

  1. Sunday, 19 March – 3rd Sunday of Lent (1st Class) – St. Joseph is bumped forward to Monday and Pope Francis Anniversary is bumped forward to Tuesday.  A Commemoration of St. Joseph is added at 2nd Vespers of the Sunday.
  2. Monday, 20 March – transferred St. Joseph (1st Class) – Pope Francis’ Anniversary would have been today, but for St. Joseph, liturgically outweighs the anniversary.  Francis’ Anniversary is therefore bumped forward to Tuesday.
  3. Tuesday, 21 March – Father reads the Mass for the Monday, feria in Lent with a commemoration Pro Papa under one conclusion.  Otherwise, Father can read In die Coronationis Papae.  However, in a cathedral you use the Votive Mass In die Coronationis Papae. – Of St. Benedict, Abbotnihil fit, except that he gets a commemoration at Lauds.  However, if you are in a religious order that raises St. Benedict’s feast to a higher class, or it is a patronal feast of your parish, diocese, etc.).  I imagine that the Abbey of Le Barroux, or Fontgombault, or Clear Creek, or the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles would be able to shed light on Tuesday.  Would they bump Francis to Wednesday because they have to raise up Benedict, their patron?  I’m guessing, yes.

That’s how I untie the knot.

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  1. afanco says:

    What about at a St. Joseph Parish?

  2. Deo volente says:

    FSSP Ordo, 2017, page 31:

    March 19th, Third Sunday of Lent
    March 20th, St. Joseph (transferred) with Commemorations of the feria & Pro Papa (under one conclusion)
    March 21st, Feria of Lent OR Votive Mass for the Anniversary of the Coronation of the Pope (Commemorations of the feria & St. Benedict)
    March 22nd, Feria of Lent

  3. APX says:

    What about at a St. Joseph Parish
    Or all of Canada since St. Joseph is one of our patron Saints.

  4. mschu528 says:

    @afanco & @APX:

    At least in the EF calendar, the Church’s universal celebration of St Joseph already outranks the feast of a local patron (cf Rubricae generales no. 91), and both are outranked by the Lenten Sunday, so it would not change anything here.

  5. Grumpy Beggar says:

    We’re in kind of a unique position here in Montreal having the largest shrine in the world to St. Joseph: St. Joseph’s Oratory is always permitted to celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph on March 19th – even on Sunday. But our parishes aren’t. So it has happened before where I have attended a Mass for St. Joseph’s Feast on a Sunday March 19th (at St. Joseph’s Oratory) , and then attended another Mass for the Feast of St. Joseph on the following day – Monday March 20th in my home parish.

  6. Titus says:

    I understand that you can’t stack first-class feasts, but why don’t you just commemorate the prop papa on the 20th? That’s what happens with Anastasia on Christmas, no? Why does it get bumped?

    (It looks like this is the case from the FSSP ordo posted by Deo Volente, supra, but I am still confused by the option to celebrate the votive Mass on the 21st. Is this just something fitting and permitted, as opposed to something that actually occupies that day as a matter of calendrical law?)

  7. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Should the anniversary of the election be celebrated in purple (or black)? Perhaps following the example of great humility of His Holiness, we should offer prayers of thanksgiving in the local Lutheran church?

  8. Imrahil says:

    The relevant rubrics as given at have it like this:

    VI – Votive Masses on the Day of the Coronation of the Pope

    362. On the […] anniversary of the coronation of the pope[…], for the conventual Mass in cathedral and collegiate churches, the proper votive Mass is said after the manner of votive Masses of the 2nd class.
    363. If this votive Mass is impeded, however, the following rules are observed:
    a) if the anniversary of the coronation of the pope is permanently impeded for the universal Church[…]

    which is the case, as on a first-class feast like St. Joseph no votive Mass of the II class can be held,

    , it is reassigned permanently to the next day following which is not similarly impeded.

    Viz. March 20th, because this is not permanently impeded, only this year due to translation.

    b) If they are only accidentally impeded by a day listed under nos. 1, 2, 3 and 8 in the table of precedence, they are transferred to the next day which is not of the 1st class.

    While I fail to make out whether this is only true for the original date accidentally impeded, or also the date transferred due to permanent impedence accidentally impeded in addition, this is immaterial, as St. Joseph does not appear under the said numbers in the table of precedence (it is a “first-class feast of the universal Chruch not mentioned above”, no. 11). Hence, the Votive Mass for Cathedrals and conventual Churches, normally obligatory, falls away this year, as it cannot be held on a first-class feast.

    364. On those days listed above in no. 362, in all churches and in all Masses except those of the dead, the collect for the pope […] is added[…]. But this collect is transferred whenever the Mass is transferred in cathedral and collegiate churches.

    The Votive Mass is not transferred further to 21th, because nothing in the rubrics says it is; it falls away. Hence the Commemoration isn’t transferred either, but stays where it is – but I think it still falls under the permanent translation to March 20, because that one is, as it were, permanent.

    Hence, summed up this yields,

    March 19th: 3rd Sunday of Lent.
    March 20th: Feast of St. Joseph, Bridegroom of the Blessed Virgin and Foster-Father to Christ, 1st class, Commemoration of the Papal inthronisation and of the Monday of the third week of Lent.
    March 21th: Tuesday of the third week of Lent, Com. of St. Benedict Abbot and Confessor. (Alas that it isn’t vice versa, but that’s another story.)

    [Or less likely, Commemoration of the Papal inthronisation by way of exception on its original date, as the conventual Mass is not transferred from it in this year, so March 19th, 3rd Sunday of Lent, Commemoration of the Papal inthroniation, March 2oth, Feast of St. Joseph, Com. of the weekday – but I do not think so, because I think the transfer is permanent.]

    In any case I respectfully disagree. (Sorry.)

    An academic point would be what Last Gospel would have been said on March 20th under first-half-of-the-20th century rules, Mt 16 or the one of the weekday. At present, it is, of course, John 1.

    However, Cathedrals and conventual Churches can make use of the following option (as any other Church can, of course), namely:

    365. One Mass “On the Anniversary of the Coronation of the Pope” is permitted, with the consent of the local ordinary, as a votive Mass of the 2nd class, in the individual churches, on a day on which special celebrations are held in honor of the pope.

    Normally this celebration is called “Pope Sunday”, but if on a Sunday it cannot of course be on a Lenten Sunday. However, nothing stands in the way to have it instead of on a Sunday on any other day, say, Saturday 18th of March, or Tuesday 21th of March, or Wednesday 22nd of March, etc., provided that it is but once in the year, and it is duly announced in the parish bulletins that special celebrations will be held (say, at least a litany in prayer or so) and some people can be supposed to actually show up for these celebrations.

  9. Imrahil says:

    What about a St. Joseph parish?

    The same. St. Joseph is already a first-class feast of the universal Church; its rank isn’t increased if it is a proper feast of a specific parish in addition.

    However, the Pope might be just slightly less disinclined to great an indult for an “external celebration on the superseded feast day itself” (would need a Papal indult, because while a parish patron feast does have an external celebration, external celebrations are only Votive Masses of the II class, and so do not outrank Lenten Sundays).

    What about a St. Benedict parish?

    March 21, Feast of St. Benedict Abbot, Patron of the parish, Com. of the weekday.

    If our reverend host’s reasoning above be followed (which as I said begging excuses I do not), the commemoration of the Papal inthronisation would seem to shift to the 22nd.

    Now a somewhat (I daresay) more interesting case: What about a St. Cuthbert parish?

    I should suggest:

    March 19: 3rd Sunday of Lent.
    March 20: Feast of St. Cuthbert, Patron of the Parish, 1st class, Com. of the Papal Inthronisation (by the reasoning above) and of the Weekday.
    March 21: Feast of St. Joseph the Bridegroom of the Blessed Virgin and Foster-Father of Christ, 1st class, Com. of St. Benedict Abbot and of the weekday.

    (because in this case March 20 is already a liturgical rank of the first-class, and feasts of the same rank rank higher when on their actual date than when transferred, even though otherwise the precedence would be vice-versa – or so I think)

  10. Imrahil says:

    (Correction: in the latter case, the feast of St. Joseph on the 21st would have no Commemoration of St. Benedict, as St. Benedict is not a first-class feast and hence does not have a privileged Commemoration, but St. Joseph is and thus does not admit non-privileged Commemorations.)

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