ASK FATHER: Can’t get “Liturgy of the Hours” in Latin – Wherein Fr. Z RANTS

17_02_07_Jesuit_breviaryFrom a seminarian…


I am a seminarian for ___, and I have been looking for a 4 Vol. Latin Breviary [Liturgia Horarum] … I emailed the Libreria Editrice Vaticana and received this response:

Dear Mr. __,

I’m sorry to inform you that all the volumes of the Liturgia Horarum in Latin language are no longer available and at the moment there is not a reprinting plan.

Best regards

Dott. Alfredo Maria Ottaviani
Ufficio Commerciale
Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Tel: +39 06.6988.1032
Fax: +39 06.6988.4716

Why aren’t they printing these volumes anymore? What can we do if we want a book-version? I don’t even think MTF is printing their version anymore.

I can imagine a couple reasons.

First, market forces: If the demand drops, the publisher won’t print it.  If the demand returns they will reprint.  This is the most obvious reason.  For the Vatican Press, it’s all about money.

Second, ideology: There has been a concerted effort to wipe out Latin.  This has been going on since before Pope St. John XXIII’s Apostolic Constitution Veterum sapientia.  I think that there may also be an ideological reason because, were some other publisher want to take on the task, the LEV would probably deny them permission.

I remind the readership, especially those readers who are diocesan bishops, that the Code of Canon Law, can. 249, requires – it doesn’t suggest or recommend or propose, but requires – that seminarians be “very well skilled” in the Latin language: “lingua latina bene calleant“. Not just calleant, says can. 249, but bene calleant.

Calleo is “to be practiced, to be wise by experience, to be skillful, versed in” or “to know by experience or practice, to know, have the knowledge of, understand”. We get the word “callused” from this verb. We develop calluses when we do something repeatedly. So, bene calleant is “let them be very well versed”.

Review also Sacrosanctum Concilium 36 and Optatam totius 13, just to point to documents of Vatican II. … unless you “HATE VATICAN II!”, as the libs throw about.

Latin is necessary.  Its benefits are so numerous that they shouldn’t have to be enumerated.  And yet we are faced today with a clergy of the LATIN Church who are nearly totally ignorant of Latin!

I ask you, Reverend and Most Reverend gentlemen, what does it mean for our Catholic identity if our clergy don’t know the language – and therefore what goes with the language – of their Rite and Church?

Do you think that that’s a problem?

“But Father! But Father!”, some of these priests and bishops will respond, “We have so many more pressing problems to address!”

Is that so.

Our Catholic identity has been severely enervated over the last half dozen decades.  Let’s do something about this, starting with elementary and high schools!  Let’s do something about this starting in homeschooling!  We have to recover these lost tools or we will, shortly, begin to pay massively for the wounds to our identity.

Oh… and by the way… when rectors or others stand up during ordinations to attest before God that the men to be ordained for the Latin Church have been properly trained…. is that true if they have no Latin?


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, Wherein Fr. Z Rants and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Although there are many advantages to paper, your seminarian can find the Latin Liturgia Horarum online (along with Spanish) at:

  2. Charles E Flynn says:

    Baronius Press hopes to have its four-volume, $359.95 English/Latin Breviary back in print in late fall. I realize this is not as portable, but it has the advantage of continuing to be of interest to its publisher.

  3. StMichael71 says:

    Some Opus Dei folks put together an app which is EMINENTLY more affordable than the volumes of the Latin OF breviary. It’s free, by contrast. And it is complete – so, unlike iBreviary, the complete text is always loaded on your device. I use it regularly, and it is very handy:

  4. JonathanTX says:

    Clearly, the best solution is to use the Latin breviary from before Vat II, which is in the public domain, and freely available online.

  5. Kevin Jones says:

    Dear Father Z,

    Firstly, I hope perhaps to see you in Rome next week. [Let’s hope so!]

    On the subject here, the simple answer and probably quite predictable from me is – change over to the Breviarium Romanum!

    Available now from various publishers!



  6. msc says:

    If one does not mind a Latin and French edition, there is
    Is there some forum in which priests wanting some further practice or instruction in Latin (and Greek) can be connected with tutors? I have taught both for many years and would like to help someone, if I could.

  7. rbbadger says:

    There may well come a time when the liturgical texts in Latin are far more available for usus antiquior than for the usus recensior. [The irony oozes….] I have a 1962 edition of the Breviary, but haven’t yet learned the rubrics. I may have just been given an excuse to learn them.

  8. Dave N. says:

    “Canon Law…requires – that seminarians be ‘very well skilled’ in the Latin language.”

    And yet the academic bar for seminarians, particularly in the classical languages, continues to be *lowered* almost every year—excepting a very small handful of U.S. seminaries. Is the logic that less-educated priests will be more easily manipulated in the future?

  9. Fr. Lovell says:

    To the Seminarian,

    It might be beneficial to get the ’61 Breviarium Romanum. I started using it exclusively a few years ago and while it is longer to pray, it is wonderful to pray all the psalms in a week. Baronius Press prints a great version.

  10. Dan says:

    “Let’s do something about this, starting with elementary high schools! Let’s do something about this starting in homeschooling!”

    This bring to mind a question. Do you have a recommendation on a self study Latin course that could be used in a homeschool environment, or even a Catholic school environment where the parent/teacher also does not know the language and is learning along side their children?

    My wife recently ordered Puella Romana from:


    Hopefully this year we will all begin to learn as a family. Having no idea and no one near here who is fluent in Latin the books were a bit of a shot in the dark so if there are other resources I would love to hear any recommendations.

  11. Amerikaner says:

    Time to change the name from Latin Rite to Not So Rite.

    [Not the way I celebrate it.]

  12. Gregorius says:

    I’ll contribute to the echo chamber, and recommend using the ’61 Breviary. I like it a lot.
    I’ve found a good side and a downside to switching to the ’61 breviary, after both praying the LotH with certain parts of the Ordinary in Latin and and then alternating between the two breviaries on different days.
    The good side for you is after praying the ’61 for a month or two, if you then return to the LotH you’ll never complain about the length of your office obligation again.
    The bad side is after a month or two, if you switch back to the LotH you can’t help but notice the good things missing or misshapen in that office compared to the entirety of the older tradition, and will feel robbed.

  13. Gregorius says:

    Also, is that publisher actually named Dr. Alfredo Ottaviani, or is that just the name of their office building? Talk about irony

  14. LJC says:

    To the people suggesting just switching to the old breviary, while this may seem ideal, in the real world there are often various issues with this. First, in most seminaries certain hours are prayed in common (usually morning and evening prayer,) and these obviously in English. So for those who want to pray in Latin they have the other three hours on their own where they are free to do so… but since MP and EP are communally recited from LOTH it would be odd (inappropriate?) to switch to the 62 breviary for the other hours. Second, the vast majority of Seminarians will be assigned to parishes where they will have to celebrate OF Masses almost everyday. If you’re praying the 62 Breviary you run into the strange reality of praying the old breviary but the new Mass, (following 2 calendars at the same time, etc.) Thirdly, some of us belong to religious communities and so will have communal recitation built into our lives as priests, (not to mention that many diocesan priests are becoming more interested in having some degree of communal prayer in their lives,) so this again raises the problem of having some hours in OF in others in EF.
    In an ideal world… yes, everyone just switch to the old breviary. In the real world, we need a Latin LOTH.

  15. AmandaL says:

    One option for learning Latin is the First Form Latin series:
    They have available a DVD with a Latin instructor. It’s a solid and rigorous program for 4th grade and up.

  16. RichR says:

    I found myself being drawn to the 1962 Monastic Diurnal, so I gave my copy of the Liturgia Horarum (editio typica altera) to our priest who brought the EF Mass to our parish. He prays the OF Office but also reads Latin. He was surprised to see that the Liturgy of the Hours actually comes in a printed Latin edtion. He says it has been a real blessing to him.

    Another option is to purchase the ebooks of the Liturgia Horarum from Vatican Publishing House:

    I have these for my Kindle and iPad, and the font is the same as the printed version. The hyperlinks are used in the same manner as ribbons. It’s well-done, if you don’t mind having a tablet instead of paper.

  17. Henry Edwards says:

    Although I concur in the general endorsement of the Baronius Latin-English print edition of the 1961 Roman Breviary, there is a beautifully formatted e-book edition of the 4-volume Latin-only Liturgia Horarum, provide with excellent lings for the navigation between parts–e.g., from the ordinary to the proper of saints and back–needed (in lieu of the ribbons in a print edition) to say the Liturgy of the Hours smoothly, available from Breviario Digitale:

  18. Geoffrey says:

    Advising changing from the Ordinary Form to the Extraordinary Form in the matter of the Divine Office is not so simple. As a layman, I find the 1961 breviary a beautiful but convoluted mess that I will not be able to tackle until my sunset years.

    The Liturgy of the Hours does have its good points. The Office of Readings is one, for example.

  19. Argument Clinician says:

    A couple things:

    I agree with the voices suggesting the older Breviarium Romanum. I am a (diocesan) seminarian who has been praying the older Divine Office for nearly three years now, and I find it immensely helpful for my understanding of the actual praying of the Psalms. Nova et Vetera publishes a good two-volume edition (Latin only), and Baronius publishes a three-volume (English-Latin). The one-week psalter is wonderful for familiarity, and even the additional time requirement is not a burden once you become accustomed to praying it regularly.

    To the point about the markets: I am certain good Father Z is being generous to the Libreria Editrice Vaticana by offering the possibility that the demand is simply low for Latin LotH. I know from my own experience that perhaps thirty percent of the seminarians I study with would be happy to pray in Latin, but they struggle to find copies of the books. They are reduced to trawling eBay and used-book stores for individual volumes, attempting to piece together a set. The demand is present. The supply is (deliberately, it seems to me) not being provided.

  20. HeatherPA says:

    Has he checked eBay? I see one for $500 with an offer feature, and I also see individual volumes listed. I am unsure if the set is the one he is searching for, it was published in 1974.

  21. Michael says:

    This company still has the six-volume MTF edition available for sale. Along with other Latin books… the OF Lectionary in Latin:

  22. dahveed says:

    As a layman, may I make a suggestion, for the seminarian? Divinum Officium offers a great price (free), multiple variants of the Office. Try here:

  23. John UK says:

    Gracewing appear to have the 6volume edition here
    at a considerably lower cost than Amazon U.S.

  24. frthomashoisington says:

    To the seminarian: I have the four volume Latin “Vatican II” breviary. I bought it before Internet versions became available. I would be happy to mail the four volumes to you for the cost of postage. I would rather a young priest or seminarian be able to use it. Please email me to arrange. The first part of my email address is discipulus1967. The part after the at sign is the outlook ending.

  25. JustASeminarian says:

    I am not the seminarian who asked the question of Fr. Z, however, if anyone else has a set available, I would be most appreciative and happy to pay a reasonable price. It definitely would not be gathering dust on my shelf. Thanks and God bless!

  26. RichR says:

    P.S. It was very nice of the seminarian to include the email address where we can email the LEV and let them know what the actual demand for a printed version is.

  27. mercy2013 says:

    Regarding your comment to start with homeschooling… we pulled our grade school aged kids out of parish school to homeschool this year. We are trying a classical approach. I thought the “recitation” portion of our day would be the part they hate, but no! They love reciting key questions from the Baltimore Catechism and they have so much fun conjugating and declining our Latin vocab every day! I’m enjoying learning the Latin with them! All of a sudden, they wanted to learn “the most necessary prayers” in Latin. Then, my older son just started inserting them into our family rosary one night. You will be happy to know that approximately 1/3-1/2 of the Catholic homeschoolers in our area are learning Latin to some degree. This is in an area which does not even have exposure to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass because the nearest one is still quite a long drive.

  28. scholastica says:

    We loved working through the Memoria Press series. As we advanced I found I also needed to use the workbooks to keep up. Was easy to teach many grades at once. It was also cool to play Latin hangman and Latin charades. It’s not Catholic, but the song book included the Stabat Mater which we learned one Lent. I think the Prima Latina you ordered is the first of this set. Great for very young children, but not necessary for older children. Have fun!

  29. tioedong says:

    You might also want to check out internet Archives, which has a lot of older prayer books etc.
    here is one example:

  30. ChesterFrank says:

    Why cant some liturgical and linguistically gifted maverick start a blog that teaches Latin ?

  31. Fr Richard Duncan CO says:

    I have just put up a set of the 4 vol Liturgia Horarum for sale on eBay, at a starting price of £200. The edition is of the original 1971 printing and it is in very good condition for its age, apart from some library stamps indicating that it once lived at the Franciscan Studies Centre in Canterbury. Given the age and condition I guess it wasn’t used very much!

  32. scotchlil says:

    Thank you for allowing me on board, Father. I happen to have a set of the Liturgia Horarum (1972) in reasonably good condition (vols 2 & 3 have one or two pages early on which could do with strengthening). I am only too happy to pass it on to either of the two seminarians in need. It is really quite shocking that these volumes remain out of print – as are the prices being asked for copies. I’m not sure of the best way for the seminarians to get in touch. I will note my e-mail address here (Father, please delete if you think it inappropriate) and if either lets me have a postal address I will send them on. I am in the UK, and our postal service seems less than prompt in delivering things to the US, so it may take a week or two. E-mail is: Best to mark anything ‘for attention of ARH’.

  33. Grabski says:

    The Polish site has for free the daily breviary. It’s done in conjunction with the publisher It’s in Polish, but quite rich and a different approach i our country

  34. Grabski says:

    The site is in Polish but the prayers are Latin

  35. Thomas S says:

    Father Z (and other priestly readers),

    I have the Baronius Press Latin-English Breviarium Romanum. Unfortunately I haven’t used it yet. Can you comment on the practicality of a priest praying the Breviary according to the old calendar whilst his day to day parish life is dictated by the new calendar?


    [I’ve written about this issue in the past. In general, I think it makes more sense to use the Breviarium Romanum when you read Holy Mass with the 1962 Missale Romanum, and to use the Liturgia Horarum when you use the Novus Ordo missal. There is a harmony between the Missal and the Office. That said, if the priest doesn’t have strong Latin, then, for the Breviary, I strongly recommend the Baronius Press 3 volume edition with Latin and facing English. They are beautifully crafted and a pleasure to use. US HERE – UK HERE (sometimes not available ]

  36. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    I am so glad to see mention on Fr. Z’s blog of the Church’s official liturgical prayer, the Liturgy of the Hours [AND the Breviarum Romanum] – so glad that I cannot join in with the general gloom. The absence of the Latin edition means that demand exceeds supply, and that there is demand for the Latin editions. Many people want it! And where there is demand, supply follows, and so it will in time be reprinted. [That’s a very rosy view.]

    Those seeking a Latin LOTH can find one perhaps where last April I saw it for sale in a book store:
    Libreria Internazionale Giovanni Paolo II
    Piazza San Pietro, Braccio di Carlo Magno
    (lunedì-sabato, 8.00 – 18.45)
    Tel. (06) 698.83345
    Fax (06) 698.85326
    E-mail: libreriainternazionale[at]

    Face the facade of San Pietro in Vaticano, and go to your left; the bookstore is on the left. Behind the cash register is a collection of Latin LOTH for sale, all four volumes, with leather binding and gold trim. Each volume is very expensive. You can ask if they have the cheaper vinyl edition.

    In the meantime as we wait for the reprinting, order the best current English tradition from Kenya: http://paulinesafrica[dot]org/ It will take you about six weeks to get it.

  37. BenH says:

    “Our Catholic identity has been severely enervated over the last half dozen decades. Let’s do something about this, starting with elementary and high schools! Let’s do something about this starting in homeschooling! We have to recover these lost tools or we will, shortly, begin to pay massively for the wounds to our identity.”

    I just received in the mail yesterday an announcement from the Abbot of Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey for a new Gregorian Chant course: Laus in Ecclesia.
    My wife and I plan on completing the course in order to teach our children! We do a have a musical background and have sung chant before, but both of us are weak in Latin.

  38. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    For those with the proper cell phones, the Universalis App allows for Latin. I think iBreviary app does also. I use both when on the go.

  39. rbbadger says:

    I wrote to Midwest Theological Forum to inquire about their six volume Liturgia Horarum which has disappeared from their website. Here was the response I got:

    “Unfortunately, we are completely out of the Liturgia Horarum. A reprint is not currently planned.”

  40. Devo35 says:

    Laudetur Jesus Christus!

    If this seminarian is interested in the Baronius Press breviary, I have one that is almost new and which I have not used, that I will gladly send him gratis. I opened the packaging, but never used the books. I will search my storage area to make sure they are still in good shape. Just let me know.

  41. scotchlil says:

    Just to update, two seminarians have been in touch, and the books will be on their way to the first to make contact as soon as I can get them wrapped and make the trip to the Post Office. It is very encouraging to see these young men keeping in touch with the Latin tradition…

  42. YoungErieCatholic says:

    Devo35, how would the seminarian get ahold of you?

  43. Michael says:


    You may still purchase the six-volume MTF Liturgia Horarum here: (In Stock)

    Sid Cundiff,

    Yes, I use the Universalis app on my iPhone as well. It allows the Latin/English, side by side of the Liturgia Horarum. It is well done!

  44. M. K. says:

    I am a young priest (ordained two years ago) who normally prays the office in Latin, sometimes the Liturgia Horarum and sometimes the Breviarium Romanum in the Nova et Vetera edition (yes, there is a certain whiplash involved in going back and forth, but that’s a story for another day). I was fortunate as a seminarian to obtain for free a set of the Latin LH that had belonged to an older priest who died. (From the same source I obtained a set of the Missale Romanum cum Lectionibus – also out of print and hard to find, and something I use regularly, especially as a travel missal.) I’m not sure how to do it, but it would be good if this sort of hand-me-down or recycling approach could be replicated on a wider scale – I’m sure that there are other old priests who would be happy to see their old missals and breviaries inherited by eager young seminarians, and it would be good if something could be done to make that happen more often.

  45. Hans says:

    For what it’s worth, iBreviary has versions in both Latinum and Vetus Ordo, though I can’t speak to how complete either is. Presumably, the former is the new version in Latin and the latter is the older form as the name suggests.

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  47. Blayne says:

    I am also in seminary and looking for this set. It is a bear to find. I love praying in Latin. Would be great to keep it up with the Psalms. I only have Volume I. If anyone sees a cost-effective edition, please let me know.

  48. The Masked Chicken says:

    If 10,000 people tried to place an order for the Latin Breviary from the Vatican publishers, I suspect that might cause them to re-think their out-of-print stance.

    This is an interesting problem in copyright law. God’s words cannot, by its nature, be copyrighted, but settings of God’s words can be, in most countries. One is copyrighting the print, not the words. There is nothing, in principle, keeping anyone from taking the Latin public domain versions of the Biblical and Sanctoral texts and using them as prayer or even making a copy of the portions of the Liturgia Horarum. The problem comes because the modern antiphons and responsories are too new to be in the public domain and without them, the Liturgia Horarum, in toto, does not correspond to the official prayer of the Church. What is interesting and an unsettled point of law, is that the antiphons and responsories, together, may only constitute 10% of the material of the Liturgia Horarum and in most countries (sadly, not Italy), one would be able to excerpt these under Fair Use or Fair Dealing. Italian copyright law does not recognize Fair Use, however, so one is very restricted in what one can do with an Italian edition. Interestingly, some English publishers, back in the day, I think, might have been given permission to publish the Litugia Horarum in their country (I have seen one from Australia, if I remember correctly). If so, the copyright law for their country would apply, freeing the text from the Italian restriction.

    There is an argument to be made (and scientists are at the forefront in this) that copyright, as a concept, has become an unjust legal application, especially in a digital age. Copyright, while based on English Common Law, did not become a legal practice until the growth of publishing houses in the 1700’s and it was a way for publishing houses to maintain an hegemony on the text. The idea of copyright was not in practice during the Medieval and Renaissance periods, as witnessed by the proliferation of contrafactum music. As such, while some might argue the concept of, “Intellectual Property,” as an equivalent to copyright in the digital age, such a concept is philosophically dubious, since thoughts are not deliberate in the same sense as making a book is. Products of acts, such as published books may surely be copyrighted, but since two people may think the same thoughts, even at the same time, the acts of the intellect, by themselves, not being governed by the will, are not, technically, a product that one may own. Tangibility, therefore, is an important aspect of copyright law. Modern scientific publishing houses can charge exorbitant amounts of money for access to journals, making research difficult if one does not have access to a university library and, even then, some universities have had to cut back on print journals because they cost so much. This is leading to the rise of public open-source journals. The Vatican could do the same, using a license like the GPL or Creative Commons.

    If one were to memorize the antiphons and responsories in Latin, one could, in theory, simply read the rest of the texts from any handy public domain Latin source without violating copyright.

    What worries me is that copyright may be used maliciously, to prevent people who have a right to a text from using it. It would take a court to decide this, but one could argue that if the Vatican refused to publish the Liturgia Horarum, while acknowledging it to be the editio typica for the Breviary, they would be, in a sense, contradicting themselves (essential text, but not essential text) and that the restriction would be malicious. If the demand were high enough and acknowledging the Faithful’s right to the text, a good case could be made that not publishing the text amounted to suppression and a violation of the rights of the Faithful. That is a matter for others better versed in law than I to decide.

    In any case, has anyone started a petition to ask the publisher to re-issue it?

    The Chicken

  49. PASem says:

    How can the seminarian contact you?

  50. Dr Guinness says:

    Found this set of Latin Liturgy of the Hours books on eBay while I was snooping around, if anyone is interested

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