Rome: Mass at St. John Lateran for Dedication – wierd

I saw some of the video of the Mass at the Lateran, Rome’s Cathedral Church, for the feast of its dedication, 9 November.

Strange.  Two things.

Where are the altar candles?

What’s with shapeless bag albs and no cinctures?   There were other men serving in cassock and surplice, presumably from the Major Seminary next door.  But, what’s with the shapeless bags?


Someone wrote to say that the candles are in front of the altar.

It looks as if the candles for a altar have been placed on the railing around the confessio.

I say that makes them confessio rail candles, not altar candles.   And there is not altar crucifix.   Instead, they have suspended a cross over the altar underneath the baldachin.

It’s beautiful.  It’s not a crucifix.

This arrangement seems to be … I don’t know what it is.  I’ve seen a crucifix suspend on a baldachin in Milan, at Sant’Ambrogio if memory serves.  This seems sui generis…. as in… “Let’s make up a new way to do it!”  Anyone?

What the altar ought to look like.

Another thing.  Msgr. Guido Marini, the Papal MC, is no where to be seen.  Perhaps because this is a… I dunno… diocesan thing?  So, he is “Bishop of Rome” here and not, therefore, “papal”?

A couple more observations.   He didn’t preach from his cathedra even though he was in his Cathedral.   He, again, didn’t genuflect at the two-fold consecration of the Eucharist.



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  1. Ivan says:

    Why is that wierd?
    It is novus ordo.
    And it becomes with each new day clear for everyone what THAT really IS.

  2. JSzczuka says:

    My first thought is that it has something to do with the Catacomb Pact. You know, simplify, Protestant -ize even further.

  3. PaulusFranciscus says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but is it not a serious offence to celebrate Mass without candles? I suppose Pope Francis could have offered an indult, but one would expect there would be a specific reason for their absence, and it still doesn’t explain the odd vestments.

    This is very troubling.

  4. Kathleen10 says:

    Deconstruction in full bore. Gloves are off. A sign for all to see.
    Where is the crucifix?
    These men have made their intentions clear. We need a Cardinal to call him what he is and warn the faithful.

  5. Felipe says:

    They should know better. Every man there knows what belongs at the altar, if not, do they deserve to be there?

  6. Emilio says:

    I also caught some of this yesterday on YouTube. There were candles placed on the rail surrounding the confessio, but not near or on the altar per the GIRM. I was concerned with the absence of Monsignor Marini or anyone from his Office, that I could recognize, filling in for him. There was a very odd blessing of the lectors- who all three came up to the Pope at the cathedra and seemed to receive a blessing before processing together to the lectern…. one was a woman in pants,TENNIS SHOES and a casual-looking coat…serving as a lector for a solemn Papal Mass on the Solemnity of the Dedication of the Pope’s Cathedral- the mother and head of all churches.

  7. In the second photo, on the left past the heads of the seated clergy, do I see two white candles? I’m unsure. If so, they are way out of place.

  8. Elizabeth D says:

    Am I the only one to whom it is a million percent obvious that is the gender neutral acolyte garb?

    [I hadn’t thought of that. Blech. Now I can’t un-think it.]

  9. Charles E Flynn says:

    The six candles are in front of the altar, as can be seen around 1 min. 45 sec. into this video:

    Holy Mass with Pope Francis, on the Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran 9 November 2019 HD

  10. padredana says:

    The white hooded moo moos seem rather common for modern Benedictines – could it be that they are Benedictines? I once asked a Benedictine why they didn’t wear cinctures with their hooded albs and he said they had special permission because the belt of their habit served as their “cincture.” I doubt such a permission, but who knows.

  11. JustaSinner says:

    Come as you are party?

  12. cstei says:

    What was with the recessional humn sung to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance?

  13. ex seaxe says:

    As to the genuflection, he was clearly having some difficulty walking. Hobbling, I would say rather than limping. A bad hip might well preclude genuflecting.
    Candle placement very strange, GIRM 117 specifies seven candlesticks “on (super) or near (juxta) the altar” for a diocesan bishop.

  14. Bailey Walker says:

    The cucula, or monastic cowl, is the proper choir dress of monks. Most Benedictines wear black. Cistercians wear white. One of the more irritating affectations of the post-Conciliar liturgical frenzy is the use of a modified (abbreviated sleeves) cowl, sometimes with a cincture usually without by concelebrants. Here’s what Redemptionis Sacramentum #126 has to say about that:

    [126.] The abuse is reprobated whereby the sacred ministers celebrate Holy Mass or other rites without sacred vestments or with only a stole over the monastic cowl or the common habit of religious or ordinary clothes, contrary to the prescriptions of the liturgical books, even when there is only one minister participating.[216] In order that such abuses be corrected as quickly as possible, Ordinaries should take care that in all churches and oratories subject to their jurisdiction there is present an adequate supply of liturgical vestments made in accordance with the norms.

    And calling the belt of the Benedictine habit a sort of substitute for the liturgical cincture is just as much an abuse as calling the white Dominican Habit a suitable replacement for the alb.

  15. joekstl2 says:

    We’re worried about number/place of altar candles or cinctures? Seriously? [“we”? And “worried” is your word. Nice try.]

    Our pastor in his homily today preached about heaven and hell referencing the first and third reading quoting at length from the Catholic Catechism. Specifically #1033 that hell is separation for eternity for failing to meet the needs of the poor.

    In our Eucharist assembly [Bzzzzzzzzz] we celebrate our communion here on earth and ultimately in heaven as part of the communion of saints, a communion that prefigures our ultimate communion with those who have preceded us in preaching and living the Gospel of the Beatitudes and Matthew’s last judgment admonition.

    This is how our community worship should be forming us, in whatever form our Eucharist is celebrated. l

    [Outstanding virtue signaling! Thanks!]

  16. Ages says:

    Just clearing space for the Pachamamas.

  17. albinus1 says:

    As someone with knee problems that often prevent me from kneeling and genuflecting properly, I certainly sympathize with him if he was having joint problems in his legs. (I sometimes joke that I can tell that God has a sense of humor, because an inability to kneel and genuflect properly is an ironic ailment for a traditional Catholic. ;-) )

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  19. Clinton R. says:

    Pope Francis’ contempt for our Lord is more and more apparent by the day.

  20. Andreas says:

    Cstei wrote, “What was with the recessional humn (sic) sung to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance”?
    I have found no evidence in the literature suggesting that Sir Edward Elgar intended his ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ melody to be employed as a Catholic hymn, motet or other liturgical work. He did compose several works for his Father who (like Sir Edward) was organist at their church (Elgar and his family were Catholic), but this melody (from his Enigma Variations) came much later when Elgar attended both Holy Catholic Mass and Anglican services.
    The melody itself was adapted for use in the Anglican Church as the popular hymn ‘Christ is Surely Coming’ and could be found in the Hymnal “Small Church Music? #2942” (ref: Perhaps the text was translated and adapted for use at the Mass shown in the video. There are many recordings of the work sung as ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ but locating a recording of the melody set as a Catholic Church hymn has to-date escaped me. Perhaps someone reading Father Z.’s BLOG could be helpful in this regard.
    As an aside, you might wish to seek out Elgar’s exquisite tune ‘Nimrod’ as provided in a setting with the Latin verse, ‘Lux Aeterna’. It can be found online at: It is a remarkable setting for use on the UK Remembrance Day and would, I believe, be most suitable as a motet at Mass.

  21. rcg says:

    Elizabeth, as did I. And Is the lack of cincture an affirmation of the Amazonian synodal recommendation to release the clergy from celibacy?

  22. Kathleen10 says:

    His refusal to genuflect or kneel before Our Lord was our opportunity to do our part and create a furor then and since. A man who had any physical impediment that prevented him from kneeling would have let that be known to remove the element of scandal. He didn’t.
    A man who had any physical impediment could have done a modified kneel, not kneeling but in a kneeling forward position, head bowed. He didn’t.
    He stands in a manner that can only be called confrontational. At times he glares. Glares, with an expression you could put on a vinegar bottle, or the face an MMA fighter makes at his opponent before the bout.
    He does not kneel nor genuflect before Our Lord. Yet he has the audacity to kneel to wash the feet of anybody, anybody at all, and grovel on the floor at the feet of Communists in the Congo, kissing their shoes, embarrassing all and sundry. Well those are the people he likes.
    We missed our cue, way back in 2013 when he did not kneel nor genuflect. That was our time to go nuts, and we didn’t. And here we are, six years later, or is it 20, and he refuses to kneel and we’re still wondering if it’s his old knees.
    It’s not his old knees. It’s Jesus Christ. He has a problem with Jesus Christ, to him the man, merely the man, and he is a better man, so he will not kneel.

  23. momoften says:

    well the hanging cross had 2 sides….at a little before 2:50 they show the other side…..

  24. Fr AJ says:

    There is a church in my diocese where the “altar candles” are approx 7 feet from the altar, they are very small and mounted on the wall. I don’t get it at all. I suppose it comes from the General Instructions which says candles are to on or near the altar.

  25. Simon_GNR says:

    My previous diocesan bishop assured me that cinctures are now optional, when I wrote to him complaining at our then parish priest not wearing one. To quote his lordship: “I haven’t worn one for years.” What does the GIRM say about the wearing of albs without cinctures?

    [A cincture MUST be used except in the case that the alb is made to fit without one. Shapeless bags that look like something from the night-shift of the Tasty Bakery don’t count.]

  26. chuckharold says:

    For the love of God, rant about something important. Of all the things that could have attracted your attention, the Pope should have been number one. Processing in he was, by the look on his face, in pain. We know he has sciatica and can’t walk well. I relate to that. But, I thought he looked the least hale and hearty that I have seen him. Most albs today are not designed to go with a cincture. I haven’t seen a priest use on since the early seventies. They don’t wear maniples any more either. What are we to do? Rant on! But …

    [Firstly, if you are addressing yourself to me, there wasn’t a rant, above. Secondly, even if it were, I’ll rant about anything I want to rant about… on my blog. You write what you want to write about at your place.]

  27. Uxixu says:

    The candles and cross are most disturbing. I pray a future pope requires ad orientem with a Benedictine altar arrangement of the big 6 (7 for the Ordinary) and altar crucifix.

    His lack of genuflection appears to be something with his knees or hips. He does it for foot washing and kissing African warlords feet as photo-ops could perhaps he sees this as more artificial than for the GIRM mandated consecrations on which he’s presumably dispensing himself.

    This video seems to show the difficulties he has:

  28. John V says:

    So if one omits the cincture, might not the intentions expressed in the vesting prayer for it fall by the wayside as well?

    (“Gird me, O Lord, with the cincture of purity, and quench in my heart the fire of concupiscence, that the virtue of continence and chastity may abide in me.”)

    [That would follow. Good catch. That was one of the points I was going to bring up, but neglected to add to the top post.]

  29. Louis Mountbatten says:

    Displace and utterly discharge what is unholy from the holy place, along with all its malefactoring practitioners.

  30. Elizabeth D says:

    I found that this Nov 5 Zenit article explains certain changes at St John Lateran relevant to some of these things.

    [Thanks. That explains several things… though it doesn’t explain the “why” of it.]

  31. zeremoniar says:


    I agree about the altar candles, but one cannot really say anything against the altar crucifix, apart from that it is not usual in the Roman basilicas. Even in the traditional rite it is a possibility that the cross does not stand on the altar but is suspended above it. If you want I can look for a citation on this. The detail photo you shared with us shows the altar cross as seen from the nave, but the corpus is of course on the side turned to the celebrant. Here is a picture taken from the other side:

    I don’t know who served the altar, but it might have been a monastic order: their dress looks like cowls in my opinion.

    Just my two cents to contribute to an accurate picture.

  32. NBW says:

    The pics look very eerie. The altar looks so empty and void of Christ.

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