Diary of Stuff (Volume I)
Latin Mass Celebrated in Rome
By: Robert Moynihan
16:02 May 24 2003
A Tridentine rite Latin Mass was celebrated in one of
Rome's major basilicas today for the first time in decades.
A turning point for the Church's liturgy?
ROME, May 24, 2003 -- In what may in future be seen as an
important turning point in the history of the Catholic
Church's liturgy and worship, today, for the first time in
decades, a traditional Latin Mass was celebrated in a major
The solemn 2-hour liturgy, which began in the basilica of
St. Mary Major with a rosary at 3:30 p.m. and ended a
little before 6 p.m., moved some of the approximately 2,000
present to tears.
Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, head of the
Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy, celebrated the Mass
according to the pre-Vatican II 1962 missal -- also called
the Mass of St. Pius V or the Tridentine Mass -- with Pope
John Paul II's explicit permission and blessing.
"The rite of St. Pius V cannot be considered extinct,"
Castrillon Hoyos said in his homily, which was the only
part of the Mass not in Latin (he spoke in Italian).
At communion, those present were instructed to receive the
host according to the traditional rite, kneeling and on the
tongue, not in the hand. Castrillon Hoyos celebrated the
Mass turned toward the people, facing east.
The "Latin Mass" is not entirely in Latin; it contains
Greek phrases ("Kyrie eleison" or "Lord, have mercy") and
Aramaic words ("Amen," "Alleluia") which would have been
spoken by Jesus himself. It thus represents a fusion of the
liturgies of the primitive Christian communities in the
Greco-Roman world of antiquity.
Many present commented on the solemnity with the which the
celebration was conducted, calling it "beautiful"
Marygold Turner, from Kent, England, said: "This Mass is
very, very significant. The Tridentine Mass has been banned
in England. This is the rapprochement (between Rome and
those who desire the restoration of the old Mass) the Pope
calls for. The Pope wants it. Our Lady wants it."
But one Irish Catholic tourist, present by chance at the
Mass, expressed a view shared by many "progressives" in the
Church. He said he feared the Mass represented a Roman
shift toward a more "clerical" and "rigid" Church. "I'm
worried that this is a step backwards," he said.
Today's Mass came amid other signs that Rome will soon be
pressing for wider celebration of the "old Mass" around the
world. Indeed, just yesterday, a group of Catholics from
England received permission to celebrate Mass according to
the old rite in the Hungarian chapel in the grotto beneath
the main altar in St. Peter's Basilica itself. The Mass was
celebrated at 7:45 a.m. on May 23 and attended by about 25
people associated with the Latin Mass society in Great
Britain. And two weeks ago, as we reported at the time,
Cardinal Francis Arinze revealed to "Inside the Vatican"
that Rome expects to publish a document this fall mandating
the celebration of the old Latin Mass in parishes around
the world wherever groups of parishioners petition their
bishop to allow it.