Appendix I: SOLEMN PAPAL MASS
The solemn papal Mass was
suspended by the cataclysm of Venti Settembre. From 20 September, 1870,
until 1 January, 1888, the silver trumpets were silent in the Vatican
basilica: the Sovereign Pontiff no longer offered the Holy Sacrifice at
the tomb of the Apostle, and the throne of the Domnus apostolicus
The jubilee of the
priesthood of Leo XIII (1878-1903) on 1 January, 1888, afforded an
occasion for the resumption of the solemn Mass. It was not, however,
until 11 February, 1929, that the ‘Roman question’ came to be settled,
and the Vatican State was recognised by Italy.
It was now possible for the
Holy Father to leave the confines of the Vatican, which he did for the
first time on Corpus Christi of that year, assisting at a procession of
the Blessed Sacrament in the Piazza of St. Peter. Then, on 20 December,
Pope Pius XI celebrated his sacerdotal jubilee by offering the holy
Sacrifice in his cathedral church of St. John Lateran. The Mass was
simple in character, with none of that splendour of ceremonial which
accompanies the solemn papal Mass.
This solemn Mass is normally celebrated on such important occasions as the definition of a dogma or the canonisation of a saint.
The vestments proper to the
Sovereign Pontiff have been described elsewhere, and here it will
suffice to note certain distinctive features of the ceremony.
The assistants at the Mass
include the cardinal deacon, apostolic subdeacon, who carries the
gospel-book in the entrance procession, Greek deacon and subdeacon,
cardinal assistant bishop, two assistant cardinal deacons, two
protonotaries apostolic, who raise the front of the falda as the Pope
walks, two chamberlains carrying the train, dean of the Rota with the
precious mitre, and finally two patriarchs or archbishops who carry the
book and hand-candle respectively. A thurifer, with a smoking censer
(1) and seven acolytes bearing candles (2) take part also in the
At the preparatory prayers,
the cardinal bishop stands to the right of the Pope, the cardinal
deacon to the left, with the other ministers behind.
After the first censing,
the cardinal deacons kiss the Pope on cheek and breast, and the Pontiff
retires to the throne before the of St. Peter’s Chair in the apse.
The senior deacon, who
wears a mitre, sits on a faldstool before the altar and facing the
throne; the apostolic subdeacon, together with the Greek ministers, sit
on the steps of the altar; while the assistant bishop and the two
assistant deacons remain near the throne.
The Byzantine subdeacon and
deacon, who respectively chant epistle and gospel in Greek after they
have been sung in Latin, normally monks from the Italo-Greek badia of
Grottaferrata.(3) The subdeacons of the two rites, at the conclusion of
the epistles, go together and kiss the feet of the Pope. Seven taperers
assist at the Latin gospel: two at the Greek gospel.(4) The Pope kisses
the two texts.
Precautions are taken
against poison, and a pregustatio ceremony for the tasting of the bread
and wine takes place at the offertory.(4) After Et homo factus est has
been sung in the Creed, the cardinal bishop and apostolic subdeacon
wash their hands at a credence, and then unfold a linen cloth, edged
and divided with gold lace, over the mensa of the altar. The cloth
originally served as a corporal and covered the oblata. The subdeacon
in a humeral veil brings up the burse and corporal, two purificators
and a silver box of hosts. The burse and hosts are received by the
deacon, who spreads the corporal. In the meanwhile, the sacristan in a
humeral veil carries the chalice, paten, purificators and gold spoon to
the papal credence on the gospel side of the altar, accompanied by an
acolyte with two empty cruets and a small vase. The sacristan assisted
by the cup-bearer or pantler, then purifies the sacred vessels, spoon
and cruets with wine, and the water cruet with water. A small quantity
of wine and water are poured into a vessel, and consumed by the
cup-bearer: the remainder put into the cruets and given to the acolyte.
The sacristan in a humeral veil places the vessels on the altar. Then
the cardinal deacon takes the three hosts, and lays them on the paten:
with one of them he rubs the paten, and with another touches the inside
and outside of the chalice. These two hosts are consumed by the
sacristan with his face turned towards the Pope; while the third serves
for the Mass. The testing of the oblations is concluded by the cardinal
deacon pouring a little of the wine and water into a vessel, which the
cup-bearer immediately drinks. The deacon pours enough wine into the
chalice for three people, and the subdeacon adds the water with a gold
spoon. If the occasion of the Mass should be a canonisation, candles,
bread, wine, water, young turtle-doves and two other small birds are
offered to the Pontiff after the Creed.
Eight prelates carry
torches for the elevation, but there is no bell either then or at any
other time in a papal Mass. The use of a small bell has never been
introduced, even for a Mass said in the presence of the Pope.
At the Elevation of the
Host and Chalice, the Pope raises his arms perpendicularly, turning
first to the right and then to the left. The symphony of Silveri by the
trumpets of the noble guard, which is played at the moment of
elevation, was restricted by Leo XIII to this time.
Before the Pater noster, an
acolyte takes the cruets and a small vessel to the credence; while the
sacristan in a humeral veil carries the golden fistula in his right
hand, and the chalice for the ablutions in his left. The cup-bearer
then empties the cruets and purifies them together with the vessel,
fistula and ablution chalice. The pregustatio ceremony is repeated as
before, after which the acolyte goes to the right of the throne with
the cruets and vessel: the sacristan with the fistula, chalice and two
The ceremony by which the
Pope placed the sancta in the chalice at Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum
had disappeared by the time of Ordo Romanus IV, and the customary
commixture had taken its place. The pax is given in its normal position
to the bishop assistant and the assistant cardinal deacons, but it is
deferred until the Communion for the deacon and subdeacon of the Mass.
The Pope retires to the
throne to make his Communion. The following ceremonies are observed:
The cardinal deacon first takes the paten, on which the master of
ceremonies has placed the asterisk, elevates it to the height of his
forehead so that it may be seen by the people, turns to the right to
show it to the Pope, raises it higher in making a semicircle, and then
returns to the left in such a way that it may be exhibited for the
third time to both the faithful and the Pope.
The subdeacon, kneeling at
the gospel side of the altar, receives the paten and asterisk, and
takes them to the Pope, his hands covered by a rich veil embroidered
with gold (linteum pectoralis). The asterisk is a safeguard in the form
of a star, which is placed over the paten as a covering for the Host
when it is carried to the throne. It has twelve rays on which are
inscribed the names of the twelve Apostles. In the Byzantine rite, an
asterisk is a normal liturgical ornament, which is employed to prevent
the veil from touching the Eucharistic bread. The Eastern type is
formed by two half circles, with a little star suspended in the centre.
The chalice is elevated by
the cardinal deacon with the same ceremony as for the paten. Then the
master of ceremonies covers the chalice with a gold-embroidered pall,
and the deacon takes it to the throne. Two archbishops hold the book
for the communion prayers; while a third assists with a hand-candle.
The second master of ceremonies removes the asterisk, and the Pope,
taking two particles of the Host in his left hand, says: Panem
coelestem and Domine non sum dignus. Innocent III (1198-1216) makes no
mention of the formulas, but they are found in the Ordo of Cardinal
d'Estouville (1402-82) at the end of the 15th century. A second
commixture was formerly customary after the Communion of the Pope, and
Ordo Romanus I says: Qui dum communicaverit, de ipsa Sancta quam
momorderit ponit in calice in manus archidiaconi dicendo: Fiat
commixtio ....(6) Ordo Romanus VII supplies the rubric: Et expleta
confractione, quando communicat domnus apostolicus partem sibi mordet
et reliquam in calicem mittit faciens crucem de ea tribus vicibus super
calicem, nihil dicens.(7) The deacon approaches with the chalice, and
the sacristan gives the fistula to the assistant bishop. Then the Pope
places the futula in the chalice, and so receives the precious
Blood.(8) The Agnus Dei is concluded by the choir after the Pope has
made his Communion.
The second half of the Host
is given at the throne to the deacon and and subdeacon: the former
stands and the latter kneels.(9) They both kiss the ring and receive
the pax. The ministers then return to the altar: the deacon carries the
chalice and fistula and the subdeacon the paten. The paten is purified
over the chalice by the subdeacon, and the deacon consumes a part of
the precious Blood by means of the fistula. The remainder of the
chalice is taken by the subdeacon, but without making use of the
‘reed’. The chalice is then purified.
The Pope in the meanwhile
takes the ablutions in a chalice specially provided for the purpose,
which is offered to him by the assistant bishop. He then returns to the
altar for the communion and postcommunion.
The auditor of the Rota, vested in a tunicle, stands by the Pope as he gives the blessing, holding the pontifical cross.
Both maniple and pallium
are left on the altar. When the Pontiff has received the tiara, gloves
and ring, the archpriest of the basilica, accompanied by two of the
canons, presents himself before the Pope, in order to give him a purse
of silk embroidered with gold in which there are twenty-five jules of
ancient papal money. The archpriest, as he presents the honorarium,
says: Beatissime Pater, capitulum et canonici hujus sacrosanctae
basilicae, Sanctitatae [sic] vestrae consuetum offerunt presbyterium
pro missa bene cantata. Then the hand of the Pope is kissed by the
archpriest, and the foot by the two canons. The Pope gives the purse to
the cardinal deacon for his train-bearer, who in his turn takes it to
the canon sacristan of the basilica, receiving in exchange five ecus,
which was about twenty-seven francs before the first World War.(10)
(1) Cf. O.R. I, 8; Pat. Lat., t. LXXXVIII, col. 941. The Ordo directs the censer to be carried by a regionary subdeacon.
(2) Ibid. Cf. Rite of Lyons.
(3) Cf. O.R. XIV, 46; Pat. Lat., t. LXXVIII, col. 1146.
(4) Ad evangelium latinum
portantur septem candelabra, et immediamente dicitur evangelium graecum
cum duobus candelabris accensis, et alia quinque portantur in altari.
O.R. XV, 10; Pat. Lat., t. LXXVIII, col. 1280. Where are the other five
candles during the Greek gospel? Edmund Bishop suggests that portantur
may stand for ponuntur (reponuntur), and that the candles were
consequently placed on the altar. Liturg. Hist., XIII, p. 306.
(5) Cf. Pontifical Mass at Lyons.
(6) O.R I, 19; Pat. Lat., t. LXXVIII, col. 946; Andrieu, Les Ordines Romani du Haut Moyen Age, t, 11 (Louvain, 1948), pp 101-2.
(7) O.R. VII, 23; Andrieu,
op. cit., t. II, p. 305. The reference in Pat. Lat. is Ordo Scrutinii
ad electos, t. LXXVIII, col. 993-1000.
(8) Fistula, vide appendix II.
(9) Les Messes papales solennelles (Desclée, n.d.), p. 44.
(10) At Lyons, the canons
of the primatial church give an honorarium to the archbishop after the
censing of the oblata at the offertory in the pontifical Mass.