Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Belated Anniversary: Last Papal Mass

I meant to post on this yesterday, but forgot in my own negligence. October 18th was a memorable day in the long history of the Roman Church. On that day, fifty years ago, Pope Paul VI celebrated Mass according to the unique rites of the papacy for the very last time. Papal Mass, which synthesized the primitive Roman tradition with the international Gallican praxis, remained virtually unchanged since the age of St. Gregory VII. With a stroke of the pen on September 28th, 1964, Pope Paul, through Inter oecumenici, outdated the form of Mass Abbé Franck Quoex called the standard of the Roman tradition. 

Inter oeumenici—which, among other things, implicitly called for Mass facing the people, priests in visible chairs facing the congregation, bare altars, and a "reform of the entire Ordo Missae" (48)—demanded innovations to the liturgy that made papal Mass impossible. Readings in the vernacular would replace the Greek and Latin singing of the lesson and the Gospel. The omission of the prayers before the altar displaced the reception of the maniple. The singing of the doxology made the use of polyphonic music difficult, which in turn limited other musical options like the Silveri Symphony. The demand for "genuine Christian art" in vesture consigned the papal tat to the closet until Msgr. Guido Marini's tenure began some years back. All the demands of Inter oecumenici had to be met by March 7th, 1965, the first Sunday of Lent. Paul VI, perhaps with some persuasion from the Consilium, "promoted" the papal Master of Ceremonies, Enrico Dante, to the College of Cardinals on February 22nd, 1965, thereby removing him from his place of obstruction.

The canonization of the Ugandan martyrs by Pope Paul VI was the last hurrah for the traditional Roman liturgy for quite some time....

The Introit

The traditional practice of offering the Pope loaves of bread and turtle doves at a canonization.
The assistant priest is Cardinal Tisserant, a controversial giant of Pacellian and Conciliar
Vatican politics. The Eastern clergy are seated close to the pope, which would not have been
the case before the Council, when Cardinals—as supposed extensions of the pope—held
higher places of honor.

The Canon of the Mass. The Greek clergy stand on either side of the Roman subdeacon. Tiaras
and statues of Ss Peter & Paul adorn the altar. The Cardinals surround the altar according to rank,
perhaps a relic of concelebration or perhaps a statement of hierarchy.

The Pope communicates at the throne, being been brought the Sacrament and
the chalice by the Latin deacon and subdeacon. He drinks from the chalice
through a gold straw called the fistula. Only the Pope, the Latin deacon, and
Latin subdeacon communicate.
The Pope drinks the ablutions. The obscured face of that of Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani,
head of the Holy Office/CDF at the time.

After the Mass, Pope Paul declares the martyrs to be saints.


  1. Ah, the fistula. Something that Holy Communion-under-both-kinds advocates don't like to mention when they say the ancient Church allowed the laity to drink from the chalice.

    1. Interestingly, the fistula appeared in the first edition of the GIRM.

    2. Did it really? I see the word "calamo" in reference to Holy Communion in the IGMR, I did not know "fistula" was there as well.

    3. What is exactly the difference between the fistula and the calamus?

      K. e.

    4. If I'm not mistaken, the patriarch of Lisbon also had a fistula back in the day.

    5. The Patriarch of Lisbon had all the liturgical rights and prerogatives of the papacy, but out of respect, he used only a few of them. He wore the fanon, the falda, used the flabella, and, I think, used a sedia gestatoria—or had one carried behind him. He did not wear the tiara, but did wear a mitre with three tiers on it.

    6. Fistula, pippa, calamus, etc. are all synonyms for a kind of drinking tube. The GIRM also allowed for using a spoon (cochlea) in giving the precious blood. Fun stuff.

  2. THANK YOU FOR THESE! Just incredible work. Marvelous!

  3. It is truly almost sickening to see these old photos,and to think what the venerable Roman rite has become in the average parish of today. The last novus ordo mass I attended, this last summer, all of the servers were women,including unnecessary Eucharistic ministers, it is a rural parish with less than one hundred people at any given Sunday Mass. The priest was assisted by a woman who was vested in a deacon's alb and during the offertory actually set up the altar, as the deacon used to do in the old high mass. The music was simply deplorable. It was not complete offensive in that there were no dancing girls (usually middle aged women who are more embarrassing than uplifting) or balloons.

    Cranmer may have been a toady heretic (who was burnt for it), but at least he had a sense of taste and decorum.

  4. As regards the Triregnum - Receive the tiara adorned with three crowns and know that thou art Father of princes and kings, Ruler of the world, Vicar of our Saviour Jesus Christ. the words of coronation last heard by Pope Saint John 23rd,

    M.J. finds it a fey form of humility to have rejected the Triregnum when it is much more likely that it was an act of craven surrender to modern democracy.

    The old coronation was right; and not only that, the rejection of that ceremony and the Triregnum is cowardice before the world and a false humility that makes of the modern Popes, men who are, putatively, humbler than Christ Himself who did not refuse a crowning from His enemies - for they did, in truth, crown Him as King (not knowing it though) whereas the modern cowards do not fear the Lord but, rather fear being mocked by the world if they continued to insist that they ARE all that the words of the old coronation proclaims.

    Jesus didn't refuse being crowned by His enemies whereas modern Popes refuse to be crowned by their friends; and such is the quality and courage of our modern Popes.

  5. Thank you very much for these wonderful photos!!

    Although many of Inter Oecumenici's changes were actually advanced in the Pacellian rites, it is true that this document remains the magna charta of the new/current liturgical "spirit" or "style" - it is worth noting that 1969 IGMR cites in footnotes IOe almost as many times as SC, so making the former a reference point for priests even today.

    A day of mourning and crying, truly. Tradition goes away and venerable traditions do the same thing...

    K. e.

  6. This is a depressing post, to be honest.

    Who killed the Old Papal Mass? Well, the assassin features very prominently in these photographs, I'm afraid. He's the one just raised to the altars this past weekend, in fact.

    Of course, it's not really dead. But it spent a long time in a coma, thanks to a crushing blow to the head.

    All that said: Thanks for the pretty photos, Rad Trad. I had never seen these before.

    1. Don't worry, the Paul VI you know is an impostor!

      The Knights of St. Lazarus rescued the real ones from the Vatican dungeon and have him cryrogenically frozen in Tibet under an anti-aging process. When the Pope returns it shall be as a much younger man.