Rorate Caeli

Report - TLM at York Minster

From our friends at The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales:
Huge Success for the Latin Mass Society at York Minster

Over 700 Catholics committed to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Traditional Latin Mass) converged on York Minster on Saturday 26 March to attend the first celebration of a Catholic Mass in the Minster since the Reformation. Sung Mass in the ancient Latin Rite, complete with beautiful vestments, ceremonial and incense, was celebrated at the High Altar by Fr Stephen Maughan of the Catholic diocese of Middlesbrough. (The Mass was a Votive Mass of a Holy Woman Martyr Not a Virgin).
Afterwards, the huge congregation processed through the streets of York in public witness of the Catholic Faith to the Shrine of St Margaret Clitherow in York’s historic Shambles before completing a memorable day with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at the Catholic Church of the English Martyrs. 
The occasion was the Latin Mass Society’s first annual York pilgrimage in honour of St Margaret Clitherow, one of the LMS’s patron saints. The day was organised by Paul Waddington, National Treasurer and local Representative for the LMS who said: “I am overwhelmed by the response of so many hundreds of faithful Catholics. The number of young families with children in buggies was particularly encouraging”.
Permission for the Mass was given by the Dean, the Very Reverend Keith Jones, and Chapter of York Minster; the Dean and the Precentor, Canon Peter Moger, sat in choir during the Mass.
The Latin Mass Society had originally hoped to celebrate the Mass in the nearby Catholic parish Church of St Wilfrid’s, but unfortunately it was not available; however, the parish’s loss was York Minster’s gain. 
The massive choir of York Minster was completely packed and over 150 people had to be accommodated in the nave with extra seating brought in. The music was provided by the Rudgate Singers, a local choir who specialise in the Latin Mass and who sang William Byrd’s polyphonic Mass for Five Voices. 
Saint Margaret Clitherow, (1556-1586) who lived in York was an ordinary wife and mother who refused to renounce her Catholic faith and who was martyred by being pressed to death in the reign of Elizabeth I. She was executed on Good Friday 1586 and was canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. 
Following the Mass, there was a procession from York Minster through the city streets to St Margaret Clitherow’s shrine in the Shambles, and then across Ouse Bridge, the place of her execution. The sight of so many Catholic pilgrims publicly processing and praying the Rosary drew the notice of Saturday afternoon shoppers, and a respectful silence fell as the procession passed. 
The procession finished at the Catholic Church of the English Martyrs where a relic of St Margaret Clitherow, on loan for the occasion from York’s Bar Convent, was venerated and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was conferred by Fr Michael Brown, the LMS’s Northern Chaplain. 
The occasion was widely covered by TV, radio and local press. Michael Lord, LMS General Manager, said: “Something special happened in York on Saturday. Hundreds of Catholics gathered in this historic centre of northern Christianity to honour one of England’s bravest women in a quite extraordinary way. Indeed, some people travelled from as far away as London, Oxford and Dublin. 
“This Mass in the ancient Roman Rite demonstrates quite clearly the suppressed level of interest in the Latin Mass, particularly amongst the young. I’m afraid many English and Welsh bishops are still very grudging in helping to organise celebrations of the Latin Mass but our huge congregation today shows that hundreds of people want to stand alongside Pope Benedict in his efforts to restore beauty and dignity to Catholic worship and to restore Christianity in its ancient European heartland. 
“The LMS is already making plans for an even bigger celebration in honour of St Margaret Clitherow next year”. 
The LMS offers its grateful thanks to the Dean and Chapter of York Minster, the Bar Convent, the Church of the English Martyrs and all those volunteer members of the LMS who co-ordinated the day’s events, and without whom such a happy and successful occasion would not have been possible.


  1. First of all the so-called ''extraordinary form'' is not the ''traditional Latin mass,'' and they err who equate the Missal of 1962 with the Missal of 1570.

    Secondly, the ''sung Mass'' celebrated in Yorkminster on Saturday was by no means a ''homecoming'' as some Traditionalists fondly supposed, but was rather the unwelcome intrusion of novelty into an ancient Cathedral church, a travesty of Liturgy, and I daresay a poor witness to the Roman liturgy. Before the Reformation Yorkminster did not follow the so-called ''Tridentine Rite,'' which was unknown even in the parish churches of the city of Rome (being the much reformed liturgy of the Papal court), but a local ''Use'' of the Roman Rite akin to the uses of Salisbury, Bangor, Aberdeen and Hereford. And so the erroneously designated ''Tridentine Mass in its 1962 form'' was never celebrated in Yorkminster, either before, during or after the Reformation - until Saturday.

    Thirdly, a ''sung Mass'' without Ministers was alien to the medieval English church and was rather a hybrid rite devised for use in mission countries. Indeed I wonder, with so many clergy in choir, that there was not a High Mass! It is absolutely ridiculous to have a ''sung Mass'' without Ministers with a host of clergy in choir, and indicative of a kind of liturgical minimalism. Yorkminster has regular High Masses with the Acolytes in albs rather than lace cottas (again, utterly alien to the cathedral!), so I wonder that such a to do is made about the solemnity of it all. I am sure the Dean and Chapter were decidedly underwhelmed since the standard of Liturgy they are used to is far higher. Did the clergy of pre-Reformation Yorkminster wear Roman cut vestments?

    If you wanted to impress our Anglican brethren why did you not organise a day of Medieval English liturgy? This seems to me far more impressive than a sung Low Mass and Benediction...

  2. OK... honest question as I am from the US.

    Is it normal for Catholics to be allowed to have Mass offered in an Anglican Church (which, of course used to belong to us).

    I thought those churches were to have been considered desecrated when the altars were hammered, the relics, removed, etc, thus requiring another consecration?

    This is an honest question, and I impute no ill motives towards anyone who participated in this.

    It looks like it was an extraordinary event.

    Coincidentally, my parish, when I was a youth, was names for the same St. Margaret.

  3. Henry1:08 PM


    You certainly offer a most impressive plethora of competing irrelevancies to choose among, but I cannot think of one less consequential than the impression this historical and magnificent Mass may or may not have made on our Anglican brethren.

  4. Anonymous2:11 PM

    Dear Patricius,

    I'm fairly sure that Saint Margaret, in spite of certain disconcerting features, would have found much familiarity in this mass.

    Yes, it was an incalculable tragedy that the medieval uses were lost to the Reformation. Do you suppose these would have survived had the Counter-Reformation prevailed in England? Really?

    However much the 1962 books are patently not 'the be all and end all' as far as Tradition is concerned, and however much I am sure that the various injuries done to the Holy Week liturgy in the 50's and the Breviary before that will EVENTUALLY be undone, it is mad to equate them to Pope Paul VI's.

    Let us not become idolaters of the liturgy and sow disheartening and division amongst the best of us!


  5. Anonymous5:59 PM

    "If you wanted to impress our Anglican brethren why did you not organise a day of Medieval English liturgy?"

    Because what happened on Saturday was not a historical reenactment. It was a real Catholic Mass in the 21st century.

  6. This proves that the Anglican Church is more hospitable to traditional liturgies compared to much of the Catholic Church.

    The Anglican Communion has preserved much of what the post Vatican II Roman Church threw out!

  7. Anonymous6:35 PM

    "Did the clergy of pre-Reformation Yorkminster wear Roman cut vestments?"

    Everyone would do well to set aside the Romantic ideals of the 19th century medievalists and take a look at what English vestments really looked like in the 16th century. Much closer in form to the modern fiddleback than modern day "gothic" chasubles, which probably would have looked several hundred years out of date to Yorkminster's last Catholic congregation.

    The liturgical movement's insistance that the form of liturgical objects conform to stylisitic preferences rather than received traditions deprived the liturgical rites of their objectivity and set the stage for the more drastic reforms to come.

  8. Gratias7:44 AM

    England is starting its return to the one Church. Thank you B-16.

  9. It is absolutely ridiculous to have a ''sung Mass'' without Ministers with a host of clergy in choir, and indicative of a kind of liturgical minimalism.

    Or perhaps an indication that none of the clergy in choir could act as deacon or subdeacon for whatever reason.

    I don't understand the point of imputing motives to the organizers and celebrant of this Mass.

    If you wanted to impress our Anglican brethren why did you not organise a day of Medieval English liturgy?

    I understand that the rubrics of the Sarum Use were passed down orally and many of them have been lost. Perhaps the same is true of the York Use as well. In which case a day of "Medieval English liturgy" would have been a real travesty -- a reconstruction of a Mass rather than a living, breathing rite of Mass with which all Catholics of the Latin Rite ought to be familiar.

  10. Can people please stop saying 'Yorkminster'? The city is called York, the church is called "The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of St Peter", affectionately known as York Minster.

    Where 'Yorkminster' came from, I have no idea...

  11. DCS said:
    'I understand that the rubrics of the Sarum Use were passed down orally and many of them have been lost. Perhaps the same is true of the York Use as well. In which case a day of "Medieval English liturgy" would have been a real travesty -- a reconstruction of a Mass rather than a living, breathing rite of Mass with which all Catholics of the Latin Rite ought to be familiar.'

    Really? Sarum is relatively well resourced, an example being the publication of the Office chant by by a project involving Una Voce Canada amongst others. In the USA Sarum is increasingly being celebrated by Western Rite Orthodox groups.

    Sources for York rite are far rarer but that does not seem to have stopped some people celebrating something very passable.

  12. Anonymous7:10 PM


    "Where 'Yorkminster' came from I've no idea."

    Well, I think that the website for the Cathedral also calls it York Minster, and when I toured the cathedral myself nine years ago, the brochure about it at that time also called it York Minster.

    Funny thing is, when I toured it, I was not Catholic, and I mistakenly I thought that the cathedral was Roman Catholic, and part of the archdiocese in York. It was only after my conversion that I realized that it was Anglican. Interestingly enough, it was in going through that amazing and majestic building that led, in part, to my conversion. It just seemed so...unProtestant...and extremely impressive. As an American, I'd never seen anything like it before.

  13. Patricius,

    You specialise in fundamental trivia and your contribution is, essentially, uninformative and irrelevant.

    As a student, you have much to learn.



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