Rorate Caeli

1962 Missal at 50: A “particular” curiosity of the 1962 Missale Romanum

In our special series on the 50th anniversary of the traditional Missale Romanum of 1962, an article by Mr. Louis J. Tofari. We are open to other guest articles on this series.


John XXIII offers the Holy Sacrifice,
Dec. 1962

A “Particular” curiosity of the 1962 Missale Romanum

Louis J. Tofari

This anno Domini 2012 marks the 50th publication anniversary of the 1962 Missale Romanum. Well, sort of. That's often the problem with misnomers like “1962 Roman Missal” - they're catchy titles and thus easy to remember, but often inaccurate!

So why is “1962” a misnomer? Though the last rubrical revisions to the iuxta typica (standard) edition were completed by June of 1962, and the last textual in November (the long and eagerly-awaited insertion of St. Joseph's name into the Communicantes), nevertheless, a "1962" Missale Romanum could not be had in hand (or on altar) until May of 1963 at the very earliest. This was courtesy of the Vatican's instructions to Printers of the Apostolic See so as to prevent a missal gap war (i.e., undue competition).

In the United States though, the last insertion to the “1962” Missale Romanum actually occurred in 1963 – in fact, just a month before it was due on the shelves of Catholic religious supply stores everywhere. The point in question particularly affected the missal edition being printed by the famed Benziger Brothers – once proudly boasting offices in New York, Boston, Cincinnati, Chicago and San Francisco, but now virtually no more. Benziger did not receive their last printing instruction for the missal until April 8, 1963 via the imprimatur of Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York.

This episcopal approbation was for the first-time insertion of the Praefationes Particulares into Benziger’s American-produced missal. These were the so-called “Gallican Prefaces” that could be utilized if a diocese obtained permission from the Sacred Congregation of Rites. As the addition of this special section occurred after Benziger’s missals had already left the presses, this led to a printing curiosity with their edition.

The printed, but apparently still unbound, missals consisted of two parts:

-1: the juxta typica parts (the standard universal sections and texts found in every Roman Missal regardless of the region in which it was printed in), and
-2: unique to the Benziger edition: the Missae Propriae Dioecesium Statuum Foederatorum Americae Septentrionalis section containing the feasts and calendar dates particular to the USA as a whole.

So when Cardinal Spellman’s inclusive approbation was received, the special prefaces were simply added after the aforementioned sections – but after a section of 22 blank pages.

To this observation you might be inclined to say, “So what?” It is true that missal printers would occasionally include some blank pages at the end of the missal, either for make-up pagination purposes (e.g., a sewn signature must be in sets of four pages), or to enable the insertion of newly-issued feasts. But 22 pages and between printed sections... that's quite an exception, in fact, a rarity indeed (if never seen before). Their presence was made even stranger after turning the last page of the Praefationes Particulares section, only to find another eight blank pages, but of heavier text stock and each perforated along the spine! [NB: if you own a copy of the SSPX’s Benziger reprint (available from Angelus Press), don’t bother rushing off to find these perforated pages – deemed unnecessary, they were omitted in their reprint.]

The oddity of these blank pages becomes even more apparent when comparing the Benziger edition to one printed by Pustet. More formerly known as Ratisbonae-Pustet (but also publishing under the name “Frederick Pustet”), this German Printer to the Apostolic See was located in Ratisbon (Regensburg), Bavaria, but in its heyday also had offices in the United States. In Pustet’s “1962” Missale Romanum, the Praefationes Particulares section bears an imprimatur dated June 27, 1962 (granted in Ratisbon). This earlier date is significant, because it gave Pustet enough time to set up their presses so they could include the special prefaces immediately after the iuxta typica section without the addition of any blank pages.

If anything, this obscure curiosity found in the Benziger Brothers’s edition of the “1962” Missale Romanum shows how the year commonly used (including in the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum) to refer to the revised missal promulgated during the pontificate of Pope John XXIII is really not completely accurate as far as publication dates go. But concerning the fixing of the iuxta typica portion, certainly this date is accurate, and thus it is a befitting moniker.

May the 1962 Missale Romanum – which in preserving and promoting the uncompromised Catholic Faith is slowly helping to turn the tide in the struggle against the enormous liturgical crisis of the Novus Ordo Missae – enjoy a happy anniversary et ad multos annos!


  1. Francis3:51 PM

    I know its not possible, but I would prefer using an earlier missal. What's strange (but not surprising) is that nobody at the Vatican is celebrating fifty years of the 1962 missal. No invitations that I'm aware of to the FSSP, ICKSP the FSSPX or any other traditional Catholic societies to celebrate the 1962 missal's fiftieth birthday. Yet the Holy Father has no problem inviting and breaking bread with heretics and schismatics to celebrate Vatican II's fiftieth like "archbishop" Rowan Williams and Bartholomew 1.
    The "springtime" of Vatican II sadly continues.

  2. But Francis, there will be a mass according to the missal of 1962 at the Vatican November 3. I know that it would have happened anyway, but still...

  3. Fr. A.M.5:40 PM

    A good start to your series of articles on MR62. Congratulations.

  4. Francis5:58 PM

    True, but if the Holy Father was serious about upholding his own document, Summorum Pontificum, he would be the celebrant for this Pontifical High Mass on November 3. I believe that He will go to his grave defending Vatican II, and its modernism that has wreaked havoc on the Church of Christ for nearly fifty years.

  5. So, what exactly are the differences between the "1962" and 1963?

  6. Personally, I recognise the 1956 missal, (i.e.the "Small Roman Missal"), for the simple reason that I purchased one at great cost, relative to my then military service pay in 1958, and now as a poor old age pensioner I can't afford a new one.

    So far,including today's Mass, I've managed and it's lasted surprisingly well!

  7. Another particular curiosity was what was probably the last edition of the John XXIII Missal, published in 1963 and bearing the coat of arms of Paul VI.

    Into this edition had been gathered all the pro aliquibus locis Masses (Propers for major local, regional and national feasts), many of them quite beautiful.

    It was as if Bugnini and company had gathered together in one place all the offspring of the Roman liturgy, in order to slay them more easily all at once in 1964!

  8. Peter9:14 PM

    I agree with Francis.

    An earlier Missal would be desirable, though regrettably not practicable.

    If you are to eliminate totally the pernicious influence of Bugnini, et al., on the Roman Missal, then you would have to go back before the 1951 Holy Week reforms. This would mean, I presume, the last updated emendation prior to 1951 of the 1920 editio typica, promulgated by Benedict XV, but essentially the product of Pius X's reforms.

    No, I know it's not feasible, so the 1962 editio typica it is.

    Frankly, I can't see that this date is anything to celebrate, since by then, things were already on the slippery slope, even if to most people it did not seem so at the time.

  9. I'm curious as to who first used the term "missal gap".

    At that time in the US there was a commonly used term "missile gap” which refers to the perceived Soviet superiority in nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles due to exaggerated estimates by President Eisenhowers' science Advisory Committee (aka the Gaither Committee) in 1957 and USAF in the early 1960’s.

    The phrase brings back a bad memory from my childhood in the V-II church.
    During my catechesis there were some disruptive kids who took great pleasure in using missals as missiles while making jokes about the identical pronunciation of the two words.
    However, I suppose I should be grateful that they weren't teaching us "liturgical dancing".

    Thank you for this article !

    I'm somewhat new to the traditional community and TLM but I've never felt this good about my faith before.

    I'm very grateful for traditional Catholic bloggers.

    Dominus Vobiscum

  10. "May the 1962 Missale Romanum – which in preserving and promoting the uncompromised Catholic Faith..."

    Is it your contention that other Pre-V2 Catholic Liturgies--not only Eastern ones but Western ones--somehow compromise, inhibit, and destroy the Catholic Faith?

  11. First of all, how wonderful it is celebrate something worthwhile like the NINETEEN-SIXTY-TWO Missale Romanun, as opposed to the celebrations of some other curious event of fifty years ago.

    In reality it makes to difference whatsoever to be picky and call it the 1963 Missal. The Missal was finalized in 1962. When it came into print is beside the point and secondary.

    If one wants to get that technical, then it's incorrect to label America's Independence as 1776. The Declaration was signed in 1776 but we were still subjects of the Crown until formal separation in 1783. Anyone going to begin splitting hairs about that? Not likely, so let's leave the Missal as 1962. :)

  12. Scott Quinn10:31 PM

    I do not see why the earlier -- and orthodox -- missal that does not have the fingerprints of Bugnini could not "enrich" the 1962 missal. The 1962 missal was merely a transitional missal, like a wounded bull ready for the big finish from the matador. Chucking the 1962 and returning to a safer, authentic missal would be the most prudent option.

  13. It's one of my greatest hopes that after the Church finally gets out of the woods, turns the corner, or whatever you may call it, the pre-Bugnini Holy Week rites will be restored. Until then, we can only keep our toehold on so-called 1962.

  14. "Iuxta typicam". Preposition of accusative, always.

  15. First Edition :

    Concordat cum originalit PETRUS CANISIUS van LIERDE
    die 30 octobris 1962

  16. Fr William R. Young7:37 AM

    So we are in fact awaiting a new typical edition at some time.

  17. Peter2:59 PM

    Fr. William R. Young said

    So we are in fact awaiting a new typical edition at some time.

    Yes, so it would seem, though I can't see the need for a new edition as such, merely for the insertion of some new feasts and prefaces. I would have thought an emendation to the 1962 editio typica would be sufficient.

  18. Maria7:18 PM

    "True, but if the Holy Father was serious about upholding his own document, Summorum Pontificum, he would be the celebrant for this Pontifical High Mass on November 3. I believe that He will go to his grave defending Vatican II, and its modernism that has wreaked havoc on the Church of Christ for nearly fifty years."

    The Holy Father IS upholding his own document Summorum Pontificum by NOT celebrating the Mass on November 3rd. Why would he do that when the 2013 one is almost here, the Council's dream come true. The one according to S.P. and U.E.

  19. Marty Jude12:25 AM

    Maria said: "The Holy Father IS upholding his own document Summorum Pontificum by NOT celebrating the Mass on November 3rd. Why would he do that when the 2013 one is almost here, the Council's dream come true. The one according to S.P. and U.E." ...

    Oh Maria, please, please, please, don't delude yourself. The 'Council's dream come true', what was that? It was infiltrated by the Modernists, we can 'dream' all we like, but, it 'ain't gonna happen'...if the Holy Father wanted to celebrate the 'EF' [publically] he would have done so already. There was enough 'hassle' over the new 'vernaclar' do you perceive this to happen? If the Holy Father were to proceed with a 'hybrid' Mass, then 'who' would accept and 'use' it? There was 'talk' of the Prayers at the foot of The Altar being added as 'optional' to the N.O. and possibly the 'true' Offertory prayers, but this hasn't happened.

    I love and respect the current Holy Father, but didn't have any [to say the least] for JPII. However, Benedict is far from being a 'Trad', prob. more rational and 'caring'/ Shepherd-like, but we cannot expect anything substantial from him.

  20. If a new edition of the 1962Missale Romanum really is imminent, then I think we would have heard more about it by now.

    The Pope still wants to avoid a formal schism with SSPX, who clearly will not accept any major changes to the old Missal. (Neither will a lot of Catholics, including myself).

    No, I don't think there's anything to worry about here.


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