Rorate Caeli

Anniversary of an anniversary

So much has happened in the last two months that it may be easy to forget some of the major traditional liturgical events in recent years.  To illustrate -- and maybe boost our spirits -- let us take a look back to three years ago on this date.

Today is the eighth anniversary of the installation (formerly coronation) of Pope Benedict XVI.  On 24 April 2010, the fifth anniversary was commemorated with one of the largest traditional Latin Masses in the world in over four decades, offered at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. 

His Excellency Edward James Slattery, the bishop of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was the celebrant of the traditional Latin Solemn High Pontifical Mass for the Anniversary of the Coronation of the Supreme Pontiff.  Approximately 100 priests, brothers and seminarians filled the sanctuary, some serving as sacred ministers, some assisting in choir and some priests helping with the distribution of communion to the 3,500 people in the congregation.  Father Gregory Pendergraft, FSSP, spent weeks -- if not months -- with preparations as the Master of Ceremonies, supported by many excellent clergy.  The Pontifical High Mass from the Throne was offered in the presence of William Cardinal Baum, retired archbishop of Washington, D.C..

The basilica shrine’s choir, under the direction of Dr. Peter Latona, sang Palestrina’s “Missa ‘Tu es Petrus’” as the ordinary setting of the Mass, with its corresponding motet, as well as Joao Lourenco Rebelo’s “Panis angelicus,” Thomas Tallis’ “O sacrum convivium” and Jean Lheritier’s beautiful paschal piece, “Surrexit pastor bonus.”  A group of 16 men mostly from Saint Mary's church in Washington, under the direction of composer and conductor Richard Rice, comprised the Canticum Novum Schola of Greater Washington to sing the complete propers of the Mass in Gregorian chant, as well as the responses (including the pontifical blessing), dismissal and a prayer for Benedict – “Oremus pro pontifice.”  The mighty recessional by Dr. Latona on the pipe organ was J.S. Bach’s “Prelude and Fugue in A Minor.” 

The Paulus Institute -- which organized and funded the Mass -- produced a montage of photos, viewable here and a sample of its complete video here. The complete video is also available:

It will be a little while before another such grand Mass will be offered in a prominent basilica live on EWTN, but perhaps today we can look back at three years ago and think about what can again be accomplished -- with lots and lots of work from clergy and an active and generous laity -- at the right moment.

Suffering then, yours, mine, the Pontiffs, is at the heart of personal holiness, because it is our sharing in the obedience of Jesus which reveals his glory. It is the means by which we are made witnesses of his suffering and sharers in the glory to come. Do not be dismayed that there are many in the Church who have not yet grasped this point, and fewer yet still in the world will even dare to consider it. But you – you know this to be true – and it is enough. For ten men who whisper the truth speak louder than a hundred million who lie.  If, then, someone asks of what we spoke today, tell them we spoke only of the truth. If someone asks why it is you came here to Mass, say that it was so that you could be obedient with Christ. If someone asks about the homily, tell them it was about a mystery. And if someone asks what I said to the present situation, tell them only that we must – all of us – become saints through what we suffer.

Bishop Slattery, 24 April 2010


  1. We need more. How about same day, 12 major US cities, local ordinaries (or not), Pontifical Solemn High Masses: NYC, Washington, DC, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, St. Louis, you name it ...
    Next year?

  2. Beautiful post and pictures ...
    How beautiful the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is when offered in the Traditional Latin ...I am captivated each and every time...and transported to heaven..Heaven and Earth meet .
    How wonderful it is to see this ...may it happen more often and be enbraced !


  3. I was fortunate enough to attend with a friend.

    Truly awesome.

  4. This was our high-water mark. If I am not wrong Cardinal Wuerl prevented the repetition of this mass. Perhaps someone will remember better than me.

    Another highlight was the beautiful Mass Una Cum Papa Nostro on November 3rd 2012 at the Altar of the Chair in Saint Peter's. We were fortunate enough to be there, but we were not more than 2000 people.

  5. It was my high-water mark as well.

    I had the privilege to be one of dozens of "minor clerics" in choir, and was also one of sixteen Paten-Bearers. I will never forget how awesome it felt to process into the body of the church, and ascend the holy mountain that was the sanctuary steps. Nor will I ever forget the faithful's joyous rendition of the Credo. I wrote about the experience in a piece called "Stairway to Heaven."

    Thanks for the reminder, Ken.


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