Rorate Caeli

You Report: an (unfortunately) extremely rare event, a Traditional Baptism in Portugal

Our reader Marco sends us the report:

On June 1, 2013, a small village in Portugal witnessed something which it hadn't seen since the new rite of Baptism came along - a traditional Baptism and Mass. There was no long wait for approval from the chancery this time - Summorum Pontificum was applied as it should be. The local priest was asked if he would allow the celebration, which he did. No questions were asked, no putting the matter into the diocesan chancery's hands, no interrogation by the chancery.

It took a while to get the church (which dates from the 15th or 16th century) ready, as the high-altar has been relegated to a "relic of times gone by". When the new altar was finally moved away, the high-altar was cleaned, candles placed, chalice and patten brought out, and the lighting turned on. The old, dark sanctuary seemed to have come alive once more as the gilt reredos reflected the light. The sanctuary coming alive once more seemed to have an effect on the whole church, as it as well seemed to have taken on a new life, awoken from its long slumber.

There was not enough baptismal water, but the Lord turned an apparent problem into a great blessing. The only rite the priest had at hand for baptismal water was that in the missal, the one used on the Paschal Vigil. So we, who have never had the chance - the "privilege" - to participate in a Traditional Triduum, were blessed with a glimpse of a small part of it before the Baptism began.

The Mass celebrated - a sung Mass - was the votive Mass of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The priest gave a very short, simple, but deep homily on obedience and how the Liturgy should shape us, and will shape our daughter.

It was a great grace for our daughter to be baptized as so many were generations before (as even my parents still were) in a church that received a number of generations of my relatives into the Mystical Body of Christ. Some people - mostly youths - came from north and south to be able to participate on this "extraordinary" Saturday, and they left much richer for it.

Hopefully one day all who wish can have access to the Traditional Mass in its entirety, and not consider it a "privilege" to do so, nor have to do so in hiding. Hopefully one day, God willing, Summorum Pontificum will be applied in Portugal.

Please, keep sending us your reports on the application of Summorum Pontificum throughout the world.


  1. Exquisite! Thank you for allowing us to share this beautiful and joyful experience.

  2. We have had two priests be extremely generous with the traditional Rite of Baptism. If (in the U.S.) you can lay hands on the 1961 Parish Ritual that has the facing-column English and Latin and English rubrics, it will make it a lot easier for your neighborhood NO priest to say "yes" if asked to use the traditional rite.

    But what is going on in the first picture above?

  3. What is the nature of that umbrella seen in the first picture? That is quite interesting, I've never seen that before.

  4. As far as I can fathom, the Blessed Sacrament is being removed to some other altar.

    1. Correct. That picture was taken during Mass, after Communion. The tabernacle is located - as in many old churches here - on a side altar. What looks like a monstrance on top of the "throne" is a faux monstrance which has been there since I can remember.

  5. That seems very likely : I cannot see a Monstrance, six candles burn on the high altar, the priest wears by the Humeral Veil, the server genuflects alongside the priest. These would be the norms for translating the Blessed Sacrament, although Mass cards remain on the altar. Perhaps the Tabernacle was emptied in view of the forthcoming baptism ?

    It is a beautiful picture and must have been a truly wonderful experience for all there. I wonder if anything like it is to be found in the Anglican Rite ?

    Marco, muitos felicitações ao você e sua esposa, qual é o nome da vostra filha ?

  6. Warmest congratulations to your family and to all involved. Would you be willing to say what village this was done in as we often visit Portugal and would be most interested to see the church. There are some exquisite churches and chapels in Portugal just waiting this breath of life.

  7. I tell my 'Liberal' 'Catholic' friends when they say something like 'Pope Francis is going to restore the Church'.. He does not live in the Papal apartment. My retort is, the most significant Pontificate so far in my lifetime will be that of Benedict XVI. Unless Pope Francis builds upon it. In 50 years, the Church is going to be very much like Pope Benedict the XVI would like it to be. He made sure of that by the will of the Holy Spirit.

  8. I enjoyed reading the comment which stated the church seemed to come alive once the high altar, candles, and other items were put in place. In other words, for the first time in a long time, this Catholic church finally looked like a Catholic church again. The Council and NO did many things to hurt the Church and one glaring item was the destruction of the beauty that was the traditional appearance of our churches.

  9. Was the rite of baptism in Portuguese or Latin (or a combination)?

    Hopefully, there will be a traditional baptism in Zagreb this year as well (in Croatian according to the Roman Ritual from 1929, the Ritual was in Croatian for centuries here).

    We're preparing for a first Mass (TLM) of a young priest who is to be ordained next Saturday. Please remember him in your prayers.

  10. Parabéns Marco!

    Was the officiating priest Portuguese? I'd love to see the traditional mass take hold in Portugal again. If I ever return there to live when I retire, this will be a sine qua non!

    Obrigado por partilhares as fotos e noticia conosco!

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  12. @Robbie: in the case of this church it's lamentable state is not the fruit of liturgical inovation. It is rather the result of rural exodus. The only thing which changed in the church was that the altar rails for the sanctuary were ripped out (the side chapels still retain them). This village was once the home to a couple of noble families, which resulted in a rather large church for a village of its size. As people started leaving the village for the cities, it was only a matter of time until the edifice began to feel the effects of "neglect" due to lack of use.
    I said it looked alikve once more because the church is generally dark, especially the sanctuary; the new altar is right at the limit between the sanctuary and the nave. The sanctuary coming "alive" seemed to dispell the sleepiness and shadows of the edifice.

    @Toma: In this case, it was all in Latin. The priest had asked us how we prefered, and the general consensus was to stick with the Latin as everyone had missals.

  13. Thank you New Catholic and Jeremiah.

  14. A wonderful story! May this not be the last mass in that church! In fact, keep us posted as to developments. If the church is so little used, that might make it a suitable place for devotional processions to wind up! Start up a cottage industry, and bring some attention back to it! Well done!

  15. Many congratulations to the mum and dad, both of whom I am honoured to know personally!

    Benedict Carter

  16. I imagined that there would be many Tridentine Masses in Portugal. As Our Lady of Fatima said that the Dogma of the Faith would always be preserved in Portugal. I have had the privilege of going on pilgrimage to Fatima twice. The Faith of the People is very admirable. I have heard horror stories concerning some of Portugal's Bishops. Perhaps Our Lady meant that the Dogma of the Faith would be preserved in the hearts of the people of Portugal. I remember when the Bishop of Fatima allowed for Pagans to worship their false deities on the Altar in the Capelinha, this Altar is next to the spot where Our Most Holy Lady appeared in 1917.


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