Rorate Caeli

Masterpost of Sources: Sources for Research on the Solemn Papal Mass

Modern rendition of the Constantinian Vatican Basilica

Below there is a collection of items being a basis for a historical and liturgical study of the Book on Pontifical Ceremonies, with particular emphasis on the course, structure, rites and traditions related to the celebration of the Solemn Mass by the Bishop of Rome.

 The most erudite of Latin works is De liturgia Romani Pontificis in solemni celebratione Missarum published in three volumes (Rome 1731-1744) by D. Georgi, Prelate of the Papal Household of Benedict XIV. Caeremoniale missae quae summo pontifice celebratur (Regensburg 1889), a concise Pontifical Mass Ceremonial by one of Papal Masters of Ceremonies can be regarded as most helpful – the work was translated with slight modifications into Italian by another Papal Master of Ceremonies, G. M. Menghini (Le Solenni Ceremonie della Messa Pontificale celebrata dal Sommo Pontefice, Rome 1904).

 The most abundant works are Italian ones, e.g. by prelate F. Cancellieri such as Descrizione de Tre Pontificali che si celebrano nella Basilica Vaticana per le Feste di Nataledi Pasqua e di S. Pietro (Rome 1788), Descrizione delle Cappelle Pontificie et Cardinalizie di tutto l’anno (Rome 1790). G. Moroni published one volume work entitled Le cappelle pontificie,cardinalizie e prelatizie (Venice 1841), one of the articles of his monumental encyclopaedia.

An integral description of the Solemn Pontifical Mass is shown in a small work of the famous liturgist, J. Brinktrine Diefeierliche Papstmesse und die Zeremonien bei Selig- und Heiligsprechungen (the first edition appeared in 1949). A modern excellent work, Liturgien und Zeremonien am Päpstlichen Hof by professor U. Nersinger (Bonn 2010-2011), which contains not only a detailed description of the Solemn Pontifical Mass illustrated with many photographs and including a substantial bibliography (vol. I, p. 369-454 = VIII. Kapitel: Die Feierliche Papstmesse) but also a full description of the liturgy and customs of the Papal Court in a form which survived until the second half of the 20th century.

 What we owe to Archadle A. King, one of the most contemporary (however concise) descriptions of the Solemn Papal Mass. The text is the first of many appendices to his Liturgy of the Roman Church (Milwaukee 1957, s. 397-401).

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The key editions of Ordines Romani: J. Mabillon, Musei Italici, vol. II [=Complectens antiquos libros rituales Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae cum commentario praevio in Ordinem Romanum], Paris 1724; excellent Les Ordines Romani du haut Moyen Âge P. Andrieu (Louvain 1931-1961).

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For our study, the work of Fr M. Dykmans is invaluable, wherein he compiled – having provided an in-depth commentary – all key medieval and renaissance Papal ceremonials:

a) Le Cérémonial papal de la fin du Moyen Âge à la Renaissance (Rome-Brussels): 1) vol. I, Le Cérémonial papal du XIIIe siècle (1977); 2) vol. II, De Rome en Avignon ou le cérémonial de Jacques Stefaneschi (1981); 3) vol. III, Les Textes avignonnais jusqu'à la fin du grand schisme d'Occident (1983); 4) vol. IV, Le Retour à Rome ou le cérémonial du patriarche Pierre Ameil (1985);

b) L'OEuvre de Patrizi Piccolomini ou lecérémonial papal de la première Renaissance, « Studi e Testi » Nos. 293 and 294, Rome 1980.

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Another category are internal prints of the Sacred Congregation of the Ceremonies (transformed into the Office of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations late 20th century), which provide a lot of detailed information. They also bear an important feature of official, however principally internal, publications of the Roman Curia. The most valuable works include two “ordines” prepared for last two Papal coronations (on file at the Office of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations): La cérémonie solennelle du Couronnement de Sa Saintété Jean XXIII à la Basilique de Saint Pierre le 4 novémbre 1958, Imprimérie Polyglotte Vaticane 1958 (sc 0267) and La cérémonie solennelle du Couronnement de Sa Saintété Paul VI le 30 juin 1963, Imprimérie Polyglotte Vaticane 1963 (sc 0286). The texts are of utmost importance since they contain a detailed description of the Solemn Pontifical Mass preceded by a theological and pastoral introduction and description of pontificals.
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It seems justified that any research work on the Pontifical Liturgy should begin with a careful and in-depth reading of works by Msgr. Joaquim Nabuco, who has been mentioned several times already. His introduction to the critical edition of the apostolic ceremonial from before the Pontificate of Pope Innocent VIII is a summary of the research of the time on the one hand (to which he contributed valuably), and reflects enthusiastic spirit of the reform, which wanted to break with any elements deriving from court ceremonials and alleged ill feudal influence and restrictions supposedly contributing to the elimination of the pastoral dimension of God’s service, on the other.