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Pax vobis (peace to you), or pax vobiscum (peace with you), are salutations in the Catholic Mass and the Lutheran Divine Service.


Like the other liturgical salutations (e.g. Dominus vobiscum), the Pax is of Scriptural origin.

The Gospels contain such forms as: "veniet pax vestra, "pax vestra revertetur ad vos" (Matt., x, 13), "Pax huic domui" (Luke, x, 5), "Pax vobis" (Luke, xxiv, 36; John, xx, 21, [26). The salutation, "Gratia vobis et pax" or "Gratia misericordia et pax", is the opening formula of most of the Epistles of St. Paul and of St. Peter, and occurs also in those of St. John as well as in the Apocalypse.

The formula was quoted from the Old Testament by Christ and his Apostles[1], and was preserved in the liturgy and in Christian epigraphy. Like the Dominus vobiscum, it was first used in the liturgy (in the form of Pax vobis) by the bishop in welcoming the faithful at the beginning of the Mass before the Collect or the Oratio.

When the Confiteor, Introit, Gloria in excelsis were added at a later period, the Pax vobis or the Dominus vobiscum was preserved. The form Pax vobis was employed by bishops and prelates only -- Dominus vobiscum being used by priests -- at the first Collect. Hence the Dominus vobiscum became the ordinary introduction to all the orations and most of the prayers. The Greeks have preserved the Pax omnibus or Pax vobiscum.

There was a certain rivalry between the two formulae, Pax vobis and Dominus vobiscum, and some councils (notably that of Braga in 563) ordained that both bishops and priests should employ the same form of salutation (for the texts, see the bibliography). Besides this episcopal or sacerdotal salutation, the words Pax tecum, Pax vobis, or Pax vobiscum are used in the Liturgy at the kiss of peace. On such occasions the Liturgy contains prayers or collects ad pacem.[2] In the Ambrosian Liturgy, at the end of the Mass, the people are dismissed with the words: "Ite in pace".[3] Dom Martene[4] gives other instances of the use of the word Pax.

In Christian epigraphy there is a variety of formulae: pax; in pace; pax tecum; vivas in pace; requiescat in pace; pax Christi tecum sit; anima dulcissima requiescas in pace; dormit in pace; in locum refrigerii, lucis et pacis (from the formula in the Mass at the Momento of the Dead).[5]


  • Peter Damian, an opusculum on Dominus Vobiscum in Patrologia Latina CXLV, 234;
  • Zaccaria, Onomasticon, s. vv. Pax vobis and Salutatio episcopalis;
  • Bona Rerum liturg., III, 12, 88 sqq.;
  • Smith, Dict. of Christ. Antiq., s.v. Pax (cf. Dominus vobiscum);
  • De dignitate sacerdotali (not written by St. Ambrose, as was long believed, but by Gerbert), v, in P.L.., XVII, 598 and CXXXIX, 175, contains an important text on this subject;
  • Rocca De salutatione sacerdotis in missa et divinis officiis in Thesaurus antiquitat., I (Rome, 1745), 236;
  • Martene, De antiq. eccles. ritibus, I, 151 sqq.;
  • Mamachi, Origines et antiq. christ., IV, 479; III, 17, 19;
  • Ephemerides liturg. (Feb., 1910), 108;
  • Probst, Die abendlandische Messe, 104, 404, 437; see Dominus Vobiscum, V, 114;
  • Cabrol in Dict. d'archeol. chret., s.v. Acclamations.

For the formula Pax and other formulas in funeral epigraphy:

  • Kirsch, Die Acclamationen u. Gebete der altchristl. Grabschriften (Cologne, 1897);
  • ____, Les acclamations des epitaphes chret. de l'antiquite et les prieres liturg. pour les defunts in IV Congres scientifique des Catholiques (Fribourg, 1898), 113-22;
  • Syxto, Notiones archaeol. christ., II, Epigraphia, 94 sqq.;
  • Cabrol, La priere pour les morts in Revue d'apologetique (15 Sept., 1909);
  • ____, Livre de la priere antique, 67, 69.


  1. cf. especially "Pax vobiscum", "Pax tecum", Gen., xliii, 23; Judges, vi, 23.
  2. cf. Kiss; Cabrol in "Dict. d'archéol. et de liturgie", s.v. "Baiser de Paix", where all references are given.
  3. cf. "Auctarium Solesmense", 95.
  4. op. cit. in bibliography, III, 171, 174.
  5. Le Blant, "Inscriptions chret. de la Gaule", I, 264, etc.; Northcote, "Epitaphs of the Catacombs" (London, 1878), v.

This article incorporates text from the entry Pax in the Liturgy in Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913, a publication now in the public domain.

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