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2002 edition of the Missale Romanum

The Roman Missal (Latin: Missale Romanum) is the liturgical book that contains the texts and rubrics for the celebration of the Mass in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.


Before the high Middle Ages, several books were used at Mass: a Sacramentary with the prayers, one or more books for the Scriptural readings, and one or more books for the antiphons and other chants. Gradually, manuscripts came into being that incorporated parts of more than one of these books, leading finally to versions that were complete in themselves. Such a book was referred to as a Missale Plenum (English: "Full Missal"). In 1223 Saint Francis of Assisi instructed his friars to adopt the form that was in use at the Papal Court (Rule, chapter 3). They adapted this missal further to the needs of their largely itinerant apostolate. Pope Gregory IX considered, but did not put into effect, the idea of extending this missal, as revised by the Franciscans, to the whole Western Church; and in 1277 Pope Nicholas III ordered it to be accepted in all churches in the city of Rome. Its use spread throughout Europe, especially after the invention of the printing press; but the editors introduced variations of their own choosing, some of them substantial. Printing also favoured the spread of other liturgical texts of less certain orthodoxy. The Council of Trent recognized that an end must be put to the resulting confusion.

"Missale Romanum" as promulgated by Pope Pius V; 18th edition, 1915

Implementing the Council's decision, Pope Pius V promulgated, in the Apostolic Constitution Quo Primum on 14 July 1570, an edition of the Roman Missal that was to be in obligatory use throughout the Latin Church except where there was a traditional liturgical rite that could be proved to be of at least two centuries’ antiquity.

Some corrections to Pope Pius V's text proved necessary, and Pope Clement VIII replaced it with a new typical edition of the Roman Missal on 7 July 1604. (In this context, the word "typical" means that the text is the one to which all other printings must conform.). A further revised typical edition was promulgated by Pope Urban VIII on 2 September 1634.

Beginning in the late seventeenth century, France and neighbouring areas saw a flurry of independent missals published by bishops influenced by Jansenism and Gallicanism. This ended when Bishop Pierre-Louis Parisis of Langres and Abbot Guéranger initiated in the nineteenth century a campaign to return to the Roman Missal. Pope Leo XIII then took the opportunity to issue in 1884 a new typical edition that took account of all the changes introduced since the time of Pope Urban VIII. Pope Pius X also undertook a revision of the Roman Missal, which was published and declared typical by his successor Pope Benedict XV on 25 July 1920.

A French prayerbook of 1905 containing extracts from the Roman Missal and the Roman Breviary of the time with French translations

Though Pope Pius X's revision made few corrections, omissions and additions to the text of the prayers in the Roman Missal, there were major changes in the rubrics, changes which were not incorporated in the section entitled "Rubricae generales", but were instead printed as an additional section under the heading "Additiones et variationes in rubricis Missalis".

In contrast, the revision by Pope Pius XII, though limited to the liturgy of only five days of the Church's year, was much bolder, requiring changes even to canon law, which until then had prescribed that, with the exception of Midnight Mass for Christmas, Mass should not begin more than one hour before dawn or later than one hour after midday. In the part of the Missal thus thoroughly revised, he anticipated some of the changes affecting all days of the year after the Second Vatican Council. These novelties included the first official introduction of the vernacular language into the liturgy for renewal of baptismal promises within the Easter Vigil celebration.[1] [2][3]

Pope Pius XII issued no new typical edition of the Roman Missal, but authorized printers to replace the earlier texts for Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil with those that he began to introduce in 1951 and that he made universally obligatory in 1955.[4] The Pope also removed from the Vigil of Pentecost the series of six Old Testament readings, with their accompanying Tracts and Collects, but these continued to be printed.

Acceding to the wishes of many of the bishops, Pope Pius XII judged it expedient also to reduce the rubrics of the missal to a simpler form, a simplification enacted by a decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites of 23 March 1955.[5] The changes this made in the General Roman Calendar are indicated in General Roman Calendar of Pope Pius XII.

In the following year, 1956, while preparatory studies were being conducted for a general liturgical reform, Pope Pius XII surveyed the opinions of the bishops on the liturgical improvement of the Roman breviary. After duly weighing the answers of the bishops, he judged that it was time to attack the problem of a general and systematic revision of the rubrics of the breviary and missal. This question he referred to the special committee of experts appointed to study the general liturgical reform.[6]

His successor, Pope John XXIII, issued a new typical edition of the Roman Missal in 1962. This incorporated the revised Code of Rubrics which Pope Pius XII's commission had prepared, and which Pope John XXIIII had made obligatory with effect from 1 January 1961. In the Missal this Code of Rubrics replaced two of the documents in the 1920 edition; and the Pope's motu proprio Rubricarum instructum took the place of the superseded the Apostolic constitution Divino afflatu of Pope Pius X.

Other notable innovations were the omission of the adjective "perfidis" in the Good Friday Prayer for the Jews and the insertion of the name of Saint Joseph into the Canon (or Eucharistic Prayer) of the Mass.

Changes made to the liturgy in 1965 and 1967 in the wake of decisions of the Second Vatican Council were not incorporated in the Roman Missal, but were reflected in the provisional vernacular translations produced in various countries when the language of the people began to be used in addition to Latin. This explains the references sometimes met in an English-language context to "the 1965 Missal". Even countries that had the same language used different translations and varied in the amount of vernacular admitted.

Implementing a decision of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI promulgated in 1969 a fully revised typical edition of the Roman Missal, which became available in 1970. (A preliminary non-definitive text of two sections of this edition had already been made available in 1964.) A further typical edition with minor changes followed in 1975. In 2000, Pope John Paul II approved yet another typical edition, which appeared in 2002, with the indication "Editio Typica Tertia" (Third Typical Edition).

The corrected 2008 reprint of that edition ("Editio Typica Tertia Emendata"), issued under Pope Benedict XVI, corrected misprints and some other mistakes (such as the insertion at the beginning of the Apostles' Creed of "unum", as in the Nicene Creed). A supplement gives celebrations, such as that of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, added to the Roman Catholic calendar of saints after the initial printing of the 2002 typical edition.

Three alterations required personal approval by Pope Benedict XVI:

  • A change in the order in which a bishop celebrating Mass outside his own diocese mentions the local bishop and himself
  • Omission from the Latin Missal of the Eucharistic Prayers for Masses with Children (which may continue to be included in vernacular Missals)
  • The addition to the standard dismissal at the end of Mass, Ite, missa est (Go forth, the Mass is ended), of three alternatives:
    • Ite ad Evangelium Domini annuntiandum (Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord)
    • Ite in pace, glorificando vita vestra Dominum (Go in peace, glorifying the Lord with your life)
    • Ite in pace (Go in peace)[7]

As was stated authoritatively by Pope Benedict XVI in his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal was never juridically abrogated and may be freely used by any priest of the Latin Rite when celebrating Mass without the people. The priest in charge of a church may grant permission for its use in parishes for stable groups attached to this earlier form of the Roman Rite, provided that the priest using it is "qualified to do so and not juridically impeded" (as for instance by suspension). The 1962 edition is that used habitually by priests of traditionalist fraternities such as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and the Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney.

In addition, some priests in what has been called "a situation of separation"[8] also celebrate Mass publicly using editions of the Missale Romanum other than the latest. They include members of the Society of St. Pius X, who use the 1962 typical edition, and of the Society of St. Pius V, who use an earlier edition. For information on the calendars included in earlier editions (a very small part of the full texts), see General Roman Calendar of 1962, General Roman Calendar of Pope Pius XII, General Roman Calendar as in 1954 and Tridentine Calendar.


  1. Presaging a Revolution, by Thomas A. Droleskey
  2. Liturgical Revolution, by Rev. Francesco Ricossa
  3. Traditio, April 2007
  4. Decree Maxima redemptionis nostrae mysteria (Acta Apostolicae Sedis 47 (1955) 838-847
  5. Motu proprio Rubricarum instructum, second paragraph
  6. Motu proprio Rubricarum instructum, third paragraph
  7. A full account of the corrections, additions and emendations is given on pages 367-387 of the July-August 2008 issue of Notitiae, the bulletin of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Some much less detailed information may also be found in an interview given by Cardinal Francis Arinze.
  8. Interview of Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos in the monthly publication "30Days", September 2005).

See also

External links

Full texts of the Missale Romanum

Partial texts

cs:Misál eo:Roma Meslibro id:Missale Romanum sw:Misale la:Missale Romanum li:Missaal hu:Misekönyv pt:Missal Romano ru:Миссал sl:Rimski misal fi:Messukirja sv:Romerska missalet