July 13, 2021 — 104th anniversary of the 3rd apparition of Our Lady of Fatima to the three shepherd children in 1917. The apparitions were six in all: on May 13, June 13, July 13, August 19 (because the children were in prison on the 13th in order to prevent them from going to the place of the apparitions), September 13, and October 13, when the “miracle of the sun” occurred before 70,000 people). These are the words written later by Sister Lucy, who died in 2005:

    “Terrified and as if to plead for succor [after seeing a vision of hell], we looked up at Our Lady, who said to us kindly but so sadly:

    “‘You have seen Hell, where poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.

    “‘The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.

    “‘To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace, if not she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church.

    “‘The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated, but in the end My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.’”

    —the words of the Lady who appeared to the three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, on July 17, 1917. It was on this occasion that the Lady said to the children: “When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: ‘O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need of Thy mercy.’” (link)

    Letter #52, 2021, Tuesday, July 13: Rules for Celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica

    This year, the Vatican has issued two notes on the rules for priests to celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, the first on March 12, the second on June 22 (the second note summarizes and explains the first).

    The essential purpose seems to be:

    (1) to have a single Mass concelebrated by many priests rather many Masses celebrated by individual priests in the early morning, before the Basilica opens to tourists, and

    (2) to have the old rite of the Mass celebrated in Latin at four times only(at 7 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.) and at one altar only, in the crypt of the Basilica (that is, underground) in the Clementine chapel of the Vatican grottoes (the chapel nearest to St. Peter’s tomb).

    An “informed source” told Irish Vaticanist Gerard O’Connell of America magazine (link) that “every morning [that is, up until now, every morning in recent years prior to this new instruction], priests (many of them working in the Roman Curia) celebrate Mass at side altars of the basilica, frequently by themselves and often in the extraordinary form” and that “the aim of the instruction’s first point is to end this practice of ‘lone’ celebrations.” And, O’Connell wrote, the March note “strictly limits the celebration of the extraordinary form of the Latin rite in the basilica, making clear that its usage is not intended to be the norm.”


    The matter is important because how Mass is celebrated in St. Peter’s, the Pope’s own Church, is a model for the entire world.

    The two rules were evidently intended to bring new clarity and order to the celebrations, but that effort has, it seems, failed to achieve its purpose.

    Even now, four months after the first note, there remains considerable confusion about who decided to release these rules now, and why, and what their intent really is.

    And this has led to widespread confusion around the world, because no one has offered an authoritative interpretation of the rules and their source, meaning, and intent.

    The purpose of this letter is to inform you of these two notes, to give one article of interpretation with several links, and to give the text in full of the most recent note.—RM

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    A Lifesitenews article by Michael Haynes published on June 29 (link) offers some insight into the meaning of these changes, and connects them to widespread rumors that Pope Francis will soon promulgate a decree limiting some of the freedoms granted by Benedict XVI in Summorum Pontificum (July 7, 2007) to celebrate the Mass according to the old rite.

    Vatican: Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica must be in Italian, not Latin

    Latin will only be permitted in the ‘fixed parts’ of the Mass, the ‘Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Pater and Agnus.’

    Wed Jun 30, 2021 – 11:31 am EST

    VATICAN CITY, June 30, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — The Vatican has moved to ban Latin, the traditional language of the Catholic Church, from the celebration of most Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica.

    The traditional blog MessainLatino.it broke the news and posted a picture of a note sent by Msgr. Franco Camaldo, who wrote on behalf of the Cardinal Archpriest of the Vatican, Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, O.F.M., who was appointed by Pope Francis earlier this year.

    Camaldo wrote that the new rules coming into force are the result of the June 9 Vatican Chapter meeting and were based on what was “proposed” at the meeting, combined with “mature reflection.”

    As of June 29, wrote Camaldo, the Eucharistic celebrations would follow the procedure already in use in “papal celebrations.” That is to say Mass would be celebrated only in “Italian,” with the readings and prayers of the faithful permitted to be said in “various modern languages.”

    Latin would only be permitted in the “fixed parts” of the Mass, the “Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Pater and Agnus.”

    The new rules will apply to the recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours, as well, as the note states that such recitation “may also be celebrated in Italian,” although keeping the Gregorian melody. Some Latin will be retained, but only for the “Hymn, Antiphon, Benedictus, Magnificat and Pater.”

    This change will not be as immediate as the changes seen in the Mass, and will instead occur in the “near future,” since time is needed to prepare the necessary “booklets.”

    Msgr. Camaldo gave a further directive concerning the arrangements of the daily Mass in the Vatican, stating that Chapter members were to concelebrate Mass at 7:30 in the morning, which would be followed by communal recitation of the office of Lauds. Chapter members could also concelebrate at 5 p.m.

    No provision for private Masses was made for members of the Chapter.

    Increased antagonism toward Latin

    The latest rules come on the back of the spring directives regarding private Masses and Traditional Latin Masses in the Vatican. In a March 12 letter, private Masses were abruptly “canceled,” Masses limited to concelebration at set altars between the hours of 7 and 9 a.m., and celebration of the Extraordinary Form (or Latin Mass) was limited to a small altar in the crypt, also in the hours of 7 to 9 a.m.

    Cardinal Gambetti issued his own note on June 22 in an attempt to clarify the earlier note, which had not born his signature. His tone suggested slightly more freedom than the March 12 letter, as he noted priests would be allowed to offer Mass at different altars than the ones prescribed, on the occasion of a saint’s feast if his remains are kept in the Basilica.

    Requests for private Masses would be assessed on a “case-by-case basis,” wrote Gambetti. However, he warned against such permissions becoming the norm, saying that care must be taken to “ensure that what is exceptional does not become ordinary, distorting the intentions and meaning of the Magisterium.”

    Gambetti also announced that “everything possible must be done to fulfill the wishes of the faithful and priests as laid down in the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum,” although he did not elaborate any further on what such provision would look like in practice.

    The Second Vatican Council’s document on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, had stipulated in paragraph 36: “Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.”

    Paragraph 56 stated that “steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.”

    The document also outlines the prescription for use of Latin in the Divine Office: “In accordance with the centuries-old tradition of the Latin rite, the Latin language is to be retained by clerics in the divine office.” Sacrosanctum Concilium only granted “individual cases” for the recitation of the Office in the vernacular, in instances where poor mastery of Latin constituted a “grave obstacle to their praying the office properly.”

    Gambetti himself just last week had written about the “importance of understanding the language in the liturgy” for pilgrims to the Vatican. Some statistics do not even place Italian inside the 15 most commonly spoken languages in the world.

    Increased rumors of prohibition of Traditional Latin Mass

    The restriction on Latin inside the Vatican comes in tandem with a report by Paix Liturgique, according to which Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State for the Vatican, spoke to a group of cardinals about the Extraordinary Form, saying, “We must put an end to this Mass forever!” The news outlet did not provide further details about the time or setting of the comments.

    Furthermore, Paix Liturgique also wrote that Archbishop Arthur Roche, the new Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW) and an opponent of the Traditional Mass, apparently laughingly spoke to English-speaking seminary directors in Rome, and members of the Curia: “Summorum Pontificum is practically dead! We’re going to give the power back to the bishops on this, but especially not to the conservative bishops.”

    Pope Francis has reportedly finished the third draft of a document that would restrict the use of what is known as the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

    [End, Michael Haynes article]


    Original tweet here (link)

    PDF here (link)    

Inside the Vatican Pilgrimages

Note from St. Peter’s Basilica
on the order of Eucharistic Celebrations

    Having received from the Holy Father the mandate to take care of and animate the liturgical life of St Peter’s Basilica, I would like to propose some considerations based on the statement of the Secretariat of State of 12 March 2021, which I hope will be useful in understanding the guidelines outlined and in choosing how and when to celebrate the Eucharist in the early morning hours.

    The statement of the Secretariat of State has given several dispositions regarding the celebration of Holy Masses in St Peter’s Basilica, with the intention of ensuring that they “take place in an atmosphere of recollection and liturgical decorum.” The indications refer to a precise context, namely the organization of liturgical actions in the time slot between 7 and 9 am.

    They are essentially inspired by two principles:

    a. to order the celebrations from the point of view of their time frame and quality;

    b. to welcome and integrate particular and legitimate wishes of the faithful, as far as possible.

    In fact, the content of the proposals set out by the Secretariat of State can be summarized as follows:

    a. between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. priests may concelebrate at one of the hourly Masses in the designated places; liturgical animation shall include the assistance of altar boys [ministranti];

    b. exceptions are allowed with regard to the places of celebration — on the occasion of the memorial of a saint whose remains are housed in the Basilica — and the simultaneous holding of certain celebrations for groups of pilgrims or in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

    For ease of reading, I shall articulate these notes according to the two above-mentioned points.

    A. Concelebrations from 7am to 9am

    The manner of ordering the morning celebrations envisaged in the statement of the Secretariat of State provides an opportunity to recall the meaning and value of Eucharistic concelebration which, as the Fathers of the last Council recalled, is part of the Church’s Tradition: “Concelebration, whereby the unity of the priesthood is appropriately manifested, has remained in use to this day in the Church both in the east and in the west.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 57). For this reason, the Second Vatican Council, in its Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, extended the faculty for priests to concelebrate and subsequent magisterial documents have specified the norms. In this sense, it may be useful to recall some cases in which the Magisterium recommends concelebration, such as at the main Mass in a church or at Masses on the occasion of meetings of priests, secular or religious, whatever their character (cf. SC 57; General Instruction of the Roman Missal 199).

    On the other hand, the very nature of celebration is clearly defined in Sacrosanctum Concilium, where it deals with the Norms drawn from the hierarchic and communal nature of the Liturgy: “Liturgical services are not private functions, but are celebrations of the Church, which is the ‘sacrament of unity,’ namely, the holy people united and ordered under their bishops. Therefore, liturgical services pertain to the whole body of the Church; they manifest it and have effects upon it […]. [W]henever rites, according to their specific nature, make provision for communal celebration involving the presence and active participation of the faithful, this way of celebrating them is to be preferred, so far as possible, to a celebration that is individual and quasi-private. This applies with especial force to the celebration of Mass and the administration of the sacraments, even though every Mass has of itself a public and social nature” (SC 26-27).

    Therefore, the assembly gathered for the Eucharist folly manifests the mystery of the Church, the living Body of Christ. This is recalled by Lumen gentium when it treats of the common priesthood exercised in the sacraments, and it is also clearly recalled by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which affirms that it is the whole community, the Body of Christ united to its Head, that celebrates (n. 1140). In this perspective, one understands how the greatest fruit of the Eucharist is drawn from participation in the same action, because it better expresses the mystery that is celebrated.

    Clearly, all those who make up the assembly gathered for the Eucharist participate in the one sacrifice and priesthood of Christ, each according to his own state and condition of life: Bishop, priest, deacon, baptized, married, religious. In a Mass concelebrated by several priests there is no diminution of the value and fruits of the Eucharistic sacrifice, but rather a full exaltation of them.

    A first element for discernment, in our context, is therefore this: whenever possible, it is more than fitting for priests to concelebrate, given also the fact that there is a regular alternation of presiding over the concelebrations that ordinarily takes place in St Peter’s Basilica. The same is also true for individual members of the faithful and groups, who are invited to take part in the same Mass so that it may be an expression of fraternity and not of particularism which does not reflect the sense of the Church.

    B. Exceptions

    The Magisterium teaches that exceptions may be made to situations in which concelebration is recommended, when the benefit of the faithful does not require or advise otherwise.

    In this sense, the importance of understanding language in the liturgy in relation to charity (cf. 1 Cor 14), and the pastoral value which the celebration of the Eucharist can have, should not be underestimated for a group of pilgrims, in accordance with the existing Rites of the Catholic Church.

    In addition to these considerations, there are a number of elements of the reality which characterizes the Basilica which must be taken into due account:

  • the size of St Peter’s Basilica and its architecture make it possible to meet the different needs of those who wish to celebrate the Eucharist in groups without overlapping with the concelebration taking place in the main liturgical sites;
  • St Peter’s Basilica is characterized by the Petrine ministry of unity, mercy and orthodoxy of faith and welcomes pilgrims from all over the world;
  • in the time slot between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., attendance at St. Peter’s Basilica is limited in number;

    For celebrations with the 1962 Missale Romanum, everything possible must be done to fulfill the wishes of the faithful and priests as stipulated in Motu Propio Summorum Pontificum. Furthermore, without detracting in any way from the legitimacy of the celebration of Mass by individual priests also when the faithful cannot participate, it is necessary to recognize the decisive character of the rule that prohibits celebrating “individually [ … ] while a concelebration is taking place in the same church or oratory” (Code of Canon Law, can. 902).

    For this reason, I have already given instructions to ensure that requests to celebrate during the 7-9 a.m. period by groups with special and legitimate needs will be granted as far as possible. Requests for individual celebrations can also be discerned on a case-by-case basis, without prejudice to the principle that everything should take place in an atmosphere of recollection and decorum, and taking care to ensure that what is exceptional does not become ordinary, distorting the intentions and meaning of the Magisterium.

    Thus, I am confident that the path we have embarked upon will enable every priest and every member of the faithful to experience celebrations in Saint Peter’s in a way that is ever more ordered to goodness, beauty and truth.

Vatican City, 22 June 2021 

Mauro Cardinal Gambetti

Archpriest of the Basilica of Saint Peter

[Original Language: Italian]

Working Translation by Diane Montagna


    1 Cf. for example: General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Statement on Concelebration by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, 7 August 1972; CIC902. 

    2 “[The faithful], taking part in the Eucharistic sacrifice, which is the fount and apex of the whole Christian life, they offer the Divine Victim to God, and offer themselves along with It. Thus, both by reason of the offering and through Holy Communion all take part in this liturgical service, not indeed, all in the same way but each in that way which is proper to himself. Strengthened in Holy Communion by the Body of Christ, they then manifest in a concrete way that unity of the people of God which is suitably signified and wondrously brought about by this most august sacrament.” Lumen gentium, 11.

    3 In his contribution Sacrifice, sacrament and priesthood in the development of the Church (in Annunciatori della Parola e seroitori della vostra gioia, LEV, 2013), Joseph Ratzinger expresses it as follows: “The true place of the Church’s existence is not some bureaucracy, nor in the activity of a group that claims to be the ‘foundation’ [base], but in the ‘assembly’. This is Church in action [ … ]. More precisely: the content of the assembly is the reception of the word of God, which culminates in the memorial of Jesus’ death, in a memorial that realizes his presence and signifies mission. It follows from this that every assembly is entirely Church, since the body of the Lord cannot but be all, and the word of God in turn cannot but be all. At the same time, however, it follows that the individual assembly, the individual community, remains Church only if it is in the whole, in unity with the others” (p. 82).

    4 Regarding the goodness of concelebrating the Eucharist, what is indicated for Shrines in n. 268 of the Directory on Popular Piety and Liturgy, Principles and Guidelines, Vatican City 2002, is illuminating.

    5 Cf. SC 57; General Instruction of the Roman Missal 199; CIC 902.

    6 When there is no possibility for the faithful to participate, the daily celebration of Mass is still recommended for priests. The Council teaches this in the decree Presbyterorum ordinis: “In the mystery of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, in which priests fulfill their greatest task, the work of our redemption is being constantly carried on;(14) and hence the daily celebration of Mass is strongly urged, since even if there cannot be present a number of the faithful, it is still an act of Christ and of the Church” (n. 13).

    7 CIC 902.

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