Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Centenary of the Last Integral Editio Typica of the Missale Romanum

Today is a date that should not go unrecognized among lovers of the Latin liturgical tradition. On July 25, 1920, Pope Benedict XV promulgated a new editio typica of the Missale Romanum, incorporating the revisions decreed by Pope St Pius X. It was the fifth such edition since the original promulgation by St Pius V of the Missale Romanum secundum consuetudinem Romanae Curiae in 1570. Only one more editio typica, namely, that of Pope St John XXIII in 1962, was to emerge before the all-out postconciliar liturgical revolution.

1570 – Pope Pius V
1604 – Pope Clement VIII
1634 – Pope Urban VIII
1884 – Pope Leo XIII
1920 – Pope Benedict XV
1962 – Pope John XXIII

As is well known today among traditionally-minded Catholics, the Roman rite suffered modifications of unprecedented magnitude in the period after World War II, during the pontificates of Pius XII and John XXIII, to such an extent that the 1962 missal cannot truthfully be said to be in full and unequivocal continuity with the heritage represented by the preceding five editions. It is one thing to welcome new feasts or prefaces added bit by bit; it is quite another to see a radical remodeling of its ancient and venerable core, Holy Week, especially Palm Sunday and the Triduum; the abolition of nearly all vigils and octaves; the suppression of the oldest vestment customs in the Roman tradition; and much else besides.

At this point, given the extensive research published on NLM and in many books, it is no longer possible to pretend that the dismantling of the historic Roman rite took place solely in the 1960s. In reality, it was already well under way from the late 1940s onwards, step by step, as circumstances allowed. The missal of 1962 is a halfway house between Trent and travesty.

It goes without saying that insofar as the 1962 missal preserves the heritage of the Roman rite (which it does to a very great extent), it is to be valued and embraced, and it is not clear how Benedict XVI, with his way of thinking, and with the constraints of the SSPX situation to contend with, could have made any other choice in Summorum Pontificum; but clearly the 1962 cannot serve as a permanent and adequate basis for the ongoing restoration of tradition, which we see in the ever-increasing number of celebrations of the pre-1955 Holy Week, the return of folded chasubles, and the gentle reintroduction of such octaves as Epiphany, Ascension, and Corpus Christi.

What is needed as a point of departure, then, is the last editio typica that contains this tradition in its Tridentine plenitude. That, without a doubt, is the Pio-Benedictine Missal of 1920, duly enriched with subsequent feasts and prefaces.

(To read a fuller statement of this argument, see my article from last August, “Why Restoring the Roman Rite to Its Fullness is Not ‘Traddy Antiquarianism.’”)

Here is a beautiful edition of this missal from the year 1920:

And a 1931 printing from Maria Laach (more pictures here):

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