1 March 2011

Please do it rite

The NLM has a splendid report of a Wedding ceremony followed by Nuptial Mass, both in the traditional rite, over in Oxford, England, and a link to some good pictures by James Bradley. The Pimernel wishes the happy couple health, long life and many blessings.

It seems that the priest celebrant doesn't do this sort of thing very often. Why is he wearing a cope? Why aren't his deacon and subdeacon attending him for the rite of marriage?

Father, if you're going to to the traditional rites, please do them properly. Bishops wear copes to celebrate sacraments apart from Mass, not priests. Priests about to celebrate the nuptial Mass wear ..... (hint: not a cope). Your countryman Fr Fortescue's book on Ceremonies has the answer.

Ad multos annos!


  1. A cope may be worn by any priest when adminsitering any sacrament or sacramental: and in the Old Rite they are all administered outside of Mass. The cope is even prescribed for Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament with the Ostensorium, and for the Asperges before Mass, and for varous procesions, unless the church be too poor to own one. The cope is traditionally also worn by priests for the Absolution after a Requiem Mass, and at the graveside, and in various pros. At our church, the priest wears the cope at baptisms and matrimonies. I am a RC priest for thirty five years now, and I have never heard of the Cope being reserved to the Bishop, certainly not in the Old Rite.

  2. The ministers wear their mass vestments except their maniples.

  3. Dear Sir,

    I do sometimes wonder whether the LitPimp is aware that sometimes (oftentimes?) local custom can and does trump whatever rubric Rome happens to have written in her books this week. I believe this to be the case here. Otherwise, quite delightful and best wishes to the LitPimp and the happy couple.


  4. Albertus, the traditional Roman Ritual from 1614 onwards says a priest wears surplice and stole, not a cope.

  5. The Irish Ritual (1960) states that the priest wears a surplice and white stole. I know in Ireland the practice was to marry in the morning and the Nuptial mass was usually one of the parish masses. Where the mass started immediatly at the end of thewedding the priest wore his mass vestments excluding the maniple. Fortescue concurs with this in his Ceremonies of the Roman Rite.

  6. “Si immediate sequitur Missa, Sacerdos prater Albam et Stolam induere debet etiam Planetam” SRC 3158 § 3. Rubricarius Primus

  7. I wouldn't be so hasty to censure the priest. Wearing the cope may not be desirable for a priest, but it's not neccesarily illicit. Much depends on local custom.

    See for instance this reply in the Irish Ecclesiastical Record in 1865.

  8. You have missed the point SJH. When a priest celebrates Mass immediately afterwards he wears the chasuble, as two commentators have already observed. That doesn't depend on local custom.

    According to Fortescue local custom may permit a cope to a priest celebrating a marriage apart from Mass, especially in the USA, but never to a priest immediately before Mass.

    The IER is makes it clear that for Marriage apart from Mass the use of the cope is pontifical (Albertus) and doesn't seem to agree with its use for priests at all.


  9. Fr. Gabriel: That is a beautiful custom which should be revived. It's great for the parish to hear the Nuptial Mass together with the new bride and groom.

    LP: The lucky couple gets a traditional nuptial ceremony and Solemn Mass, and you only notice that the priest is wearing a cope and not a surplice? I hope you know that in most parts of the world a priest would get serious flak just for celebrating an EF Nuptial Mass, let alone the ceremony and Mass in its solemn fullness. Let's focus on evangelizing through the EF, not carping about vestments.

  10. When a priest celebrates Mass immediately afterwards he wears the chasuble, as two commentators have already observed. That doesn't depend on local custom.

    Actually it does. That's precisely the point. The Roman ritual says surplice and stole.

    Local customs allow other practices (including the one you suggest), but that is not universally the local practice as O'Kane notes 1105:

    "The priest should vest in surplice and white stole, according to the rubric; but if he is to celebrate Mass, the Rituals of many dioceses permit him to vest in amice, alb, cincture nad stole (De H., p. 6, n. 38 iv); the chasuble and maniple being in this case placed on the Gospel side of the altar."

  11. SJH your research is impressive. But let the Pimpernel invite you to do some more. When was the ruling of the SRC on this matter (quoted in a comment above) made? Was it before or after the sources you quote? Are there any authorities after it who maintain anything different afterwards. O’Connell/Schmitz and Fortescue/O’Connell follow the SRC, as we all should.

    A little more relevant research: the Rituale for the local diocese of Oxford – does this permit anything different?

    Sortacatholic, the Pimpernel does not for one moment think the celebrant here should be wearing a surplice. But the Pimpernel certainly agrees that we should be evangelising through the traditional rites and that’s why he thinks they should be done properly, as the Church directs, not as someone or other who doesn’t know the Sacred Liturgy thinks it could.

    The ceremonial here is sloppy. Whoever advised Father on this didn’t take time to check it and get it right as so often is the case with traddy rites, especially rarer ones. The cope is a giveaway. No local custom actually applies in this case – the practice hasn’t been maintained immemorially or probably even regularly for decades. Beware those who cry “custom” – they frequently do so to cover in a mysterious fog the rampant assertion of their personal preferences contra legem!

    The real giveaway is in the other photos where the liturgical ministers are seen to be left on the side while the rite proceeds. No one who knows what the liturgy is, ceremonially or theologically, would do this.

    Father is surely a good and generous man and has many things to do in his parish. He probably trusted the MC for all of this. Pity whoever it was didn’t know that the Roman Rite has a way of celebrating weddings before Mass and that liturgical ministers have a place and role, or at least that he didn’t look it up properly. Shabby. The honour of the Sacred Liturgy demands better! So does its power to evangelise.

    Let’s just get it right.

  12. If I may... I was at the mass, and mentioned these very points to the MC, who, it turned out, knew exactly how the thing should have been done. The 'alterations' were all at the request of the priest. All the odder, as he is usually very reliable.