Pontifical office

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As a Pontifical Mass ( Latin sacrum pontificale or missa pontificalis ) is in the Catholic Church a Mass called that a priest projects ( "pontifiziert") capable of carrying the pontificalia is entitled, usually a bishop or abbot . The funeral mass celebrated by such a person is called a pontifical requiem .

In the pontifical office , the priests present concelebrate with the bishop or the monastery community with the abbot. The use of a shepherd's staff and cathedra indicate the diocesan bishop as the chief shepherd and teacher of the diocese or the abbot as the father and shepherd of the monastic family. If the bishop or abbot does not wear the pontificals , although he is entitled to do so, it is not a pontifical office, but a so-called bishop's mass. A holy mass presided over by the Pope is also known as the Papal Mass (Missa papalis) .


Pontifical Mass with Pietro Cardinal Gasparri in Rome in 1928

The form of the pontifical office is prescribed for certain liturgies . This includes the consecration of the holy oils in the Chrism Mass on Maundy Thursday , which can only be celebrated by a bishop, all masses at which sacraments are donated, as well as confirmations , the consecration of virgins , church consecrations and similar celebrations of the life of the church. In addition, bearers of the pontificals are required by canon law to celebrate pontifical offices at least on major public holidays.

Special ceremonies

Pontifical offices were characterized by special ceremonies , especially in the times before the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council . The wearer was offered special obeisances such as throne and canopy ; he was usually "caught up" by the congregation before mass and led into the church in a procession. Today some of these rites have ceased to exist. On the other hand, the old pontifical ministry has retained some elements that have only found their way back into the priestly mass through the liturgical reform: the numerous participation of the clergy allowed the concelebration to shine through, and the verbal service, which is celebrated at the seat and not at the altar, is now again general practice. Regionally, the prayer of the hour of the third precedes the pontifical office . In addition to the great procession and a procession to the exodus , in which the bearer of the pontificals blesses the assembled community with the sign of the cross or by sprinkling with holy water , pontifical offices are ended with an extended blessing that is reserved for bishops and abbots. The funeral mass celebrated by a priest who is allowed to carry the pontificals in the context of exequies or on All Souls' Day is called pontifical requiem .

Liturgical books and usage

The rite of pontifical services is generally regulated by the Caeremoniale Episcoporum of 1984, special celebrations of the bishop - such as consecrations - can be found in the Roman Pontificale . In the Latin Caeremoniale Episcoporum from 1984 it is no longer called a pontifical mass , but a Missa stationalis . The term pontifical office has survived everywhere, especially in the German-speaking area. The Caeremoniale Episcoporum also contains the rubrics of the Pontifical Vespers , the church evening prayer, which is presided over by a bishop.

Literature and Sources

  • Rupert Berger : Small liturgical dictionary , Herder Verlag (Herder-Bücherei Bd. 339/340/341), Freiburg i. Br. 1969, p. 346.
  • Rupert Berger: Art. Pontifical Office , in: LThK , 3rd edition, special edition, vol. 8, Freiburg i. Br. 2006, Sp. 417.
  • Caeremoniale Episcoporum ex decreto sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II instauratum auctoritate Ioannis Pauli PP II promulgatum , Editio Typica, Vatican City 1984 (Latin original; valid rite book of the Latin church, i.e. the ordinary Roman rite).
  • Piero Marini : Il Caeremoniale Episcoporum e la riforma liturgica del Concilio Vaticano II , in: Ephemerides Liturgicae 104 (1990), pp. 209-233.
  • Winfried Oppold OSB : Sacristan of the Holy Church . Reading and rubric books for sacristans, sextons, cantors and for senior administrators, ed. following the Schott missal books, Freiburg 1953, pp. 83, 98, 102, 129 (briefly describes the pontifical office before the liturgical reform of Vatican II; contains brief information on the reception of bishops and pontifical blessings).
  • Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger : The Spirit of the Liturgy . An introduction, Herder, Freiburg, 3rd edition 2000, p. 63f, ISBN 3-451-27247-4 (theological-biblical development of the two holy places cathedra and altar in the episcopal service).
  • Karl Wiesli SAC (ed.): Handbuch für Sacristane , Augsburg 1965, 61-66 (describes in more detail the pontifical office of bishops and abbots before the liturgical reform of Vatican II or in today's extraordinary custom).
  • Ceremonials for the bishops in the Catholic dioceses of the German-speaking area , Regensburg 3rd edition 2007, ISBN 978-3-7917-1607-7 .