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The Third Edition of the Roman Missal: From 1570 to the Present Day

Since the earliest days of the Church, disciples of Jesus have celebrated the “Lord’s Supper” (see Acts of the Apostles 2:42). In his First Letter to the Corinthians (11:23), St. Paul hands on a “recipe” of words that was previously handed on to him: “the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread…” As time went on, the Church sought to gather the words used to faithfully celebrate the Eucharist and collect them into a book that today we call The Roman Missal. To fully understand the Third Edition of the Roman Missal that was implemented in Advent of 2011, we need a little history.

The New Roman Missal Changes – a brief history:

  • 1570 – Pope Pius V issued the first Roman Missal – a complete collection of all the texts (prayers, rubrics, readings, antiphons) that were used in the celebration of the Eucharist. Aside from a few minor revisions over the centuries, this single book remained largely unchanged for almost 400 years.

  • 1963 – The Second Vatican Council called for a renewal of the Church’s liturgical life – including a reform and renewal of the Mass.

  • 1969 – The Latin texts of the renewed Mass were issued in the first edition of the Roman Missal. Almost immediately, work began on translating the Latin into the vernacular languages of the world. The English translation was given the title “The Sacramentary,” the name we have used until now for the red book which contains the prayers and antiphons that are used at Mass.

  • 1975 – A second edition of the Roman Missal was issued in Latin by the Church. It was largely the same as the first edition, but contained some modifications that were the result of further decisions of the Second Vatican Council made since the first edition was published..

  • 2000 – Pope John Paul II issued a third edition of the Roman Missal in Latin. He did so to mark the Millennium and to include new prayers to be used at Mass for the celebration of Saints who had been canonized since the second edition was issued.

  • 2001 – Work began on translating into English the Latin text of the new Roman Missal.

  • 2010 – In August of that year, Rome approved the English translation that was submitted by the English speaking countries of the world. Preparation for implementing the Roman Missal changes began.

  • Advent 2011 – We began celebrating the Mass following this English translation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal.  It is important to note that the Mass itself has not changed; only the English translation of the words have been changed.