ON POPULAR PIETY AND THE
PRINCIPLES AND GUIDELINES
Extracts from the address of His Holiness Pope John Paul II
Nature and Structure (4)
Those to whom the Directory is addressed (5)
Pious Exercise (7)
Popular Piety (9)
Popular Religiosity (10)
Some Principles (11-13)
The Primacy of the Liturgy (11)
Evaluation and Renewal (12)
Distinction from and harmony with the Liturgy (13)
The Language of Popular Piety (14-20)
Texts and Formulae (16)
Song and Music (17)
Sacred Images (18)
Sacred Places (19)
Sacred Times (20)
Responsibility and Competencies (21)
History, Magisterium, Theology (22-92)
Chapter I. LITURGY AND POPULAR PIETY IN A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE (22-59)
Liturgy and Popular Piety throughout the Centuries (22-46)
Christian Antiquity (23-27)
The Middle Ages (28-33)
The Modern Period (34-43)
The Contemporary Period (44-46)
Liturgy and Popular Piety: The Current Problematic (47-59)
Historical data: the causes of imbalances (48-49)
The Constitution on the Liturgy (50-58)
Importance of formation (59)
Chapter II. LITURGY AND POPULAR PIETY
IN THE CHURCH'S MAGISTERIUM (60-75)
The Values in Popular Piety (61-64)
Deviations in Popular Piety (65-66)
The Subject of Popular Piety (67-69)
Pious Exercises (70-72)
Liturgy and Pious Exercises (73-74)
General principles for the renewal of Pious Exercises (75)
THEOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES FOR AN EVALUATION AND RENEWAL OF
POPULAR PIETY (76-92)
The Life of Worship: Communion with the Father, through Christ,
in the Holy Spirit (76-80)
The Church: Worshipping Community (81-84)
Common Priesthood and Popular Piety (87-86)
Word of God and Popular Piety (87-89)
Popular Piety and Private revelations (90)
Inculturation and Popular Piety (91-92)
FOR THE HARMONIZATION OF POPULAR PIETY WITH THE LITURGY
Chapter IV. THE LITURGICAL YEAR AND POPULAR PIETY (94-118)
In Advent (96-105)
The Advent Rosary (96-105)
Processions in Advent (99)
The Winter Quartertense (100)
The Blessed Virgin Mary in Advent (101-102)
The Christmas Novena (103)
The Crib (104)
Popular Piety and the Spirit of Advent (105)
In Christmastide (106-123)
The Vigil of Christmas (106-123)
The Feast of the Holy Family (112)
The Feast of the Holy Innocents (113)
The 31st of December (114)
The Solemnity of the Holy Mother of God (115-117)
The Solemnity of the Lord's Epiphany (118)
The Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord (119)
The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord (120-123)
In Lent (124-137)
Veneration of Christ crucified (127-129)
Reading the Lord's Passion (130)
The Stations of the Cross (131-135)
The Via Matris (136-137)
Holy Week (138-139)
Palms, Olive Branches or Branches from other Trees (139)
The Easter Triduum (140-151)
Visit to the Altar of Repose (141)
The Good Friday Procession (142-143)
Representations of the Passion of Christ (144)
The Memorial of Our Lady of Dolors (145)
The "Ora della Madre" (147)
The Risen Christ meets his Mother (149)
The Blessing of the Family Table (150)
Easter Greeting of the Mother of the Risen Christ (151)
In Eastertide (152-156)
The annual Blessing of Families in their Homes (152)
The Via Lucis (153)
Devotion to the Divine Mercy (154)
The Pentecost Novena (155)
Pentecost Sunday (156)
In Ordinary Time (157-159)
The Solemnity of the Most Blessed Trinity (157-159)
The Solemnity of Corpus Christi (160-163)
Eucharistic Adoration (164-165)
The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (166-173)
The Immaculate Heart of Mary (174)
The Most Precious Blood of Christ (175-179)
The Solemnity of the Assumption (180-181)
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (182)
Chapter V. VENERATION OF THE
BLESSED MOTHER OF OUR LORD (183-207)
Times for Marian Devotion (187-191)
Celebration of the Feast (187)
Marian Tridua, septenari and Novenas (189)
The Marian Months (190-191)
Some Pious Practices recommended by the Magisterium (192-207)
Prayerful hearing of the Word of God (193-194)
The Angelus (195)
The Regina Coeli (196)
The Rosary (197-202)
The Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary (203)
Act of Consecration or Entrustment to the Blessed Virgin Mary (204)
The Scapular of our Lady of Mount Carmel and other Scapulars (205)
Marian Medals (206)
The Akathistos Hymn (207)
Chapter VI. VENERATION OF THE
SAINTS AND THE BEATIFIED (208-247)
Some Principles (208-212)
The Holy Angels (212-217)
St Joseph (218-223)
St John the Baptist (224-225)
The cult due to the Saints and the Beatified (226-247)
Celebration of the Saints (227-229)
Feast days (230-233)
In the Celebration of the Eucharist (234)
In the Litanies of the Saints
The Relics of the Saints (236-237)
Holy Images (238-244)
Chapter VII. SUFFRAGE FOR THE DEAD (248-260)
Faith in the resurrection of the Dead (248-250)
The meaning of suffrage (251)
Christian Obsequies (252-254)
Other Types of Suffrage (255)
The Commemoration of the Dead in Popular Piety (256-260)
Chapter VIII. SHRINES AND PILGRIMAGES (261-287)
The Shrine (262-279)
Some Principles (262-263)
Canonical Recognition (264)
Shrines as Places of Worship (256-260)
Exemplary Value (266)
Celebration of Penitence (267)
Celebration of the Eucharist (268)
Celebration of the Anointing of the Sick (269)
Celebration of the Other Sacraments (270)
Celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours (271)
Celebration of the Sacramentals (272-273)
Shrines as Places of Evangelization (274)
Shrines as Places of Charity (275)
Shrines as Places of Culture (276)
Shrines as Places of Ecumenical Commitment (277-278)
Biblical Pilgrimages (280)
The Christian Pilgrimage (281-285)
Spirituality of Pilgrimage (286)
Going on Pilgrimage (287)
Index of Biblical References
Index of Persons and Places
AAS Acta Apostolicae Sedis
CCC Catechism of the Catholic Church
CIC Codex Iuris Canonici
CSEL Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum
DS H. DENZINGER - A. SCHOENMETZER, Enchiridion Symbolorum
definitionum et declarationum de rebus fidei et morum
EI Enchiridon Indulgentiarum. Normae et Concessiones (1999)
LG SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Constitution Lumen gentium
PG Patrologia greca (J-P Migne)
PL Patrologia latina (J-P Migne)
SC SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium
SCh Sources chrétiennes
Extracts from the address of His Holiness
Pope John Paul II
to the Plenary Meeting of
The Congregation for Divine Worship
and the Discipline of the Sacraments
2. The Sacred Liturgy, described by Sacrosanctum Concilium as
the summit of the Church's life, can never be reduced to a mere aesthetic
reality. Neither can it be considered simply as a means to pedagogical or
ecumenical ends. Before all else, the celebration of the sacred mysteries
is an act of praise to the Triune God's sovereign majesty, and is willed
by God Himself. Through the Sacred Liturgy man, personally and
collectively, presents himself before God to render thanksgiving, fully
conscious that his existence cannot be complete without praising God and
doing His will as he strives for the Kingdom which is already present but
whose definitive advent is only to be found in the Parousia of the
Lord Jesus. Were the Liturgy not to have its effects on life, it would
become void and displeasing to God.
3. The celebration of the Liturgy is an act of the virtue of religion
which, in keeping with its nature, must be characterised by a profound
sense of the sacred. Both the individual and the community must be aware
that, in a special way, through the Liturgy they come into the presence of
Him who is thrice holy and transcendent. Consequently, the disposition
required of them is one that can only flow from that reverence and awe
deriving from an awareness of being in the presence of the majesty of
Almighty God. Did not God Himself wish to express this when he commanded
Moses to remove his sandals in the presence of the burning bush? Was it
not because of this same realization that Moses and Elijah did not dare
gaze on God facie in faciem.
The People of God require a comportment in their priests and deacons
that is completely imbued with reverence and dignity since it allows them
to penetrate invisible realities without words or explanations. The Roman
Missal, promulgated by Saint Pope Pius V, and the various Eastern
Liturgies, contain many very beautiful prayers with which the priest
expresses a profound sense of reverence and humility before the Sacred
Mysteries. These prayers reveal the very substance of every Liturgy.
A liturgical celebration, at which the priest presides, is an assembly
of prayer, gathered in faith to hear the Word of God. Its primary object
is to offer to God the living, pure and holy Sacrifice made once and for
all time by Jesus Christ on Calvary, and which is rendered present at
every Holy Mass celebrated by the Church so as to worship God in spirit
and in truth.
I am aware of this Congregation's deep commitment, and that of the
Bishops, to the promotion and development of the Church's liturgical life.
In expressing my appreciation, it is my hope that this valuable work will
contribute to make the celebration of the Liturgy ever more dignified and
4. With a view to the preparation of a Directory, your Plenary has
chosen popular religiosity as its main topic. Popular piety is an
expression of faith which avails of certain cultural elements proper to a
specific environment which is capable of interpreting and questioning in a
lively and effective manner the sensibilities of those who live in that
Genuine forms of popular piety, expressed in a multitude of different
ways, derives from the faith and, therefore, must be valued and promoted.
Such authentic expressions of popular piety are not at odds with the
centrality of the Sacred Liturgy. Rather, in promoting the faith of the
people, who regard popular piety as a natural religious expression, they
predispose the people for the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries.
5. The correct relationship between these two expressions of faith must
be based on certain firm principles, the first of which recognises that
the Liturgy is the centre of the Church's life and cannot be substituted
by, or placed on a par with, any other form of religious expression.
Moreover, it is important to reaffirm that popular religiosity, even if
not always evident, naturally culminates in the celebration of the Liturgy
towards which it should ideally be oriented. This should be made clear
through suitable catechesis.
Forms of popular religiosity can sometimes appear to be corrupted by
factors that are inconsistent with Catholic doctrine. In such cases, they
must be patiently and prudently purified through contacts with those
responsible and through careful and respectful catechesis - unless radical
inconsistencies call for immediate and decisive measures.
Judgements on these matters is for the diocesan Bishop or for the
Bishops of a given territory in which such forms are found. In this case,
Bishops should share their experience so as to provide common pastoral
guidelines and avoid contradictory positions which can be detrimental for
the Christian people. In any event, Bishops should take a positive and
encouraging stance with regard to popular religiosity, unless there are
patently obvious reasons to the contrary.
CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP
AND THE DISCIPLINE OF THE SACRAMENTS
Prot. N. 1532/00/L
In affirming the primacy of the Liturgy, "the summit toward which
the activity of the Church is directed...and fount from which all her
power flows" (Sacrosanctum Concilium,10), the Second Vatican
Council nevertheless reminds us that "the spiritual life, however, is
not limited solely to participation in the Liturgy" (ibidem,
12). The spiritual life of the faithful is also nourished by "the
pious practices of the Christian people", especially those commended
by the Apostolic See and practised in the particular Churches by mandate
of the Bishop or by his approval. Mindful of the importance that such
cultic expressions should conform to the laws and norms of the Church, the
Council Fathers outlined their theological and pastoral understanding of
such practices: "pious devotions are to be ordered so as to harmonize
with the Sacred Liturgy and lead the Christian people to it, since in fact
the Liturgy by its very nature is far superior to any of them" (ibidem,13).
In the light of this authoritative teaching and of other pronouncements
of the Church's Magisterium on the pious practices of the Christian
people, and drawing on pastoral cases that have emerged in recent years,
the Plenary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of
the Sacraments, held September 26-28 2001, approved this present Directory
which considers, in general terms, the relationship between Liturgy and
popular piety, restates the principles regulating that nexus, and
stipulates guidelines for their fruitful implementation in the
particular Churches, in accordance with their specific traditions. By
cultivation of a positive and encouraging pastoral stance towards popular
piety, therefore, it for the Bishops in a special way to value popular
piety, whose fruits have been, and remain, of major importance in
conserving the faith of the Christian people.
Having received the approval of the Supreme Pontiff JOHN PAUL II to
publish this "Directory on Popular Piety. Principles and Guidelines"
(Letter of the Secretariat of State, Prot. N. 497.514 of 14 December
2001), the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the
Sacraments is pleased to publish it in the hope that both Pastors and
faithful may draw from this instrument, encouragement to grow in Christ,
through him and with him, in the Holy Spirit to the praise of God the
Father in heaven.
Anything contrary not withstanding.
From the offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the
Discipline of the Sacraments, 17 December 2001.
Jorge A. Card. Medina Estévez
Francesco Pio Tamburrino
1. In accordance with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, this
Congregation, in furthering and promoting the Liturgy, "the summit
toward which the activity of the Church is directed...and the fount from
which all her power flows"(1), wishes to draw attention to the need
to ensure that other forms of piety among the Christian people are not
overlooked, nor their useful contribution to living in unity with Christ,
in the Church, be forgotten(2).
Following on the conciliar renewal, the situation with regard to
Christian popular piety varies according to country and local traditions.
Contradictory attitudes to popular piety can be noted: manifest and hasty
abandonment of inherited forms of popular piety resulting in a void not
easily filled; attachments to imperfect or erroneous types of devotion
which are estranged from genuine Biblical revelation and compete with the
economy of the sacraments; unjustified criticism of the piety of the
common people in the name of a presumed "purity" of faith; a
need to preserve the riches of popular piety, which is an expression of
the profound and mature religious feeling of the people at a given moment
in space and time; a need to purify popular piety of equivocation and of
the dangers deriving from syncretism; the renewed vitality of popular
religiosity in resisting, or in reaction to, a pragmatic technological
culture and economic utilitarianism; decline of interest in popular piety
ensuing on the rise of secularized ideologies and the aggressive
activities of "sects" hostile to it.
The question constantly occupies the attention of Bishops, priests,
deacons, pastoral assistants, and scholars, who are concerned both to
promote the liturgical life among the faithful and to utilize popular
2. In its constitution on the Liturgy, the Second Vatican Council
explicitly touched upon the relationship between the Liturgy and pious
exercises(3). The question of popular piety has been more amply considered
on various occasions by the Apostolic See(4) and by the Conferences of
Bishops(5). In his Apostolic Letter Vicesimus Quintus Annus, John
Paul II raised the question again in relation to the liturgical renewal
and indicated that it remained among those to be addressed at a future
date: "popular piety can neither be ignored nor treated with
indifference or disrespect because of its richness and because in itself
it represents a religious attitude in relation to God. However, it has to
be continually evangelized, so that the faith which it expresses may
become more mature and authentic. The pious exercises of the Christian
people and other forms of devotion can be accepted and recommended
provided that they do not become substitutes for the Liturgy or integrated
into the Liturgical celebrations. An authentic pastoral promotion of the
liturgy, will know how to build on the riches of popular piety, purify
them and direct them towards the Liturgy as an offering of the people"(6).
3. With a view, therefore, to assisting the Bishops in "promoting
and honouring the prayers and pious practises of the Christian people,
that fully reflect the norms of the Church"(7), in addition to the
Liturgy, the preparation of this present Directory appears
opportune to this Dicastery. In a general way, it considers the various
connections between the Liturgy and popular piety. This Directory
also reaffirms some principles and establishes guidelines for their
Nature and Structure
4. This Directory contains two parts. The first, entitled Emerging
trends, provides the elements necessary for the harmonization of
Liturgy and popular piety. It draws on the experience which has matured
during the long history and emergence of the contemporary problematic
(Chapter 1). The teachings of the Magisterium are systematically restated
since they are indispensable for ecclesial communion and fruitful action
(Chapter 2). Finally, the theological principles, according to which
difficulties concerning the relationship between Liturgy and popular piety
are approached and resolved, are stated (Chapter 3). The possibility of
realizing a true and fruitful harmonization of Liturgy and popular piety
can only be achieved by a wise and committed respect for these
presuppositions. Conversely, overlooking them leads to nothing but
reciprocal and futile ignorance, damaging confusion and contradictory
The second part, entitled Guidelines , offers a series of
practical proposals. It does not claim to be able to include every usage
or practice of popular piety to be found in particular locations
throughout the world. Mention of particular practices or expressions of
popular piety is not to be regarded as an invitation to adopt them where
they are not already practised. This section is elaborated in reference to
the Liturgical Year (Chapter 4); to the special veneration given by the
Church to the Mother of our Saviour (Chapter 5); to devotion to the Holy
Angels, the Saints and the Beatified (Chapter 6); to suffrage for the dead
(Chapter 7) and to pilgrimage and examples of popular piety connected with
shrines (Chapter 8).
The object of this Directory is to offer guidelines and, where
necessary, to prevent abuses or deviations. Its tone is positive and
constructive. In the same context, it provides short historical notes on
several popular devotions in its Guidelines. It records the
various pious exercises attached to these devotions while signalling their
theological underpinning, and making practical suggesting in relation to
time, place, language and other factors, so as to harmonize them with the
Those to Whom the Directory is Addressed
5. The operative proposals of this Directory, which are intended solely
for the Latin Church and primarily for the Roman Rite, are addressed
firstly to the Bishops, whose office entails presiding over the
worshipping community of the dioceses, promoting the liturgical life and
coordinating other forms of worship(8) with it. They are also intended for
the Bishops' closest collaborators—their episcopal Vicars, priests,
deacons and especially the Rectors of sanctuaries. These proposals are
also intended for the major Superiors of the institutes of consecrated
life, both male and female, since many forms of popular piety arose
within, and were developed by, such institutes, and because the religious
and the members of the secular institutes can contribute much to the
proper harmonization of the various forms of popular piety with the
6. The history of the Western Church is marked by the flowering among
the Christian people of multiple and varied expressions of simple and
fervent faith in God, of love for Christ the Redeemer, of invocations of
the Holy Spirit, of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, of the veneration
of the Saints of commitment to conversion and of fraternal charity. These
expressions have grown up alongside the Liturgy. Treatment of this vast
and complex material which is sometimes referred to as "popular
religiosity" or "popular piety"(9) lacks a uniform
terminology. Hence it will be necessary to adopt a certain precision of
language. Without pretending to resolve all difficulties in this area, it
will be useful to outline the commonly understood meaning of certain terms
employed in this document.
7. The expression "pious exercise" in this Directory refers to
those public or private expressions of Christian piety which, although not
part of the Liturgy, are considered to be in harmony with the spirit,
norms, and rhythms of the Liturgy. Moreover, such pious exercises are
inspired to some degree by the Liturgy and lead the Christian people to
the Liturgy(10). Some pious exercises have been established by mandate of
the Apostolic See or by mandate of the Bishops(11). Many of these
exercises are part of the cultic patrimony of particular Churches or
religious families. Pious exercises always refer to public divine
revelation and to an ecclesial background. They often refer to the grace
revealed by God in Jesus Christ and, in conformity with the laws of the
Church, they are practised "in accordance with approved customs or
8. In the present context, this term is used to describe various
external practices (e.g. prayers, hymns, observances attached to
particular times or places, insignia, medals, habits or customs). Animated
by an attitude of faith, such external practices manifest the particular
relationship of the faithful with the Divine Persons, or the Blessed
Virgin Mary in her privileges of grace and those of her titles which
express them, or with the Saints in their configuration with Christ or in
their role in the Church's life(13).
9. The term "popular piety" designates those diverse cultic
expressions of a private or community nature which, in the context of the
Christian faith, are inspired predominantly not by the Sacred Liturgy but
by forms deriving from a particular nation or people or from their
Popular piety has rightly been regarded as "a treasure of the
people of God"(14) and "manifests a thirst for God known only to
the poor and to the humble, rendering them capable of a generosity and of
sacrifice to the point of heroism in testifying to the faith while
displaying an acute sense of the profound attributes of God: paternity,
providence, His constant and loving presence. It also generates interior
attitudes otherwise rarely seen to the same degree: patience, an awareness
of the Cross in everyday life, detachment, openness to others and
10. "Popular religiosity" refers to a universal experience:
there is always a religious dimension in the hearts of people, nations,
and their collective expressions. All peoples tend to give expression to
their totalizing view of the transcendent, their concept of nature,
society, and history through cultic means. Such characteristic syntheses
are of major spiritual and human importance.
Popular religiosity does not always necessarily refer to Christian
An overview of the present Directory can be obtained from the following
principles which are more fully developed and explained in the subsequent
The Primacy of the Liturgy
11. History shows that, in certain epochs, the life of faith is
sustained by the forms and practices of piety, which the faithful have
often felt more deeply and actively than the liturgical celebrations.
Indeed, "every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of
Christ the Priest and of his Body, which is the Church, it is a sacred
action surpassing all others. No other action of the Church can equal its
efficacy by the same title or to the same degree"(16). Hence, the
ambivalence that the Liturgy is not "popular" must be overcame.
The liturgical renewal of the Council set out to promote the participation
of the people in the celebration of the Liturgy, at certain times and
places (through hymns, active participation, and lay ministries), which
had previously given rise to forms of prayer alternative to, or
substitutive of, the liturgical action itself.
The faithful should be made conscious of the preeminence of the Liturgy
over any other possible form of legitimate Christian prayer. While
sacramental actions are necessary to life in Christ, the various
forms of popular piety are properly optional. Such is clearly
proven by the Church's precept which obliges attendance at Sunday Mass. No
such obligation, however, has obtained with regard to pious exercises,
notwithstanding their worthiness or their widespread diffusion. Such,
however, may be assumed as obligations by a community or by individual
members of the faithful.
The foregoing requires that the formation of priests and of the faithful
give preeminence to liturgical prayer and to the liturgical year over any
other form of devotion. However, this necessary preeminence is not to be
interpreted in exclusive terms, nor in terms of opposition or
Evaluation and Renewal
12. The optional nature of pious exercises should in no way be taken to
imply an under estimation or even disrespect for such practices. The way
forward in this area requires a correct and wise appreciation of the many
riches of popular piety, of the potentiality of these same riches and of
the commitment to the Christian life which they inspire.
The Gospel is the measure against which all expressions of Christian
piety—both old and new—must be measured. The task of evaluating
devotional exercises and practices, and of purifying them when necessary,
must be conducted against this criterion so as to ensure their proper
relationship with the Christian mystery. What is said of the Christian
Liturgy is also true of popular piety: "it may never incorporate
rites permeated by magic, superstition, animism, vendettas or sexual
Hence, the liturgical renewal willed by the Second Vatican Council must
also inspire a correct evaluation and renewal of pious exercises and
devotional practices. Popular piety should be permeated by: a biblical
spirit, since it is impossible to imagine a Christian prayer without
direct or indirect reference to Sacred Scripture; a liturgical spirit
if it is to dispose properly for or echo the mysteries celebrated in the
liturgical actions; an ecumenical spirit, in consideration of the
sensibilities and traditions of other Christians without, however, being
restricted by inappropriate inhibitions; an anthropological
spirit which both conserves symbols and expressions of importance or
significance for a given nation while eschewing senseless archaicisms, and
which strives to dialogue in terms redolent with contemporary sensibility.
To be successful, such a renewal must be imbued with a pedagogical
awareness and realized gradually, always taking into consideration time
and particular circumstances.
Distinct from and in harmony with the Liturgy
13. The objective difference between pious exercises and devotional
practices should always be clear in expressions of worship. Hence, the
formulae proper to pious exercises should not be commingled with the
liturgical actions. Acts of devotion and piety are external to the
celebration of the Holy Eucharist, and of the other sacraments.
On the one hand, a superimposing of pious and devotional practices on
the Liturgy so as to differentiate their language, rhythm, course, and
theological emphasis from those of the corresponding liturgical action,
must be avoided, while any form of competition with or opposition to the
liturgical actions, where such exists, must also be resolved. Thus,
precedence must always be given to Sunday, Solemnities, and to the
liturgical seasons and days.
Since, on the other, pious practices must conserve their proper style,
simplicity and language, attempts to impose forms of "liturgical
celebration" on them are always to be avoided.
The Language of Popular Piety
14. While conserving its simplicity and spontaneity, the verbal and
gestural language of popular piety should be careful to ensure the
transmission of the truth of the faith together with the greatness of the
15. Popular piety is characterized by a great variety and richness of
bodily, gestural and symbolic expressions: kissing or touching images,
places, relics and sacred objects; pilgrimages, processions; going
bare-footed or on one's knees; kneeling and prostrating; wearing medals
and badges... . These and similar expressions, handed down from father to
son, are direct and simple ways of giving external expression to the heart
and to one's commitment to live the Christian life. Without this interior
aspect, symbolic gesture runs the risk of degenerating into empty customs
or mere superstitions, in the worst cases.
Texts and Formulae
16. While drawn up in terms less exacting than those employed for the
prayers of the Liturgy, devotional prayers and formulae should be
inspired, nonetheless, by Sacred Scripture, the Liturgy, the Fathers of
the Church and the Magisterium, and concord with the Church's faith. The
established public prayers attached to pious devotions and the various
acts associated with pious exercises must always be approved by the local
Song and Music
17. Song, a natural expression of the soul of any nation, plays an
important role in popular piety(19). The conservation of the received
corpus of traditional songs must be linked with a biblical and ecclesial
spirit which is open to the possibility, where necessary, of their
revision or to the composition of new songs.
Among some peoples, song is instinctively linked with hand-clapping,
rhythmic corporeal movements and even dance. Such are external forms of
interior sentiment and are part of popular traditions, especially on
occasions such as patronal feasts. Clearly, such should be genuine
expressions of communal prayer and not merely theatrical spectacles. The
fact of their prevalence in one area, however, should not be regarded as a
reason for their promotion in other areas, especially where they would not
18. The use of sacred images is of major importance in the whole area of
popular piety, since culturally and artistically they assist the faithful
in encountering the mysteries of the Christian faith. Indeed, the
veneration of sacred images belongs to the very nature of Catholic piety.
Such is clear from its artistic patrimony, which can be seen in many
churches and sanctuaries, and to which popular devotion has often
Here, the principles apply which govern the liturgical use of images of
Christ, Our Lady, the Saints. These have been traditionally asserted and
defended by the Church in the knowledge that "the honour rendered to
the image is directed to the person represented"(20). The necessary
rigour which has to be applied in drawing up the iconographic scheme of
churches(21)—in matters relating to the truths of the faith and their
hierarchy, beauty and quality—must also be applied to images and objects
destined for private and personal devotion.
So as to ensure that the iconography used in sacred places is not left
to private initiatives, those with responsibility for churches and
oratories should safeguard the dignity, beauty and quality of those sacred
images exposed for public veneration. Likewise, they should avoid the de
facto imposition on the community of pictures or statues inspired by the
private devotion of individuals(22).
The Bishops, therefore, and the rectors of sanctuaries are to ensure
that the sacred images produced for the use of the faithful, either in
their homes or on their persons, or those borne aloft on their shoulders,
are not reduced to banalities, nor risk giving rise to error.
19. Apart from the church, sanctuaries—which are sometimes not
churches—afford important opportunities for the expression of popular
piety, which are often marked by particular devotional forms and
practices, among which the most significant is that of pilgrimage.
Together with these sacred places, which are clearly reserved for public
and private prayer, others exist which are often not less important: e.g.
homes, places of life and work. On certain occasions even the streets and
squares can become places facilitating the manifestation of the faith.
20. The rhythm associated with the change from day to night, from one
month to another, or of the seasons is often associated with various forms
of popular piety. Such can also be true of particular days recalling
joyous or tragic personal or community events. Above all, the "the
feast days", with their preparations for various religious
manifestations, have contributed much in forging the traditions peculiar
to a given community.
Responsibilities and Competencies
21. Manifestations of popular piety are subject to the jurisdiction of
the local Ordinary. It is for him to regulate such manifestations, to
encourage them as a means of assisting the faithful in living the
Christian life, and to purify and evangelize them where necessary. He is
also to ensure that they do not substitute for the Liturgy nor become part
of the liturgical celebrations(23). The local ordinary also approves the
prayers and formulae associated with acts of public piety and devotional
practices(24). The dispositions given by a particular local Ordinary for
the territory of his jurisdiction are for the particular Church entrusted
to his pastoral care.
Hence, the faithful, both clerics and laity, either as groups or
individuals, may not publicly promote prayers, formulae or private
initiatives without the permission of the ordinary.
In accordance with the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus,
n.70, it is the competence of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the
Discipline of the Sacraments to assist the Bishops in matters relating to
prayers and devotional practices of the Christian people, as well as to
issue dispositions in those cases surpassing the bounds of a particular
Church, and in imposing subsidiary provisions.
LITURGY AND POPULAR PIETY
Liturgy and Popular Piety Throughout the Centuries
22. The relationship between Liturgy and popular piety is ancient. It is
therefore necessary to begin by surveying, even rapidly, how this
relationship has been experienced down through the centuries, since it
will often help to resolve contemporary difficulties.
23. The Apostolic and post-apostolic periods are marked by a profound
fusion of the cultic realities which are now called Liturgy and popular
piety. For the earliest Christian communities, Christ alone (cf. Col 2,16)
was the most important cultic reality, together with his life-giving word
(cf. John 6,63), his commandment of reciprocal charity (cf. John,
13,34), and the ritual actions which he commanded in his memory (cf.
1 Cor 11,24-26). Everything else—days and months, seasons and years,
feasts, new moons, food and drink... (cf. Gal 4,10; Col 2,16-19)—was of secondary importance.
Nevertheless, the signs of personal piety are already to be found among
the first generation of Christians. Inspired by the Jewish tradition, they
recommended following the example of incessant prayer of Jesus and St.
Paul (cf. Luke 18,1; Rm 12,12; 1 Thes 5,17), and of beginning and
ending all things with an act of thanksgiving (cf. 1 Cor 10,31; 1 Thes
2,13; Col 3,17). The pious Israelite began the day praising and giving
thanks to God. In the same spirit, he gave thanks for all his actions
during the day. Hence, every joyful or sorrowful occasion gave rise to an
expression of praise, entreaty, or repentance. The Gospels and the
writings of the New Testament contain invocations of Jesus, signs of
christological devotion, which were repeated spontaneously by the faithful
outside of the context of Liturgy. It must be recalled that it was a
common usage of the faithful to use biblical phrases such as : "Jesus,
Son of David, have mercy on me" ( ); "Lord if you wish, you can
heal me" (...); "Jesus, remember me when you come into your
kingdom" (...); "My Lord and my God" ( ...); "Lord
Jesus, receive my spirit" (..). Innumerable prayers to Christ have
been developed by the faithful of every generation on the basis this
Until the second century, expressions of popular piety, whether deriving
from Jewish, Greco-Roman or other cultures, spontaneously came together in
the Liturgy. It has already been noted, for example, that the Traditio
Apostolica contains elements deriving from popular sources(25).
The cult of martyrs, which was of great importance for the local
Churches, preserves traces of popular usages connected with the memory of
the dead(26). Some of the earliest forms of veneration of the Blessed
Virgin Mary(27) also reflect popular piety, among them the Sub tuum
praesidium and the Marian iconography of the catacombs of St.
Priscilla in Rome.
While always most vigilant with regard to interior conditions and the
prerequisites for a dignified celebration of the sacred mysteries (cf. 1
Cor 11, 17-32), the Church has never hesitated in incorporating into
the liturgical rites forms drawn from individual, domestic and community
In this period Liturgy and popular piety, either conceptually or
pastorally, did not oppose each other. Both concurred harmoniously in
celebrating the one mystery of Christ, considered as a whole, and in
sustaining the supernatural and moral life of the disciples of the Lord.
24. In the fourth century, given the new politico-social situation of
the Church, the question of the relationship between liturgy and popular
piety begins to be raised consciously in terms of adaptation and
inculturation rather than solely in terms of spontaneous convergence.
The local Churches, guided by clear pastoral and evangelizing
principles, did not hesitate to absorb into the Liturgy certain purified
solemn and festive cultic elements deriving from the pagan world. These
were regarded as capable of moving the minds and imaginations of the
people who felt drawn towards them. Such forms, now placed at the service
of the mystery of worship, were seen as neither contrary to the Gospel nor
to the purity of true Christian worship. Rather, there was a realization
that only in the worship of Christ, true God and true Saviour, could many
cultic expressions, previously attributed to false gods and false
saviours, become true cultic expressions, even though these had derived
from man's deepest religious sense.
25. In the fourth and fifth centuries, a greater sense of the sacredness
of times and places begins to emerge. Many of the local Churches, in
addition to their recollection of the New Testament data concerning the
dies Domini, the Easter festival and fasting (cf. Mark 2,18-22),
began to reserve particular days for the celebration of Christ's salvific
mysteries (Epiphany, Christmas and Ascension), or to honour the memory of
the martyrs on their dies natalis or to commemorate the passing of
their Pastors on the anniversary of their dies depositionis, or to
celebrate the sacraments, or to make a solemn undertaking in life. With
regard to the socialization of the place in which the community is called
to celebrate the divine mysteries and give praise to the Lord, it must be
noted that many of these had been transformed from places of pagan worship
or profane use and dedicated exclusively to divine worship. They became,
often simply by their architectural arrangements, a reflection of the
mystery of Christ and an image of the celebrating Church.
26. During this period, the formation of various liturgical families
with their consequent differences, matured. The more important
metropolitan Churches now celebrate the one worship of the Lord with their
own cultural and popular forms which developed from differences of
language, theological traditions, spiritual sensibilities, and social
contexts. This process gave rise to the progressive development of
liturgical systems with their own proper styles of celebration and
agglomeration of texts and rites. It is not insignificant to note that
even during this golden age for the formation of the liturgical rites,
popular elements are also to be found in those rites.
On the other hand, bishops and regional synods began to establish norms
for the organization of worship. They became vigilant with regard to the
doctrinal correctness of the liturgical texts and to their formal beauty,
as well as with regard to the ritual sequences(28). Such interventions
established a liturgical order with fixed forms which inevitably
extinguished the original liturgical creativity, which had not been
completely arbitrary. Some scholars regard these developments as one of
the source of the future proliferation of texts destined for private and
27. Mention must be made of the pontificate of the great pastor and
liturgist Pope St. Gregory VII (590-604), since it is regarded as an
exemplary reference point for any fruitful relationship between the
Liturgy and popular piety. Through the organization of processions,
stations and rogations, Gregory the Great undertook a major liturgical
reform which sought to offer the Roman people structures which resonated
with popular sensibilities while, at the same time, remaining securely
based on the celebration of the divine mysteries. He gave wise directives
to ensure that the conversion of new nations did not happen without regard
for their own cultural traditions. Indeed, the Liturgy itself could be
enriched by new legitimate cultic expressions and the noble expressions of
artistic genius harmonized with more humble popular sensibilities. He
established a sense of unity in Christian worship by anchoring it firmly
in the celebration of Easter, even if other elements of the one mystery of
Salvation (Christmas, Epiphany, and Ascension) were also celebrated and
the memorials of the Saints expanded.
The Middle Ages
28. Among the main concerns of the Oriental Christian Churches,
especially the Byzantine Church, of the middle ages, mention can be made
of both phases of the struggles against the iconoclast heresy (725-787 and
815-843) which was a watershed for the Liturgy. It was also a period of
classical commentaries on the Eucharistic Liturgy and on the iconography
for buildings set aside for worship.
In the liturgical field, there was a noticeable increase in the Church's
iconographical patrimony and in her sacred rites which assumed a
definitive form. The Liturgy reflected the symbolic vision of the universe
and a sacral hierarchical vision of the world. In this vision, we have the
coalescence of all orders of Christian society, the ideals and structures
of monasticism, popular aspirations, the intuitions of the mystics and the
precepts of the ascetics.
With the decree De sacris imaginibus of the Second Council of
Nicea (787)(29) and the resolution of the iconoclastic controversy in the
"Triumph of Orthodoxy" (843), iconography, having been given
doctrinal legitimacy, developed and organized its definitive form. The
icon, hieratic and pregnant with symbolic power, itself became part of the
celebration of the Liturgy, reflecting, as it did, the mystery celebrated
and retaining something of its permanent presence which was exposed for
the veneration of the faithful.
In the West, the high middle ages saw the formation of new cultures, and
political and civil institution deriving from the encounter of
Christianity, already by the fifth century, with peoples such as the
Celts, the Visigoths, the Anglo-Saxons, and the Franco-Germans.
Between the seventh and the fifteenth century, a decisive
differentiation between Liturgy and popular piety began to emerge which
gradually became more pronounced, ending eventually in a dualism of
celebration. Parallel with the Liturgy, celebrated in Latin, a
communitarian popular piety celebrated in the vernacular emerged.
30. The following may be counted among the reasons for the development
of this dualism:
the idea that the Liturgy was the competence of clerics since the
laity were no more than spectators at the Liturgy;
the marked distinction of roles in Christian society—clerics,
monks, and laity—gave rise to different styles and forms of prayer;
in Liturgy and iconography, the distinct and particular
consideration given to the various aspects of the one mystery of Christ,
while expressing a devotion for the life and work of our Lord, failed to
facilitate an explicit realization of the centrality of the Paschal
mystery and encouraged a multiplicity of particular times and forms of
celebration of a distinctively popular tenor;
lack of a sufficient knowledge of the Scriptures on the part, not
only of the laity, but of many clerics and religious, made access to an
understanding of the structure and symbolic language of the Liturgy
the diffusion of apocryphal literature containing many stories of
miracles and episodic anecdotes, on the other hand, had a significant
influence on iconography which, touching the imagination of the
faithful, naturally attracted their attention;
the practical absence of any form of homiletic preaching, the
disappearance of mystagogical preaching, and poor catechetical
formation, rendered the celebration of the Liturgy closed to the
understanding and active participation of the faithful who turned to
alternative cultic times and forms;
a tendency to allegory, excessively encroaching on the meaning of
the liturgical texts and rites, often deviated the faithful from an
understanding of the true nature of the Liturgy;
the discovery of expressive, popular forms and structures
unconsciously redrafted the Liturgy which, from many perspectives, had
become increasingly incomprehensible and distant from the people.
31. The Middle Ages saw the emergence and development of many spiritual
movements and associations of different ecclesiastical and juridical form.
Their life and activities had notable consequences for the relationship
between Liturgy and popular piety.
The new religious orders of evangelical and apostolic life, devoted
their efforts to preaching and adopted simpler liturgical forms in
comparison to those found in the monasteries. These liturgical forms were
often close to the people and to their expressive forms. On the other hand,
they also developed and promoted pious exercises that encapsulated their
charism, and diffused them among the people.
The emergence of the Confraternities, with their religious and
charitable objectives, and of the lay corporations with their professional
interests, gave rise to a certain popular liturgical activity. These often
erected chapels for their religious needs, chose Patrons and celebrated
their feast days. Not infrequently, they compiled the officia parva
and other prayers for the use of their members. These frequently reflected
the influence of the Liturgy as well as containing elements drawn from
The various schools of spirituality that had arisen during the middle
ages became an important reference point for ecclesial life. They inspired
existential attitudes and a multiplicity of ways of interpreting life in
Christ and in the Holy Spirit. Such interpretations exercised considerable
influence on the choice of celebration (e.g. episodes from the Passion of
Christ) and were the basis of many pious exercises.
Civil society, constituted ideally as a societas Christiana,
modelled many of its structures on ecclesiastical usage and measured
itself according to the rhythms of liturgical life. An example of this is
to be found in the ringing of bells in the evening which called the
peasants from the fields and simultaneously signalled the Angelus.
32. Throughout the middle ages many forms of popular piety gradually
emerged or developed. Many of these have been handed down to our times:
the organization of sacred performances depicting the mysteries
celebrated during the liturgical year, especially those surrounding the
salvific events of Christ's birth, his passion, death and resurrection;
the participation of the faithful was encouraged by the emergence of
poetry in the vernacular which was widely used in popular piety;
as a parallel, or even an alternative to many liturgical
expressions, several devotional forms appeared; for example, various
forms of Eucharistic adoration served to compensate for the rarity with
which Holy Communion was received; in the late middle ages, the rosary
tended to substitute for the psalter; among the faithful, the pious
exercises of Good Friday became a substitute for the Liturgy proper to
the growth in popular forms of devotion to Our Lady and the Saints:
pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and to the tombs of the Apostles and
martyrs, veneration of relics, litanies, and suffrage for the dead;
the considerable development of the rites of blessing which, together
with Christian elements, also reflected a certain response to a
naturalistic sensibility as well to popular pre-Christian beliefs and
nucleuses of "sacred times" based on popular practices
were constituted. These were often marginal to the rhythm of the
liturgical year: sacred or profane fair days, tridua, octaves, novenas,
months devoted to particular popular devotions.
33. In the middle ages, the relationship between Liturgy and popular
piety is constant and complex, but a dual movement can be detected in that
same relationship: the Liturgy inspired and nourished various expressions
of popular piety; and several forms of popular piety were assumed by, and
integrated into the Liturgy. This is especially true with regard to the
rites of consecration of persons, the assumption of personal obligations,
the dedication of places, the institution of feasts and to the various
A dualism, however, prevailed between Liturgy and popular piety. Towards
the end of the middles ages, both, however, went through a period of
crisis. Because of the collapse of cultic unity, secondary elements in the
Liturgy acquired an excessive relevance to the detriment of its central
elements. In popular piety, because of the lack of adequate catechesis,
deviations and exaggerations threatened the correct expressions of
The Modern Period
34. At the dawn of the modern period, a balanced relationship between
Liturgy and popular piety did not seem any more likely. The devotio
moderna of the late fifteenth century was popular with many great
spiritual masters and was widespread among clerics and cultivated laymen.
It promoted the development of meditative and affective pious exercises
based principally on the humanity of Christ—the mysteries of his infancy,
his hidden life, his Passion and death. However, the primacy accorded to
contemplation, the importance attributed to subjectivity and a certain
ascetical pragmatism exalting human endeavour ensured that Liturgy no
longer appeared as the primary source of the Christian life in the eyes of
men and women advanced in the spiritual life.
35. The De Imitatione Christi is regarded as a
of the devotio moderna. It has exercised an extraordinary and
beneficial influence on many of the Lord's disciples in their quest for
Christian perfection. The De Imitatione Christi orients the
faithful towards a certain type of individual piety which accentuates
detachment from the world and the invitation to hear the Master's voice
interiorly. Less attention is devoted to the communitarian and ecclesial
aspects of prayer and to liturgical spirituality.
Many excellent pious exercises are to be found among those who
cultivated the devotio moderna, as well as cultic expressions
deriving from sincerely devout persons. A full appreciation of the
celebration of the Liturgy is not, however, always to be found in such
36. From the end of the fifteenth to the beginning of the sixteenth
century, the discovery of Africa, America and the Far East caused the
question of the relationship between Liturgy and popular piety to be posed
in new terms.
While the work of evangelizing and catechising countries distant from
the cultural and cultic centre of the Roman Rite was certainly
accomplished through preaching the Word and celebrating the sacraments
(cf. Mt 28, 19), it also came about through the pious exercises
popularized by the missionaries.
Pious exercises became a means of transmitting the Gospel message and,
following conversion, of preserving the Christian faith. By virtue of the
norms designed to preserve the Roman Rite, there were few reciprocal
influences between the Liturgy and the autochthonous cultures. In
Paraguay, the Reductiones are a rare example of this. The
encounter with these cultures, however, was easily facilitated in the
field of popular piety.
37. Among those most concerned for the reform of the Church at beginning
of the sixteenth century, mention must be of two Camaldolese monks, Paolo
Giustiniani and Pietro Querini, authors of the famous Libellus ad
Leonem X(30) which set out important principles for the revitalization
of the Liturgy so as to open its treasures to the entire People of God.
They advocated biblical instruction for the clergy and religious, the
adoption of the vernacular in the celebration of the divine mysteries and
the reform of the liturgical books. They also advocated the elimination of
spurious elements deriving from erroneous popular piety, and the promotion
of catechesis so as to make the faithful aware of the importance of the
38. Shortly after the close of the fifth Lateran Council (6 March 1517),
which had made provisions for the instruction of youth in the Liturgy(31),
the crisis leading to the rise of protestantism arose. Its supporters
raised many objections to the Catholic doctrine on the sacraments, to the
Church's worship, and to popular piety.
The Council of Trent (1545-1563), convoked to resolve the situation
facing the People of God as a result of the spread of protestantism,
addressed questions relating to the Liturgy and popular piety from the
doctrinal and cultic perspective(32), at all three of its phases. Because
of the historical context and the doctrinal nature of the matters dealt
with by the Council, the liturgical and sacramental questions placed
before the Council were answered predominantly from a doctrinal
perspective. Errors were denounced and abuses condemned. The Church's
faith and liturgical tradition were defended. The decree De
reformatione generali(33) proposed a pastoral programme, whose
activation was entrusted to the Holy See and to the Bishops, which
demonstrated concern for the problems arising form the liturgical
instruction of the people.
39. In conformity with the dispositions of the Council, synods were held
in many of the ecclesiatical provinces. These often demonstrated a concern
to bring the faithful to an active participation in the celebration of the
divine mysteries. Simultaneously, the Roman Pontiffs began a vast
programme of liturgical reform. The Roman Calendar and the liturgical
of the Roman Rite(34) were revised in the relatively short space of time
between 1568 and 1614. In 1588 the Sacred Congregation of Rites was
established to promote and correctly order the liturgical celebrations of
the Roman Church(35). The Catechismus ad Parochos fulfilled the
provision of pastoral and liturgical formation.
40. The reform of the Council of Trent brought many advantages for the
Liturgy. There was a return to the "ancient norm of the Fathers"(36)
in many of the Church's rites, notwithstanding the relatively limited
scientific knowledge of the period then available. Elements and
impositions extraneous to the Liturgy or excessively connected with
popular sensibilities were eliminated. The doctrinal content of the
liturgical texts was subjected to examination to ensure that they
reflected the faith in its purity. The Roman Liturgy acquired a notable
ritual unity, dignity and beauty.
The reform, however, had a number of indirect negative consequences: the
Liturgy seemed to acquire a certain fixed state which derived from the
rubrics regulating it rather from its nature. In its active subject, it
seemed to become almost exclusively hierarchical which reinforced the
existing dualism between Liturgy and popular piety.
41. The Catholic reform, with its positive concern to promote a
doctrinal, moral and institutional reform of the Church and to counteract
the spread of protestantism, in a certain sense endorsed the complex
cultural phenomenon of the Baroque. This, in turn, exercised a
considerable influence on the literary, artistic and musical expressions
of Catholic piety.
In the post Tridentine period, the relationship between Liturgy and
popular piety acquires some new aspects: the Liturgy entered a static
period of substantial uniformity while popular piety entered a period of
While careful to establish certain limits, determined by the need for
vigilance with regard to the exuberant or the fantastic, the Catholic
reform promoted the creation and diffusion of pious exercises which were
seen as an important means of defending the Catholic faith and of
nourishing the piety of the faithful. The rise of Confraternities devoted
to the mysteries of the Passion of Our Lord, as well as those of the
Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints are good examples. These usually had
the triple purpose of penance, formation of the laity and works of
charity. Many beautiful images, full of sentiment, draw their origins from
this form of popular piety and still continue to nourish the faith and
religious experience of the faithful.
The "popular missions" emerged at this time and contributed
greatly to the spread of the pious exercises. Liturgy and popular piety
coexist in these exercises, even if somewhat imbalanced at times. The
parochial missions set out to encourage the faithful to approach the
Sacrament of Penance and to receive Holy Communion. They regarded pious
exercises as a means of inducing conversion and of assuring popular
participation in an act of worship.
Pious exercises were frequently collected and organized into prayer
manuals. Reinforced by due ecclesiastical approval, such became true and
proper aids to worship for the various times of the day, month and year,
as well as for innumerable circumstances that might arise in life.
The relationship between Liturgy and popular piety during the period of
the Catholic Reform cannot be seen simply in contrasting terms of
stability and development. Anomalies also existed: pious exercises
sometimes took place within the liturgical actions and were superimposed
on those same actions. In pastoral practice, they were sometimes more
important than the Liturgy. These situations accentuated a detachment from
Sacred Scripture and lacked a sufficient emphasis on the centrality of the
Paschal mystery of Christ, foundation and summit of all Christian worship,
and its privileged expression in Sunday.
42. The age of enlightenment further delineated the separation of "the
religion of the learned" which was potentially close to the Liturgy,
and the "religion of the simple people" which, of its very
nature, was closer to popular piety. Both the "learned" and the "simple
people", however, shared the same religious practices. The "learned"
promoted a religious practice based on knowledge and the enlightenment of
the intelligence and eschewed popular piety which they regarded as
superstitious and fanatical.
The aristocratic sense which permeated many aspects of culture had its
influence on the Liturgy. The encyclopaedic character of knowledge,
coupled with a critical sense and an interest in research, led to the
publication of many of the liturgical sources. The ascetical concerns of
some movements, often influenced by Jansenism, fuelled a call for a return
to the purity of the Liturgy of antiquity. While certainly redolent of the
cultural climate, the renewal of interest in the Liturgy was fuelled by a
pastoral concern for the clergy and laity, especially from the seventeenth
century in France.
In many areas of its pastoral concern, the Church devoted its attention
to popular piety. There was an intensification of that form of apostolic
activity which tended to integrate, to some degree, the Liturgy and
popular piety. Hence, preaching was encouraged at significant liturgical
times, such as Advent and on Sundays when adult catechesis was provided.
Such preaching aimed at the conversion of the hearts and morals of the
faithful, and encouraged them to approach the Sacrament of Penance, attend
Sunday Mass regularly, and to demonstrate the importance of the Sacrament
of the Anointing of the Sick and Viaticum.
Popular piety, which had been effective in stemming the negative
influences of protestantism, now became an effective antidote to the
corrosiveness of rationalism and to the baleful consequences of Jansenism
within the Church. It emerged strengthened and enriched from this task and
from the extensive development of the parish missions. Popular piety
emphasized certain aspects of the Christian mystery in a new way, for
example, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and new "days", such as the "first
Friday of the month", gained importance in the piety of the faithful.
With regard to the eighteenth century, mention must be made of the work
of Ludivico Antonio Muratori who combined erudition with notable pastoral
activity. In his famous work, Della regolata devozione dei cristiani,
he advocated a form of religiosity based on the Liturgy and the Scriptures
that eschewed all attachment to superstition and magic. The work of
Benedict XIV (Prospero Lambertini) was also significant, especially his
authorization of the use of the Bible in the vernacular.
43. The Catholic Reform strengthened the structure and unity of the
Roman Rite. Given the notable missionary expansion of the eighteenth
century, the Reform spread its proper Liturgy and organizational structure
among the peoples to whom the Gospel message was preached.
In the missionary territories of the eighteenth century, the
relationship between Liturgy and popular piety was framed in terms similar
to, but more accentuated than, those already seen in the sixteenth and
the Liturgy retained a Roman character and hence remained, at least
partially, extraneous to autochthonous culture. The question of
inculturation was practically never raised, partly because of the fear
of negative consequence for the faith. In this respect, however, mention
must be made of the efforts of Matteo Rici in relation to the question
of the Chinese rites, and those of Roberto de' Nobili on the question of
the Indian rites;
popular piety, on the one hand, was subject to the danger of
religious syncretism, especially where evangelization was not deeply
rooted; while on the other, it became more autonomous and mature: it was
not limited to reproducing the pious practices promoted by the
missionaries, rather it created other forms of pious exercises that
reflected the character of the local culture.
The Contemporary Period
44. Following the French revolution with its objective of eradicating
the Christian faith and its overt hostility to Christian worship, the
nineteenth century witnessed a important liturgical revival.
This was preceded by the development of a vigorous ecclesiology which
saw the Church not only in terms of a hierarchical society but also as the
People of God and as a worshipping community. Besides the revival of
ecclesiology, mention must also be made of the flowering of biblical and
patristic studies, as well as the ecclesial and ecumenical concerns of men
such as Antonio Rosmini (+1855) and John Henry Newman (+1890).
The history of the renaissance of liturgical worship reserves a special
place for Dom Prosper Guéranger (+ 1875), who restored the monastic
life in France and founded the abbey of Solesmes. His conception of the
Liturgy is permeated by a love for the Church and for tradition. The Roman
Rite, he maintained in his writings on Liturgy, was indispensable for
unity and, hence, he opposed autochthonous forms of liturgical expression.
The liturgical renewal which he promoted has the distinct advantage of not
having been an academic movement. Rather, it aimed at making the Liturgy
an expression of worship in which the entire people of God participated.
45. The revival of the Liturgy was not the sole activity of the
nineteenth century. Independently of that revival, popular piety
experienced significant growth. The revival of liturgical song coincided
with the development of many popular hymns, the widespread use of
liturgical aids such as bilingual missals for the use of the faithful, and
a proliferation of devotional booklets.
The culture of Romanticism rediscovered man's religious sense and
promoted the quest for, and understanding of, the elements of popular
piety, as well as emphasizing their importance in worship.
The nineteenth century experienced a phenomenon of crucial significance:
expressions of local cult arising from popular initiatives and often
associated with prodigious events such as miracles and apparitions.
Gradually, these received official approval as well as the favour and
protection of the ecclesial authorities, and were eventually assumed into
the Liturgy. Several Marian sanctuaries and centres of pilgrimages, and of
Eucharistic and penitential Liturgies as well as Marian centres associated
with popular piety are all emblematic of this phenomenon.
While the relationship between popular piety and the Liturgy in the
nineteenth century must be seen against the background of a liturgical
revival and an ever increasing expansion of popular piety, it has to be
noted that that same relationship was affected by the negative influence
of an accentuated superimposition of pious exercises on the liturgical
actions, a phenomenon already evident during the period of the Catholic
46. At the outset of the twentieth century, St. Pope Pius X (1903-1914)
proposed bringing the Liturgy closer to the people, thereby "popularizing"
it. He maintained that the faithful assimilated the "true Christian
spirit" by drawing from its "primary and indispensable source,
which is active participation in the most holy mysteries and from the
solemn public prayer of the Church"(37). In this way, St. Pope Pius X
gave authoritative recognition to the objective superiority of the Liturgy
over all other forms of piety; dispelled any confusion between Liturgy and
popular piety, indirectly clarified the distinction between both and
opened the way for a proper understanding of the relationship that must
obtain between them.
Thus was born the liturgical movement which was destined to exercise a
prominent influence on the Church of the twentieth century, by virtue of
the contribution of many eminent men, noted for their learning, piety and
commitment, and in which the Supreme Pontiffs recognized the promptings
of the Spirit(38). The ultimate aim of the liturgical movement was
pastoral in nature(39), namely, to encourage in the faithful a knowledge
of, and love for, the divine mysteries and to restore to them the idea
that these same mysteries belong to a priestly people (cf. 1 Pt 2,5).
In the context of the liturgical movement, it is easy to understand why
some of its exponents assumed a diffident attitude to popular piety and
identified it as one of the causes leading to the degeneration of the
Liturgy. They faced many of the abuses deriving from the superimposition
of pious exercises on the Liturgy as well as instances where the Liturgy
was displaced by acts of popular worship. In their efforts to restore the
purity of divine worship, they took as their ideal the Liturgy of the
early centuries of the Church, and consequently radically rejected any
form of popular piety deriving from the middle ages or the post
This rejection, however, failed to take sufficient account of the fact
that these forms of popular piety, which were often approved and
recommended by the Church, had sustained the spiritual life of the
faithful and produced unequalled spiritual fruits. It also failed to
acknowledge that popular piety had made a significant contribution to
safeguarding and preserving the faith, and to the diffusion of the
Christian message. Thus, Pope Pius XII, in his encyclical Mediator Dei
of 21 November 1947(40), with which he assumed leadership of the
liturgical movement, issued a defence of pious exercises which, to a
certain extent, had become synonymous with Catholic piety in recent
The Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium
of the Second Vatican
Council finally defined, in proper terms, the relationship obtaining
between the Liturgy and popular piety, by declaring the unquestionable
primacy of the Sacred Liturgy and the subordination to it of pious
exercises, while emphasizing their validity(41).
Liturgy and Popular Piety: The Current Problematic
47. From the foregoing historical outline, it is clear that the question
of the relationship between Liturgy and popular piety is not an
exclusively contemporary one. Albeit from different perspectives and in
changing terms, the question has constantly arisen. It is now time to draw
some conclusions from history so as to address the frequently and urgently
asked pastoral questions which arise today.
Historical considerations: the causes of imbalances
48. History principally shows that the correct relationship between
Liturgy and popular piety begins to be distorted with the attenuation
among the faithful of certain values essential to the Liturgy itself. The
following may be numbered among the casues giving rise to this:
a weakened awareness or indeed a diminished sense of the Paschal
mystery, and of its centrality for the history of salvation, of which
the Liturgy is an actualization. Such inevitably occurs when the piety
of the faithful, unconscious of the "hierarchy of truths",
imperceptibly turns towards other salvific mysteries in the life of
Christ, of the Blessed Virgin Mary or indeed of the Angels and Saints;
a weakening of a senses of the universal priesthood in virtue of
which the faithful offer "spiritual sacrifices pleasing to God,
through Jesus Christ" (1 Pt 2,5; Rm 12,1), and, according to their
condition, participate fully in the Church's worship. This is often
accompanied by the phenomenon of a Liturgy dominated by clerics who also
perform the functions not reserved to them and which, in turn, causes
the faithful to have recourse to piuos exercises through which they feel
a sense of becoming active participants;
lack of knowledge of the language proper to the Liturgy—as well as
its signs, symbols and symbolic gestures—causing the meaning of the
celebration to escape the greater understanding of the faithful. Such
can engender a sense of being extraneous to the liturgical action, and
hence are easily attracted to pious exercises whose language more easily
approaches their own cutural formation, or because certain forms of
devotions respond more obviously to daily life.
49. Each of these factors, and both in certain cases, not infrequently
produces imbalances in the relationship between the Liturgy and popular
piety, to the former's detriment and the latter's impoverishment. These
should therefore be corrected through careful and persistent catechetical
and pastoral work.
Conversely, the liturgical renewal and the heightened liturgical sense
of the faithful have often recontextualized popular piety in its
relationship with the Liturgy. Such should be regraded as a positive
develoment and in conformity with the most profound orientation of
The Sacred Constitution on the Liturgy
50. The relationship between the Liturgy and popular piety, in our
times, must be approached primarily from the perspective of the directives
contained in the constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, which seek to
establish an harmonious relationship between both of these expressions of
piety, in which popular piety is objectively subordinated to, and directed
towards, the Liturgy(42).
Thus, it is important that the question of the relationship between
popular piety and the Liturgy not be posed in terms of contradiction,
equality or, indeed, of substitution. A realization of the primordial
importance of the Liturgy, and the quest for its most authentic
expressions, should never lead to neglect of the reality of popular piety,
or to a lack of appreciation for it, nor any position that would regard it
as superfluous to the Church's worship or even injurious to it.
Lack of consideration for popular piety, or disrespect for it, often
betrays an inadequate understanding of certain ecclesial realities and is
not infrequently the product not so much of the doctrine of the faith, but
of some ideologically inspired prejudice. These give rise to attitudes
refuse to accept that popular piety itself is an ecclesial reality
prompted and guided by the Holy Spirit(43);
do not take sufficient account of the fruits of grace and sanctity
which popular piety has produced, and continues to produce, within the
not infrequently reflect a quest for an illusory "pure Liturgy",
which, while not considering the subjective criteria used to determe
purity, belongs more to the realm of ideal aspiration than to historical
and confound, "sense", that noble component of the soul
that legitimitatly permeates many expressions of liturgical and popular
piety, and its degenerate form which is "sentimantality".
51. In the relationship between the Liturgy and popular piety, the
opposite phenomenon is also encountered—the importance of popular piety
is overestimated practically to the detriment of the Church's Liturgy.
It has to be said that where such happens, either because of particular
circumstances or of a theoretical choice, pastoral deviations emerge. The
Liturgy is no longer the "summit towards which the activity of the
Church is directed; [and]...the fount from which all her power flows"(44).
Rather it becomes a cultic expression extraneous to the comprehension and
sensibility of the people which is destined to be neglected, relegated to
a secondary role or even become reserved to particular groups.
52. The laudable idea of making Christian worship more accessible to
contemporary man, especially to those insufficiently catechized, should
not lead to either a theoretical or practical underestimation of the
primary and fundamental expression of liturgical worship, notwithstanding
the acknowledged difficulties arising from specific cultures in
assimilating certain elements and structures of the Liturgy. In some
instances, rather than seeking to resolve such difficulties with patience
and farsightedness, recourse is sometimes made to simplistic solutions.
53. In those instances where the liturgical actions have been
superceded by popular piety comments, such as the following, are often
popular piety is sufficient for the free and spontaneous celebration
of "Life" and its multiplicity of expressions; Liturgy, on the
other hand, centered at it is on the "Mystery of Christ" is
essentially anaemic, repetitive, formalistic and inhibits spontaneity;
the Liturgy fails to involve the total being, both corporeal and
spiritual, of each member of the faithful; popular piety, because it
speaks directly to man, involves his body, heart and mind;
popular piety is an authentic and real locus for the life of prayer:
through pious exercises the faithful truly dialogue with the Lord, in
terms which they fully understand and regard as their own; the Liturgy,
however, places words on their lips that are not their own or alien to
their level of culture, and thereby becomes a hindrance to prayer rather
than a means;
the ritual with which popular piety is expressed is one which is
received and accepted by the faithful because of its correspondence
between their cultural expectations and ritual language; the ritual
proper to the Liturgy is impenetrable because its various expressive
forms derive from different cultural sources widely removed from those
of the faithful.
54. In an exaggerated and dialectic way, such views reflect the
divergence that undeniably exists between the Liturgy and popular piety in
some cultural ambits.
Where such views are held, they inevitably indicate that an authentic
understanding of the Christian Liturgy has been seriously compromised, or
even evacuated of its essential meaning.
Against such views, it is always necessary to quote the grave and well
pondered words of last ecumenical Council: "every Liturgical
celebration, because it is an action of Christ the Priest and of his Body,
which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others. No other
action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the
55. Any unilateral exaltation of popular piety which fails to take
account of the Liturgy, is inconsistent with the fact that the essential
elements of the Liturgy derive from the will of Christ himself, and is
unable to emphasize its indispensable soteriological and doxological
importance. Following the Lord's ascension to the glory of the Father, and
the descent of the Holy Spirit, the perfect glorification of God and the
salvation of man comes about primarily through the celebration of the
liturgy(46), which requires an adherence of faith, and brings the believer
to participate in the fundamental salvific event: the Passion, Death and
Resurrection of Christ (cf. Rm 6,2-6, 1 Cor 11,23-26).
The Church's understanding of her mystery, and her worshipping and
saving actions, constantly affirms that it is through "the
Liturgy..., especially in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, [that]
'the work of our redemption is accomplished'"(47). This affirmation,
however, does not deny the importance of other forms of piety.
56. Theoretical or practical contempt for the Liturgy inevitably leads
to a clouding of the Christian understanding of the mystery of God, Who
has mercifully deigned to look down on fallen man and bring him to Himself
through the incarnation of His Son and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Such
fails to perceive the significance of salvation history and the
relationship between Old and New Testaments. It underestimates the saving
Word of God which sustains the Liturgy, and to which the Liturgy always
refers. Such a disposition attenuates in the faithful any realization of
the importance of the work of Christ our only Saviour who is the Son of
God and the Son of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Eventually, it leads to a loss
of the sensus Ecclesiae.
57. Any exclusive promotion of popular piety, which should always be
seen in terms of the Christian faith(48), can encourage a process that
eventually leads the faithful away from Christian revelation and
encourages the undue or distorted use of elements drawn from cosmic or
natural religions. It can also give rise to the introduction into
Christian worship of elements taken from pre-Christian beliefs, or that
are merely cultural, national or ethnic psychological expressions.
Likewise, the illusion can be created that the transcendent can be reached
through unpurified religious experiences(49), thereby promoting the notion
that salvation can be achieved through man's own personal efforts (the
constant danger of Pelagianism should never be forgotten), thereby
compromising any authentic Christian understanding of salvation as a
gratuitous gift of God. Indeed, the role of secondary mediators, such as
the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Angels and Saints, or even national saints,
can surpass that of the Lord Jesus Christ, the one Mediator, in the minds
of the faithful.
58. The Liturgy and popular piety, while not conterminous, remain two
legitimate expressions of Christian worship. While not opposed to each
other, neither are they to be regarded a equiparate to each other. Rather,
they are to be seen in harmony with each in accordance with the Council's
liturgical constitution: "The popular devotions of the
Christian people [...] should accord with the sacred Liturgy...[and] in
some way derive from it, and lead people to it, since in fact the Liturgy
by its very nature is far superior to any of them"(50).
Hence, the Liturgy and popular piety are two forms of worship which are
in mutual and fruitful relationship with each other. In this relationship,
however, the Liturgy remains the primary reference point so as "clearly
and prudently to channel the yearnings of prayer and the charismatic life"(51)
which are found in popular piety. For its part, popular piety, because of
its symbolic and expressive qualities, can often provide the Liturgy with
important insights for inculturation and stimulate an effective dynamic
Importance of Formation
59. In the light of the foregoing, it would seem that the formation of
both clergy and laity affords a means of resolving many of the reasons
underlying the imbalances between the Liturgy and popular piety. Together
with the necessary formation in Liturgy, which is a long-term process,
provision should also be made to complement it by re-discovering and
exploring formation in popular piety(53), especially in view of the latter's
importance for the enrichment of the spiritual life(54).
Since "the spiritual life...is not limited solely to participation
in the liturgy"(55), restricting the formation of those involved in
assisting spiritual growth exclusively to the Liturgy seems inadequate.
Moreover, liturgical action, often reduced to participation at the
Eucharist, cannot permeate a life lacking in personal prayer or in those
qualities communicated by the traditional devotional forms of the
Christian people. Current interest in oriental "religious"
practices, under various guises, clearly indicates a quest for a
spirituality of life, suffering, and sharing. The post-conciliar
generation—depending on the country—often has never experienced the
devotional practices of previous generations. Clearly, catechesis and
educational efforts cannot overlook the patrimony of popular piety when
proposing models for the spiritual life, especially those pious exercises
commended by the Church's Magisterium.
LITURGY AND POPULAR PIETY
60. Reference has already been made to the Magisterium of the Second
Vatican Council, and to that of the Roman Pontiffs and the bishops, on the
subject of popular piety(56). At this point, it seems opportune to provide
an organized synthesis of this material so as to facilitate a common
doctrinal orientation for popular piety and to encourage a consistent
pastoral approach to it.
Values in Popular Piety
61. Popular piety, according to the Magisterium, is a living reality in
and of the Church. Its source is the constant presence of the Spirit of
God in the ecclesial community; the mystery of Christ Our Saviour is its
reference point, the glory of God and the salvation of man its object, its
historical moment "the joyous encounter of the work of evangelisation
and culture"(57). On several occasions, the Magisterium has expressed
its esteem for popular piety and its various manifestations, admonishing
those who ignore it, or overlook it, or even distain it, to adopt a more
positive attitude towards it, taking due note of its many values(58).
Indeed, the Magisterium sees popular piety as "a true treasure of the
People of God"(59).
The Magisterium's esteem for popular piety is principally motivated by
the values which it incorporates.
Popular piety has an innate sense of the sacred and the transcendent,
manifests a genuine thirst for God and "an acute sense of God's
deepest attributes: fatherhood, providence, constant and loving presence",(60)
The documents of the Magisterium highlight certain interior dispositions
and virtues particularly consonant with popular piety and which, in turn,
are prompted and nourished by it: patience and "Christian resignation
in the face of irremediable situations"(62); trusting abandonment to
God; the capacity to bear sufferings and to perceive "the cross in
everyday life"(63); a genuine desire to please the Lord and to do
reparation and penance for the offences offered to Him; detachment from
material things; solidarity with, and openness to, others; "a sense
of friendliness, charity and family unity"(64).
62. Popular piety can easily direct its attention to the Son of God who,
for love of mankind, became a poor, small child, born of a simple humble
woman. Likewise, it has a particular sensibility for the mystery of
Passion and death of Christ(65).
Contemplation of the mystery of the afterlife is an important feature of
popular piety, as is its interest in communion with the Saints in Heaven,
the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Angels, and suffrage for the souls of the
63. That harmonious fusion or the Gospel message with a particular
culture, which is often found in popular piety, is a further reason for
the Magisterium's esteem of popular piety. In genuine forms of popular
piety, the Gospel message assimilates expressive forms particular to a
given culture while also permeating the consciousness of that culture with
the content of the Gospel, and its idea of life and death, and of man's
freedom, mission and destiny.
The transmission of this cultural heritage from father to son, from
generation to generation, also implies the transmission of Christian
principles. In some cases, this fusion goes so deep that elements proper
to the Christian faith become integral elements of the cultural identity
of particular nations(66). Devotion to the Mother of the God would be an
example of this.
64. The Magisterium also highlights the importance of popular piety for
the faith-life of the People of God, for the conservation of the faith
itself and in inspiring new efforts at evangelization.
It is impossible to overlook "those devotions practised in certain
regions by the faithful with fervour and a moving purity of intention"(67);
that authentic popular piety "in virtue of its essentially Catholic
roots, is an antidote to the sects and a guarantee of fidelity to the
message of salvation"(68); that popular piety has been a providential
means of preserving the faith in situations where Christians have been
deprived of pastoral care; that in areas in which evangelization has been
deficient, "the people for the most part express their faith
primarily through popular piety"(69); that popular piety is an important
and indispensable "starting point in deepening the faith of the
people and in bringing it to maturity"(70).
Deviations in Popular Piety
64. While the Magisterium highlights the undeniable qualities of popular
piety, it does not hesitate to point out dangers which can affect it: lack
of a sufficient number of Christian elements such as the salvific
significance of the Resurrection of Christ, an awareness of belonging to
the Church, the person and action of the Holy Spirit; a disproportionate
interest between the Saints and the absolute sovereignty of Jesus Christ
and his mysteries; lack of direct contact with Sacred Scripture; isolation
from the Church's sacramental life; a dichotomy between worship and the
duties of Christian life; a utilitarian view of some forms of popular
piety; the use of "signs, gestures and formulae, which sometimes become
excessively important or even theatrical"(71); and in certain instances,
the risk of "promoting sects, or even superstition, magic, fatalism or
65. In its attempts to remedy such defects in popular piety, the
contemporary Magisterium has insistently stressed the need to "evangelize"
popular piety(73), and sees it in relation to the Gospel which "will
progressively free it from its defects; purify it, consolidate it and
clarify that which is ambiguous by referring it of the contents of faith,
hope and charity"(74).
Pastoral sensibility recommends that the work of "evangelizing" popular
piety should proceed patiently, tolerantly, and with great prudence,
following the methodology adopted by the Church throughout the centuries
in matters relating to inculturation of the Christian faith, the Sacred
Liturgy(75) and those inherent in popular piety.
The Subject of Popular Piety
67. The Church's Magisterium, mindful that "the spiritual life...is not
limited solely to participation in the liturgy" and that "the
Christian...must enter into his bedroom to pray to his Father in secret",
indeed, "according to the teaching of the apostle, he must pray without
ceasing"(76), holds that the subject of the various forms of prayer is
every Christian—clerics, religious and laity—both privately when moved
by the Spirit of Christ, and when praying with the community in groups of
different origins and types(77).
68. Pope John Paul II has shown how the family can be a subject of
popular piety. The exhortation Familiaris Consortio, having
praised the family as the domestic sanctuary of the Church, emphasizes
that "as preparation for worship celebrated in church(78), and as its
prolongation in the home, the Christian family makes use of prayer, which
presents a variety of forms. While this variety testifies to the
extraordinary riches with which the Spirit vivifies Christian prayer, it
serves also the various needs and life situations of those who turn to the
Lord in prayer". It also observes that "apart from morning and evening
prayers, certain prayers are to be expressly encouraged,[...] such as
reading and meditating on the word of God, preparation for the reception
of the sacraments, devotion and consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
the various forms of the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, grace
before and after meals, and observance of popular devotions"(79).
69. Equally important subjects of popular piety are the confraternities
and other pious associations of the faithful. In addition to their
charitable and social endeavours, they have an institutional commitment to
foster Christian cult, in relation to the Trinity, to Christ in his
mysteries, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to the Angels and Saints, in
relation to the Beati, and in promoting suffrage for the souls of the
The Confraternities often observe, side by side with the liturgical
calendar, their own proper calendars which indicate particular feasts,
offices, novenas, septenaria, tridua, penitential days, processions,
pilgrimages, and those days on which specific works of mercy are to be
done. They also have their own devotional books and insignia such as
medals, habits, cinctures, and even their own places of worship and
The Church recognizes the confraternities and grants juridical
personality to them(80), approves their statutes and fosters their cultic
ends and activities. They should, however, avoid conflict and isolation by
prudent involvement in parochial and diocesan life.
70. Pious exercises are typical expressions of popular piety. In origin
and content, in language and style, in usage and subject, they greatly
differ among each other. The Second Vatican Council gave consideration to
pious exercises, reiterating that they were highly to be recommended(81),
and indicated those criteria which authenticate their legitimacy and
71. In the light of the nature and of the characteristics proper to
Christian worship, pious exercises, clearly must conform to the doctrine,
legal discipline and norms of the Church(82). Moreover, they should be in
harmony with the Sacred Liturgy, take into account the seasons of the
liturgical calendar, in so far as possible, and encourage "conscious
active participation in the prayer of the Church"(83).
72. Pious exercises are part of Christian worship. The Church has always
been attentive to ensure that God is glorified worthily through them, and
that man derives spiritual benefit from them and is encouraged to the live
the Christian life.
The actions of Pastors in relation to pious exercises have been many.
They have recommended and encouraged them, or guided and corrected them or
simply tolerated them. Among the myriad of pious exercises, some must be
mentioned, especially those erected by the Apostolic See, or which have
been recommended by the same Apostolic See throughout the ages(84).
Mention must also be made of the pious exercises of the particular
Churches "that are undertaken by order of the bishops according to customs
or books lawfully approved"(85); of the pious exercises that are practised
in accordance with the particular law or tradition of certain religious
families, or confraternities, or other pious associations of the faithful,
since such have often received the explicit approbation of the Church; and
of the pious exercises practised personally or in the home.
Some pious exercises which grew up among the community of the faithful
and have received the approbation of the Magisterium(86), also enjoy the
concession of indulgences(87).
Liturgy and Pious Exercises
73. The Church's teaching on the relationship of Liturgy and pious
exercises may be summarized as follows: the Sacred Liturgy, in virtue of
its very nature, is by far superior to pious exercises(88), and hence
pastoral praxis must always accord to the Sacred Liturgy "that preeminent
position proper to it in relation to pious exercises"(89); Liturgy and
pious exercises must co-exist in accordance with the hierarchy of values
and the nature specific to both of these cultic expressions(90).
74. Careful attention to these principles should lead to a real effort
to harmonize, in so far as possible, pious exercises with the rhythm and
demands of the Liturgy, thereby avoiding any "mixture or admixture of
these two forms of piety"(91). This in turn ensures that no hybrid, or
confused forms emerge from mixing Liturgy and pious exercises, not that
the latter, contrary to the mind of the Church, are eliminated, often
leaving an unfilled void to the great detriment of the faithful(92).
General Principles for the Renewal of Pious Exercises
75. The Apostolic See has not failed to indicate those theological,
pastoral, historical, and literary principles by which a renewal of pious
exercises is to be effected(93). It has also signalled the manner in which
they should reflect a biblical and liturgical spirit, as well as an
ecumenical one. The criteria established by the Holy See emphasize how the
essential nucleus of the various pious exercises is to be identified by
means of an historical investigation, and also reflect something of
contemporary spirituality. Pious exercises are also required to take due
account of the implications of a healthy anthropology. They should respect
the culture and expressive style of the peoples who use them without,
however, losing those traditional elements that are rooted in popular
EVALUATION AND RENEWAL
OF POPULAR PIETY
The Life of Worship: Communion with the Father, Through
Christ, in the Holy Spirit
76. In the history or revelation, man's salvation is constantly
presented as a free gift of God, flowing from His mercy, given in
sovereign freedom and total gratuity. The entire complex of events and
words through which the plan of salvation is revealed and actualized(94),
takes the form of a continuous dialogue between God and man. God takes the
initiative, and man is asked for an attitude of listening in faith, and a
response in "obedience to faith" (Rm 1,5; 16,26).
The Covenant stipulated on Sinai between God and His chosen people (cf
Ex 19-24) is a singularly important event in this salvific dialogue, and
makes the latter a "possession" of the Lord, a "kingdom of
priests and a holy people" (Ex 19, 6). Israel, although not always
faithful to the Covenant, finds in it inspiration and the power to model
its life of God Himself (cf Lk 11,44-45; 19,2), and the content of that
life on His Word.
Israel's worship and prayer are directed towards the commemoration of
the mirabilia Dei, or God's saving interventions in history, so as
to conserve a lively veneration of the events in which God's promises were
realized, since these are the constant point of reference both for
reflection on the faith and for the life of prayer.
77. In accordance with His eternal plan, "at various times in the
past and in various different ways, God spoke to our ancestors through the
prophets, but in our own times, these last days, He has spoken to us
through His Son, the Son that He has appointed to inherit everything and
though whom he made everything there is" ( Heb 1, 1-2). The mystery
of Christ, especially his Passover of death and Resurrection, is the full
and definitive revelation and realization of God's salvific promises.
Since Jesus is the "only Son of God (John 3, 18), he is the one in
whom God has given us all things without reserve" (cf Rm 8, 32; John 3,
16). Hence, the person and works of Christ are the essential reference
point for the faith and prayer life of the people of God. In him we find
the Teacher of truth (cf. Mt 22, 16), the faithful Witness (Ap 1, 5), the
High Priest (cf Heb 4, 14), the Pastor of our souls (cf 1 Pet 2,25), and
the one, perfect Mediator (cf 1 Tim 2, 5; Heb 8, 6; 9, 15; 12, 24).
Through him, man comes to God (cf. John 14, 6), the Church's praise and
supplication rise up to God, and all of divine gifts are given to man.
In Baptism, we are buried with Christ and rise with him (cf Col 2, 12;
Rm 6,4), we are freed from the dominion of the flesh and introduced to
that of the Spirit (cf Rom 8, 9), and we are called to a state of
perfection whose fulness is in Christ (cf. Eph 4, 13). We have a model in
Christ of a life whose every moment was lived in hearing the word of the
Father, and in acceptance of His will. Christ's life is lived as a
constant "fiat" to the will of God: "My food is to do the
will of the one who sent me (John 4, 34).
Christ, therefore, is the perfect model of filial piety and of unceasing
dialogue with the Father. He is the model of the constant quest for that
vital, intimate, and trusting contact with God which enlightens, guides
and directs all of man's life.
78. In the life of communion with the Father, the faithful are guided by
the Spirit (cf. Rm 8, 14) who has been given progressively to transform
them in Christ. He pours out to them "the spirit of adopted sons",
by which they assimilate the filial disposition of Christ (cf. Rm 8,
15-17), and his sentiments (cf. Phil 2,5). He makes present the teaching
of Christ to the faithful (cf. John 14,26; 16, 13-25) so that they may
interpret the events of life in its light. He brings them to a knowledge
of the depths of God (cf. 1 Cor 2, 10) and enables them to transform their
lives into a "holy sacrifice" (Rm 12, 1). He sustains them in
rejection and in the trials that must be faced during the process of
transforming themselves in Christ. The Spirit is given to sustain, nourish
and direct their prayer: "The Spirit too comes to help us in our
weakness. For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the
Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into
words, and God who knows everything in our hearts knows perfectly well
what he means, and that the pleas of the saints expressed by the Spirit
are according to the mind of God" (Rm 8, 26-27).
Christian worship originates in, and draws impetus from the Spirit. That
same worship begins, and is brought to completion, in the Spirit. It can
therefore be concluded that without the Spirit of Christ there can be
neither authentic liturgical worship, nor genuine expressions of popular
79. From the principles already outlines above, popular piety should
always be formed as a moment of the dialogue between God and man, through
Christ in the Holy Spirit. Despite some deficiencies—such as confusion
between God the Father and Jesus Christ—popular piety does bare a
Popular piety, indeed, is especially susceptible to the mystery of God's
paternity and arouses a sense of awe for His goodness, power and wisdom.
It rejoices in the beauty of creation and gives thanks to God for it.
Popular piety can express an awareness of the justice and mercy of God the
Father, and of His care for the poor and lowly, and it can proclaim that
He commends the good and rewards those who live properly and honestly,
while abhorring evil and casting away from Himself those who obstinately
follow the path of hatred, violence, injustice and deceit.
Popular piety can easily concentrate on the person of Christ, Son of God
and Saviour of mankind. It can movingly recount the birth of Christ and
intuit the immense love released by the child Jesus, true God and true
man, a true brother in poverty and persecution from the moment of his
birth. Innumerable scenes from the public life of Christ, the Good
Shepherd who reaches out to sinners and publicans, the Miracle-worker
healing the sick and helping the poor, or the Teacher proclaiming the
truth, can be represented in popular piety. Above all it has the capacity
to contemplate the mysteries of Christ's Passion because in them it can
perceive Christ's boundless love and the extent of his solidarity with
human suffering: Jesus betrayed and abandoned, scourged and crowned with
thorns, crucified between thieves, taken down from the cross and buried in
the earth, and mourned by his friends and disciples.
Popular piety is also consciously aware of the person of the Holy Spirit
in the mystery of God. It professes that "through the Holy Spirit"
the Son of God "became incarnate of Virgin Mary and was made man"(95)
and that the Spirit was poured out to the Apostles at the beginning of the
Church (cf. Acts 2, 1-13). Popular piety is especially conscious that the
power of the Spirit of God, whose seal is placed on all Christians in the
Sacrament of Confirmation, is alive in all of the Church's sacraments;
that baptism is conferred, sins forgiven, and the Holy Eucharist begun "in
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit"; and
that all prayer in the Christian community, and the invocation of divine
blessing on mankind and all creatures, is done in the name of the three
80. Reference to the Most Blessed Trinity, while seminally present in
popular piety, is an element requiring further emphasis. The following
points offer an outline of how that might be done:
The faithful require instruction on the character of Christian
prayer, which is directed to the Father, through the mediation of the
Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The formulae used in popular piety should give greater emphasis to
the person and action of the Holy Spirit. The lack of a "name"
for the Spirit of God and the custom of not representing him
anthropomorphically have contributed to a certain absence of the Holy
Spirit in the texts and formulae of popular piety, while not overlooking
the role of music and gestures in expressing our relationship with the
Holy Spirit. This lacuna, however, can be overcome by the evangelization
of popular piety, as the Magisterium has already recommended on several
It is also necessary for popular piety to emphasize the primary and
basic importance of the Resurrection of Christ. The loving devotion for
the suffering of Christ, often demonstrated by popular piety, should
also be completed by setting it in the context his glorification so as
to give integral expression to the salvific plan of God as revealed in
Christ, and allow for its inextricable link with his Paschal mystery.
Only in this manner can the authentic face of Christianity be seen with
its victory over death and its celebration of him who is "God of
the living and not of the dead" (Mt 22, 32), of Christ, the living
one, who was dead but now lives forever (cf. Ap 1, 28) and of the Spirit
"who is Lord and giver of life"(96).
Finally, devotion to the Passion of Christ should lead the faithful
to a full and conscious participation in the Eucharist, in which the
Body of Christ, sacrificed for our sake (cf. 1 Cor 11, 24) is given as
food; and in which the Blood of Christ, shed on the cross in the new and
eternal Covenant and for the remission of sin, is given to drink. Such
participation has its highest and most significant moment in the
celebration of the Paschal Triduum, apex of the liturgical year, and in
the Sunday celebration of the Sacred Mysteries.
The Church: Worshipping Community
81. The Church, "gathered in the name of the Father, and of the
Son, and of the Holy Spirit"(97), is a worshipping community. By
command of her Lord and Founder, the Church effects many acts of worship
whose object is the glory God and the sanctification of man(98). In
different ways and in different measure, these are all celebrations of the
Paschal Mystery of Christ, and aimed at realizing the divine will to
gather the scattered children [of the Father] into the unity of a single
In her ritual actions, the Church proclaims the Gospel of salvation and
announces the Death and Resurrection of Christ, and actualizes the work of
his salvation in sacred signs. In the Eucharist she celebrates the
memorial of his blessed Passion, his glorious Resurrection, and Ascension.
In the celebration of the other sacraments she draws from the gifts of the
Holy Spirit which flow from the Cross of our Saviour. The Church glorifies
the Father in psalms and hymns for the wonders that He has accomplished in
the death and exaltation of Christ His Son, and supplicates that the
saving mystery of Easter might reach all mankind. With the sacramentals
which have been instituted to assist the faithful at various times and in
various situations, she prays that their activity might be directed and
enlightened by the Spirit of Easter.
82. The celebration of the Liturgy, however, does not exhaust the
Church's divine worship. Following the example and the teaching of the
Lord, the disciples of Christ pray in the seclusion of their rooms (cf. Mt
6, 6), they gather to pray according to forms created by men and women of
great religious experience, who have encouraged the faithful and oriented
their piety towards specific aspects of the mystery of Christ. They also
pray according to structures which have emerged practically spontaneously
from the collective Christian consciousness, in which the demands of
popular culture harmoniously convey the essential data of the Gospel
83. Authentic forms of popular piety are also fruits of the Holy Spirit
and must always be regarded as expressions of the Church's piety. They are
used by the faithful who are in communion with the Church, accept her
faith and who are docile to her discipline of worship. Indeed, many forms
popular piety have been approved and recommended by the Church
84. Popular piety, as an expression of ecclesial piety, is subject to
the general discipline of Christian worship and to the Church's pastoral
authority which exercises a role of discernment and authentification in
relation to it. The Church renews popular piety by placing it in fertile
contact with the revealed Word, tradition and the Sacred Liturgy itself.
On the other hand, expressions of popular piety must always be open to
the "ecclesiological principle" of Christian worship. In this way:
popular piety can have a correct understanding of the relationship
between the particular Church and the universal Church. When popular
piety concentrates on local or immediate issues, it risks closing itself
to universal values and to ecclesiological perspectives;
the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of the Angels and Saints,
and suffrage for the dead, should be set in the vast context of the
relationship between the heavenly Church and the pilgrim Church on
the relationship between ministry and charism should
be properly understood, while the former is necessary for divine
worship, the latter is frequently found in manifestations of popular
Common Priesthood and Popular Piety
85. Through the sacraments of Christian initiation, the faithful become
part of the Church, a prophetic, priestly and royal people called to
worship God in spirit and in truth (cf. John 4, 23). The Church exercises
this task through Christ in the Holy Spirit, not only in the Sacred
Liturgy, especially in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, but also in
other forms of the Christian life, among which are numbered the various
forms of popular piety. The Holy Spirit confers the ability to offer
sacrifices of praise to God, to offer prayer and entreaty to Him, so as to
make of one's life "a living and holy sacrifice, pleasing to God"
(Rm 12, 1; Heb 12, 28).
86. On this priestly basis, popular piety assists the faithful in
persevering in prayer and in praising God the Father, in witnessing to
Christ (cf. Acts 2, 42-47), and in sustaining their vigilance until He
comes again in glory. It also justifies our hope, in the Holy Spirit, of
life eternal (cf. 1 Pet 3, 15) and conserves important aspects of a
specific cultic context, and, in different ways and in varying degrees,
expresses those ecclesial values which arise and develop within the
mystical Body of Christ.
Word of God and Popular Piety
87. The Word of God, as transmitted by Sacred Scripture, as conserved
and proposed by the Magisterium of the Church, and as celebrated in the
Sacred Liturgy, is the privileged and indispensable instrument of the Holy
Spirit in the faithful's worship.
Since the Church is built on, and grows through, listening to the Word
of God, the Christian faithful should acquire a familiarity with Sacred
Scripture and be imbued with its spirit(100), so as to be able to
translate the meaning of popular piety into terms worthy of, and consonant
with, the data of the faith, and render a sense of that devotion that
comes from God, who saves, regenerates and sanctifies.
The Bible offers an inexhaustible source of inspiration to popular
piety, as well as unrivalled forms of prayer and thematic subjects.
Constant reference to Sacred Scripture is also a means and a criterion for
curbing exuberant forms of piety frequently influenced by popular religion
which give rise to ambiguous or even erroneous expressions of piety.
88. Prayer should "accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so
that a dialogue takes place between God and man"(101). Thus, it is
highly recommended that the various forms of popular piety normally
include biblical texts, opportunely chosen and duly provided with a
89. In this respect, the models used in liturgical celebrations can be
most useful, since they always contain a text taken from Sacred Scripture,
variously chosen for different types of celebration. However, since the
different expressions of popular piety already exhibit a legitimate
structural and expressional diversity, the disposition of the various
biblical pericopes need not necessarily be followed in the same ritual
structure with which the Word of God is proclaimed in the Sacred Liturgy.
In any event, the liturgical model can serve as a touch stone for
popular piety, against which a correct scale of values can be developed,
whose first concern is hearing God when He speaks. It encourages popular
piety to discover the harmony between the Old and New Testaments and to
interpret one in the light of the other. From its centuries long
experience, the liturgical model also provides praise-worthy solutions for
the correct application of the biblical message and provides a valid
criterion to judge the authenticity of prayer.
In choosing biblical texts, it is always desirable to take short texts,
that are easily memorized, incisive, and easily understood, even if
difficult to actualize. Certain forms of popular piety, such as the Via
Crucis and the Rosary, encourage the use of Sacred Scripture, which can
easily be related to particular prayers or gestures that have been learned
by heart, especially those biblical passages recounting the life of Christ
which are easily remembered.
Popular Piety and Private Revelation
90. Popular piety has always been interested in extraordinary happenings
and events that are not infrequently connected with private revelations.
While not confined to Marian piety alone, this phenomenon is particularly
involved with "apparitions" and "messages". In this
regard, it is useful to recall what the Catechism of the Catholic Church
says about private revelation: "Throughout the ages, there have been
so-called private revelations, some of which have been recognized by the
authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of
faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ's definitive
Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of
history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium
knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever
constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church"
Inculturation and Popular Piety
91. Popular piety is naturally marked by historical and cultural
factors. The sheer variety of its expressions is an indicator of that
fact. It reflects forms of popular piety that have arisen and been
accepted in many particular Churches throughout the ages, and are a sure
sign of the extent to which the faith has taken root in the hearts of
particular peoples, and of its influence on the daily lives of the
faithful. Indeed, "popular piety is the first and most fundamental
form of the faith's "inculturation", and should be continually
guided and oriented by the Liturgy, which, in its turn, nourishes the
faith though the heart"(103). The encounter between the innovative
dynamism of the Gospel message, and the various elements of a given
culture, is affirmed in popular piety(104).
92. The adaptation or inculturation of a particular pious exercise
should not present special difficulties at the level of language, musical
and artistic forms, or even of adopting certain gestures. While at one
level pious exercises do not concentrate on the essential elements of the
sacramental life, at another, it has to be remembered, they are in many
cases popular in origin and come directly from the people, and have been
formulated in the language of the people, within the framework of the
The fact that pious exercises and devotions express popular sentiment,
does not, however, authorize personalistic or subjective approaches to
this material. With due respect for the competence proper to local
Ordinaries or the Major Superiors of religious orders in cases involving
devotions connected with their Orders, the Conference of Bishops should
decide in matters relating to pious exercises widely diffused in a
particular country or in a vast region.
Great vigilance and a deep sense of discernment are required to ensure
that ideas contrary to the Christian faith, or forms of worship vitiated
by syncretism, are not insinuated into pious exercises though various
forms of language.
It is especially necessary to ensure that those pious exercises
undergoing adaptation or inculturation retain their identity and their
essential characteristics. In this regard, particular attention must
always be given to their historical origin and to the doctrinal and cultic
elements by which they are constituted.
With regard to the question of assuming certain elements from popular
piety in the process of inculturating the Liturgy, reference should be
made to the relative Instruction already published on the subject by this
GUIDELINES FOR THE HARMONIZATION OF POPULAR PIETY
WITH THE LITURGY
93. The following guidelines on the relationship between popular piety
and the Sacred Liturgy are offered to facilitate the translation into
concrete pastoral action of those principles outlined above, so as ensure
consistency and fruitfulness in pastoral activity. While mentioning the
most common pious exercises and devotional practices, the following
exposition does not contain an exhaustive account of every possible local
form of popular piety or devotional practice. Given the affinity of the
material, and the fact that it sometimes falls into categories that are
not clearly defined, some mention will be made of the pastoral care of the
The following exposition contains five chapters:
chapter four, on the question of the Liturgical Year, seen
from the prospect of the desirability of harmonizing its celebrations
with popular piety;
chapter five, on the veneration of the Holy Mother of God,
which occupies a singular position both in the Liturgy and popular
chapter six, on the cult of the Saints and Beati, which also
occupies a significant place in the Liturgy and in the devotion of the
chapter seven, on suffrage for the dead, which occurs in
various forms in the Church's worship;
chapter eight, on shrines and pilgrimages; places and
expressions characteristic of popular piety, and their liturgical
While referring to very diverse situations, and to the multiplicity of
types and forms found in pious exercises, the following text has been
developed in constant reference to a number of fundamental
presuppositions: the superiority of the Liturgy in respect to other forms
of cult(106); the dignity and legitimacy of popular piety(107); the
pastoral need to avoid any opposition between the Liturgy and popular
piety, insurance that their various forms are not confused, so as to
eschew the development of hybrid celebrations(108).
THE LITURGICAL YEAR AND POPULAR
94. The liturgical year is the temporal structure within which the
Church celebrates the holy mysteries of Christ: "From the Incarnation
and the Nativity to the Ascension, to Pentecost and to the wait in joyful
hope for the Lord's coming"(109).
In the liturgical year, "the celebration of the Paschal Mystery
[...] is the most privileged moment in the daily, weekly and annual
celebration of Christian worship"(110). Consequently, the priority of
the Liturgical year over any other devotional form or practice must be
regarded as a touch stone for the relationship between Liturgy and popular
95. Since the "Lord's day" is the "primordial feast"
and "basis and centre of the liturgical year"(111), it cannot be
subordinated to popular piety. Hence, pious exercises whose main
chronological reference point is Sunday, should not be encouraged.
For the pastoral good of the faithful, it is, however, licit to take up
on the Sundays "per annum" those celebrations of the Lord, or in
honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the Saints which occur during the
week and which are particularly significant in popular piety, provided
that they have precedence over Sundays in the tables published with the
Given that popular or cultural traditions can sometimes be invasive of
the Sunday celebration and deprive it of its Christian character, "There
is a need for special pastoral attention to the many situations where
there is a risk that the popular and cultural traditions of a region may
intrude upon the celebration of Sundays and other liturgical feast-days,
mingling the spirit of genuine Christian faith with elements which are
foreign to it and may distort it. In such cases, catechesis and
well-chosen pastoral initiatives need to clarify these situations,
eliminating all that is incompatible with the Gospel of Christ. At the
same time, it should not be forgotten that these traditions C and, by
analogy, some recent cultural initiatives in civil society C often embody
values which are not difficult to integrate with the demands of faith. It
rests with the discernment of Pastors to preserve the genuine values found
in the culture of a particular social context and especially in popular
piety, so that liturgical celebration C above all on Sundays and holy days
C does not suffer but rather may actually benefit".(113)
96. Advent is a time of waiting, conversion and of hope:
waiting—memory of the first, humble coming of the Lord in our mortal
flesh; waiting—supplication for his final, glorious coming as Lord of
History and universal Judge;
conversion, to which the Liturgy at this time often refers quoting
the prophets, especially John the Baptist, "Repent for the kingdom
of heaven is at hand" (Mt 3,2);
joyful hope that the salvation already accomplished by Christ (cf.
Rm 8, 24-25) and the reality of grace in the world, will mature and
reach their fulness, thereby granting us what is promised by faith, and
"we shall become like him for we shall see him as he really is"
97. Popular piety is particularly sensitive to Advent, especially when
seen as the memory of the preparation for the coming of the Messiah. The
Christian people are deeply conscious of the long period of expectation
that preceded the birth of our Saviour. The faithful know that God
sustained Israel's hope in the coming of the Messiah by the prophets.
Popular piety is not unaware of this extraordinary event. Indeed, it is
awestruck at the prospect of the God of glory taking flesh in the womb of
the humble and lowly Virgin Mary. The faithful are particularly sensitive
to the difficulties faced by the Virgin Mary during her pregnancy, and are
deeply moved by the fact that there was no room at the inn for Joseph and
Mary, just as she was about to give birth to the Christ child (cf Lk 2,7).
Various expressions of popular piety connected with Advent have emerged
throughout the centuries. These have sustained the faith of the people,
and from one generation to the next, they have conserved many valuable
aspects of the liturgical season of Advent.
The Advent Wreath
98. Placing four candles on green fronds has become a symbol of Advent
in many Christian homes, especially in the Germanic countries and in North
The Advent wreath, with the progressive lighting of its four candles,
Sunday after Sunday, until the Solemnity of Christmas, is a recollection
of the various stages of salvation history prior to Christ's coming and a
symbol of the prophetic light gradually illuminating the long night prior
to the rising of the Sun of justice (cf. Ml 3,20; Lk 1,78).
99. In many regions, various kinds of processions are held in Advent,
publicly to announce the imminent birth of the Saviour (the "day star"
in some Italian processions), or to represent the journey to Bethlehem of
Joseph and Mary and their search for a place in which Jesus would be born
(the posadas in the Hispanic and Latin American tradition).
The Winter Interstice
100. Advent is celebrated during the Winter interstice in the northern
hemisphere. This indicate a change of seasons and a moment of rest in many
spheres of human endeavour. Popular piety is extremely sensitive to the
vital cycle of nature. While the Winter interstice is celebrated, the seed
lays in the ground waiting for the light and heat of the sun, which begins
its ascent with the Winter solstice, and eventually causes it to
In those areas where popular piety has given rise to the celebration of
the changing season, such expressions should be conserved and used as a
time to pray the Lord, to reflect on the meaning of human work, which is a
collaboration with the creative work of God, a self-realisation of the
person, service to the common good, and an actualization of the plan of
The Blessed Virgin Mary and Advent
The Liturgy frequently celebrates the Blessed Virgin Mary in an
exemplary way during the season of Advent(115). It recalls the women of
the Old Testament who prefigured and prophesied her mission; it exalts her
faith and the humility with which she promptly and totally submitted to
Gods plan of salvation; it highlights her presence in the events of
grace preceding the birth of the Saviour. Popular piety also devotes
particular attention to the Blessed Virgin Mary during Advent, as is
evident from the many pious exercised practised at this time, especially
the novena of the Immaculate Conception and of Christmas.
However, the significance of Advent, "that time which is
particularly apt for the cult of the Mother of God"(116), is such
that it cannot be represented merely as a "Marian month".
In the calendars of the Oriental Churches, the period of preparation for
the celebration of the manifestation (Advent) of divine salvation
(Theophany) in the mysteries of Christmas-Epiphany of the Only Son of God,
is markedly Marian in character. Attention is concentrated on preparation
for the Lord's coming in the Deipara. For the Orientals, all
Marian mysteries are Christological mysteries since they refer to the
mystery of our salvation in Christ. In the Coptic rite, the Lauds of the
Virgin Mary are sung in the Theotokia. Among the Syrians, Advent
is referred to as the Subbara or Annunciation, so as to highlight
its Marian character. The Byzantine Rite prepares for Christmas with a
whole series of Marian feasts and rituals.
102. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which is profoundly
influential among the faithful, is an occasion for many displays of
popular piety and especially for the novena of the Immaculate Conception.
There can be no doubt that the feast of the pure and sinless Conception of
the Virgin Mary, which is a fundamental preparation for the Lord's coming
into the world, harmonizes perfectly with many of the salient themes of
Advent. This feast also makes reference to the long messianic waiting for
the Saviour's birth and recalls events and prophecies from the Old
Testament, which are also used in the Liturgy of Advent.
The novena of the Immaculate Conception, wherever it is celebrated,
should highlight the prophetical texts which begin with Genesis 3,15, and
end in Gabriel's salutation of the one who is "full of grace"
(Lk 1, 31-33).
The approach of Christmas is celebrated throughout the American
continent with many displays of popular piety, centred on the feast of Our
Lady of Guadalupe (12 December), which dispose the faithful to receive the
Saviour at his birth. Mary, who was "intimately united with the birth
of the Church in America, became the radiant Star illuminating the
proclamation of Christ the Saviour to the sons of these nations"(117).
The Christmas Novena
103. The Christmas novena began as a means of communicating the riches
of the Liturgy to the faithful who were unable easily to grasp it. It has
played a very effective role and can continue to play such a role. At the
same time, in current conditions where the faithful have easier access to
the Liturgy, it would seem desirable that vespers from the 17-23 of
December should be more solemn by adopting the use of the "major
antiphons", and by inviting the faithful to participate at the
celebration. Such a celebration, held either before of after which the
popular devotions to which the faithful are particularly attached, would
be an ideal "Christmas novena", in full conformity with the
Liturgy and mindful of the needs of the faithful. Some elements, such as
the homily, the use of incense, and the intercessions, could also be
expanded within the celebration of Vespers.
104. As is well known, in addition to the representations of the crib
found in churches since antiquity, the custom of building cribs in the
home was widely promoted from the thirteenth century, influenced
undoubtedly by St. Francis of Assisi's crib in Greccio. Their preparation,
in which children play a significant role, is an occasion for the members
of the family to come into contact with the mystery of Christmas, as they
gather for a moment of prayer or to read the biblical accounts of the
Popular piety and the spirit of Advent
105. Popular piety, because of its intuitive understanding of the
Christian mystery, can contribute effectively to the conservation of many
of the values of Advent, which are not infrequently threatened by the
commercialization of Christmas and consumer superficiality.
Popular piety perceives that it is impossible to celebrate the Lord's
birth except in an atmosphere of sobriety and joyous simplicity and of
concern for the poor and imarginated. The expectation of the Lord's birth
makes us sensitive to the value of life and the duties to respect and
defend it from conception. Popular piety intuitively understands that it
is not possible coherently to celebrate the birth of him "who saves
his people from their sins" without some effort to overcome sin in
one's own life, while waiting vigilantly for Him who will return at the
end of time.
106. During Christmastide, the Church celebrates the mystery of the
Lord's manifestation: his humble birth in Bethlehem which was made known
to the shepherds, the first of Israel to welcome the Saviour; the Epiphany
to the three wise men who had "come from the East" (Mt 2,1), the
first of the Gentiles who recognised and adored Christ the Messiah in the
child of Bethlehem; the theophany at the river Jordan in which the Father
declares that Jesus is His "well-beloved Son" (Mt 3, 17) at the
outset of his messianic mission; the miracle of Cana in which Jesus "manifested
his glory and his disciples believed in him" (John 2,11).
107. In addition to these celebrations recalling the primary meaning of
Christmas, there are also other celebrations closely connected with the
mystery of the Lord's manifestation: the martyrdom of the Holy Innocents
(28 December) whose blood was shed because of hatred for Jesus and because
of Herod's rejection of his lordship; the memorial of the Holy Name of
Jesus, 13 January; the feast of the Holy Family (Sunday in the octave of
Christmas) celebrating the holy family in which Jesus "grew in wisdom
and grace before God and men" (Lk 2, 52); the solemnity of the 1E
January which recalls the divine, virginal and salvific motherhood of the
Blessed Virgin Mary; and, although outside of Christmastide, the feast of
the Presentation of the Lord (2 February), celebrating the encounter
between the Messiah and his people, represented by Simeon and Anna, and
the prophecy of Simeon.
108. Much of the richness and complexity of the mystery of the Lord's
manifestation is reflected in displays of popular piety, which is
especially sensitive to the childhood of Christ which reveals his love for
us. Popular piety intuitively grasps:
the importance of the "spirituality of gift", which is
proper to Christmas: "a child is born for us, a son is given
to us" (cf. Is 9, 5), a gift expressing the infinite love of God,
who "so loved the world that he gave his only Son" (John 3,
the message of solidarity conveyed by the event of Christmas:
solidarity with sinful man, for whom, in Christ, God became man "for
us men and for our salvation"(118); solidarity with the poor,
because the Son of God who was rich but became poor for your
sake, to make you rich out of your poverty" (2 Cor 8, 9);
the sacredness of human life and the wonderful event that is every
birth, since the Word of life came amongst men and was made visible
through his birth of the Virgin Mary (cf. 1 John 1, 2);
the messianic joy and peace to which man has aspired in every age:
the Angels announce the birth of the Saviour of the world to the
shepherds, the "Prince of Peace (Is 9.5) and proclaim "peace
on earth to men of good will" (Lk 2, 14);
the spirit of simplicity and poverty, humility and trust in God,
suggested by the events surrounding the birth of Christ.
Popular piety, precisely because it can intuit the values inherent in
the mystery of Christ's birth, is called upon to cooperate in preserving
the memory of the manifestation of the Lord, so as to ensure that the
strong religious tradition surrounding Christmas is not secularized by
consumerism or the infiltration of various forms of neopaganism.
109. In the space of time between the first Vespers of Christmas and
Midnight Mass, both the tradition of Christmas carols, which are potent
means of conveying the Christmas message of peace and joy, and popular
piety propose certain forms of payers, differing from country to country,
which should be cherished and, where necessary, made consonant with the
celebration of the Liturgy: These would include:
"live cribs" and the inauguration of the crib in the homes
of the faithful which is an opportunity for family prayer: this prayer
should include a reading of St. Luke's account of the birth of Christ,
the typical Christmas carols, as well as prayers of petition and praise,
especially those of children who are the protagonists in such family
the inauguration of the Christmas tree. This event also offers an
opportunity for family prayer. Apart from its historical origins, the
Christmas tress has become a potent symbol today and is very diffuse
amongst Christians; it evokes both the tree planted in the centre of
Eden (Gen 2, 9), and the tree of the Cross, which lends it a
Christological significance: Christ is the true tree of life, born of
human stock, of the Virgin Mary, the tree which is always green and
productive. In the Nordic countries, the tree is decorated with apples
and hosts. "Gifts" can be added; but among the gifts placed
under the tree, something should be included for the poor since they
belong to every Christian family;
the Christmas supper. The Christian family, which traditionally
blesses the table and gives thanks to the Lord for the gift of food,
performs this ceremony with greater intensity at the Christmas supper
which gives potent concrete expression to the joy of family ties.
110. Where possible, the Church desires that the faithful should prepare
for the celebration of Midnight Mass on the 24 December with the Office of
Readings(119). Where such is not possible, it may be opportune to arrange
a vigil of hymns, readings, and elements drawn from popular piety.
111. At Midnight Mass, an event of major liturgical significance and of
strong resonance in popular piety, the following could be given
at the beginning of Mass, the proclamation of the Saviour's birth
according the formula contained in the Roman Martyrology could be made
the prayer of the faithful should really be universal, and where
appropriate, use several languages; and the poor should always be
remembered in the presentation of the gifts;
at the end of Mass, the faithful could be invited to kiss the image
of the Child Jesus, which is then placed in a crib erected in the church
or somewhere nearby.
The Feast of the Holy Family
112. The feast of the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Sunday in
the Christmas octave) is a festive occasion particularly suitable for the
celebration of rites or moments of prayer proper to the Christian family.
The recollection of Joseph, Mary and Jesus' going up to Jerusalem,
together with other observant Jewish families, for the celebration of the
Passover (cf. Lk 2, 41-42), should normally encourage a positive
acceptance of the pastoral suggestion that all members of the family
attend Mass on this day. This feast day also affords an opportunity for
the renewal of our entrustment to the patronage of the Holy Family of
Nazareth(120); the blessing of children as provided in the ritual(121);
and where opportune, for the renewal of marriage vows taken by the spouses
on their wedding day, and also for the exchange of promises between those
engaged to be married in which they formalize their desire to found a new
Outside of the feast, the faithful have frequent recourse to the Holy
Family of Nazareth in many of life's circumstances: joining the
Association of the Holy Family so as to model their own families on the
Holy Family of Nazareth(123); frequent prayers to entrust themselves to
the patronage of the Holy Family and to obtain assistance at the hour of
The Feast of the Holy Innocents
113. Since the sixth century, on 28 December, the Church has celebrated
the memory of those children killed because of Herod's rage against Christ
(cf. Mt 2, 16-17). Liturgical tradition refers to them as the "Holy
Innocents" and regards them as martyrs. Throughout the centuries
Christian art, poetry and popular piety have enfolded the memory of the "tender
flock of lambs"(125) with sentiments of tenderness and sympathy.
These sentiments are also accompanied by a note of indignation against the
violence with which they were taken from their mothers' arms and killed.
In our own times, children suffer innumerable forms of violence which
threaten their lives, dignity and right to education. On this day, it is
appropriate to recall the vast host of children not yet born who have been
killed under the cover of laws permitting abortion, which is an abominable
crime. Mindful of these specific problems, popular piety in many places
has inspired acts of worship as well as displays of charity which provide
assistance to pregnant mothers, encourage adoption and the promotion of
the education of children.
114. Popular piety has given rise to many pious exercises
connected with 31 December. In many parts of the Western world the end of
the civil year is celebrated on this day. This anniversary affords an
opportunity for the faithful to reflect on "the mystery of time",
which passes quickly and inexorably. Such should give rise to a dual
feeling: of penance and sorrow for the sins committed during the year and
for the lost occasions of grace; and of thanks to God for the graces and
blessings He has given during the past year.
These sentiments have given rise to two pious exercises: prolonged
exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, which afford an opportunity for the
faithful and many religious communities for silent prayer; and the singing
of the Te Deum as an act of community praise and thanksgiving to
God for the graces received from Him as the year draws to a close(126).
In some places, especially in monasteries and in associations of the
faithful with a particular devotion to the Holy Eucharist, 31 December is
marked by a vigil of prayer which concludes with the celebration of the
Holy Mass. Such vigils are to be encouraged and should be celebrated in
harmony with the liturgical content of the Christmas Octave, and not
merely as a reaction to the thoughtless dissipation with which society
celebrates the passage from one year to another, but as a vigil offering
of the new year to the Lord.
The Solemnity of the Holy Mother of God
115. On New Year's Day, the octave day of Christmas, the Church
celebrates the Solemnity of the Holy Mother of God. The divine and
virginal motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a singular salvific
event: for Our Lady it was the foretaste and cause of her extraordinary
glory; for us it is a source of grace and salvation because "through
her we have received the Author of life"(127).
The solemnity of the 1 January, an eminently Marian feast, presents an
excellent opportunity for liturgical piety to encounter popular piety: the
first celebrates this event in a manner proper to it; the second, when
duly catechised, lends joy and happiness to the various expressions of
praise offered to Our Lady on the birth of her divine Son, to deepen our
understanding of many prayers, beginning with that which says: "Holy
Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, sinners".
116. In the West, 1 January is an inaugural day marking the beginning of
the civil year. The faithful are also involved in the celebrations for the
beginning of the new year and exchange "new year" greetings.
However, they should try to lend a Christian understanding to this custom
making of these greetings an expression of popular piety. The faithful,
naturally, realise that the "new year" is placed under the
patronage of the Lord, and in exchanging new year greetings they
implicitly and explicitly place the New Year under the Lord's dominion,
since to him belongs all time (cf. Ap 1, 8; 22,13)(128).
A connection between this consciousness and the popular custom of
singing the Veni Creator Spiritus can easily be made so that on 1
January the faithful can pray that the Spirit may direct their thoughts
and actions, and those of the community during the course of the
117. New year greetings also include an expression of hope for a
peaceful New Year. This has profound biblical, Christological and
incarnational origins. The "quality of peace" has always been
invoked throughout history by all men, and especially during violent and
destructive times of war.
The Holy See shares the profound aspirations of man for peace. Since
1967, 1 January has been designated "world day for peace".
Popular piety has not been oblivious to this initiative of the Holy See.
In the light of the new born Prince of Peace, it reserves this day for
intense prayer for peace, education towards peace and those value
inextricably linked with it, such as liberty, fraternal solidarity, the
dignity of the human person, respect for nature, the right to work, the
sacredness of human life, and the denunciation of injustices which trouble
the conscience of man and threaten peace.
Solemnity of the Lord's Epiphany
118. Many traditions and genuine manifestations of popular piety have
been developed in relation to the Solemnity of the Lord's Epiphany, which
is of ancient origin and rich in spiritual content. Among such forms of
popular piety, mention may be made of :
the solemn proclamation of Easter and the principal dominical
feasts; its revival in many places would be opportune since it served to
make the connection between the Epiphany and Easter, and orientate all
feasts towards the greatest Christian solemnity;
the exchange of "Epiphany gifts", which derives from the
gifts offered to Jesus by the three kings (cf. Mt 2,11) and more
radically from the gift made to mankind by God in the birth of Emmanuel
amongst us (cf. Is 7, 14; 9, 16; Mt 1, 23). It is important, however, to
ensure that the exchange of gifts on the solemnity of the Epiphany
retain a Christian character, indicating that its meaning is
evangelical: hence the gifts offered should be a genuine expression of
popular piety and free from extravagance, luxury, and waste, all of
which are extraneous to the Christian origins of this practice;
the blessing of homes, on whose lentils are inscribed the Cross of
salvation, together with the indication of the year and the initials of
the three wise men (C+M+B), which can also be interpreted to mean Christus
mansionem benedicat, written in blessed chalk; this custom, often
accompanied by processions of children accompanied by their parents,
expresses the blessing of Christ through the intercession of the three
wise men and is an occasion for gathering offerings for charitable and
initiatives in solidarity with those who come from afar; whether
Christian or not, popular piety has encouraged a sense of solidarity and openness;
assistance to the work of evangelisation; the strong missionary
character of the Epiphany has been well understood by popular piety and
many initiatives in support of the missions flourish on 6 January,
especially the "Missionary work of the Holy Child", promoted
by the Apostolic See;
the assignation of Patrons; in many religious communities and
confraternities, patron saints are assigned to the members for the
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
119. Closely connected with the salvific events of the Epiphany are the
mysteries of the Baptism of the Lord and the manifestation of his glory at
the marriage feast of Cana.
Christmastide closes with the Baptism of the Lord. Only in recent times
has the feast been rehabilitated, and hence has not given rise to any
particular displays of popular piety. However, the feast presents an
excellent opportunity for the faithful to be reminded of their rebirth as
children of God in Baptism. The rite of asperges could be
opportunely used at all Masses on this day, and homilies could well
concentrate on the symbols associated with Baptism.
The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord
120. Until 1969, the ancient feast of the presentation of Our Lord(130),
which is of Oriental origin, was known in the West as the feast of the
Purification of Our Lady, and closed the Christmas season, forty days
after the Lord's birth. This feast has for long been associated with many
popular devotional exercises. The faithful:
gladly participate in the processions commemorating the Lord's entry
into the Temple in Jerusalem and his encounter with God, whose house he
had come to for the first time, and then with Simeon and Anna. Such
processions, which in the West had taken the place of licentious pagan
events, always had a penitential character, and were later identified
with the blessing of candles which were carried in procession in honour
of Christ, "the light to enlighten the Gentiles" (Lk 2, 32);
are sensitive to the actions of the Blessed Virgin in presenting her
Son in the Temple, and to her submission to the Law of Moses (Lk 12,
1-8) in the rite of purification; popular piety sees in the rite of
purification the humility of Our Lady and hence, 2 February has long
been regarded as a feast for those in humble service.
121. Popular piety is sensitive to the providential and mysterious event
that is the Conception and birth of new life. Christian mothers can easily
identify with the maternity of Our Lady, the most pure Mother of the Head
of the mystical Body—notwithstanding the notable differences in the
Virgin's unique Conception and birth. These too are mothers in God's plan
and are about to give birth to future members of the Church. From this
intuition and a certain mimesis of the purification of Our Lady,
the rite of purification after birth was developed, some of whose elements
reflect negatively on birth.
The revised Rituale Romanum provides for the blessing of women
both before(131) and after birth(132), this latter only in cases where the
mother could not participate at the baptism of her child.
It is a highly desirable thing for mothers and married couples to ask
for these blessings which should be given in accord with the Church's
prayer: in a communion of faith and charity in prayer so that pregnancy
can be brought to term without difficulty (blessing before birth), and to
give thanks to God for the gift of a child (blessing after birth).
122. In some local Churches, certain elements taken from the Gospel
account of the Presentation of the Lord (Lk 2, 22-40), such as the
obedience of Joseph and Mary to the Law of the Lord, the poverty of the
holy spouses, the virginity of Our Lady, mark out the 2 February as a
special feast for those at the service of the brethren in the various
forms of consecrated life.
123. The feast of 2 February still retains a popular character. It is
necessary, however, that such should reflect the true Christian
significance of the feast. It would not be proper for popular piety in its
celebration of this feast to overlook its Christological significance and
concentrate exclusively on its Marian aspects. The fact that this feast
should be "considered [...] a joint memorial of Son and Mother"(133)
would not support such an inversion. The candles kept by the faithful in
their homes should be seen as a sign of Christ "the light of the
world" and an expression of faith.
124. Lent precedes and prepares for Easter. It is a time to hear the
Word of God, to convert, to prepare for and remember Baptism, to be
reconciled with God and one's neighbour, and of more frequent recourse to
the "arms of Christian penance"(134): prayer, fasting and good
works (cf. Mt 6, 1-6. 16-18).
Popular piety does not easily perceive the mystical aspect of Lent and
does not emphasize any of its great themes or values, such a relationship
between "the sacrament of forty days" and "the sacraments
of Christian initiation", nor the mystery of the "exodus"
which is always present in the lenten journey. Popular piety concentrates
on the mysteries of Christ's humanity, and during Lent the faithful pay
close attention to the Passion and Death of Our Lord.
125. In the Roman Rite, the beginning of the forty days of penance is
marked with the austere symbol of ashes which are used in the Liturgy of
Ash Wednesday. The use of ashes is a survival from an ancient rite
according to which converted sinners submitted themselves to canonical
penance. The act of putting on ashes symbolizes fragility and mortality,
and the need to be redeemed by the mercy of God. Far from being a merely
external act, the Church has retained the use of ashes to symbolize that
attitude of internal penance to which all the baptized are called during
Lent. The faithful who come to receive ashes should be assisted in
perceiving the implicit internal significance of this act, which disposes
them towards conversion and renewed Easter commitment.
Notwithstanding the secularisation of contemporary society, the
Christian faithful, during Lent, are clearly conscious of the need to turn
the mind towards those realities which really count, which require Gospel
commitment and integrity of life which, through self denial of those
things which are superfluous, are translated into good works and
solidarity with the poor and needy.
Those of the faithful who infrequently attend the sacraments of Penance
and the Holy Eucharist should be aware of the long ecclesial tradition
associating the precept of confessing grave sins and receive Holy
Communion at least once during the lenten season, or preferably during
126. The existing divergence between the liturgical idea of Lent and the
outlook of popular piety need not prevent an effective interaction between
Liturgy and popular piety during the forty days of Lent.
An example of such interaction is to be seen in fact that popular piety
often encourages particular observances on certain days, or special
devotional exercises, or apostolic or charitable works which are foreseen
and recommended by the lenten Liturgy. The practice of fasting,
characteristic of the lenten season since antiquity, is an "exercise"
which frees the faithful from earthly concerns so as to discover the life
that comes from above: "Man does not live on bread alone, but on
every word that comes from the mouth of God" (cf. Dt 8,3; Mt 4, 4; Lk
4,4; antiphon for the first Sunday of Lent).
Veneration of the Crucified Christ
127. The journey of Lent ends with the Easter Triduum, initiated by the
celebration of the Coena Domini Mass. During the Triduum, Good
Friday which is dedicated to the celebration of the Lord's Passion, is
eminently suited for the "Adoration of the Holy Cross".
Popular piety tends to anticipate the cultic veneration of the Cross.
Throughout Lent, every Friday is observed, since very ancient times, as a
commemoration of the Lord's Passion and the faithful easily direct their
devotions towards the mystery of the Cross.
They contemplate the crucified Saviour, they sense more easily the great
suffering which Jesus, the Holy and Innocent One, suffered for the
salvation of mankind. They understand his love and the effectiveness of
his redemptive sacrifice.
128. The various and numerous devotions to the crucified Christ acquire
a special significance in those churches dedicated to the mystery of the
Cross or where authentic relics of the true cross are venerated. The "invention
of the Cross" in the early fourth century, and the subsequent
diffusion throughout the Church of particles of the true Cross, gave
notable impulse to devotion to the Cross.
Devotions to the crucified Crist contain many elements usually found in
popular piety: hymns and prayers, acts such as the unveiling and kissing
of the Cross, processions and blessing with the Cross. These can lead to
the development of pious exercises often containing many valuable formal
and material elements.
Devotion to the Cross, however, sometimes requires a certain
enlightenment. The faithful should be taught to place the Cross in its
essential reference to the Resurrection of Christ: the Cross, the empty
tomb, the Death and Resurrection of Crist are indispensable in the Gospel
narrative of God's salvific plan. In the Christian faith, the Cross is an
expression of the triumph of Christ over the powers of darkness. Hence, it
is adorned with precious stones and is a sign of blessing when made upon
one's self, or on others or on objects.
129. The Gospel texts of the Passion are especially detailed. Coupled
with a tendency in popular piety to isolate specific moments of the
narrative, this has induced the faithful to turn their attention to
specific aspects of the Passion of Christ, making of them specific
devotions: devotion to the "Ecce Homo", Christ despised, "crowned
with thorns and clothed in a purple cloak" (John 19, 5), and shown to
the multitude by Pilate; devotion to the five sacred wounds of Christ,
especially to the side of Christ from which flowed blood and water for the
salvation of mankind (John 19, 34); devotion to the instruments of the
Passion, the pillar at which Christ was scourged, the steps of the
Praetorium, the crown of thorns, the nails, the lance that pierced Him;
devotion to the Holy Shroud.
Such expressions of piety, often promoted by persons of great sanctity,
are legitimate. However, in order to avoid excessive fragmentation in
contemplation of the mystery of the Cross, it is always useful to
emphasise the whole event of the Passion, as is the case in biblical and
Reading of the Lord's Passion
130. The Church exhorts the faithful to frequent personal and community
reading of the Word of God. Undoubtedly, the account of the Lord's Passion
is among the most important pastoral passages in the New Testament. Hence,
for the Christian in his last agony, the Ordo untionis informorum
eorumque pastoralis curae suggests the reading of the Lord's Passion
either in its entirety, or at least some pericopes from it(136).
During Lent, especially on Wednesdays and Fridays, love for our
Crucified Saviour should move the Christian community to read the account
of the Lord's Passion. Such reading, which is doctrinally significant,
attracts the attention of the faithful because of its content and because
of its narrative form, and inspires true devotion: repentance for sins,
since the faithful see that Christ died for the sins of the entire human
race, including their own; compassion and solidarity for the Innocent who
was unjustly condemned; gratitude for the infinite love of Jesus for all
the brethren, which was shown by Jesus, the first born Son, in his
Passion; commitment to imitating his example of meekness, patience, mercy,
forgiveness of offenses, abandonment to the Father, which Jesus did
willingly and efficaciously in his Passion.
Outside of the liturgical celebration of the Passion, the Gospel
narrative can be "dramatized", giving the various parts of the
narrative to different persons; or by interspersing it with hymns or
moments of silent reflection.
131. Of all the pious exercises connected with the veneration of the
Cross, none is more popular among the faithful than the Via Crucis.
Through this pious exercise, the faithful movingly follow the final
earthly journey of Christ: from the Mount of Olives, where the Lord, "in
a small estate called Gethsemane" (Mk 14, 32), was taken by anguish
(cf. Lk 22, 44), to Calvary where he was crucified between two thieves
(cf. Lk 23, 33), to the garden where he was placed in freshly hewn tomb
(John 19, 40-42).
The love of the Christian faithful for this devotion is amply attested
by the numerous Via Crucis erected in so many churches, shrines,
cloisters, in the countryside, and on mountain pathways where the various
stations are very evocative.
132. The Via Crucis is a synthesis of various devotions that
have arisen since the high middle ages: the pilgrimage to the Holy Land
during which the faithful devoutly visit the places associated with the
Lord's Passion; devotion to the three falls of Christ under the weight of
the Cross; devotion to "the dolorous journey of Christ" which
consisted in processing from one church to another in memory of Christ's
Passion; devotion to the stations of Christ, those places where Christ
stopped on his journey to Calvary because obliged to do so by his
executioners or exhausted by fatigue, or because moved by compassion to
dialogue with those who were present at his Passion.
In its present form, the Via Crucis, widely promoted by St.
Leonardo da Porto Maurizio (+1751), was approved by the Apostolic See and
indulgenced(137), consists of fourteen stations since the middle of
133. The Via Crucis is a journey made in the Holy Spirit, that divine
fire which burned in the heart of Jesus (cf. Lk 12, 49-50) and brought him
to Calvary. This is a journey well esteemed by the Church since it has
retained a living memory of the words and gestures of the final earthly
days of her Spouse and Lord.
In the Via Crucis, various strands of Christian piety coalesce: the idea
of life being a journey or pilgrimage; as a passage from earthly exile to
our true home in Heaven; the deep desire to be conformed to the Passion of
Christ; the demands of following Christ, which imply that his disciples
must follow behind the Master, daily carrying their own crosses (cf Lk 9,
The Via Crucis is a particularly apt pious exercise for Lent.
134. The following may prove useful suggestions for a fruitful
celebration of the Via Crucis:
the traditional form of the Via Crucis, with its fourteen
stations, is to be retained as the typical form of this pious exercise;
from time to time, however, as the occasion warrants, one or other of
the traditional stations might possibly be substituted with a reflection
on some other aspects of the Gospel account of the journey to Calvary
which are traditionally included in the Stations of the Cross;
alternative forms of the Via Crucis have been approved by
Apostolic See(138) or publicly used by the Roman Pontiff(139): these can
be regarded as genuine forms of the devotion and may be used as occasion
the Via Crucis is a pious devotion connected with the
Passion of Christ; it should conclude, however, in such fashion as to
leave the faithful with a sense of expectation of the resurrection in
faith and hope; following the example of the Via Crucis in
Jerusalem which ends with a station at the Anastasis, the
celebration could end with a commemoration of the Lord's resurrection.
135. Innumerable texts exist for the celebration of the Via Crucis.
Many of them were compiled by pastors who were sincerely interested in
this pious exercise and convinced of its spiritual effectiveness. Texts
have also been provided by lay authors who were known for their exemplary
piety, holiness of life, doctrine and literary qualities.
Bearing in mind whatever instructions might have been established by the
bishops in the matter, the choice of texts for the Via Crucis
should take a count of the condition of those participating in its
celebration and the wise pastoral principle of integrating renewal and
continuity. It is always preferable to choose texts resonant with the
biblical narrative and written in a clear simple style.
The Via Crucis in which hymns, silence, procession and
reflective pauses are wisely integrated in a balanced manner, contribute
significantly to obtaining the spiritual fruits of the pious exercise.
The Via Matris
136. As Christ and Our Lady of Dolours were associated in God's saving
plan (Lk 2, 34-35), so too they are associated in the Liturgy and popular
As Christ was the "man of sorrows" (Is 53, 3) through whom it
pleased God to have "reconciled all things through him and for him,
everything in heaven and everything on earth, when he made peace by his
death on the cross" (Col 1, 20), so too, Mary is "the woman of
sorrows" whom God associated with his Son as mother and participant
in his Passion (socia passionis).
Since the childhood of Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary's life was
entirely lived out under the sign of the sword (cf, Lk 2, 35). Christian
piety has signalled out seven particular incidents of sorrow in her life,
known as the "seven sorrows" of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Modelled on the Via Crucis, the pious exercise of the Via
Matris dolorosae, or simply the Via Matris, developed and was
subsequently approved by the Apostolic See(140). This pious exercise
already existed in embryonic form since the sixteenth century, while its
present form dates from the nineteenth century. Its fundamental intuition
is a reflection on the life of Our Lady from the prophecy of Simeon (cf.
Lk 2, 34-35), to the death and burial of her Son, in terms of a journey in
faith and sorrow: this journey is articulated in seven "stations"
corresponding to the "seven dolours" of the Mother of Our
137. This pious exercise harmonises well with certain themes that are
proper to the lenten season. Since the sorrows of Our Lady are caused by
the rejection of her Son (cf. John 1,11; Lk 2, 1-7; 2, 34-35; 4, 28-29; Mt
26, 47-56; Acts 12, 1-5), the Via Matris constantly and
necessarily refers to the mystery of Christ as the suffering servant (cf.
Is 52, 13-53, 12). It also refers to the mystery of the Church: the
stations of the Via Matris are stages on the journey of faith and
sorrow on which the Virgin Mary has preceded the Church, and in which the
Church journeys until the end of time.
The highest expression of the Via Matris is the Pietà
which has been an inexhaustible source of inspiration for Christian art
since the middles ages.
138. "In Holy Week, the Church celebrates the mysteries of
salvation accomplished by Christ in the last days of the earthly life,
beginning with his messianic entry into Jerusalem"(141).
The people are notably involved in the rites of Holy Week. Many of them
still bear the traces of their origins in popular piety. It has come
about, however, that in the course of the centauries, a form of
celebrative parallelism has arisen in the Rites of Holy Week, resulting in
two cycles each with its own specific character: one is strictly
liturgical, the other is marked by particular pious exercise, especially
This divergence should be oriented towards a correct harmonisation of
the liturgical celebrations and pious exercises. Indeed, the attention and
interest in manifestations of popular piety, traditionally observed among
the people, should lead to a correct appreciation of the liturgical
actions, which are supported by popular piety.
Palms, olive branches and other fronds
139. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, or "Passion Sunday",
which unites the royal splendour of Christ with the proclamation of his
The procession, commemorating Christ's messianic entry into Jerusalem,
is joyous and popular in character. The faithful usually keep palm or
olive branches, or other greenery which have been blessed on Palm Sunday
in their homes or in their work places.
The faithful, however, should be instructed as to the meaning of this
celebration so that they might grasp its significance. They should be
opportunely reminded that the important thing is participation at the
procession and not only the obtaining of palm or olive branches. Palms or
olive branches should not be kept as amulets, or for therapeutic or
magical reasons to dispel evil spirits or to prevent the damage these
cause in the fields or in the homes, all of which can assume a certain
Palms and olive branches are kept in the home as a witness to faith in
Jesus Christ, the messianic king, and in his Paschal Victory.
The Paschal Triduum
140. Every year, the Church celebrates the great mysteries of the
redemption of mankind in the "most sacred triduum of the crucifixion,
burial and resurrection"(143). The Sacred Triduum extends from the
Mass of the Lord's Supper to Vespers on Easter Sunday and is celebrated "in
intimate communion with Christ her Spouse"(144).
Visiting the Altar of Repose
141. Popular piety is particularly sensitive to the adoration of the
Most Blessed Sacrament in the wake of the Mass of the Lord's supper(145).
Because of a long historical process, whose origins are not entirely
clear, the place of repose has traditionally been referred to as a "a
holy sepulchre". The faithful go there to venerate Jesus who was
placed in a tomb following the crucifixion and in which he remained for
some forty hours.
It is necessary to instruct the faithful on the meaning of the
reposition: it is an austere solemn conservation of the Body of Christ for
the community of the faithful which takes part in the liturgy of Good
Friday and for the viaticum of the infirmed(146). It is an invitation to
silent and prolonged adoration of the wondrous sacrament instituted by
Jesus on this day.
In reference to the altar of repose, therefore, the term "sepulchre"
should be avoided, and its decoration should not have any suggestion of a
tomb. The tabernacle on this altar should not be in the form of a tomb or
funerary urn. The Blessed Sacrament should be conserved in a closed
tabernacle and should not be exposed in a monstrance(147).
After midnight on Holy Thursday, the adoration should conclude without
solemnity, since the day of the Lord's Passion has already begun(148).
Good Friday Procession
142. The Church celebrates the redemptive death of Christ on Good
Friday. The Church meditates on the Lord's Passion in the afternoon
liturgical action, in which she prays for the salvation of the word,
adores the Cross and commemorates her very origin in the sacred wound in
Christ's side (cf. John 19, 34)(149).
In addition to the various forms of popular piety on Good Friday such as
the Via Crucis, the passion processions are undoubtedly the most
important. These correspond, after the fashion of popular piety, to the
small procession of friends and disciples who, having taken the body of
Jesus down from the Cross, carried it to the place where there "was a
tomb hewn in the rock in which no one had yet been buried" (Lk 23,
The procession of the "dead Christ" is usually conducted in
austere silence, prayer, and the participation of many of the faithful,
who intuit much of the significance of the Lord's burial.
143. It is necessary, however, to ensure that such manifestations of
popular piety, either by time or the manner in which the faithful are
convoked, do not become a surrogate for the liturgical celebrations of
In the pastoral planning of Good Friday primary attention and maximum
importance must be given to the solemn liturgical action and the faithful
must be brought to realize that no other exercise can objectively
substitute for this liturgical celebration.
Finally, the integration of the "dead Christ" procession with
the solemn liturgical action of Good Friday should be avoided for such
would constitute a distorted celebrative hybrid.
144. In many countries, passion plays take place during Holy Week,
especially on Good Friday. These are often "sacred representations"which
can justly be regarded as pious exercises. Indeed, such sacred
representations have their origins in the Sacred Liturgy. Some of these
plays, which began in the monks' choir, so as to speak, have undergone a
progressive dramatisation that has taken them outside of the church.
In some places, responsibility for the representations of the Lord's
passion has been given over to the Confraternities, whose members have
assumed particular responsibilities to live the Christian life. In such
representations, actors and spectators are involved in a movement of faith
and genuine piety. It is singularly important to ensure that
representations of the Lord's Passion do not deviate from this pure line
of sincere and gratuitous piety, or take on the characteristics of folk
productions, which are not so much manifestations of piety as tourist
In relation to sacred "representations" it is important to
instruct the faithful on the difference between a "representation"
which is commemorative, and the "liturgical actions" which are
anamnesis, or mysterious presence of the redemptive event of the Passion.
Penitential practices leading to self-crucifixion with nails are not to
Our Lady of Dolours
145. Because of its doctrinal and pastoral importance, it is recommended
that "the memorial of Our Lady of Dolours"(150) should be
recalled. Popular piety, following the Gospel account, emphasizes the
association of Mary with the saving Passion her Son (cf, John 19, 25-27;
Lk 2, 34f), and has given rise to many pious exercises, including:
the Planctus Mariae, an intense expression of sorrow, often
accompanied by literary or musical pieces of a very high quality, in
which Our Lady cries not only for the death of her Son, the Innocent,
Holy, and Good One, but also for the errors of his people and the sins
the Ora della Desolata, in which the faithful devoutly keep
vigil with the Mother of Our Lord, in her abandonment and profound
sorrow following the death of her only Son; they contemplate Our Lady as
she receives the dead body of Christ (the Pietà) realizing that
the sorrow of the world for the Lord's death finds expression in Mary;
in her they behold the personification of all mothers throughout the
ages who have mourned the loss of a son. This pious exercise, which in
some parts of Latin America is called El Pésame, should
not be limited merely to the expression of emotion before a sorrowing
mother. Rather, with faith in the resurrection, it should assist in
understanding the greatness of Christ's redemptive love and his Mother's
participation in it.
146. "On Holy Saturday, the Church pauses at the Lord's tomb,
meditating his Passion and Death, his descent into Hell, and, with prayer
and fasting, awaits his resurrection"(151).
Popular piety should not be impervious to the peculiar character of Holy
Saturday. The festive customs and practices connected with this day, on
which the celebration of the Lord's resurrection was once anticipated,
should be reserved for the vigil and for Easter Sunday.
The "Ora della Madre"
147. According to tradition, the entire body of the Church is
represented in Mary: she is the "credentium collectio universa"(152).
Thus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, as she waits near the Lord's tomb, as she
is represented in Christian tradition, is an icon of the Virgin Church
keeping vigil at the tomb of her Spouse while awaiting the celebration of
The pious exercise of the Ora di Maria is inspired by this
intuition of the relationship between the Virgin Mary and the Church:
while the body of her Son lays in the tomb and his soul has descended to
the dead to announce liberation from the shadow of darkness to his
ancestors, the Blessed Virgin Mary, foreshadowing and representing the
Church, awaits, in faith, the victorious triumph of her Son over death.
148. Easter Sunday, the greatest solemnity in the liturgical year, is
often associated with many displays of popular piety: these are all cultic
expressions which proclaim the new and glorious condition of the risen
Christ, and the divine power released from his triumph over sin and death.
The Risen Christ meets his Mother
149. Popular piety intuits a constancy in the relationship between
Christ and his mother: in suffering and death and in the joy of the
The liturgical affirmation that God replenished the Blessed Virgin Mary
with joy in the resurrection of her Son(153), has been translated and
represented, so as to speak, in the pious exercise of the meeting of
the Risen Christ with His Mother: on Easter morning two processions,
one bearing the image of Our Lady of Dolours, the other that of the Risen
Christ, meet each other so as to show that Our Lady was the first, and
full participant in the mystery of the Lord's resurrection.
What has already been said in relation to the processions of "the
dead Christ" also applies to this pious exercise: the observance of
the pious exercise should not acquire greater importance than the
liturgical celebration of Easter Sunday nor occasion inappropriate mixing
of liturgical expressions with those of popular piety(154).
Blessing of the Family Table
150. The Easter liturgy is permeated by a sense of newness: nature has
been renewed, since Easter coincides with Spring in the Northern
hemisphere; fire and water have been renewed; Christian hearts have been
renewed through the Sacrament of Penance, and, where possible, through
administration of the Sacraments of Christian initiation; the Eucharist is
renewed, so as to speak: these are signs and sign-realities of the new
life begun by Christ in the resurrection.
Among the pious exercises connected with Easter Sunday, mention must be
made of the traditional blessing of eggs, the symbol of life, and the
blessing of the family table; this latter, which is a daily habit in many
Christian families that should be encouraged(155), is particularly
important on Easter Sunday: the head of the household or some other member
of the household, blesses the festive meal with Easter water which is
brought by the faithful from the Easter Vigil.
Visit to the Mother of the Risen Christ
151. At the conclusion of the Easter Vigil, or following the Second
Vespers of Easter, a short pious exercise is kept in many places: flowers
are blessed and distributed to the faithful as a sign of Easter joy. Some
are brought to the image of Our Lady of Dolours, which is then crowned, as
the Regina Coeli is sung. The faithful, having associated
themselves with the sorrows of the Blessed Virgin in the Lord's Passion
and Death, now rejoice with her in His resurrection.
While this pious exercise should not be incorporated into the liturgical
action, it is completely in harmony with the content of the Paschal
Mystery and is a further example of the manner in which popular piety
grasps the Blessed Virgin Mary's association with the saving work of her
The Annual Blessing of Family Homes
152. The annual blessing of families takes places in their homes during
Eastertide—or at other times of the year. This pastoral practice is
highly recommended to parish priests and to their assistant priests since
it is greatly appreciated by the faithful and affords a precious occasion
to recollect God's constant presence among Christian families. It is also
an opportunity to invite the faithful to live according to the Gospel, and
to exhort parents and children to preserve and promote the mystery of
being "a domestic church"(156).
The Via Lucis
153. A pious exercise called the Via Lucis has developed and
spread to many regions in recent years. Following the model of the Via
Crucis, the faithful process while meditating on the various
appearances of Jesus—from his Resurrection to his Ascension—in which he
showed his glory to the disciples who awaited the coming of the Holy
Spirit (cf. John 14, 26; 16, 13-15; Lk 24, 49), strengthened their faith,
brought to completion his teaching on the Kingdom and more closely defined
the sacramental and hierarchical structure of the Church.
Through the Via Lucis, the faithful recall the central event of
the faith—the resurrection of Christ—and their discipleship in virtue of
Baptism, the paschal sacrament by which they have passed from the darkness
of sin to the bright radiance of the light of grace (cf. Col 1, 13; Ef 5,
For centuries the Via Crucis involved the faithful in the first
moment of the Easter event, namely the Passion, and helped to fixed its
most important aspects in their consciousness. Analogously, the Via
Lucis, when celebrated in fidelity to the Gospel text, can effectively
convey a living understanding to the faithful of the second moment of the
Pascal event, namely the Lord's Resurrection.
The Via Lucis is potentially an excellent pedagogy of the faith,
since "per crucem ad lucem". Using the metaphor of a journey,
the Via Lucis moves from the experience of suffering, which in
God's plan is part of life, to the hope of arriving at man's true end:
liberation, joy and peace which are essentially paschal values.
The Via Lucis is a potential stimulus for the restoration of a "culture
of life" which is open to the hope and certitude offered by faith, in
a society often characterized by a "culture of death", despair
Devotion to the Divine Mercy
154. In connection with the octave of Easter, recent years have
witnessed the development and diffusion of a special devotion to the
Divine Mercy based on the writings of Sr. Faustina Kowalska who was
canonized 30 April 2000. It concentrates on the mercy poured forth in
Christ's death and resurrection, fount of the Holy Spirit who forgives
sins and restores joy at having been redeemed. Since the liturgy of the
Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday—as it is now called(157)—is the natural locus in which to express man's acceptance of the
Redeemer's mercy, the faithful should be taught to understand this
devotion in the light of the liturgical celebrations of these Easter days.
Indeed, "the paschal Christ is the definitive incarnation of mercy,
his living sign which is both historico-salvific and eschatological. At
the same time, the Easter liturgy places the words of the psalm on our
lips: "I shall sing forever of the Lord's mercy" (Ps 89 2)"(158).
The Pentecost Novena
155. The New Testament tells us that during the period between the
Ascension and Pentecost "all...joined in continuous prayer, together
with several women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his
brothers" (Acts 1, 14) while they awaited being "clothed with
the power from on high" (Lk 24, 49). The pious exercise of the
Pentecost novena, widely practised among the faithful, emerged from
prayerful reflection on this salvific event.
Indeed, this novena is already present in the Missal and in the Liturgy
of the Hours, especially in the second vespers of Pentecost: the biblical
and eucological texts, in different ways, recall the disciples'
expectation of the Paraclete. Where possible, the Pentecost novena should
consist of the solemn celebration of vespers. Where such is not possible,
the novena should try to reflect the liturgical themes of the days from
Ascension to the Vigil of Pentecost.
In some places, the week of prayer for the unity Christians is
celebrated at this time(159).
156. Eastertide concludes with Pentecost Sunday, the fiftieth day, and
its commemoration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the apostles
(cf. Acts 2, 1-4), the Church's foundation, and the beginning of its
mission to all nations and peoples. The protracted celebration of the
vigil Mass has a particular importance in cathedrals and some parishes,
since it reflects the intense persevering prayer of the Christian
community in imitation of the Apostles united in prayer with Mother of
The mystery of Pentecost exhorts us to prayer and commitment to mission
and enlightens popular piety which is a "continued sign of the
presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church. He arouses faith, hope and
charity, in the hearts [of the faithful] and those ecclesial virtues which
make popular piety valuable. The same Spirit ennobles the numerous and
varied ways of transmitting the Christian message according to the culture
and customs of all times and places"(161).
The faithful are well used to invoking the Holy Spirit especially when
initiating new undertakings or works or in times of particular
difficulties. Often they use formulas taken from the celebration of
Pentecost (Veni Creator Spiritus, Veni Sancte Spiritus)(162) or short
prayers of supplication (Emitte Spiritum tuum et creabuntur). The
third glorious mystery of the Rosary invites the faithful to meditate on
the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In Confirmation they are conscious of
receiving the Spirit of wisdom and counsel to guide and assist them; the
Spirit of strength and light to help them make important decisions and to
sustain the trials of life. The faithful are also aware that through
Baptism their bodies become temples of the Holy Spirit to be respected and
honoured, even in death, and they know that the body will be raised up on
the last day through the power of the Holy Spirit.
While the Holy Spirit gives access to communion with God in prayer, he
also prompts us towards service of our neighbour by encountering him, by
reconciliation, by witness, by a desire for justice and peace, by renewal
of outlook, by social progress and missionary commitment(163). In some
Christian communities, Pentecost is celebrated as a "day of
intercession for the missions"(164).
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
157. The solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity is celebrated on the Sunday
after Pentecost. With the growth of devotion to the mystery of God in His
Unity and Trinity, John XXII extended the feast of the Holy Trinity to the
entire Latin Church in 1334. During the middle ages, especially during the
carolingian period, devotion to the Blessed Trinity was a highly important
feature of private devotion and inspired several liturgical expressions.
These events were influential in the development of certain pious
In the present context, it would not appear appropriate to mention
specific pious exercises connected with popular devotion to the Blessed
Trinity, "the central mystery of the faith and of the Christian life"(165).
It sufficies to recall that every genuine form of popular piety must
necessarily refer to God, "the all-powerful Father, His only begotten
Son and the Holy Spirit"(166). Such is the mystery of God, as
revealed in Christ and through him. Such have been his manifestations in
salvation history. The history of salvation "is the history of the
revelation of the one true God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who
reconciles and unites to Himself those who have been freed from sin"(167).
Numerous pious exercises have a Trinitarian character or dimension. Most
of them begin with the sign of the cross "in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit", the same formula with which
the disciples of Jesus are baptized (cf. Mt 28, 19), thereby beginning a
life of intimacy with the God, as sons of the Father, brothers of Jesus,
and temples of the Holy Spirit. Other pious exercises use formulas similar
to those found in the Liturgy of the Hours and begin by giving "Glory
to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit". Some pious exercises end with a
blessing given in the name of the three divine Persons. Many of the
prayers used in these pious exercises follow the typical liturgical form
and are addressed to the "Father, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit",
and conserve doxological formulas taken from the Liturgy.
158. Worship, as has been said in the first part of this Directory, is
the dialogue of God with man through Christ in the Holy Spirit(168). A
Trinitarian orientation is therefore an essential element in popular
piety. It should be clear to the faithful that all pious exercises in
honour of the Blessed Virgin May, and of the Angels and Saints have the
Father as their final end, from Whom all thing come and to Whom all things
return; the incarnate, dead and resurrected Son is the only mediator (1Tim
2,5) apart from whom access to the Father is impossible (cf. John 14,6);
the Holy Spirit is the only source of grace and sanctification. It is
important to avoid any concept of "divinity" which is abstract
from the three Divine Persons.
159. Together with the little doxology (Glory be to the Father, and
to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit....) and the great doxology (Glory
be to God in the highest), pious exercises addressed directly to the
Most Blessed Trinity often include formulas such as the biblical Trisagion
(Holy, Holy, Holy) and also its liturgical form (Holy God,
Holy Strong One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us), especially in
the Eastern Churches, in some Western countries as well as among numerous
religious orders and congregations.
The liturgical Trisagion is inspired by liturgical hymns and its
biblical counterpart. Here mention could be made of the Sanctus
used in the celebration of the Mass, the Te Deum, the improperia
of Good Friday's veneration of the Cross, all of which are derived from
Isaiah 6, 3 and Apocalypses 4, 8. The Trisagion is a pious exercise in
which the faithful, united with the Angels, continually glorify God, the
Holy, Powerful and Immortal One, while using expressions of praise drawn
from Scripture and the Liturgy.
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ
160. The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is observe on the
Thursday following on the solemnity of the Most Blessed Trinity. This
feast is both a doctrinal and cultic response to heretical teaching on the
mystery of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and the apogee of
an ardent devotional movement concentrated on the Sacrament of the Altar.
It was extended to the entire Latin Church by Urban IV in 1264.
Popular piety encouraged the process that led to the institution of the
feast of Corpus Christi, which reciprocally inspired the
development of new forms of Eucharistic piety among the people of God.
For centuries, the celebration of Corpus Christi remained the
principal point of popular piety's concentration on the Eucharist. In the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, faith, in reaction to various forms
of protestantism, and culture (art, folklore and literature) coalesced in
developing lively and significant expressions Eucharistic devotion in
161. Eucharistic devotion, which is so deeply rooted in the Christian
faithful, must integrate two basic principles:
the supreme reference point for Eucharistic devotion is the Lord's
Passover; the Pasch as understood by the Fathers, is the feast of
Easter, while the Eucharist is before all else the celebration of
Paschal Mystery or of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ;
all forms of Eucharisit devotion must have an intrinsic reference to
the Eucharistic Sacrifice, or dispose the faithful for its celebration,
or prolong the worship which is essential to that Sacrifice.
Hence, the Rituale Romanum states "The faithful, when
worshipping Christ present in the Sacrament of the Altar, should recall
that this presence comes from the Sacrifice of the Eucharist, and tends
towards sacramental and spiritual communion"(169).
162. The Corpus Christi procession represents the typical form
of an Eucharistic procession. It is a prolongation of the celebration of
the Eucharist: immediately after Mass, the Sacred Host, consecrated during
the Mass, is borne out of the Church for the Christian faithful "to
make public profession of faith and worship of the Most Blessed Sacrament"(170).
The faithful understand and appreciate the values inherent in the
procession: they are aware of being "the People of God",
journeying with the Lord, and proclaiming faith in him who has become
It is necessary however to ensure that the norms governing processions
be observed(171), especially those ensuring respect for the dignity and
reverence of the Blessed Sacrament(172). It is also necessary to ensure
that the typical elements of popular piety accompanying the precession,
such as the decoration of the streets and windows with flowers and the
hymns and prayers used during the procession, truly "lead all to
manifest their faith in Christ, and to give praise to the Lord"(173),
and exclude any forms of competition.
163. The Eucharistic procession is normally concluded by a blessing with
the Blessed Sacrament. In the specific case of the Corpus Christi
procession, the solemn blessing with the Blessed Sacrament concludes the
entire celebration: the usual blessing by the priest is replaced by the
blessing with the Blessed Sacrament.
It is important that the faithful understand that this blessing is not
an independent form of Eucharistic piety, but the end of a prolonged act
of worship. Hence, liturgical norms prohibit "exposition of the
Blessed Sacrament for the purpose of giving the blessing"(174).
164. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is a form of Eucharistic cult
which is particularly widespread in the Church and earnestly recommended
to her Pastors and faithful. Its initial form derives from Holy Thursday
and the altar of repose, following the celebration of the Coena Domini
Mass. This adoration is a most apt way of expressing the connection
between the celebration of the memorial of the Lord's Sacrifice and his
continued presence in the Sacrament of the Altar. The reservation of the
Sacred Species, so as to be able to administer Viaticum to the sick at any
time, encouraged the practice among the faithful of recollection before
the tabernacle and to worship Christ present in the Sacrament(175).
Indeed, this worship of adoration has a sound and firm foundation,"
 especially since faith in the Lord's real presence has as its
natural consequence the outward and public manifestation of that belief.
Therefore, the devotion prompting the faithful to visit the blessed
sacrament draws them into an ever deeper share in the paschal mystery and
leads them to respond gratefully to the gift of him who through his
humanity constantly pours divine life into the members of his Body. 
Abiding with Christ the Lord, they enjoy his intimate friendship and pour
out their hearts before him for themselves and for those dear to them and
they pray for the peace and salvation of the world. Offering their entire
lives with Christ to the Father in the Holy Spirit, they derive from this
sublime colloquy an increase of faith, hope, and charity. Thus they foster
those right dispositions that enable them with due devotion to celebrate
the memorial of the Lord and receive frequently the bread given us by the
165. In adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, which can take different
forms, several elements deriving from the Liturgy and from popular piety
come together and it is not always easy to determine their limits(177):
a simple visit to the Blessed Sacrament: a brief encounter with
Christ inspired by faith in the real presence and characterized by
adoration of the Blessed Sacrament exposed for a period of time in a
monstrance or pyx in accordance with liturgical norm(178);
perpetual adoration or the Quarantore, involving an entire
religious community, or Eucharistic association, or parish, which is
usually an occasion for various expressions of Eucharistic piety(179).
The faithful should be encouraged to read the Scriptures during these
periods of adoration, since they afford an unrivalled source of prayer.
Suitable hymns and canticles based on those of the Liturgy of the Hours
and the liturgical seasons could also be encouraged, as well as periods of
silent prayer and reflection. Gradually, the faithful should be encouraged
not to do other devotional exercises during exposition of the Blessed
Sacrament(180). Given the close relationship between Christ and Our Lady,
the rosary can always be of assistance in giving prayer a Christological
orientation, since it contains meditation of the Incarnation and the
The Sacred Heart of Jesus
166. The Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on
the Friday following the second Sunday after Pentecost. In addition to the
liturgical celebration, many devotional exercises are connected with the
Sacred Heart of Jesus. Of all devotions, devotion to the Sacred Heart was,
and remains, one of the most widespread and popular in the Church.
Understood in the light of the Scriptures, the term "Sacred Heart
of Jesus" denotes the entire mystery of Christ, the totality of his
being, and his person considered in its most intimate essential: Son of
God, uncreated wisdom; infinite charity, principal of the salvation and
sanctification of mankind. The "Sacred Heart" is Christ, the
Word Incarnate, Saviour, intrinsically containing, in the Spirit, an
infinite divine-human love for the Father and for his brothers.
167. The Roman Pontiffs have frequently averted to the scriptural basis
of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus(182).
Jesus, who is one with the Father (cf. John 10, 30), invites his
disciples to live in close communion with him, to model their lives on him
and on his teaching. He, in turn, reveals himself as "meek and humble
of heart" (Mt 11, 29). It can be said that, in a certain sense,
devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a cultic form of the prophetic
and evangelic gaze of all Christians on him who was pierced (cf. John 19,
37; Zac 12, 10), the gaze of all Christians on the side of Christ,
transfixed by a lance, and from which flowed blood and water (cf. John 19,
34), symbols of the "wondrous sacrament of the Church"(183).
The Gospel of St. John recounts the showing of the Lord's hands and his
side to the disciples (cf. John 20,20), and of his invitation to Thomas to
put his hand into his side (cf. John 20, 27). This event has also had a
notable influence on the origin and development of the Church's devotion
to the Sacred Heart.
168. These and other texts present Christ as the paschal Lamb,
victorious and slain (cf. Apoc 5,6). They were objects of much reflection
by the Fathers who unveiled their doctrinal richness. They invited the
faithful to penetrate the mysteries of Christ by contemplating the wound
opened in his side. Augustine writes: "Access is possible: Christ is
the door. It was opened for you when his side was opened by the lance.
Remember what flowed out from his side: thus, choose where you want to
enter Christ. From the side of Christ as he hung dying upon the Cross
there flowed out blood and water, when it was pierced by a lance. Your
purification is in that water, your redemption is in that blood"(184).
169. Devotion to the Sacred Heart was particularly strong during the
middle ages. Many renowned for the learning and holiness developed and
encouraged the devotion, among them St. Bernard (+1153), St. Bonaventure
(+ 1274), the mystic St. Lutgarda (+1246), St Mathilda of Marburg (+
1282), the sainted sisters Mathilda (+ 1299) and Gertrude (+ 1302) of the
monastery of Helfta, and Ludolf of Saxony (+1380). These perceived in the
Sacred Heart a "refuge" in which to recover, the seat of mercy,
the encounter with him who is the source of the Lord's infinite love, the
fount from which flows the Holy Spirit, the promised land, and true
170. In the modern period devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
underwent new developments. At a time when Jansenism proclaimed the
rigours of divine justice, the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
served as a useful antidote and aroused in the faithful a love for Our
Lord and a trust in his infinite mercy symbolized by his Heart. St.
Francis de Sales (+ 1622) adopted humility, gentleness (cf. Mt 11, 29) and
tender loving mercy, all aspects of the Sacred Heart, as a model for his
life and apostolate. The Lord frequently manifested the abundant mercy of
his Heart to St. Margaret Mary (+ 1690); St. John Eudes (+ 1680) promoted
the liturgical cult of the Sacred Heart, while St. Claude de la Colombière
(+ 1682) and St. John Bosco (+ 1888) and other saints were avid promoters
of devotion to the Sacred Heart.
171. Devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus are numerous. Some have been
explicitly approved and frequently recommended by the Apostolic See. Among
these, mention should be made of the following:
personal consecration, described by Pius XI as "undoubtedly the
principal devotional practice used in relation to the Sacred Heart"(185);
family consecration to the Sacred Heart, in which the family, by
virtue of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony already participating in the
mystery of the unity and love of Christ for the Church, is dedicated to
Christ so that he might reign in the hearts of all its members(186);
the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, approved for the whole
Church in 1891, which is evidently biblical in character and to which
many indulgences have been attached;
the act of reparation, a prayer with which the faithful, mindful of
the infinite goodness of Christ, implore mercy for the offences
committed in so many ways against his Sacred Heart(187);
the pious practice of the first Fridays of the month which derives
from the "great promises" made by Jesus to St. Margaret Mary.
At a time when sacramental communion was very rare among the faithful,
the first Friday devotion contributed significantly to a renewed use of
the Sacraments of Penance and of the Holy Eucharist. In our own times,
the devotion to the first Fridays, even if practised correctly, may not
always lead to the desired spiritual fruits. Hence, the faithful require
constant instruction so that any reduction of the practice to mere
credulity, is avoided and an active faith encouraged so that the
faithful may undertake their commitment to the Gospel correctly in their
lives. They should also be reminded of the absolute preeminence of
Sunday, the "primordial feast"(188), which should be marked by
the full participation of the faithful at the celebration of the Holy
172. Devotion to the Sacred Heart is a wonderful historical expression
of the Church's piety for Christ, her Spouse and Lord: it calls for a
fundamental attitude of conversion and reparation, of love and gratitude,
apostolic commitment and dedication to Christ and his saving work. For
these reasons, the devotion is recommended and its renewal encouraged by
the Holy See and by the Bishops. Such renewal touches on the devotion's
linguistic and iconographic expressions; on consciousness of its biblical
origins and its connection with the great mysteries of the faith; on
affirming the primacy of the love of God and neighbour as the essential
content of the devotion itself.
173. Popular piety tends to associate a devotion with its iconographic
expression. This is a normal and positive phenomenon. Inconveniences can
sometimes arise: iconographic expressions that no longer respond to the
artistic taste of the people can sometimes lead to a diminished
appreciation of the devotion's object, independently of its theological
basis and its historico-salvific content.
This can sometimes arise with devotion to the Sacred Heart: perhaps
certain over sentimental images which are incapable of giving expression
to the devotion's robust theological content or which do not encourage the
faithful to approach the mystery of the Sacred Heart of our Saviour.
Recent time have seen the development of images representing the Sacred
Heart of Jesus at the moment of crucifixion which is the highest
expression of the love of Christ. The Sacred Heart is Christ crucified,
his side pierced by the lance, with blood and water flowing from it (cf,
John 19, 34).
The Immaculate Heart of Mary
174. The Church celebrates the liturgical memorial of the Immaculate
Heart of Mary the day after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The contiguity of both celebrations is in itself a liturgical sign of
their close connection: the mysterium of the Heart of Jesus is
projected onto and reverberates in the Heart of His Mother, who is also
one of his followers and a disciple. As the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart
celebrates the salvific mysteries of Christ in a synthetic manner by
reducing them to their fount, the Heart of Jesus, so too the memorial of
the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a celebration of the complex visceral
relationship of Mary with her Son's work of salvation: from the
Incarnation, to his death and resurrection, to the gift of the Holy
Following the apparitions at Fatima in 1917, devotion to the Immaculate
Heart of Mary became very widespread. On the twenty-fifth anniversary of
the apparitions (1942) Pius XII consecrated the Church and the human race
to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and extended the memorial to the entire
In popular piety devotions to the Immaculate Heart of Mary resemble
those of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, while bearing in mind the distance
between Jesus and his Mother: consecration of individuals and families, of
religious communities and nations(189); reparation for sins through
prayer, mortification and alms deeds; the practice of the First Five
With regard to receiving Holy Communion of the Five First Saturdays, the
same as has been said in relation to the Nine First Fridays can be
repeated(190): overestimation of temporal factors should be overcome in
favour of re-contextualization the reception of Holy Communion within the
framework of the Eucharist. This pious practice should be seen as an
opportunity to live intensely the paschal Mystery celebrated in the Holy
Eucharist, as inspired by the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Most Precious Blood of Christ
175. Biblical revelation, both in its figurative stage in the Old
Testament and in its perfect and fulfilled stage in the New Testament,
connects blood very closely with life, and authentically with death,
exodus and the Pasch, with the priesthood and sacrificial cult, with
redemption and the covenant.
The Old Testament figures associated with blood and its redemptive
significance are fulfilled perfectly in Christ, especially in his Passion,
Death and Resurrection. Thus the mystery of the Blood of Christ is to be
found at the very centre of the faith and of our salvation.
The mystery of the Saving Blood of Christ recalls and refers to:
the Incarnation of the Word (cf. John 1, 14) and Christ's becoming a
member of the people of the Old Testament through circumcision (Lk
the Biblical image of the Lamb abounds with implication: "The
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1,29), in
which Isaiah's Suffering Servant image (Is 53) is also to be found,
carries upon himself the sins of mankind (cf Is 53, 4-5); the "Paschal
Lamb", symbol of Israel's redemption (cf. At 8, 31-35; 1 Cor 5, 7;
1 Pet 1, 18-20);
the "chalice of the passion" of which Jesus spoke in
allusion to his imminent redemptive death, when he asked the sons of
Zebede: "Can you drink this chalice that I must drink?" (Mt
20, 22; cf Mk 10, 38) and the chalice of the agony in the garden of
olives (cf Lk 22, 42-43) which was accompanied by th Lord's sweating
blood (cf. Lk 22, 44);
the Eucharistic chalice, under the form of wine, contains the Blood
of the New Covenant poured out for the remission of sins; is a memorial
of the Lord's Pasch (1 Cor 11, 25); and the drink of salvation according
to the Lord's own words: "he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood
shall have life eternal and I shall raise him up on the last day"
(John 6, 54);
the event of the Lord's death, since by pouring out his Blood on the
Cross, Christ reconciled heaven and earth (cf Col 1, 20);
the lance which transfixed the immolated Lamb, from whose open side
flowed blood and water (cf John 19, 34), a sign of the redemption that
had been achieved, and of the sacramental life of the Church—blood and
water, Baptism and Eucharist, symbol of the Church born from the side
of Christ dying on the Cross(191).
176. The Christological titles associated with the Redeemer are
particularly associated with the mystery of the Blood of Christ: Christ
has redeemed us from an ancient slavery by his most precious and innocent
Blood (cf. 1 Pt 1, 19) and "purifies us of sin" (1 John 1, 17);
High Priest "of all blessings to come" since Christ "has
entered the sanctuary once and for all, taking with him not the blood of
goats and bull calves, but his own blood, having won an eternal redemption
for us"; faithful Witness vindicating the blood of the
martyrs (cf Ap 6, 10) "who were slain on account of the word of God,
for witnessing to it" (cf. Aps 6, 9); of King, who as God, "reigns
from the wood of the Cross", which is adorned with the purple of his
own Blood; Spouse and Lamb of God in whose Blood the
members of the Church—the Bride—have washed their garments (cf. Ap 7,
14; Eph 5, 25-27).
177. The extraordinary importance of the saving Blood of Christ has
ensured a central place for its memorial in the celebration of this cultic
mystery: At the centre of the Eucharistic assembly, in which the Church
raises up to God in thanksgiving "the cup of blessing" (1 Cor
10, 16; cf 115-116, 13) and offers it to the faithful as a "real
communion with the Blood of Christ" (1 Cor 10, 16); and throughout
the Liturgical Year. The Church celebrates the saving Blood of Christ not
only on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, but also on many
other occasions, such that the cultic remembrance of the Blood of our
redemption (cf. 1 Pt 1, 18) pervades the entire Liturgical Year. Hence, at
Vespers during Christmastide, the Church, addressing Christ, sings: "Nos
quoque, qui sancto tuo redempti sumus sanguine, ob diem natalis tui hymnum
novum concinimus"(192). In the Paschal Triduum, the redemptive
significance and efficacy of the Blood of Christ is continuously recalled
in adoration. During the adoration of the Cross on Good Friday the Church
sings the hymn: "Mite corpus perforatur, sanguis unde profluit;
terra, pontus, astra, mundus quo lavantur flumine"(193),and again on
Easter Sunday, "Cuius corpus sanctissimum in ara crucis torridum,
sed et cruorem roesum gustando, Deo vivimus"(194).
In Some places and in certain particular calendars, the feast of the
Most Precious Blood of Christ is still observed on 1 July. This feast
recalls the various titles of the Redeemer.
178. The veneration of the Blood of Christ has passed from the Liturgy
into popular piety where it has been widely diffused in numerous forms of
devotional practices. Among these mention can be made of the following:
the Chaplet of the Most Precious Blood, in which the seven "effusions
of the Blood of Christ", implicitly or explicitly mentioned in the
Gospels, are recalled in a series of biblical meditations and devotional
prayers: the Blood of the Circumcision, the Blood of the Garden of
Gethsemane, the Blood of the Flagellation, the Blood of the Crowning of
Thorns, the Blood of the Ascent to Calvary, the Blood flowing from
Christ's side pierced by the lance;
the Litany of the Blood of Christ, which clearly traces the
line of salvation history through a series of biblical references and
passages. In its present form it was approved by the Blessed John XXIII
on 24 February 1960(195);
Adoration of the Most Precious Blood of Christ takes a great
variety of forms, all of which have a common end: adoration and praise
of the Precious Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, thanksgiving for the
gift of Redemption, intercession for mercy and pardon; and offering of
the Precious Blood of Christ for the good of the Church;
the Via Sanguinis: a recently instituted pious devotion,
practised in many Christian communities, whose anthropological and
cultural roots are African. In this devotion, the faithful move from
place to place, as in the Via Crucis, reliving the various
moments in which Christ shed his blood for our salvation.
179. Veneration of the Precious Blood of Christ, shed for our salvation,
and a realization of its immense significance have produced many
iconographical representations which have been approved by the Church.
Among these two types can be identified: those representing the
Eucharistic cup, containing the Blood of the New Covenant, and those
representing the crucified Christ, from whose hands, feet and side flows
the Blood of our Salvation. Sometimes, the Blood flows down copiously over
the earth, representing a torrent of grace cleansing it of sin; such
representations sometimes feature five Angels, each holding a chalice to
collect the Blood flowing from the five wounds of Christ; this task is
sometimes given to a female figure representing the Church, the spouse of
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
180. The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary clearly
stands out in Ordinary Time because of its theological importance. This is
an ancient memorial of the Mother of God, which signifies and synthesises
many of the truths of the faith. Our Lady assumed into Heaven:
is "the highest fruit of the redemption"(196), and a
supreme testimony to the breath and efficacy of Christ's salvific work
is a pledge of the future participation of the members of the
mystical Body of Christ in the paschal glory of the Risen Christ
is for all mankind "the consoling assurance of the coming of
our final hope: that full glorification which is Christ's will also be
that of his brethren, since He is of the "same flesh and blood"
(Heb 2, 14; cf. Gal 4,49)(197) (anthropological aspect);
is the eschatological icon in which the Church joyfully contemplates
"that which she herself desires and hopes wholly to be"(198)
is the guarantee of the Lord's fidelity to his promise: he reserves
a munificent reward for his humble Servant because of her faithful
cooperation with the divine plan, which is a destiny of fulness,
happiness, glorification of her immaculate soul, her virginal body,
perfect configuration to her Risen Son (mariological aspect)(199).
181. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (15 August) is deeply
imbedded in popular piety. In many places the feast is synonymous with the
person of Our Lady, and is simply referred to as "Our Lady's Day"
or as the "Immacolada" in Spain and Latin America.
In the Germanic countries, the custom of blessing herbs is associated
with 15 August. This custom, received into the Rituale Romanum(200),
represents a clear example of the genuine evangelization of pre-Christian
rites and beliefs: one must turn to God, through whose word "the
earth produced vegetation: plants bearing seeds in their several kinds,
and trees bearing fruit with their seed inside in their several kinds"(Gen
1, 12) in order to obtain what was formerly obtained by magic rites; to
stem the damages deriving from poisonous herbs, and benefit from the
efficacy of curative herbs.
This ancient use came to be associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary, in
part because of the biblical images applied to her such as vine, lavender,
cypress and lily, partly from seeing her in terms of a sweet smelling
flower because of her virtue, and most of all because of Isaiah 11, 1, and
his reference to the "shoot springing from the side of Jesse",
which would bear the blessed fruit of Jesus.
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
182. At every celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the Church prays for
unity and peace(201), mindful of the Jesus' prayer. "May they all be
one. Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so
that the world may believe it was you who sent me" (John 17, 21). The
Missale Romanum contains three Masses—among those for various
needs—"for Christian unity". The same intention is remembered
in the intercessions of the Liturgy of the Hours"(202).
In deference to the sensibilities of the "separated brethren"(203),
expressions of popular piety should take into account the principle of
ecumenism(204). Effectively, "change of heart and holiness of life,
along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should
be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and merits the
name 'spiritual ecumenism'"(205). The encounter of Catholics with
Christians from other Churches or ecclesial communities affords a special
occasion for common prayer for the grace of Christian unity, to offer to
God their common anxieties, to give thanks to God and to implore his
assistance. "Common prayer is particularly recommended during the "Week
of Prayer for Christian Unity" or during the period between Ascension
and Pentecost"(206). Prayer for Christian unity also carries several
VENERATION OF THE HOLY MOTHER OF
183. Popular devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is an important and
universal ecclesial phenomenon. Its expressions are multifarious and its
motivation very profound, deriving as it does from the People of God's
faith in, and love for, Christ, the Redeemer of mankind, and from an
awareness of the salvific mission that God entrusted to Mary of Nazareth,
because of which she is mother not only of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ, but also of mankind in the order of grace.
Indeed, "the faithful easily understand the vital link uniting Son
and Mother. They realise that the Son is God and that she, the Mother, is
also their mother. They intuit the immaculate holiness of the Blessed
Virgin Mary, and in venerating her as the glorious queen of Heaven, they
are absolutely certain that she who is full of mercy intercedes for them.
Hence, they confidently have recourse to her patronage. The poorest of the
poor feel especially close to her. They know that she, like them, was
poor, and greatly suffered in meekness and patience. They can identify
with her suffering at the crucifixion and death of her Son, as well as
rejoice with her in his resurrection. The faithful joyfully celebrate her
feasts, make pilgrimage to her sanctuary, sing hymns in her honour, and
make votive offerings to her. They instinctively distrust whoever does not
honour her and will not tolerate those who dishonour her"(208).
The Church exhorts all the faithful—sacred minister, religious and
laity—to develop a personal and community devotion to the Blessed Virgin
Mary through the use of approved and recommended pious exercises(209).
Liturgical worship, notwithstanding its objective and irreplaceable
importance, its exemplary efficacy and normative character, does not in
fact exhaust all the expressive possibilities of the People of God for
devotion to the Holy Mother of God(210).
184. The relationship between the Liturgy and popular Marian piety
should be regulated by the principles and norms already mentioned in this
document(211). In relation to Marian devotion, the Liturgy must be the "exemplary
form"(212), source of inspiration, constant reference point and
ultimate goal of Marian devotion.
185. Here, it will be useful to recall some pronouncements of the
Church's Magisterium on Marian devotions. These should always be adhered
to when elaboration new pious exercises or in revising those already in
use, or simply in activating them in worship(213). The care and attention
of the Pastors of the Church for Marian devotions are due to their
importance, since they are both a fruit and an expression of Marian piety
among the people and the ecclesial community, and a significant means of
promoting the "Marian formation" of the faithful, as well as in
determining the manner in which the piety of the faithful for the Blessed
Virgin Mary is moulded.
186. The fundamental principle of the Magisterium with regard to such
pious exercises is that they should be derivative from the "one
worship which is rightly called Christian, because it efficaciously
originates in Christ, finds full expression in Christ, and through Him, in
the Holy Spirit leads to the Father"(214). Hence, Marian devotions,
in varying degrees and modes, should:
give expression to the Trinitarian note which characterises worship
of the God revealed in the New Testament, the Father, Son and Holy
Spirit; the pneumatological aspect, since every true form of piety comes
from the Spirit and is exercised in the Spirit; the ecclesial character,
in virtue of which the faithful are constituted as the holy people of
God, gathered in prayer in the Lord's name (cf. Mt 18, 20) in the vital
Communion of Saints(215);
have constant recourse to Sacred Scripture, as understood in Sacred
Tradition; not overlook the demands of the ecumenical movement in the
Church's profession of faith; consider the anthropological aspects of
cultic expressions so as to reflect a true concept of man and a valid
response to his needs; highlight the eschatological tension which is
essential to the Gospel message; make clear missionary responsibility
and the duty of bearing witness, which are incumbent on the Lord's
Times of Pious Marian Exercises
Celebration of feast
187. Practically all Marian devotions and pious exercises are in some
way related to the liturgical feasts of the General Calendar of the Roman
Rite or of the particular calendars of dioceses and religious families.
Sometimes, a particular devotion antedates the institution of the feast
(as is the case with the feast of the Holy Rosary), in other instances,
the feast is much more ancient than the devotion (as with the Angelus
Domini). This clearly illustrates the relationship between the Liturgy
and pious exercises, and the manner in which pious exercises find their
culmination in the celebration of the feast. In so far as liturgical, the
feast refers to the history of salvation and celebrates a particular
aspect of the relationship of the Virgin Mary to the mystery of Christ.
The feast, however, must be celebrated in accordance with liturgical norm,
and bear in mind the hierarchal difference between "liturgical acts"
and associated "pious exercises"(217).
It should not be forgotten that a feast of the Blessed Virgin, in so far
as it is popular manifestation, also has important anthropological
implications that cannot be overlooked.
188. Saturdays stand out among those days dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
These are designated as memorials of the Blessed Virgin Mary(218).
This memorial derives from carolingian time (ninth century), but the
reasons for having chosen Saturday for its observance are unknown(219).
While many explanation have been advanced to explain this choice, none is
completely satisfactory from the point of view of the history of popular
Prescinding from its historical origins, today the memorial rightly
emphasizes certain values "to which contemporary spirituality is more
sensitive: it is a remembrance of the maternal example and discipleship of
the Blessed Virgin Mary who, strengthened by faith and hope, on that great
Saturday on which Our Lord lay in the tomb, was the only one of the
disciples to hold vigil in expectation of the Lord's resurrection; it is a
prelude and introduction to the celebration of Sunday, the weekly memorial
of the Resurrection of Christ; it is a sign that the "Virgin Mary is
continuously present and operative in the life of the Church"(221).
Popular piety is also sensitive to the Saturday memorial of the Blessed
Virgin Mary. The statutes of many religious communities and associations
of the faithful prescribe that special devotion be paid to the Holy Mother
of God on Saturdays, sometimes through specified pious exercises composed
precisely for Saturdays(222).
Tridua, Septenaria, Marian Novenas
189. Since it is a significant moment, a feast day is frequently
preceded by a preparatory triduum, septenaria or novena. The "times
and modes of popular piety", however, should always correspond to the
"times and modes of the Liturgy".
Tridua, septenaria, and novenas can be useful not only for honouring the
Blessed Virgin Mary through pious exercises, but also to afford the
faithful an adequate vision of the positions she occupies in the mystery
of Christ and of the Church, as well as the the role she plays in it.
Pious exercises cannot remain indifferent to the results of biblical and
theological research on the Mother of Our Saviour. These should become a
catechetical means diffusing such information, without however altering
their essential nature.
Tridua, septenaria and novenas are truly preparations for the
celebration of the various feast days of Our Lady, especially when they
encourage the faithful to approach the Sacraments of Penance and Holy
Eucharist, and to renew their Christian commitment following the example
of Mary, the first and most perfect disciple of Christ.
In some countries, the faithful gather for prayer on the 13th. of each
month, in honour of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima.
190. With regard to the observance of "Marian months", which
is widespread in the Latin and Oriental Churches(223), a number of
essential points can be mentioned(224).
In the West, the practise of observing months dedicated to the Blessed
Virgin emerged from a context in which the Liturgy was not always regarded
as the normative form of Christian worship. This caused, and continues to
cause, some difficulties at a liturgico-pastoral level that should be
191. In relation to the western custom of observing a "Marian month"
during the month of May (or in November in some parts of the Southern
hemisphere), it would seem opportune to take into account the demands of
the Liturgy, the expectations of the faithful, their maturity in the
faith, in an eventual study of the problems deriving from the "Marian
months" in the overall pastoral activity of the local Church, as
might happen, for example, with any suggestion of abolishing the Marian
observances during the month of May.
In many cases, the solution for such problems would seem to lay in
harmonizing the content of the "Marian months" with the
concomitant season of the Liturgical Year. For example, since the month of
May largely corresponds with the fifty days of Easter, the pious exercises
practised at this time could emphasize Our Lady's participation in the
Paschal mystery (cf. John 19, 25-27), and the Pentecost event (cf, Acts 1,
14) with which the Church begins: Our Lady journeys with the Church having
shared in the novum of the Resurrection, under the guidance of the Holy
Spirit. The fifty days are also a time for the celebration of the
sacraments of Christian initiation and of the mystagogy. The pious
exercises connected with the month of May could easily highlight the
earthly role played by the glorified Queen of Heaven, here and now, in the
celebration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy
The directives of Sacrosanctum Concilium
on the need to orient
the "minds of the faithful...firstly to the feasts of the Lord, in
which, the mysteries of salvation are celebrated during the year"(226),
and with which the Blessed Virgin Mary is certainly associated, should be
Opportune catechesis should remind the faithful that the weekly Sunday
memorial of the Paschal Mystery is "the primordial feast day".
Bearing in mind that the four weeks of Advent are an example of a Marian
time that has been incorporated harmoniously into the Liturgical Year, the
faithful should be assisted in coming to a full appreciation of the
numerous references to the Mother of our Saviour during this particular
Pious Exercises Recommended by the Magisterium
192. This is not the place to reproduce the list of Marian exercises
approved by the Magisterium. Some, however, should be mentioned,
especially the more important ones, so as to make a few suggestions about
their practise and emendation.
Prayerfully Hearing the Word of God
193. The Council's call for the "sacred celebration of the word of
God" at significant moments throughout the Liturgical Year(227), can
easily find useful application in devotional exercises made in honour of
the Mother of the Word Incarnate. This corresponds perfectly with the
orientation of Christian piety(228) and reflects the conviction that it is
already a worthy way to honour the Blessed Virgin Mary, since it involves
acting as she did in relation to the Word of God. She lovingly accepted
the Word and treasured it in her heart, meditated on it in her mind and
spread it with her lips. She faithfully put it into practise and modelled
her life on it(229).
194. "Celebrations of the Word, because of their thematic and
structural content, offer many elements of worship which are at the same
time genuine expressions of devotion and opportunities for a systematic
catechesis on the Blessed Virgin Mary. Experience, however, proves that
celebrations of the Word should not assume a predominantly intellectual or
didactic character. Through hymns, prayers, and participation of the
faithful they should allow for simple and familiar expressions of popular
piety which speak directly to the hearts of the faithful"(230).
195. The Angelus Domini is the traditional form used by the
faithful to commemorate the holy annunciation of the angel Gabriel to
Mary. It is used three times daily: at dawn, mid-day and at dusk. It is a
recollection of the salvific event in which the Word became flesh in the
womb of the Virgin Mary, through the power of the Holy Spirit in
accordance with the salvific plan of the Father.
The recitation of the Angelus is deeply rooted in the piety of
the Christian faithful, and strengthened by the example of the Roman
Pontiffs. In some places changed social conditions hinder its recitation,
but in many other parts every effort should be made to maintain and
promote this pious custom and at least the recitation of three Aves.
The Angelus "over the centuries has conserved its value and
freshness with its simple structure, biblical character [...] quasi
liturgical rhythm by which the various time of the day are sanctified, and
by its openness to the Paschal Mystery"(231).
It is therefore "desirable that on some occasions, especially in
religious communities, in shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, and at
meetings or conventions, the Angelus be solemnly recited by
singing the Ave Maria, proclaiming the Gospel of the Annunciation"(232)
and by the ringing of bells.
196. By disposition of Benedict XIV (2 April 1742), the Angelus
is replaced with the antiphon Regina Coeli during paschaltide.
This antiphon, probably dating from the tenth or eleventh century(233),
happily conjoins the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word (quem
meruisti portare) with the Paschal event (resurrexit sicut dixit).
The ecclesial community addresses this antiphon to Mary for the
Resurrection of her Son. It adverts to, and depends on, the invitation to
joy addressed by Gabriel to the Lord's humble servant who was called to
become the Mother of the saving Messiah (Ave, gratia plena).
As with the Angelus, the recitation of the Regina Coeli
could sometimes take a solemn form by singing the antiphon and proclaiming
the Gospel of the resurrection.
197. The Rosary, or Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is one of the
most excellent prayers to the Mother of God(234). Thus, "the Roman
Pontiffs have repeatedly exhorted the faithful to the frequent recitation
of this biblically inspired prayer which is centred on contemplation of
the salvific events of Christ's life, and their close association with the
his Virgin Mother. The value and efficacy of this prayer have often been
attested by saintly Bishops and those advanced in holiness of life"(235).
The Rosary is essentially a contemplative prayer, which requires "tranquillity
of rhythm or even a mental lingering which encourages the faithful to
meditate on the mysteries of the Lord's life"(236). Its use is
expressly recommended in the formation and spiritual life of clerics and
198. The Blessing for Rosary Beads(238) indicates the Church's
esteem for the Rosary. This rite emphasises the community nature of the
Rosary. In the rite, the blessing of rosary beads is followed by the
blessing of those who meditate on the mysteries of the life, death and
resurrection of Our Lord so as to "establish a perfect harmony
between prayer and life"(239).
As indicated in the Benedictionale, Rosary beads can be blessed
publicly, on occasions such as a pilgrimage to a Marian shrine, a feast of
Our Lady, especially that of the Holy Rosary, and at the end of the month
199. With due regard for the nature of the rosary, some suggestions can
now be made which could make it more proficuous.
On certain occasions, the recitation of the Rosary could be made more
solemn in tone "by introducing those Scriptural passages
corresponding with the various mysteries, some parts could be sung, roles
could be distributed, and by solemnly opening and closing of prayer"(241).
200. Those who recite a third of the Rosary sometimes assign the various
mysteries to particular days: joyful (Monday and Thursday), sorrowful
(Tuesday and Friday), glorious (Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday).
Where this system is rigidly adhere to, conflict can arise between the
content of the mysteries and that of the Liturgy of the day: the
recitation of the sorrowful mysteries on Christmas day, should it fall on
a Friday. In cases such as this it can be reckoned that "the
liturgical character of a given day takes precedence over the usual
assignment of a mystery of the Rosary to a given day; the Rosary is such
that, on particular days, it can appropriately substitute meditation on a
mystery so as to harmonize this pious practice with the liturgical season"(242).
Hence, the faithful act correctly when, for example, they contemplate the
arrival of the three Kings on the Solemnity of the Epiphany, rather than
the finding of Jesus in the Temple. Clearly, such substitutions can only
take place after much careful thought, adherence to Sacred Scripture and
201. The custom of making an insertion in the recitation of the Hail
Mary, which is an ancient one that has not completely disappeared, has
often been recommended by the Pastors of the Church since it encourages
meditation and the concurrence of mind and lips(243).
Insertions of this nature would appear particularly suitable for the
repetitive and meditative character of the Rosary. It takes the form of a
relative clause following the name of Jesus and refers to the mystery
being contemplated. The meditation of the Rosary can be helped by the
choice of a short clause of a Scriptural and Liturgical nature, fixed for
202. "In recommending the value and beauty of the Rosary to the
faithful, care should be taken to avoid discrediting other forms of
prayer, or of overlooking the existence of a diversity of other Marian
chaplets which have also been approved by the Church"(244). It is
also important to avoid inculcating a sense of guilt in those who do not
habitually recite the Rosary: "The Rosary is an excellent prayer, in
regard to which, however, the faithful should feel free to recite it, in
virtue of its inherent beauty"(245).
Litanies of the Blessed Virgin Mary
203. Litanies are to be found among the prayers to the Blessed Virgin
recommended by the Magisterium. These consist in a long series of
invocations of Our Lady, which follow in a uniform rhythm, thereby
creating a stream of prayer characterized by insistent praise and
supplication. The invocations, generally very short, have two parts: the
first of praise (Virgo clemens), the other of supplication (Ora
The liturgical books contain two Marian litanies(246): The Litany of
Loreto, repeatedly recommended by the Roman Pontiffs; and the Litany
for the Coronation of Images of the Blessed Virgin Mary(247), which
can be an appropriate substitute for the other litany on certain
From a pastoral perspective, a proliferation of litanies would not seem
desirable(249), just as an excessive restriction on them would not take
sufficient account of the spiritual riches of some local Churches and
religious communities. Hence, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the
Discipline of the Sacraments recommends "taking account of some older
and newer formulas used in the local Churches or in religious communities
which are notable for their structural rigour and the beauty of their
invocations"(250). This exhortation, naturally, applies to the
specific authorities in the local Churches or religious communities.
Following the prescription of Leo XIII that the recitation of the Rosary
should be concluded by the Litany of Loreto during the month of October,
the false impression has arisen among some of the faithful that the Litany
is in some way an appendix to the Rosary. The Litanies are independent
acts of worship. They are important acts of homage to the Blessed Virgin
Mary, or as processional elements, or form part of a celebration of the
Word of God or of other acts of worship.
Consecration and Entrustment to Mary
204. The history of Marian devotion contains many examples of personal
or collective acts of "consecration or entrustment to the Blessed
Virgin Mary" oblatio, servitus, commendatio, dedicatio). They
are reflected in the prayer manuals and statutes of many associations
where the formulas and prayers of consecration, or its remembrance, are
The Roman Pontiffs have frequently expressed appreciation for the pious
practice of "consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary" and the
formulas publicly used by them are well known(251).
Louis Grignon de Montfort is one of the great masters of the
spirituality underlying the act of "consecration to Mary". He "
proposed to the faithful consecration to Jesus through Mary, as an
effective way of living out their baptismal commitment"(252).
Seen in the light of Christ's words (cf. John 19, 25-27), the act of
consecration is a conscious recognition of the singular role of Mary in
the Mystery of Christ and of the Church, of the universal and exemplary
importance of her witness to the Gospel, of trust in her intercession, and
of the efficacy of her patronage, of the many maternal functions she has,
since she is a true mother in the order of grace to each and every one of
It should be recalled, however, that the term "consecration"
is used here in a broad and non-technical sense: "the expression is
use of "consecrating children to Our Lady", by which is intended
placing children under her protection and asking her maternal
blessing(254) for them". Some suggest the use of the alternative
terms "entrustment" or "gift". Liturgical theology and
the consequent rigorous use of terminology would suggest reserving the
term consecration for those self-offerings which have God as their
object, and which are characterized by totality and perpetuity, which are
guaranteed by the Church's intervention and have as their basis the
Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.
The faithful should be carefully instructed about the practice of
consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary. While such can give the
impression of being a solemn and perpetual act, it is, in reality, only
analogously a "consecration to God". It springs from a free,
personal, mature, decision taken in relation to the operation of grace and
not from a fleeting emotion. It should be expressed in a correct
liturgical manner: to the Father, through Christ in the Holy Spirit,
imploring the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom we entrust
ourselves completely, so as to keep our baptismal commitments and live as
her children. The act of consecration should take place outside of the
celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, since it is a devotional act
which cannot be assimilated to the Liturgy. It should also be borne in
mind that the act of consecration to Mary differs substantially from other
forms of liturgical consecration.
The Brown Scapular and other Scapulars
205. The history of Marian piety also includes "devotion" to
various scapulars, the most common of which is devotion to the Scapular of
Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Its use is truly universal and, undoubtedly, its
is one of those pious practices which the Council described as "recommended
by the Magisterium throughout the centuries"(255).
The Scapular of Mount Carmel is a reduced form of the religious habit of
the Order of the Friars of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel. Its use is
very diffuse and often independent of the life and spirituality of the
The Scapular is an external sign of the filial relationship established
between the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother and Queen of Mount Carmel, and the
faithful who entrust themselves totally to her protection, who have
recourse to her maternal intercession, who are mindful of the primacy of
the spiritual life and the need for prayer.
The Scapular is imposed by a special rite of the Church which describes
it as "a reminder that in Baptism we have been clothed in Christ,
with the assistance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, solicitous for our
conformation to the Word Incarnate, to the praise of the Trinity, we may
come to our heavenly home wearing our nuptial garb"(256).
The imposition of the Scapular should be celebrated with "the
seriousness of its origins. It should not be improvised. The Scapular
should be imposed following a period of preparation during which the
faithful are made aware of the nature and ends of the association they are
about to join and of the obligations they assume"(257).
206. The faithful like to wear medals bearing effigies of the Blessed
Virgin Mary. These are a witness of faith and a sign of veneration of the
Holy Mother of God, as well as of trust in her maternal protection.
The Church blesses such objects of Marian devotion in the belief that "they
help to remind the faithful of the love of God, and to increase trust in
the Blessed Virgin Mary"(258). The Church also points out that
devotion to the Mother of Christ also requires "a coherent witness of
Among the various medals of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the most diffuse
must be the "Miraculous Medal". Its origins go back to the
apparitions in 1830 of Our Lady to St. Catherine Labouré, a humble
novice of the Daughters of Charity in Paris. The medal was struck in
accordance with the instructions given by Our Lady and has been described
as a "Marian microcosm" because of its extraordinary symbolism.
It recalls the mystery of Redemption, the love of the Sacred Heart of
Jesus and of the Sorrowful Heart of Mary. It signifies the mediatory role
of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mystery of the Church, the relationship
between Heaven and earth, this life and eternal life.
St. Maximillian Kolbe (+ 1941) and the various movements associated with
him, have been especially active in further popularizing the miraculous
medal. In 1917 he adopted the miraculous medal as the badge of the "Pious
Union of the Militia of the Immaculate Conception" which he founded
in Rome while still a young religious of the Conventual Friars Minor.
Like all medals and objects of cult, the Miraculous Medal is never to be
regarded as a talisman or lead to any form of blind credulity(260). The
promise of Our Lady that "those who were the medal will receive great
graces", requires a humble and tenacious commitment to the Christian
message, faithful and persevering prayer, and a good Christian life.
The "Akathistos" Hymn
207. In the Byzantine tradition, one of the oldest and most revered
expressions of Marian devotion is the hymn "Akathistos"—meaning the hymn sung while standing. It is a literary and theological
masterpiece, encapsulating in the form of a prayer, the universally held
Marian belief of the primitive Church. The hymn is inspired by the
Scriptures, the doctrine defined by the Councils of Nicea (325), Ephesus
(431), and Chalcedon (451), and reflects the Greek fathers of the fourth
and fifth centuries. It is solemnly celebrated in the Eastern Liturgy on
the Fifth Saturday of Lent. The hymn is also sung on many other liturgical
occasions and is recommended for the use of the clergy and faithful.
In recent times the Akathistos has been introduced to some communities
in the Latin Rite(261). Some solemn liturgical celebrations of particular
ecclesial significance, in the presence of the Pope, have also helped to
popularize the use of the hymn in Rome(262). This very ancient hymn(263),
the mature fruit of the undivided Church's earliest devotion to the
Blessed Virgin Mary, constitutes an appeal and invocation for the unity of
Christians under the guidance of the Mother of God: "Such richness of
praise, accumulated from the various forms of the great tradition of the
Church, could help to ensure that she may once again breath with "both
lungs": the East and the West"(264).
VENERATION OF THE SAINTS AND BEATI
208. The cult of the Saints, especially of the martyrs, is an ancient
ecclesial phenomenon, that is rooted in the Scriptures (cf. Act 7, 54-60;
Acts 6, 9-11; 7, 9-17) and the practise of the Church of the first half of
the second century(265). Both Eastern and Western Churches have always
venerated the Saints. The Church has strenuously defended and explicitated
the theological basis of this cult, especially since the rise of
protetantism and its objections to certain aspects of the traditional
veneration of the Saints. The connection between the cult of the Saints
and the doctrine of the Church has also been clearly illustrated. The
cultic expressions, both liturgical and devotional, of the veneration have
always be carefully disciplined by the Church, which has always stressed
the exemplary testimony to genuine Christian life given by these
illustrious disciples of the Lord.
209. When treating of the Liturgical Year, Sacrosanctum Concilium
effectively illustrates this ecclesial reality and the significance of the
veneration of the Saints and Beati: "The Church has always
included in the annual cycle memorial days of the martyrs and other
saints. Raised up to perfection by the manifold grace of God and already
in possession of eternal salvation, they sing God's perfect praise in
heaven and pray for us. By celebrating their anniversaries, the Church
proclaims the achievement of the paschal mystery in the saints who have
suffered and who have been glorified with Christ. She proposes them to the
faithful as examples who draw all men to the Father through Christ, and
through their merits she begs God's favours"(266).
210 A correct understanding of the Church's doctrine on the Saints is
only possible in the wider context of the articles of faith concerning:
the "One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church"(267), Holy
because of the presence in the Church of "Jesus Christ who, with
the Father and the Holy Spirit, is proclaimed as the "sole Holy One"(268);
because of the incessant action of the Spirit of holiness(269); and
because the Church has been given the necessary means of sanctification.
While the Church does have sinners in her midst, she "is endowed
already with a sanctity which is real though imperfect"(270); she
is "the Holy People of God"(271), whose members, according to
Scripture, are called "Saints" (cf. Acts 9, 13; 1 Cor 6, 1;
the "communion of Saints"(272) through which the Church in
heaven, the Church awaiting purification "in the state of Purgatory"(273),
and the pilgrim Church on earth share "in the same love of God and
neighbour"(274). Indeed, all who are in Christ and posses his
Spirit make up a single Church and are united in him.
the doctrine of the sole mediation of Christ (cf. 1 Tim 2, 3), which
does not, however, exclude subordinate mediations, which must always be
understood in relation to the all embracing mediation of Christ(275).
211. The doctrine of the Church and her Liturgy, propose the Saints and
Beati who already contemplate in the "clarity of His unity and
trinity"(276) to the faithful because they are:
historical witnesses to the universal vocation to holiness; as
eminent fruit of the redemption of Christ, they are a poof and record
that God calls his children to the perfection of Christ (cf. Ef 4, 13;
Col 1, 28), in all times and among all nations, and from the most varied
socio-cultural conditions and states of life;
illustrious disciples of Christ and therefore models of evangelical
life(277); the church recognises the heroicness of their virtues in the
canonization process and recommends them as models for the faithful;
citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem who ceaselessly sing the glory
and mercy of God; the Paschal passage from this world to the Father has
already been accomplished in them;
intercessors and friends of the faithful who are still on the
earthly pilgrimage, because the Saints, already enraptured by the
happiness of God, know the needs of their brothers and sisters and
accompany them on their pilgrim journey with their prayers and
patrons of the Local Churches, of which they were founders (St.
Eusebius of Vercelli) or illustrious Pastors (St. Ambrose of Milan);
patrons of nations: apostles of their conversion to the Christian faith
(St Thomas and St. Bartholomew in India) or expressions of national
identity ( St. Patrick in the case of Ireland); of corporations and
professions (St. Omobono for tailors); in particular circumstances —in
childbirth (St. Anne, St. Raimondo Nonato), in death (St. Joseph)—or
to obtain specific graces (St. Lucy for the recovery of eyesight) etc..
In thanksgiving to God the Father, the Church professes all this when
she proclaims "You give us an example to follow in the lives of your
Saints, assistance by their intercession, and a bond of fraternal love in
the communion of grace"(278).
212. The ultimate object of veneration of the Saints is the glory of God
and the sanctification of man by conforming one's life fully to the divine
will and by imitating the virtue of those who were preeminent disciples of
Catechesis and other forms of doctrinal instruction should therefore
make known to the faithful that: our relationship with the Saints must be
seen in the light of the faith and should not obscure the "cultus
latriae due to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit, but
intensify it"; "true cult of the Saints consists not so much in
the multiplication of external acts but in intensification of active
charity", which translates into commitment to the Christian
213. With the clear and sober language of catechesis, the Church teaches
that "the existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that
Sacred Scripture usually calls 'angels' is a truth of faith. The witness
of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition"(280).
Tradition regards the angels as messengers of God, "potent
executives of his commands, and ready at the sound of his words" (Ps
103, 20. They serve his salvific plan, and are "sent to serve those
who will inherit salvation" (Hb 1, 14).
214. The faithful are well aware of the numerous interventions of angels
in the New and Old Covenants. They closed the gates of the earthly
paradise (cf. Gen 3,24), they saved Hagar and her child Ishmael (cf. Gen
21, 17), they stayed the hand of Abraham as he was about to sacrifice
Isaac (cf. Gen 22, 7), they announce prodigious births (cf. Jud 13, 3-7),
they protect the footsteps of the just (cf. Ps 91, 11), they praise God
unceasingly (cf. Is 6, 1-4), and they present the prayer of the Saints to
God (cf. Ap 8, 34). The faithful are also aware of the angel's coming to
help Elijah, an exhausted fugitive (cf. 1 Kings 19, 4-8), of Azariah and
his companions in the fiery furnace (cf. Dan 3, 49-50), and are familiar
with the story of Tobias in which Raphael, "one of the seven Angels
who stand ever ready to enter the presence of the glory of God" (cf.
Tb 12, 15), who renders many services to Tobit, his son Tobias and his
The faithful are also conscious of the roles played by the Angels in the
life of Jesus: the Angel Gabriel declared to Mary that she would conceive
and give birth to the Son of the Most High (cf. Lk 1, 26-38), and that an
Angel revealed to Joseph the supernatural origin of Mary's conception (cf.
Mt 1, 18-25); the Angels appear to the shepherds in Bethlehem with the
news of great joy of the Saviour's birth (cf. Lk 2, 8-24); "the Angel
of the Lord" protected the infant Jesus when he was threatened by
Herod (cf. Mt 2, 13-20); the Angels ministered to Jesus in the desert (cf.
Mt 4, 11) and comforted him in his agony (Lk 22, 43), and to the women
gathered at the tomb, they announced that he had risen (cf. Mk 16, 1-8),
they appear again at the Ascension, revealing its meaning to the disciples
and announcing that "Jesus ...will come back in the same way as you
have seen him go" (Acts 1, 11).
The faithful will have well grasped the significance of Jesus'
admonition not to despise the least of those who believe in him for "their
Angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven"
(Mt 10, 10), and the consolation of his assurance that "there is
rejoicing among the Angels of God over one repentant sinner" (Lk 15,
10). The faithful also realize that "the Son of man will come in his
glory with all his Angels" (Mt 25, 31) to judge the living and the
dead, and bring history to a close.
215. The Church, which at its outset was saved and protected by the
ministry of Angels, and which constantly experiences their "mysterious
and powerful assistance"(281), venerates these heavenly spirits and
has recourse to their prompt intercession.
During the liturgical year, the Church celebrates the role played by the
Holy Angels, in the events of salvation(282) and commemorates them on
specific days: 29 September (feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and
Raphael), 2 October (the Guardian Angels). The Church has a votive Mass
dedicated to the Holy Angels whose preface proclaims that "the glory
of God is reflected in his Angels"(283). In the celebration of the
sacred mysteries, the Church associates herself with the angelic hymn and
proclaims the thrice holy God (cf. Isaiah 6, 3)(284) invoking their
assistance so that the Eucharistic sacrifice "may be taken [to your]
altar in heaven, in the presence of [...] divine majesty"(285). The
office of lauds is celebrated in their presence (cf. Ps 137, 1)(286). The
Church entrusts to the ministry of the Holy Angels (cf. Ap 5, 8; 8, 3)
the prayers of the faithful, the contrition of penitents(287), and the
protection of the innocent from the assaults of the Malign One(288). The
Church implores God to send his Angels at the end of the day to protect
the faithful as they sleep(289), prays that the celestial spirits come to
the assistance of the faithful in their last agony(290), and in the rite
of obsequies, invokes God to send his Angels to accompany the souls of
just into paradise(291) and to watch over their graves.
216. Down through the centuries, the faithful have translated into
various devotional exercises the teaching of the faith in relation to the
ministry of Angels: the Holy Angels have been adopted as patrons of cities
and corporations; great shrines in their honour have developed such as
Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, San Michele della Chiusa in Piemonte and
San Michele Gargano in Apulia, each appointed with specific feast days;
hymns and devotions to the Holy Angels have also been composed.
Popular piety encompasses many forms of devotion to the Guardian Angels.
St. Basil Great (+378) taught that "each and every member of the
faithful has a Guardian Angel to protect, guard and guide them through
life"(292). This ancient teaching was consolidated by biblical and
patristic sources and lies behind many forms of piety. St. Bernard of
Clairvaux (+1153) was a great master and a notable promoter of devotion to
the Guardian Angels. For him, they were a proof "that heaven denies
us nothing that assists us", and hence, "these celestial spirits
have been placed at our sides to protect us, instruct us and to guide us"(293).
Devotion to the Holy Angels gives rise to a certain form of the
Christian life which is characterized by:
devout gratitude to God for having placed these heavenly spirits of
great sanctity and dignity at the service of man;
an attitude of devotion deriving from the knowledge of living
constantly in the presence of the Holy Angels of God; serenity and
confidence in facing difficult situations, since the Lord guides and
protects the faithful in the way of justice through the ministry of His
Holy Angels. Among the prayers to the Guardian Angels the Angele
Dei(294) is especially popular, and is often recited by families at
morning and evening prayers, or at the recitation of the Angelus.
217. Popular devotion to the Holy Angels, which is legitimate and good,
can, however, also give rise to possible deviations:
when, as sometimes can happen, the faithful are taken by the idea
that the world is subject to demiurgical struggles, or an incessant
battle between good and evil spirits, or Angels and daemons, in which
man is left at the mercy of superior forces and over which he is
helpless; such cosmologies bear little relation to the true Gospel
vision of the struggle to overcome the Devil, which requires moral
commitment, a fundamental option for the Gospel, humility and prayer;
when the daily events of life, which have nothing or little to do
with our progressive maturing on the journey towards Christ are read
schematically or simplistically, indeed childishly, so as to ascribe all
setbacks to the Devil and all success to the Guardian Angels. The
practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged,
except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael whose names are
contained in Holy Scripture.
218. In activating His plan of salvation, God, in His sapient
providence, assigned to Joseph of Nazareth, "the just man" (cf.
Mt 1, 19), and spouse of the Virgin Mary (cf. ibid; Lk 1, 27), a
particularly important mission: legally to insert Jesus Christ into the
line of David from whom, according to the prophets, the Messiah would be
born, and to act as his father and guardian.
In virtue of this mission, St. Joseph features in the mysteries of the
infancy of Jesus: God revealed to him that Jesus had been conceived by the
Holy Spirit; (cf. Mt 1,20-21); he witnessed the birth of Christ in
Bethlehem (cf. Lk 2, 6-7), the adoration of the shepherds (cf. Lk 2,
15-16), the adoration of the Magi (cf. Mt 2, 11); he fulfilled his mission
religiously with regard to the rearing of Christ, having had him
circumcised according to the discipline of the Covenant of Abraham (Lk 2,
21) and in giving him the name of Jesus ( Mt 1, 21); in accordance with
the Law of the Lord, he presented Christ in the Temple and made the
offering prescribed for the poor (cf. Lk 2,22-24; Ex 13, 2. 12-13), and
listened in wonder to the prophecy of Simeon (cf Lk 2, 25-33); he
protected the Mother of Christ and her Son from the persecution of Herod
by taking them to Egypt (cf. Mt 2, 13-23); together with Mary and Jesus,
he went every year to Jerusalem for the Passover, and was distraught at
having lost the twelve year old Jesus in the Temple (Lk 2, 43-50); he
lived in Nazareth and exercised paternal authority over Jesus who was
submissive to him (Lk 2, 51); he instructed Jesus in the law and in the
craft of carpentry.
219. The virtues of St. Joseph have been the object of ecclesial
reflection down through the centuries, especially the more recent
centuries. Among those virtues the following stand out: faith, with which
he fully accepted God's salvific plan; prompt and silent obedience to the
will of God; love for and fulfilment of the law, true piety, fortitude in
time of trial; chaste love for the Blessed Virgin Mary, a dutiful exercise
of his paternal authority, and fruitful reticence.
220. Popular piety has grasped the significance, importance and
universality of the patronage of St. Joseph "to whose care God
entrusted the beginning of our redemption",(295) "and his most
valuable treasures"(296). The following have been entrusted to the
patronage of St. Joseph: the entire Church was placed under the patronage
and protection of this Holy patriarch(297) by the Blessed Pius IX; those
who are consecrated to God by celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of
Heaven (cf. Mt 19, 12): "in St Joseph they have [...] a type and a
protector of chaste integrity"(298); workers and craftsmen, for whom
the carpenter of Nazareth is a singular model(299); the dying, since pious
tradition holds that he was assisted by Mary and Jesus in his last
221. The person and role of St. Joseph is frequently celebrated in the
Liturgy, especially in connection with nativity and infancy of Christ:
during Advent(301); Christmastide, especially the feast of the Holy
Family, on the Solemnity of St. Joseph (19 March), and on his memorial (1
St. Joseph is also mentioned in the Communicantes of the Roman
Canon and in the Litany of the Saints(302). The invocation of the
Holy Patriarch(303) is suggested in the Commendation of the Dying,
as well as the community's prayer that the souls of the dead, having left
this world, may "be taken to the peace of the new and eternal
Jerusalem, and be with Mary, the Mother of God, St. Joseph, and all of the
Angels and Saints"(304).
222. St. Joseph plays a prominent part in popular devotion: in numerous
popular traditions; the custom of reserving Wednesdays for devotion to St.
Joseph, popular at least since the end of the seventeenth century, has
generated several pious exercises including that of the Seven
Wednesdays; in the pious aspirations made by the faithful(305); in
prayers such as that of Pope Leo XIII, A te, Beate Ioseph, which
is daily recited by the faithful(306); in the Litany of St Joseph,
approved by St. Pope Pius X(307); and in the recitation of the chaplet of
St Joseph, recollecting the Seven agonies and seven joys of St. Joseph.
223. That the solemnity of St. Joseph (19 March) falls in Lent, when the
Church concentrates her attention on preparation for Baptism and the
memorial of the Lord's Passion, inevitably gives rise to an attempt to
harmonize the Liturgy and popular piety. Hence, the traditional practices
of a "month of St. Joseph" should be synchronized with the
liturgical Year. Indeed, the liturgical renewal movement attempted to
instill among the faithful a realization of the importance of the meaning
of Lent. Where the necessary adaptations can be made to the various
expressions of popular piety, devotion to St. Joseph should naturally be
encouraged among the faithful who should be constantly remained of this "singular
example [...] which, surpassing all states of life, should be recommended
to the entire Christian community, whatever their condition or rank"(308).
St. John the Baptist
224. St. John the Baptist, the son of Zachary and Elizabeth, straddles
the both Old and New Testaments. His parents were reckoned as "just
before God" (Lk 1, 6). John the Baptist is a major figure in the
history of salvation. While in his mother's womb, he recognised the
Saviour, as he was borne in his mother's womb (cf. Lk 1, 39-45); his birth
was accompanied by great signs (cf. Lk 1, 57-66); he retired to the desert
where he led a life of austerity and penance (cf, Lk 1, 80; Mt 3, 4); "Prophet
of the Most High" (Lk 1, 76), the word of God descended on him (Lk 3,
2); "he went through the whole of the Jordan district proclaiming a
baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (Lk 3,3); like the
new Elijah, humble and strong, he prepared his people to receive the Lord
(cf. Lk 1, 17); in accordance with God's saving plan, he baptized the
Saviour of the World in the waters of the Jordan (cf. Mt 3, 13-16); to his
disciples, he showed that Jesus was "the Lamb of God" (John 1,
29), "the Son of God" (John 1, 34), the Bridegroom of the new
messianic community (cf. John 3, 28-30); he was imprisoned and decapitated
by Herod for his heroic witness to the truth (cf. Mk 6, 14-29), thereby
becoming the Precursor of the Lord's own violent death, as he had been in
his prodigious birth and prophetic preaching. Jesus praised him by
attributing to him the glorious phrase "of all children born to
women, there is no one greater than John" (Lk 7, 28).
225. The cult of St. John the Baptist has been present in the Christian
Church since ancient time. From a very early date, it acquired popular
forms and connotations. In addition to the celebration of his death (29
August), of all the Saints he is the only one whose birth is also
celebrated (24 June)—as with Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In virtue of having baptised Jesus in the Jordan, many baptisteries are
dedicated to him and his image as "baptizer" is to found close
to many baptismal founts. He is the patron Saint of those condemned to
death or who have been imprisoned for the witness to the faith, in virtue
of the harsh prison which he endured and of the death which he
In all probability, the date of John the Baptists' birth (24 June) was
fixed in relation to that of Christ (25 December): according to what was
said by the Angel Gabriel, when Mary conceived Our Saviour, Elizabeth had
already been with child for six months (cf Lk 1, 26.36). The date of 24
June is also linked to the solar cycle of the Northern hemisphere. The
feast is celebrated as the Sun, turning towards the South of the zodiac,
begins to decline: a phenomenon that was taken to symbolize John the
Baptist who said in relation to Jesus: "illum oportet crescere,
me autem minui" (John 3, 30).
John's mission of witnessing to the light (cf John 1, 7) lies at the
origin of the custom of blessing bonfires on St John's Eve—or at least
gave a Christian significance to the practice. The Church blesses such
fires, praying God that the faithful may overcome the darkness of the
world and reach the "indefectible light" of God(309).
Cult due to the Saints and to the Beati
226. The reciprocal influence of Liturgy and popular piety is
particularly noticeable in the various forms of cult given to the saints
and to the Beati. Here, it would seem opportune to recall, however
briefly, the principle forms of the Church's veneration of the Saints in
the Liturgy: these should enlighten and guide expressions of popular
Celebration of Saints
227. The celebration of a feast in honour of a Saint—and what is said
in this regard also applies to the Beati, servatis servandis—is
undoubtedly the most eminent expression of cult that the ecclesial
community can give: in many cases it implicitly involves the celebration
of the Holy Eucharist. Determining a day for such an observance is a
relevant, and sometimes complicated, cultic event, in which various
historical, liturgical, and cultic factors cannot always be easily
In the Roman Church and in other local Churches, the celebration of the
memorial of the martyrs on the anniversary of their passion (their
assimilation with Christ and heavenly birth)(310), the recollection of the
Ecclesiae conditor or of other saintly Bishops who ruled these
sees, the memorial of Confessors for the faith or of anniversaries such as
the dedication of the Cathedral, progressively gave rise to the
development of local calendars, which kept the date and place of the
deaths of particular Saints, or groups of Saints.
The martyrologies quickly evolved from the local calendars: the Syriac
Martyrology (fifth century), the Martyrologium Hieronymianum
(sixth century), the Martyrology of Bede (eight century), the Martyrology
of Lyons (ninth century), the Martyrology of Usardo (ninth century) and
that of Adon (ninth century).
On 14 January 1584, Gregory XIII promulgated the editio typica
of the Martyrologium Romanum for liturgical use. On 29 June 2001,
John Paul II promulgated the first post-Conciliar revision of the Martyrologium
Romanum(311). The revision was based on the Roman tradition and
incorporated the dates of many historical martyrdoms, and collects the
names of many Saints and Beati. The Martyrologium Romanum
bears witness to the extraordinary wealth of sanctity which the Spirit of
the Lord has raised up in the Church in different places, and at different
times in her history.
228. The development of the Calendarium Romanum, which indicates
the date and grade of the celebrations in honour of the Saints, is closely
related to the history of the Martyrologium Romanum.
In accordance with the desire of the Second Vatican Council, the present
Calendarium Romanum(312) contains only those memorials of the "Saints
of a truly universal importance"(313), and leaves mention of other
Saints to the particular calendars of a given nation, region, diocese or
It would seem convenient to recall, at this point, the reasons leading
to the reduction in the number of commemorations in the Calendarium
Romanum so as to translate it into pastoral praxis: the reduction was
made because "the feasts of the Saints may not take precedence over
commemorations of the mysteries of salvation"(314). Throughout the
centuries, "the multiplication of feasts, vigils, and octaves, and
the growing complexity of the various parts of the liturgical year"
often "led the faithful to observe particular devotions so that the
impression was given of their detaching themselves from the fundamental
mysteries of divine redemption"(315).
229. From the foregoing reflection on the origin and development of the
Calendarium Romanum Generale a number of useful pastoral
inferences can be made:
it is necessary to instruct the faithful on the links between the
feasts of the Saints and the commemoration of the mystery of salvation
of Christ. The raison d'etre for the feasts of the Saints is to
highlight concrete realizations of the saving plan of God and "to
proclaim the marvels of Christ in his servants"(316); the feasts
accorded to the Saints, the members of the Body of Christ, are
ultimately feasts of the Head who is Christ;
it is always useful to teach the faithful to realize the importance
and significance of the feasts of those Saints who have had a particular
mission in the history of Salvation, or a singular relationship with
Christ such as St. John the Baptist (24 June), St. Joseph (19 March),
Sts. Peter and Paul (29 June), the Apostles and Evangelists, St. Mary
Magdalen (22 July), St. Martha (29 July) and St. Stephen (26 December);
it is also important to exhort the faithful to have a particular
devotion to the Saints who have had an important role in the particular
Churches, for example, the Patrons of a particular Church or those who
first proclaimed the Gospel to the original community;
finally, it is useful to explain the notion of the "universality"
of the Saints inscribed in the Calendarium Romanum Generale to
the faithful, as well as the significance of the grades with which their
feasts are observed: solemnity, feast and memorial (obligatory or
230. Both the Liturgy and popular piety attach great importance to the
feast days assigned to the Saints. The "Saint's day" is marked
with numerous cultic displays, some liturgical, others deriving from
popular piety. Such cultic expressions can sometimes conflict.
Conflicts of this nature must be resoled by application of the norms
contained in the Missale Romanum and in the Calendarium
Romanum Generale on the grades assigned to the celebration of Saints
and Beati. In this, account must be taken of the their relationship with a
particular Christian community (principal Patron of a place, Title of a
Church, Founder of a religious family, or their Principal Patron); the
conditions governing the transfer of certain feasts to the subsequent
Sunday, and of norms on the celebration of the feasts of Saints at certain
particular times during the liturgical year(317).
The aforementioned norms should be respected not only from a sense of
respect for the liturgical authority of the Apostolic See, but above all
from a sense of reverence for the mystery of Christ and a desire to
promote the spirit of the Liturgy.
It is especially necessary to ensure that the reasons which have led to
the transfer of some feasts, for example from Lent to ordinary time, are
not nullified in pastoral practice: follow the liturgical celebration of
the Saint on the new date while continuing to observe the old date in
popular piety. Such practices not only severely affect the harmony that
should obtain between the Liturgy and popular piety, but also create
duplication, confusion and disorder.
231. It is always necessary to ensure that the feast days of the Saints
are carefully prepared both liturgically and pastorally.
Such requires a correct presentation of the objectives of the cult of
the Saints, i.e. the glorification of God "in His Saints"(318),
a commitment to live the Christian life following the example of Christ,
of whose mystical Body the Saints are preeminent members.
It is also necessary to represent the figure of the Saint in a correct
manner. Bearing in mind the prospect of contemporary society, this
presentation should not only contain an account of the legendary events
associated with the Saint, or of his thaumaturgic powers, but should also
include an evaluation of his significance for the Christian life, the
greatness of his sanctity, the effectiveness of his Christian witness, and
of the manner in which his particular charism has enriched the Church.
232. A "Saint's day" also has an anthropological significance:
it is a feast day. The feast also echoes man's vital needs, and is deeply
rooted in his longing for the transcendent. The feast, with its
manifestations of joy and rejoicing, is an affirmation of the value of
life and creation. The feast is also an expression of integral freedom and
of man's tendency towards true happiness, with its interruption of daily
routine, formal conventions, and of the need to earn a living. As a
cultural expression, the feast highlights the particular genius of a
certain people and their cultural characteristics, and their true folk
customs. As a social moment, the feast is an occasion to strengthen family
relations and to make new contacts.
233. From a religious and anthropological perspective, several elements
serve to undermine the genuine nature of the "Saint's day".
In a religious perspective, the "Saint's feast" of the "patronal
feast" of the parish, when emptied of the Christian content that lies
at its origin—the honour given to Christ in one of his members—becomes
a mere popular observance or a social occasion, serving, in the best
instances, as little other than a social occasion for the members of a
In an anthropological perspective, "to celebrate", not
infrequently, is defined by the behaviour assumed by particular
individuals or groups which can be widely at variance with the true
significance of the feast. To celebrate a feast is to allow man to
participate in God's lordship over creation, and in His active "rest",
rather than in any form of laziness. It is a expression of simple joy,
rather than unlimited selfishness. It is an expression of true liberty
rather than an occasion for ambiguous amusement which creates new and more
subtle forms of enslavement. It can safely be said that: transgressions of
the norms for ethical behaviour not only contradict the law of the Lord,
but also injure the anthropological fibre of celebration.
Celebration of the Eucharist
234. The celebration of the feast of a Saint or Beatus is not
the only manner in which the Saints are present in the liturgy. The
celebration of the Eucharist is the singular moment of communion with the
Saints in heaven.
In the Liturgy of the Word, the Old Testament readings frequently refer
to the great Patriarchs and prophets, and to other persons distinguished
by their virtue and by their love for the law of the Lord. The New
Testament recounts the deeds of the Apostles and other Saints who enjoyed
the Lord's friendship. The lives of the Saints sometimes reflect the
Gospel so closely that their very personality becomes apparent from merely
reading the pages.
The relationship between Sacred Scripture and Christian hagiography, in
the context of the celebration of the Eucharist, has given rise to the
composition of a number of Commons which provide a synopsis of a
particular biblical text which illustrates the lives of the Saints. With
regard to this relationship, it has been said that Sacred Scripture
orients and indicates the journey of the Saints to perfect charity. The
Saints, in turn, become a living exegesis of the Word.
Reference is made to the Saints at various points during the celebration
of the Eucharist. The Canon mentions "the gifts of your servant Abel,
the sacrifice of Abraham our father in faith and the bread and wine
offered by your priest Melchizedek"(319). The same Eucharistic prayer
becomes an occasion to express our communion with the Saints, by
venerating their memory and pleading for their intercession, since "in
union with the whole Church, we honour Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, we
honour Joseph her husband, the Apostles and martyrs: Peter and Paul,
Andrew [...] and all the Saints, may their prayers and intercession gain
us your constant help and protection"(320).
The Litany of the Saints
235. The Litany of the Saints has been used in the Roman Church since
the seventh century(321). Its liturgical structure is subtle, simple and
popular. Through the litany, the Church invokes the Saints on certain
great sacramental occasions and on other occasions when her imploration is
intensified: at the Easter vigil, before blessing the Baptismal fount; in
the celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism; in conferring Sacred Orders
of the episcopate, priesthood and deaconate; in the rite for the
consecration of virgins and of religious profession; in the rite of
dedication of a church and consecration of an altar; at rogation; at the
station Masses and penitential processions; when casting out the Devil
during the rite of exorcism; and in entrusting the dying to the mercy of
The Litanies of the Saints contain elements deriving from both the
liturgical tradition and from popular piety. They are expressions of the
Church's confidence in the intercession of the Saints and an experience of
the communion between the Church of the heavenly Jerusalem and the Church
on her earthly pilgrim journey. The names of the Beati that have
been inscribed in the calendars of particular Churches or religious
institutes may be invoked in the litanies of the Saints(322). Clearly, the
names of those whose cult has not received ecclesial recognition should
not be used in the litanies.
The Relics of the Saints
236. The Second Vatican Council recalls that "the Saints have been
traditionally honoured in the Church, and their authentic relics and
images held in veneration"(323). The term "relics of the Saints"
principally signifies the bodies—or notable parts of the bodies—of the
Saints who, as distinguished members of Christ's mystical Body and as
Temples of the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 3, 16; 6, 19; 2 Cor 6, 16)(324) in
virtue of their heroic sanctity, now dwell in Heaven, but who once lived
on earth. Objects which belonged to the Saints, such as personal objects,
clothes and manuscripts are also considered relics, as are objects which
have touched their bodies or tombs such as oils, cloths, and images.
237. The Missale Romanum reaffirms the validity "of placing
the relics of the Saints under an altar that is to be dedicated, even when
not those of the martyrs"(325). This usage signifies that the
sacrifice of the members has its origin in the Sacrifice of the
altar(326), as well as symbolising the communion with the Sacrifice of
Christ of the entire Church, which is called to witness, event to the
point of death, fidelity to her Lord and Spouse.
Many popular usages have been associated with this eminently liturgical
cultic expression. The faithful deeply revere the relics of the Saints. An
adequate pastoral instruction of the faithful about the use of relics will
ensuring the authenticity of the relics exposed for the veneration
of the faithful; where doubtful relics have been exposed for the
veneration of the faithful, they should be discreetly withdrawn with due
preventing undue dispersal of relics into small pieces, since such
practice is not consonant with due respect for the human body; the
liturgical norms stipulate that relics must be "of a sufficient
size as make clear that they are parts of the human body"(328);
admonishing the faithful to resist the temptation to form
collections of relics; in the past this practise has had some deplorable
preventing any possibility of fraud, trafficking(329), or
The various forms of popular veneration of the relics of the Saints,
such as kissing, decorations with lights and flowers, bearing them in
processions, in no way exclude the possibility of taking the relics of the
Saints to the sick and dying, to comfort them or use the intercession of
the Saint to ask for healing. Such should be conducted with great dignity
and be motivated by faith. The relics of the Saints should not be exposed
on the mensa of the altar, since this is reserved for the Body and Blood
of the King of Martyrs(330).
238. The Second Council of Nicea, "following the divinely inspired
teaching of our Holy Fathers and the tradition of the Catholic Church",
vigorously defended the veneration of the images of the Saints: "we
order with ever rigour and exactitude that, similar to the depictions of
the precious and vivifying Cross of our redemption, the sacred images to
be used for veneration, are to be depicted in mosaic or any other suitable
material, and exposed in the holy churches of God, on their furnishings,
vestments, on their walls, as well as in the homes of the faithful and in
the streets, be they images of Our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, or
of Our Immaculate Lady, the holy Mother of God, or of the Angels, the
Saints and the just"(331).
The Fathers of Nicea see the basis for the use of sacred images in the
mystery of the Incarnation of Christ, "the image of the invisible God"
(Col 1, 15): "the Incarnation of the Son of God initiated a new "economy"
239. The veneration of sacred images, whether paintings, statues, bas
reliefs or other representations, apart from being a liturgical
phenomenon, is an important aspect of popular piety: the faithful pray
before sacred images, both in churches and in their homes. They decorate
them with flowers, lights, and jewels; they pay respect to them in various
ways, carrying them in procession, hanging ex votos near them in
thanksgiving; they place them in shrines in the fields and along the
Veneration of sacred images requires theological guidance if it is to
avoid certain abuses. It is therefore necessary that the faithful be
constantly remained of the doctrine of the Church on the veneration of
sacred images, as exemplified in the ecumenical Councils(333), and in the
Catechism of the Catholic Church(334).
240. According to the teaching of the Church, sacred images are:
iconographical transcriptions of the Gospel message, in which image
and revealed word are mutually clarified; ecclesiastical tradition
requires that images conform "to the letter of the Gospel message"(335);
sacred signs which, in common with all liturgical signs, ultimately
refer to Christ; images of the Saints "signify Christ who is
glorified in them"(336);
memorials of our brethren who are Saints, and who "continue to
participate in the salvation of the world, and to whom we are united,
above all in sacramental celebrations"(337);
an assistance in prayer: contemplation of the sacred images
facilitates supplication and prompts us to give glory to God for the
marvels done by his grace working in the Saints;—a stimulus to their
imitation because "the more the eye rests on these sacred images,
the more the recollection of those whom they depict grows vivid in the
contemplative beholder"(338); the faithful tend to imprint on their
hearts what they contemplate with the eye: "a true image of the new
man", transformed in Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit,
and in fidelity to his proper vocation;
and a form of catechesis, because "through the history of the
mysteries of our redemption, expressed in pictures and other media, the
faithful are instructed and confirmed in the faith, since they are
afforded the means of meditating constantly on the articles of faith"(339).
241. It is necessary for the faithful to understand the relative nature
of the cult of images. The image is not venerated in itself. Rather, that
which it represents is venerated. Thus, sacred images "are given due
honour and veneration, not because there are believed to contain some
divinity or power justifying such cult, nor because something has to be
requested of an image, nor because trust is reposed in them, as the pagans
used to do with idols, but because the honour given to sacred images is
given to the prototypes whom the represent"(340).
242. In the light of the foregoing, the faithful should be careful not
to fall into the error of raising sacred images to the level of paragons.
The fact that some sacred images are the object of such devotion that they
have become embodiments of the religious culture of nations or cities or
particular groups, should be explained in the light of the grace which is
at the basis of the veneration accorded them, and of the historical and
social circumstances of the history surrounding them. It is good that a
people should recall such events, to strengthen its faith, glorify God,
conserve its cultural identity, and pray incessantly with confidence to
the Lord who, according to his own words (cf. Mt. 7, 7; Lk 11, 9; Mk 11,
24), is always prepared to hear them; thereby causing an increase of
charity and hope, and the growth of the spiritual life of the Christian
243. By their very nature, sacred images belong to the realm of sacred
signs and to the realm of art. These "are often works of art infused
with innate religious feeling, and seem almost to reflect that beauty that
comes from God and that leads to God"(341). The primary function of
sacred images is not, however, to evince aesthetic pleasure but to dispose
towards Mystery. Sometimes, the artistic aspects of an image can assume a
disproportionate importance, seeing the image as an "artistic"
theme, rather conveying a spiritual message.
The production of sacred images in the West is not governed by strict
canons that have been in place for centuries, as is the case in the
Eastern Church. This does not imply that the Latin Church has overlooked
or neglected its oversight of sacred images: the exposition of images
contrary to the faith, or indecorous images, or images likely to lead the
faithful into error, or images deriving from a disincarnate abstraction or
dehumanizing images, have been prohibited on numerous occasions. Some
images are examples of anthropocentric humanism rather than reflections of
a genuine spirituality. The tendency to remove sacred images from sacred
places is to be strongly condemned, since this is detrimental for the
piety of the Christian faithful.
Popular piety encourages sacred images which reflect the characteristics
of particular cultures; realistic representations in which the saints are
clearly identifiable, or which evidently depict specific junctures in
human life: birth, suffering, marriage, work, death. Efforts should be
made, however, to ensure that popular religious art does not degenerate
into mere oleography: in the Liturgy, there is a correlation between
iconography and art, and the Christian art of specific cultural epochs.
244. The Church blesses sacred images because of their cultic
significance. This is especially true of the images of the Saints which
are destined for public veneration(342), when she prays that, guided by a
particular Saint, "we may progress in following the footsteps of
Christ, so that the perfect man may be formed in us to the full measure of
Christ"(343). The Church has published norms for the exposition of
sacred images in churches and other sacred places which are to be
diligently observed(344). No statue or image is to be exposed on the table
of an altar. Neither are the relics of the Saints to be exposed on the
table of an altar(345). It is for the local ordinary to ensure that
inappropriate images or those leading to error or superstition, are not
exposed for the veneration of the faithful.
245. Processions are cultic expressions of a universal character and
have multiple social and religious significance. In them, the relationship
between Liturgy and popular piety is especially important. Inspired by
biblical examples (cf. Es 14,8-31; 2 Sam 6, 12-19; 1 Cor 15, 25-16,3), the
Church has instituted a number of liturgical processions which have
some recall salvific events in the life of Christ, among them: the
procession on 2 February commemorating the Lord's presentation in the
Temple (cf Lk 2,22-38); Palm Sunday, in evocation of the Lord's
messianic entry into Jerusalem (cf. Mt 21, 1-10; Mk 11, 1-11; Lk 19,
28-38; John 12, 12-16); the procession at the Easter Vigil commemorating
the Lord's passage from the darkness of the tomb to the glory of the
Resurrection, synthesising and surpassing everything that had happened
in the Old Testament, and standing as a necessary prelude to the
sacramental "passages" accomplished in the disciples of
Christ, especially in the celebration of Baptism and in the rite of
others are votive processions, such as the Eucharistic procession on
the feast of Corpus Christi: the Blessed Sacrament passing through the
streets arouses sentiments of gratitude and thanksgiving in the minds
and hearts of the faithful, it arouses in them faith-adoration and is a
source of grace and blessing (Acts 10, 38)(346); the rogation
processions, whose dates are to be established by the respective
Conferences of Bishops, are both public implorations of God's blessing
on the fields and on man's work, and penitential in character; the
procession to the cemeteries on 2 November are commemorations of the
others again are required by certain liturgical actions, such as:
the stational processions during Lent, at which the worshipping
community leaves from the established gathering point (collectio)
for the church of the statio; the procession for the reception
at the parish churches of the Holy Oils blessed on Holy Thursday; the
procession for the veneration of the Cross on Good Friday; the
procession of the baptized at the Vespers of Easter Sunday, during which
psalms and canticles are sung on the way to the baptistery(347); the
processions associated with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, such
as the entrance of the Sacred Ministers, the proclamation of the Gospel,
the presentation of the gifts, the communion with the Body of Christ;
the procession carrying the Viaticum to the sick, where still practised;
funeral corteges accompanying the bodies of the faithful departed from
their homes to the church, and from the church to the cemetery; the
procession for the translation of relics.
246. From the middle ages, votive processions acquired a particular
importance in popular piety, and reached their apogee during the age of
the Baroque. The Patron Saints of a city, or streets, or guild were
honoured by carrying their relics, or image, or effigy in procession.
In their true form, processions are a manifestation of the faith of the
people. They often have cultural connotations and are capable of
re-awakening the religious sense of the people. From the perspective of
the Christians faith, votive processions, like other pious
exercises, are exposed to certain risks: the precedence of devotions over
the sacraments, which are relegated to second place, of external displays
over interior disposition; regarding the procession as the apogee of a
feast; the impression given to some of the less competently instructed of
the faithful that Christianity is merely a "religion of Saints";
the degeneration of the procession itself from a manifestation of faith to
a mere spectacle or a purely secular parade.
247. To preserve the character of processions as manifestations of
faith, it is necessary for the faithful to be carefully instructed on their
theological, liturgical and anthropological aspects.
From a theological perspective, it is important to emphasise that a
procession is a sign of the Church's condition, the pilgrimage of the
People of God, with Christ and after Christ, aware that in this world it
has no lasting dwelling. Through the streets of this earth it moves
towards the heavenly Jerusalem. It is also a sign of the witness to the
faith that every Christian community is obliged to give to the Lord in the
structures of civil society. It is also a sign of the Church's missionary
task which reaches back to her origins and the Lord's command (cf. Mt 28,
19-20), which sent her to proclaim the Gospel message of salvation.
From a liturgical point of view, processions, even those of a popular
tenor, should be oriented towards the Liturgy. The journey from church to
church should be presented as the journey of the community living in this
world towards the community living in Heaven. Such processions should be
conducted under ecclesiastical supervision so as to avoid anything
unsuitable or degenerative. They should begin with a moment of prayer
during which the Word of God should be proclaimed. Hymns and canticles
should be sung and instrumental music can also be used. Lighted candles or
lamps should be carried by the faithful during the procession. Pauses
should be arranged along the way so as to provide for alternative paces,
bearing in mind that such also reflects the journey of life. The
procession should conclude with a doxology to God, source of all sanctity,
and with a blessing given by a Bishop, Priest or Deacon.
From an anthropological perspective, the procession should make it
evident that it is "a commonly undertaken journey". The
participants join in the same atmosphere of prayer and are united in
singing, and concentrated on arriving a the same goal. Thus the faithful
feel united with each other, and intent in giving concrete expression to
their Christian commitment throughout the journey of life.
SUFFRAGE FOR THE DEAD
Faith in the Resurrection of the Dead
248. "It is in regard to death that man's condition is most
shrouded in doubt"(348). However, faith in Christ changes that doubt
into the certainty of life without end. Christ has told us that he came
from the Father "so that whosoever believes in him might not die but
have eternal life" (John 3, 16). Again he says, "it is my
Father's will that whoever sees the Son and believes in him shall have
eternal life; and I shall raise him up on the last day"(349).
Based on the Word of God, the Christian firmly believes and hopes that "just
as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives for ever, so after death
the righteous will live for ever with the risen Christ and he will raise
them up on the last day"(350).
249. Belief in the resurrection of the dead is an essential part of
Christian revelation. It implies a particular understanding of the
ineluctable mystery of death.
Death is the end of earthy life, but "not of our existence"(351)
since the soul is immortal. "Our lives are measured by time, in the
course of which we change, grow old and, as with all living beings on
earth, death seems like the normal end of life"(352). Seen from the
perspective of the faith, "death is the end of man's earthly
pilgrimage, of the time of grace and mercy which God offers him so as to
work out his earthly life in keeping with the divine plan, and to decide
his ultimate destiny"(353).
In one light death can seem natural, in another it can be seen as "the
wages of sin" (Rm 6, 23). Authentically interpreting the meaning of
Scripture (cf. John 2, 17; 3,3; 3, 19; Wis 1, 13; Rm 5, 12; 6, 23), the
Church teaches that "death entered the world on account of man's sin"(354).
Jesus, the Son of God, "born of a woman and subject to the law"
(Gal 4,4) underwent death which is part of the human condition; despite
his anguish in the face of death (Mk 14, 33-34; Heb 5, 7-8), "he
accepted it in an act of complete and free submission to his Father's
will. The obedience of Jesus has transformed the curse of death into a
Death is the passage to the fullness of true life. The Church,
subverting the logic of this world, calls the Christian's day of death his
dies natalis, the day of his heavenly birth, where "there
will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness [for] the world of
the past has gone" (Ap 21, 4). Death is the prolongation, in a new
way, of life as the Liturgy says: "For your faithful, O Lord, life
has changed not ended; while our earthly dwelling is destroyed, a new and
eternal dwelling is prepared for us in Heaven"(356).
The death of a Christian is an event of grace, having, as it does, a
positive value and significance in Christ and through Christ. Scripture
teaches that: "Life to me, of course, life is Christ, but then death
would bring me something more" (Phil 1, 21); here is a saying you can
rely on: if we have died with him, then we shall live with him" (2
250. According to the faith of the Church, "to die in Christ"
begins at Baptism. In Baptism, the Lord's disciples sacramentally die in
Christ so as to live a new life. If the disciples die in the grace Christ,
physical death seals that "dying with Christ", and consummates
it by incorporating them fully and definitively into Christ the Redeemer.
The Church's prayer of suffrage for the souls of the faithful departed
implores eternal life not only for the disciples of Christ who have died
in his peace, but for the dead whose faith is known to God(357).
The Meaning of Suffrage
251. The just encounter God in death. He calls them to himself so as to
share eternal life with them. No one, however, can be received into God's
friendship and intimacy without having been purified of the consequences
of personal sin. "The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final
purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment
of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory
especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent"(358).
Hence derives the pious custom of suffrage for the souls of the faithful
departed, which is an urgent supplication of God to have mercy on the
souls of the dead, to purify them by the fire of His charity, and to bring
them to His kingdom of light and life. This suffrage is a cultic
expression of faith in the communion of saints. Indeed, "the Church
in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian
religion, has honoured with great respect the memory of the dead; and
'because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that
they may be loosed from their sins' (2 Mac 12, 46) she offers her
suffrages for them"(359). These consist, primarily, in the
celebration of the holy sacrifice of the Eucharist(360), and in other
pious exercises, such as prayers for the dead, alms deeds, works of
mercy(361), and the application of indulgences to the souls of the
252. The Roman Liturgy, like other Latin and Oriental Liturgies,
contains many and varied forms of suffrage for the dead.
The rite of Christian exequies consists traditionally of three parts.
Because of the profoundly changed circumstances of life in the greater
urban conurbations, these are often reduced to two or even only one part.
The rite of Christian exequies are:(363)
prayer vigil at the home of the deceased, or somewhere else
as circumstances permit, during which family, friends and members of the
Christian community gather to pray to God in suffrage, to hear the "the
words of life eternal", and in their light, to see beyond this
world by contemplating the risen Christ in faith; to comfort those who
mourn the deceased; and to express Christian solidarity in accordance
with the words of the Apostle "be sad with those in sorrow"
the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, which is highly
desirable when possible. In the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the
Christian community listens to "the word of God which proclaims the
paschal mystery, assures us of the hope of meeting again in the Kingdom
of God, enlivens our devotion to the dead and exhorts us to witness
through a truly Christian life"(365). The celebrant comments on the
word of God in his homily, "avoiding any form of funerary eulogy"(366).
In the Holy Eucharist, "the Church expresses her efficacious
communion with the departed: offering to the Father in the Holy Spirit
the sacrifice of the death and Resurrection of Christ; she asks Him to
purify His child of his sins and their consequences, and to admit him to
the Paschal fullness of the table of the kingdom"(367). A profound
reading of the requiem Mass allows us to see how the Liturgy has made of
the Holy Eucharist, that eschatological banquet, the true Christian refrigerium
for the deceased;
the Rite of committal, the funeral cortege, and burial; at
the committal, the deceased is commended to God, "the final
commendation by which the Christian community says farewell to one of
its members before his body is buried"(368). In the funeral
cortege, mother Church, who has sacramentally borne all Christians in
her womb during their earthly pilgrimage, now accompanies the body of
the deceased to his place of rest, while he awaits the resurrection (cf.
1 Cor 15, 42-44).
253. Every stage of the rite of obsequies should be conducted with the
greatest dignity and religious sensibility. Hence, it is necessary for :
the body of the deceased, which was the Temple of the Holy Spirit, to be
treated with the utmost respect; funeral furnishings should be decorous
and free of all ostentation; the liturgical signs, the cross, the paschal
candle, the holy water and the incense, should all be used with the utmost
254. Christian piety has always regarded burial as the model for the
faithful to follow since it clearly displays how death signifies the total
destruction of the body. The practice eschews meanings that can be
associated with mummification or embalming or even with cremation. Burial
recalls the earth from which man comes (cf. Gen 2, 6) and to which he
returns (cf. Gen 3, 19; Sir 17,1), and also recalls the burial of Christ,
the grain which, fallen on the earth, brought forth fruit in plenty (cf.
John 12, 24).
Cremation is also a contemporary phenomenon in virtue of the changed
circumstances of life. In this regard, ecclesiastical discipline states: "Christian
obsequies may be conceded to those who have chosen to have their bodies
cremated, provided that such choice was not motivated by anything contrary
to Christian doctrine"(369). In relation to such a decision, the
faithful should be exhorted not to keep the ashes of the dead in their
homes, but to bury them in the usual manner, until God shall raise up
those who rest in the earth, and until the sea gives up its dead (cf. Ap
255. The Church offers the sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist for the dead
not only on the occasion of their funerals, but also on the third,
seventh, and thirtieth day following their deaths, as well as on their
anniversaries. The celebration of the Mass in suffrage for the souls of
the faithful departed is the Christian way of recalling and prolonging, in
the Lord, that communion with those who have crossed the threshold of
death. On 2 November, the Church incessantly offers the holy sacrifice of
the Mass for the souls of all the faithful departed and prays the Liturgy
of the Hours for them.
The Church daily supplicates and implores the Lord, in the celebration
of the Mass and at Vespers, that "the faithful who have gone before
us marked with the sign of faith [...] may be given light, happiness and
It is important to instruct the faithful in the light of the celebration
of the sacrifice of the Eucharist, in which the Church prays that all of
the faithful departed, of whatever place or time, will be brought to the
glory of the risen Lord, so as to avoid possessive or particular ideas
that relate the Mass only to one's "own" dead(371). The
celebration of Mass in suffrage for the dead also presents an important
opportunity for catechesis on the last things.
The Memorial of the Dead in Popular Piety
256. As with the Liturgy, popular piety pays particular attention to the
memory of the dead and carefully raises up to God prayers in suffrage for
In matters relating to the "memorial of the dead", great
pastoral prudence and tact must always be employed in addressing the
relationship between Liturgy and popular piety, both in its doctrinal
aspect and in harmonising the liturgical actions and pious exercises.
257. It is always necessary to ensure that popular piety is inspired by
the principles of the Christian faith. Thus, they should be made aware of
the paschal meaning of the death undergone by those who have received
Baptism and who have been incorporated into the mystery of the death and
resurrection of Christ (cf. Rm 6,3-10); the immortality of the soul (cf Lk
23, 43); the communion of Saints, through which "union with those who
are still on their pilgrim journey with the faithful who repose in Christ
is not in the least broken, but strengthened by a communion of spiritual
goods, as constantly taught by the Church"(372):"our prayer for
them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their
intercession for us effective"(373); the resurrection of the body;
the glorious coming of Christ, who will "judge the living and the
dead"(374); the reward given to each according to his deeds; life
Deeply rooted cultural elements connoting particular anthropological
concepts are to be found among the customs and usages connected with the "cult
of the dead" among some peoples. These often spring from a desire to
prolong family and social links with the departed. Great caution must be
used in examining and evaluating these customs. Care should be taken to
ensure that they are not contrary to the Gospel. Likewise, care should be
taken to ensure that they cannot be interpreted as pagan residues.
258. In matters relating to doctrine, the following are to be avoided:
the invocation of the dead in practices involving divination;
the interpretation or attribution of imaginary effects to dreams
relating to the dead, which often arises from fear;
any suggestion of a belief in reincarnation;
the danger of denying the immortality of the soul or of detaching
death from the resurrection, so as to make the Christian religion seem
like a religion of the dead;
the application of spacio-temporal categories to the dead.
259. "Hiding death and its signs" is widespread in
contemporary society and prone to the difficulties arising from doctrinal
and pastoral error.
Doctors, nurses, and relatives frequently believe that they have a duty
to hide the fact of imminent death from the sick who, because of
increasing hospitalization, almost always die outside of the home.
It has been frequently said that the great cities of the living have no
place for the dead: buildings containing tiny flats cannot house a space
in which to hold a vigil for the dead; traffic congestion prevents funeral
corteges because they block the traffic; cemeteries, which once surrounded
the local church and were truly "holy ground" and indicated the
link between Christ and the dead, are now located at some distance outside
of the towns and cities, since urban planning no longer includes the
provision of cemeteries.
Modern society refuses to accept the "visibility of death",
and hence tries to conceal its presence. In some places, recourse is even
made to conserving the bodies of the dead by chemical means in an effort
to prolong the appearance of life.
The Christian, who must be conscious of and familiar with the idea of
death, cannot interiorly accept the phenomenon of the "intolerance of
the dead", which deprives the dead of all acceptance in the city of
the living. Neither can he refuse to acknowledge the signs of death,
especially when intolerance and rejection encourage a flight from reality,
or a materialist cosmology, devoid of hope and alien to belief in the
death and resurrection of Christ.
The Christian is obliged to oppose all forms of "commercialisation
of the dead", which exploit the emotions of the faithful in pursuit
of unbridled and shameful commercial profit.
260. In accordance with time, place and tradition, popular devotions to
the dead take on a multitude of forms:
the novena for the dead in preparation for the 2 November, and the
octave prolonging it, should be celebrated in accordance with liturgical
visits to the cemetery; in some places this is done in a community
manner on 2 November, at the end of the parochial mission, when the
parish priest takes possession of the parish; visiting the cemetery can
also be done privately, when the faithful go to the graves of their own
families to maintain them or decorate them with flowers and lamps. Such
visits should be seen as deriving from the bonds existing between the
living and the dead and not from any form of obligation, non-fulfilment
of which involves a superstitious fear;
membership of a confraternity or other pious association whose
objects include "burial of the dead" in a the light of the
Christian vision of death, praying for the dead, and providing support
for the relatives of the dead;
suffrage for the dead through alms deeds, works of mercy, fasting,
applying indulgences, and especially prayers, such as the De
profundis, and the formula Requiem aeternam, which often
accompanies the recitation of the Angelus, the rosary, and at
prayers before and after meals.
SHRINES AND PILGRIMAGES
261. The relationship between the Liturgy and popular piety is probably
most evident at shrines. These are often dedicated to the Holy Trinity, to
Christ our Saviour, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to the Saints or Beati.
"At shrines more abundant means of salvation are to be provided for
the faithful; the word of God is to be carefully proclaimed; liturgical
life is to be appropriately fostered especially through the celebration of
the Eucharist and penance; and approved forms of popular piety are to be
Pilgrimage is closely connected with shines, and itself an expression of
Even though weakened by the effects of secularism, interest in shrines
and pilgrimage remains high among the faithful.
In view of the object of this Directory, it would seem appropriate to
offer some guidelines for the pastoral activities of shrines, and for
pilgrimages so that they may be conducted in accordance with a correct
understanding of the relationship between Liturgy and popular piety.
262. In accordance with Christian revelation, the risen Christ is the
supreme and definitive sanctuary (cf. John 2, 18-21; Ap 21, 22) around
which the community of the disciples gathers. In turn, that community is
the new dwelling place of the Lord (cf. 1 Pt 2, 5; Eph 2, 19-22).
Theologically, a shrine, which often derives from popular piety, is a
sign of the active and saving presence of the Lord in history, and a place
of respite in which the people of God on its journey to the heavenly City
(cf. Heb 13, 14), can renew its strength for the pilgrim journey(376).
263. Shrines, like churches, have enormous symbolic value: they are
icons "of the dwelling place of God among men" (Ap 21,3) and
allude to "the mystery of the Temple" which was fulfilled in the
Body of Christ (cf. John 1, 14; 2, 21), in the ecclesial community (cf. 1
Pt 2, 5) of the faithful (cf. 1 Cor 3, 16-17; 6, 19; 2 Cor 6, 16).
To the faithful, shrines represent:
a memorial to an original extraordinary event which has given rise
to persistent devotion, or a witness to the piety and gratitude of a
people that has received many benefits;
privileged places of divine assistance and of the intercession of
Blessed Virgin Mary, the Saints or the Beati, in virtue of the
frequent signs of mercy that have been shown in them;
signs of cosmic harmony and reflections of divine beauty because of
their physical positioning which is often elevated, solitary and
a call to conversion because of what is preached in them, an
invitation to redouble the life of charity and the works of mercy, and
an exhortation to follow Christ;
places dedicated to consolidating the faith, to growth in grace,
refuge and consolation in affliction, by virtue of the sacramental life
practised in them;
particular interpretations and prolongations of the Word of God by
virtue of the Gospel message proclaimed in them;
an encouragement to cultivate an eschatological outlook, a sense of
transcendence and to learn to direct their earthly footsteps towards the
sanctuary of Heaven (cf. Heb 9, 11; Ap 21, 3).
"Christian shrines have always been, and continue to be, signs of
God, and of His intervention in history. Each one of them is a memorial to
the Incarnation and to the Redemption"(377).
264. "The term shrine signifies a church or other sacred place to
which the faithful make pilgrimages for a particular pious reason with the
approval of the local ordinary"(378).
A prior condition for the canonical recognition of a diocesan, national
or international shrine is the respective approval of the diocesan bishop,
the Conference of Bishops, or the Holy See. Canonical approval is an
official recognition of a sacred place and for the specific purpose of
receiving the pilgrimages of the people of God which go there to worship
the Father, profess the faith, and to be reconciled with God, the Church
and one's neighbour, and to implore the intercession of the Mother of God
or one of the Saints.
It should not be overlooked, however, that many other places, often
humble little churches in the cities or in the countryside, locally
fulfill the same functions as shrines, even without canonical recognition.
These also form part of the "topography" of the faith and of the
popular piety of the people of God(379), of a particular community living
in a specific geographical area, on its journey towards the heavenly
Jerusalem in faith (Ap 21).
The Shrine as Place of Cultic Celebration
265. Shrines have an important cultic function. The faithful visit
shrines to participate in the liturgical celebrations and the various
pious exercises practised there. This fact, however, should not cause the
faithful to overlook the Gospel teaching according to which no specific
place is decisive for authentic worship of the Lord (Cf. John 4, 20-24).
Exemplary liturgical celebration
266. Those in charge of shrines should ensure that the quality of the
liturgy celebrated at the shrines is exemplary: "Among the functions
ascribed to sanctuaries, and confirmed by the Code of Canon Law, is that
of fostering the Liturgy. This is not to be understood as increasing the
number of liturgical celebrations, but in terms of improving the quality
of liturgical celebration. The rectors of sanctuaries should be aware of
their responsibility to ensure that this goal is reached. They should
realise that the faithful who come to a shrine from diverse places should
be able to return comforted in spirit, and edified by the liturgical
celebrations: by their capacity to communicate the message of salvation,
by the noble simplicity of their ritual expression, and by the faithful
observance of the liturgical norms. Rectors of shrine are well aware that
the effects of exemplary liturgical celebration are not limited to the
liturgical actions celebrated in shrines: both priests and pilgrims take
back to their own places the strong cultic impressions that they have
experienced in shrines".(380)
Celebration of the Sacrament of Penance
267. For many of the faithful, a visit to a shrine is a propitious
occasion on which to avail of the Sacrament of Penance. It is, however,
necessary to encourage the various constitutive elements of the Sacrament
the place of celebration: in addition to the traditional
confessionals located in the church, it is desirable that a confessional
chapel be provided for the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance and
in which space is available for community preparation, and for
penitential celebrations. These should always respect the canonical
norms relating to the Sacrament of Penance as well as the privacy which
is needed for confession. It should also provide some possibility for
dialogue with the confessor.
preparation for the Sacrament: sometimes, the faithful
require assistance in preparing for confession, especially in directing
the mind and heart to God through a sincere conversion, "since the
essence of Penance consists of this"(381). The Ordo
Paenitentiae(382) provides for celebrations designed to assist
preparation for confession through a fruitful celebration of the Word of
God; or at least some form of suitable preparatory material being placed
at the disposal of the faithful, so as to prepare them not only for the
confession of sins, but also for a sincere amendment of life.
choice of the ritual action, to lead the faithful to
discover the ecclesial nature of Penance; in this respect the Rite
for the reconciliation of several penitents with individual confession
and absolution (the second rite of Penance), properly prepared and
conducted, should not be exceptional, but a normal celebration of the
Sacrament of Penance especially at particular times of the Liturgical
Year. Indeed, "communal celebration manifests more clearly the
ecclesial nature of penance"(383). Reconciliation without
individual confession and absolution is a completely exceptional and
extraordinary form of the Sacrament of Penance, and may not be
considered interchangeable with the ordinary form of the Sacrament. The
use of general absolution cannot be justified solely by the presence of
great numbers of the faithful, as happens on feast days and
Celebration of the Eucharist
268. "The celebration of the Eucharist is the climax and pivot of
all pastoral activity in shrines"(385). Great care should be devoted
to the celebration of the Eucharist so that its exemplary celebration may
lead the faithful to a deep encounter with Christ.
It can happen that different groups wish to celebrate the Eucharist at
the same time. This practice is not consistent with the ecclesial
dimension of the Eucharistic mystery, in that the celebration of the
Eucharist, rather than being and expression of fraternity becomes and
expression of individualism which fails to reflect the communion and
universality of the Church.
A simple reflection on the nature of the Eucharistic celebration, "sacrament
of holiness, sign of unity, and bond of charity"(386), should be
sufficient to persuade priests who lead pilgrim groups to celebrate the
Eucharist with other groups of the same language. On occasions when
pilgrims come together from different countries, it is important that the
Creed and the Our Father be sung in Latin using the simpler melodies(387).
Such celebrations offer a truer image of the Church and of the Eucharist,
and afford the faithful an opportunity for mutual encounter and reciprocal
Anointing of the Sick
269. The Ordo unctionis infirmorum cumque pastoralis curae
provides for the communal celebration of the Anointing of the Sick,
especially on the occasion of a pilgrimage to a shrine(388). Such is
perfectly in accord with the nature of the Sacrament: obviously, where the
imploration of the Lord's mercy is more intense, there too will the
maternal solicitude of the Church be more sought by her children who,
through sickness or old age, begin to be in danger of death(389).
The Rite is to be conducted in accordance with the stipulations of the
Ordo. "When several priests are available, each priest lays
on hands and administers the anointing with the formula to each sick
person in the group; the prayers, however, are to be recited by the
Celebration of the Other Sacraments
270. In addition to the celebration of the Sacraments of Penance, Holy
Eucharist, and the Anointing of the Sick, the other sacraments are
occasionally celebrated. This requires particular care on the part of the
rectors of shrines to ensure that the dispositions of the local bishop are
observed and that additionally:
they seek to build a genuine understanding and develop a fruitful
collaboration between shrine and parish community;
they consider the nature of every sacrament; for example, since the
Sacraments of Christian initiation require preparation and effect the
insertion of the Baptized into a particular ecclesial community, they
should normally be received in the parish;
they should ensure that the celebration of every sacrament has been
preceded by adequate preparation: the rectors of shrines may not proceed
to the marriage of any couple unless they shall have obtained the
permission of the Ordinary or the parish priest(391);
they should evaluate carefully the multiple and unpredictable
circumstances that can arise, and for which it is not always possible to
Celebrating the Liturgy of the Hours
271. A visit to a shrine, which is always a special occasion of private
and community prayer, affords a valuable opportunity to assist the
faithful in appreciating the beauty of the Liturgy of the Hours, and to
allow them to participate in the daily praise which the Church, on her
earthly pilgrimage, raises up to the Father, through Christ in the Holy
Rectors of shrines, therefore, are to make provision for the worthy and
opportune celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, especially Morning and
Evening prayer, in the liturgical programmes proposed for pilgrims. In
this respect, a votive office connected with the shrine could be used
either in whole or part(393).
During the course of the pilgrimage to a shrine, priests will ensure
that some hour of the Divine Office is recited by the faithful.
272. From earliest times, the Church is familiar with the practice of
blessing people, places, food, and other objects. In our times, the custom
of blessings presents some delicate concerns because of ancient practices
or customs deeply rooted amongst the faithful. The questions is obviously
more pertinent in shrines where the faithful come to implore the graces
and assistance of the Lord through the intercession of Our Lady of Mercy,
or of the Saints, and request the most varied of blessings. Correct
pastoral practise in dispensing blessings demands that the rectors of
proceed gradually and prudently in applying the principles contained
in the Rituale Romanum(394), which are based on the fundamental
principle that a blessing is an authentic expression of faith in God,
the giver of all good things;
give due importance—where possible—to the two elements which
constitute the "typical structure" of a blessing: proclamation
of the Word of God which makes sense of the sacred sign, and the prayer
with which the Church praises God and implores his assistance(395), as
recalled when the ordained minister makes the sign of the cross;
give precedence to community celebrations over individual or private
celebrations and to educate the faithful to active and conscious
273. It is, therefore, desirable that the rectors of shrines provide for
the celebration of blessings at specific times during the day(397),
especially during those periods when there is a notable increase in the
number of pilgrims. From these celebrations, which should be marked by
dignity and authenticity, the faithful should be able to grasp the true
meaning of a blessing, an the importance of commitment to observing the
commandments of God, which is "implied by asking for a blessing"(398).
Shrines as Places of Evangelization
274. Innumerable centres of social communications broadcast news and
messages of all kinds every day of the week. A shrine, however, is a place
for the proclamation of a message of life: the "Gospel of God"
(Mk 1,14; Rm 1,1), or the "Gospel of Jesus Christ" (Mk 1,1),
that is the good news coming from God about Jesus Christ: he is the
Saviour of all mankind, by whose death and resurrection heaven and earth
have been reconciled for ever.
The fundamental points of that message must be proposed, either directly
or indirectly, to the faithful who make pilgrimage to shrines: the
programme outlined in the Sermon on the Mount; the joyful proclamation of
the goodness and fatherhood of God and of His loving providence; the
commandment of love; the salvific significance of the Cross; the
transcendent end of human life.
Many shrines are effective places for the proclamation of the Gospel: in
the most varied of ways the message of Christ is transmitted to the
faithful as a call to conversion and an invitation to follow Christ, as an
exhortation to perseverance, as a reminder of the demands of justice, as a
word of consolation and peace.
The fact should not be overlooked that many shrines support the missions
ad gentes in various ways and fulfil an important role of
evangelization in the Church.
Shrines as Charitable Centres
275. The exemplary role of shrines is also expressed through charity.
Every shrine in so far as it celebrates the merciful presence of the Lord,
the example and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the
Saints, "is in itself a hearth radiating the light and warmth of
charity"(399). In common parlance and in the language of the poor "charity
is love expressed in the name of God"(400). It finds concrete
expression in hospitality and mercy, solidarity and sharing, assistance
Many shrines are centres mediating the love of God and fraternal charity
on the one hand, and the needs of mankind on the other. This is made
possible by the generosity of the faithful and the zeal of those
responsible for the shrines. The charity of Christ flourishes in these
sanctuaries which seem to be an extension of the maternal solicitude of
Our Lady and of the compassionate presence of the Saints expressed:
in the creation and development of permanent centres of social
assistance such as hospitals, educational institutions for needy
children, and in the provision of homes for the aged;
"in the hospitality extended to pilgrims, especially the poor,
to whom the opportunity for rest and shelter should be offered, in so
far as possible;
in the solicitude shown to the old, the sick, the handicapped, to
whom particular attention is always given, especially in reserving for
them the best places in the shrine: without isolating them from the
other pilgrims, celebrations should be made available at convenient
times, taking into account their ability to participate at them;
effective collaboration should also exist between the shrines and those
who generously provide for transport;
in availability and service to all who come to shrines: educated and
uneducated members of the faithful, poor and rich, locals and strangers"(401).
The Shrine as Cultural Centre
276. Shrines are often of cultural or heritage significance in
themselves. They synthesize numerous expressions of popular culture:
historical and artistic monuments, particular linguistic and literary
forms, or even musical compositions.
In this perspective, shrines can often play an important role in the
definition of the cultural identity of a nation. Since a shrine can
produce a harmonious synthesis between grace and nature, piety and art, it
can also be presented as an example of the via pulchritudinis for
the contemplation of the beauty of God, of the mystery of the Tota
pulchra, and of the wonderful accomplishment of the Saints.
The tendency to promote shrines as "cultural centres" must
also be acknowledged. Such efforts include the organisation of courses and
lectures, from which important publications can derive, as well as the
production of sacred "representations", concerts and other
artistic and literary activities.
The cultural activities of a shrine are undertaken as collateral
initiatives in support of human development. They are secondary to the
shrine's principal functions as a place of divine worship, of
evangelization and charity. The rectors of shrines will therefore ensure
that the cultic functions of such places will not be superceded by any
cultural activities taking place in them.
Sanctuaries and Ecumenical Commitment
277. The shrine, as a place of proclamation of the Word, of call to
conversion, of intercession, of intense liturgical life, and of charitable
works, is, to a certain extent, a "spiritual benefit" shared
with our brothers and sisters not in full communion with the Catholic
Church, in accord with the norms of the Ecumenical Directory(402).
In this sense, the shrine is called to be a place of ecumenical
commitment, fully aware of the grave and urgent need for the unity of
those who believe in Christ, the one Lord and Saviour.
Rectors of shrines will therefore make pilgrims aware of that "spiritual
ecumenism" of which Unitatis
redintegratio(403) and the Directory
on Ecumenism(404) speak, and which should be constantly remembered by
the faithful in their prayers, in the celebration of the Eucharist and in
their daily lives(405). Prayers for Christian unity should therefore be
intensified in shrines especially during the week of prayer for Christian
unity, as well as on the solemnities of the Ascension and Pentecost, in
which we remember the community of Jerusalem united in prayer while
awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit to confirm their unity and their
Were the opportunity to arise, the rectors of shrines should encourage
prayer meetings for Christians from various confessions from time to time.
These meetings should be carefully and collaboratively prepared. The Word
of God should be preeminent in them and they should include prayers drawn
from the various Christian denominations.
In certain circumstance, and by way of exception, attention may be given
to persons of different religions: some shrines, indeed, are visited by
non-Christians who go there because of the values inherent in
Christianity. All acts of worship taking place in a shrine must always be
clearly consistent with the Catholic faith, without ever attempting to
obfuscate anything of the content of the Church's faith.
278. Ecumenical endeavour in shrines dedicated to Our Lady pose special
considerations. At a supernatural level, Our Lady, who gave birth to our
Saviour and was the first and perfect disciple, played an important role
in promoting unity and concord among the disciples of the Lord. Hence the
Church refers to her as the Mater unitatis(407). At the historical
level, different interpretations of her role in the history of salvation
have provoked divisions among Christians. On the other hand, it must be
recognised that the Marian role is beginning to bear fruit in ecumenical
279. Pilgrimage is a universal religious experience and a typical
expression of popular piety(408). It is invariably connected with a
shrine, for which it is an indispensable component(409). Pilgrims needs
shrines, and shrines need pilgrims.
280. In the Bible, pilgrimage, with its religious symbolism, goes back
as far as that of the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to Sichem (cf.
Gn 12, 6-7; 33, 18-20), Bethel (cf. Gn 28, 10-22; 35, 1-15) and Mamre (Gn
13, 18; 18, 1-15) where God showed himself to them and made a commitment
to give them the "promised land".
For the tribes of Israel delivered from Egypt, Sinai, the mountain on
which God revealed himself to Moses (cf Ex 19-20) became a sacred place
and the crossing of the desert became a journey to the promised land: the
journey had God's blessing, the Ark (Num 9, 15-23) and the Tabernacle (cf.
2 Sam 7, 6) symbolised the presence of God among his people, leading them
and protecting them by the Cloud (cf. Num 9, 15-23).
When Jerusalem became the place of the Temple and the Ark, it became a
city-shrine for the Jews and the object of their "holy journey"
(Ps 84, 6), in which the pilgrim encountered "cries of joy and praise
and an exultant throng" (Ps 42, 5), and appeared in his presence in "God's
house" (cf Ps 84, 6-8)(410).
The men of Israel were obliged to present themselves before the Lord
three times each year (cf. Ex 23, 17), in the Temple in Jerusalem: this
gave rise to the pilgrimage to the Temple on the feast of the Pasch, of
the feast of weeks (Pentecost) and of tents; every religious family, such
as that of Jesus (cf Lk 2, 41), went to Jerusalem for these feast of the
Passover. Jesus went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem during his public ministry
(cf. John 11,55-56); St. Luke presents the saving mission of Jesus as a
mystic pilgrimage (cf. Lk 9, 51-19, 45) whose object is Jerusalem, the
messianic city, the place of his sacrifice and of his exodus to the
Father: "I came from the Father and have come into the world and now
I leave the world to go to the Father" (John 16, 28).The Church began
her missionary journey during a gathering of pilgrims in Jerusalem when "there
were devout men in Jerusalem from every nation under the heaven"
(Acts 2, 5) to celebrate Pentecost.
281. When Jesus
accomplished in himself the mystery of the Temple (cf. John 2,22-23) and
had passed from this world to the Father (cf. John 13,1), thereby going
through the definitive exodus in his own person, no pilgrimage was binding
any longer on his disciples: their entire lives now become a pilgrimage
towards the sanctuary of heaven and the Church is seen as an "earthly
The Church, however, because of the harmony between her teaching and the
spiritual values inherent in pilgrimage, has not only regarded pilgrimage
as a legitimate form of piety but has encouraged it throughout her
282. With a few exceptions, pilgrimage did not form part of the cultic
life of the Church for the first three centuries of her history: the
Church feared contamination from the religious practices of Judaism and
paganism, where pilgrimage was much practised.
During this period, however, the basis was laid for a revival of the
practice of pilgrimage with a Christian character: the cult of the
martyrs, to whose tombs many of the faithful went to venerate the mortal
remains of these outstanding witnesses to Christ, logically and gradually
became a successor to the "pious visit" and to the "votive
283. In the Constantinian era, following the rediscovery of the places
associated with the Passion of Our Lord and the of the relics of the
Passion, Christian pilgrimage made significant progress: pilgrimage to
Palestine was especially important in this regard, since its holy places,
starting with Jerusalem made it a "Holy Land" . Contemporary
accounts make this clear, as can be seen in the fourth century Itenerarium
Burdigalense and the Itenerarium Egeriae.
Basilicas were built on the site of the "holy places": the
Anastasis on the Holy Sepulchre, the Martyrium on the
Mount Calvary, and quickly became places of pilgrimage. The sites
associated with the infancy and public life of Christ also became places
of pilgrimage. Pilgrimages began to be made to some of the site associated
with the Old testament, such as Mount Sinai.
284. The middles ages were the golden age of pilgrimage. Apart from
their strictly religious function, they played an extraordinary part in
the development of Western Christianity, the amalgamation of various
nations, and to the interchange of ideas and values from every European
There were numerous places of pilgrimage. Jerusalem, despite its
occupation by the Muslims, still remained a great spiritual attraction for
the faithful, and gave rise to the crusades whose purpose was to make
Jerusalem accessible to the faithful who wished to visit the Holy
Sepulchre. Numerous pilgrims flocked to venerate the instruments of the
Passion: the tunic, the holy towel of Veronica, the holy stairs, and the
holy shroud. Pilgrims came to Rome to venerate the tombs of the Apostles
Peter and Paul (ad Limina Apostolorum), the catacombs and
basilicas, in recognition of the service rendered to the universal Church
by the successor of Peter. The shrine of Santiago di Compostela from the
ninth to the sixteenth centuries was frequented by countless pilgrims.
They came on foot from various countries and reflect an idea of pilgrimage
that is at once religious, social, and charitable. The tomb of St. Martin
of Tours was another important centre of pilgrimage, as was Canterbury,
the place of the martyrdom of St. Thomas à Becket. These places of
pilgrimage had enormous influence throughout Europe. Monte Gargano in
Apulia, San Michele della Chieusa in the Piemonte, and Mont St. Michel in
Normandy, all dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel, were important
pilgrim centres, as were Walsingham, Rocamadour and Loreto.
285. Pilgrimage declined in the modern period because of changed
cultural circumstances, the events surrounding the protestant movement and
also because of the influence of the enlightenment: the journey to a
distant country become "a spiritual journey", or an "interior
journey", or a "symbolic procession" reduced a short walk
as in the case of the via Crucis.
The second half of the nineteenth century saw a revival or pilgrimage,
but in a much changed form: the goal of such pilgrimage becomes a
particular shrine which embodies the faith or cultural identity of
specific nations: shrines can mentioned in this context such as Altoeting,
Antipolo, Aparecida, Assisi, Caacupé, Coromoto, Czestochowa,
Ernakilam-Angamaly, Fatima, Guadalupe, Kevelaer, Knock, La Vang, Loreto,
Lourdes, Mariazell, Marienberg, Montevergine, Montserrat, Nagasaki,
Namugongo, Padova, Pompei, San Giovanni Rotondo, Washington, Yamoussoukro
Spirituality of Pilgrimage
286. Despite change, pilgrimage has maintained the essential traits of
its spirituality throughout the ages, down to our own time.
Eschatological Dimension. The original and essential quality of
pilgrimage: a pilgrimage, or "journey to a shrine", is both a
moment in and parable of, our journey towards the Kingdom; it affords an
opportunity for the Christian to take greater stock of his eschatological
destiny as homo viator: journeying between the obscurity of the
faith and the thirst for the vision of clarity, tribulation and the desire
for everlasting life, the weariness of the journey and the rest awaiting,
between exile and homeland, between frenetic activity and
The exodus event, Israel's journey towards the promised land, is also
reflected in the spirituality of pilgrimage: the pilgrim is well aware
that "there is no eternal city for us in this life" (Hb 14, 14),
and that beyond the immediate objective of a particular shrine and across
the desert of life, we find our true Promised Land, in heaven. Penitential
dimension. Pilgrimage is also a journey of conversion: in journeying
towards a shrine the pilgrim moves from a realisation of his own
sinfulness and of his attachment to ephemeral and unnecessary things to
interior freedom and an understanding of the deeper meaning of life. As
has already been said, a visit to a shrine can be a propitious occasion
for the faithful and is often undertaken in order to avail of the
Sacrament of Penance(413). In the past—as in our own times—pilgrimage
itself has been seen as a penitential act.
When the pilgrim returns from a genuine pilgrimage, he does so with the
intention of "amending his life", and ordering it more closely
to God, and to live in a more transcendent way.
Festive dimension. The penitential aspect of pilgrimage is
complemented by a festive aspect: the festive dimension also lies at the
heart of pilgrimage, and arises from many anthropological reasons.
The joy of a Christian pilgrimage is a continuation of the joy
experienced on Israel's pious pilgrimage to Jerusalem: "I rejoiced
when I heard them say: 'let us go up to God's house'" (Ps 122, 1);
pilgrimage can be a break from the monotony of daily routine; it can be an
alleviation of the burdens of every day life, especially for the poor
whose lot is heavy; it is an occasion to give expression to Christian
fraternity, in moments of friendship meeting each other, and spontaneity
which can sometimes be repressed.
Worship dimension. Pilgrimage is essentially an act of worship:
a pilgrim goes to a shrine to encounter God, to be in His presence, and to
offer Him adoration in worship, and to open his heart to Him.
During his visit to the shrine, the pilgrim completes many acts of
worship which are properly Liturgical or drawn from popular piety. He
performs different kind of prayers: prayers of praise and adoration
to the Lord for his goodness and holiness; prayers of thanksgiving
for the gifts he has given; prayers in discharge of a vow; prayers
imploring the graces necessary in life; prayers asking for
forgiveness of sins committed.
Frequently, the pilgrim's prayers are directed to Our Lady, or to the
Angels and Saints who are regarded as powerful intercessors with God. The
icons venerated at pilgrim shrines are signs of the presence of the Mother
of God and the Saints who surround the Lord in his glory, "living for
ever to intercede for us" (Hb 7, 25), and always present in the
community gathered in his name (cf Mt 18, 20; 28, 20). Sacred images,
whether of Christ, his Mother, the Angels and Saints, are signs of the
divine presence and of God's provident love; they bear witness to the
prayers of generations raised up to God in supplication, to the sighs of
the afflicted, and to the thankful joy of those who have received grace
Apostolic dimension. The pilgrim's journey, in a certain sense,
recalls the journey of Christ and his disciples as they travelled
throughout Palestine to announce the Gospel of salvation. In this
perspective, pilgrimage is a proclamation of faith in which pilgrims
become "errant heralds of Christ"(414).
Dimension of communion. The pilgrim who journeys to a shrine is
in a communion of faith and charity not only with those who accompany him
on the "sacred journey" (cf Ps 84, 6), but with the Lord himself
who accompanies him as he once accompanied the disciples on the road to
Emmaus (cf. Lk 24, 13-35). He travels with his own community and through
that community, he journeys with the Church in heaven and on earth. He
travels with all of the faithful who have prayed at that shrine down
through the centuries. He appreciates the natural beauty which surrounds
the shrine and which he is moved to respect. The pilgrim journeys with
mankind whose sufferings and hopes are so clearly evident at the shrine,
especially as represented through art.
Conducing a Pilgrimage
287. As the shrine is a place of prayer, a pilgrimage is a journey of
prayer. Each stage of the pilgrim journey should be marked by prayer and
the Word of God should be its light and its guide, its food and its
The success of a pilgrimage, seen as an act of worship, and of the
spiritual fruits deriving from it, require careful planning of the various
celebrations that will take place during the pilgrimage, and adequate
highlighting of their various phases.
The beginning of the pilgrimage should be an occasion of prayer,
preferably in the parish church or in some other suitable church, with the
celebration of the Holy Eucharist or a part of the Liturgy of the
Hours(415), or with a special blessing for pilgrims(416).
The final stage of the pilgrimage should be characterised by
intense prayer. It should preferably, be travelled on foot in processional
form, and interspersed with prayer, hymns and pauses at the shrines
marking the rout to the sanctuary.
The reception of the pilgrims could be a suitable moment for a "threshold
liturgy", placing the pilgrims and the keepers of the shrine in a
perfect context of faith; where possible, the latter should join with the
pilgrims in the final phase of the pilgrim journey.
The time spent in the sanctuary constitutes the most important
part of the pilgrimage and should be marked by a commitment to conversion,
ratified by reception of the Sacrament of Penance; by private prayer of
thanksgiving, supplication, or of intercession, in accordance with the
nature of the shrine or the objectives of the pilgrimage; by celebration
of the Holy Eucharist, which is the climax of the pilgrimage(417).
The conclusion of the pilgrimage should be marked by a moment of
prayer, either in the shrine itself or at the church from which the
pilgrimage departed(418). The pilgrims should give thanks to God for the
gift of the pilgrimage and ask the Lord for his assistance in living out
the Christian vocation more generously when they return to their homes.
From antiquity, pilgrims have always brought home souvenirs of their
pilgrimage, in recollection of the shrine that they had visited. Care
should be taken to ensure that object, images, and books available in
shrines transmit authentically the spirit of the shrine. Care should also
be taken to ensure that shops or stalls are not set up within the sacred
space of the sanctuary, and that even the appearance of commerce be
288. Both parts of this Directory contain many directives, proposals,
and guidelines to encourage and clarify popular piety and religiosity, and
to harmonise it with the Liturgy.
In referring to specific traditions and diverse circumstances, the
Directory wishes to set forth some basic presuppositions, to reiterate
various directives, and to make some suggestions so as to promote fruitful
With the assistance of their collaborators, especially of the rectors of
shrines, it is for the Bishops to establish norms and practical guidelines
in relation to this matter, taking into account local traditions and
particular manifestations of popular piety and religiosity.
INDEX OF BIBLICAL REFERENCES
The biblical reference is followed by the number of the relevant
paragraph of the Directory where it is cited: where the reference alludes
to a biblical text rather than a direct citation, the paragraph number is
given in italics.
1, 12 181
2, 6 254
2, 9 109
2, 17 249
3, 3 249
3, 19 249, 254
3, 24 214
8, 1-15 280
12, 6-7 280
13, 18 280
21, 17 214
22, 11 214
28, 10-22 280
33, 18-20 280
35, 1-15 280
12, 1 175
13, 2.12-13 218
19, 6 76
23, 17 280
11, 44-45 76
12, 1-8 120
19, 2 76
9, 15-23 280
10, 33-36 280
6, 12-19 245
7, 5-16 218
19, 4-8 214
17, 11-14 218
12, 15 214
12, 46 251
42, 5 280
84, 6-8 280, 286
89 , 2 154
91, 11 214
103, 20 213
122, 1 286
137, 1 215
1, 13 249
17, 1 159, 254
6, 3 215
6, 1-4 214
7, 14 118
9, 5 108
9, 6 118
11, 1 181
52, 13 53, 12 137
53, 3 136
53, 4-5 175
3, 49-50 214
6, 23 214
12, 10 167
3, 20 98
1, 18-25 214
1, 19 218
1, 20-21 218
1, 21 105, 218
1, 23 118
2, 1 106
2, 11 118, 218
2, 13-20 214
2, 13-23 218
2, 16-17 113
3, 2 96
3, 4 224
3, 13-16 224
3, 17 106
4, 11 214
6, 6 82
6, 1-6. 16-18 124
11, 29 167, 170
18, 10 214
18, 20 186 , 286
19, 12 220
20, 22 175
21, 1-10 245
22, 16 77
22, 32 80
25, 31 214
26, 47-56 137
28, 19 36 157
28, 19-20 247
28, 20 286
1, 1 274
1, 14 274
6, 14-29 224
10, 38 175
11, 1-11 245
11, 24 242
14, 32 131
14, 33-34 249
16, 1-8 214
1, 6 224
1, 17 224
1, 26. 36 225
1, 27 218
1, 28 102, 196
1, 26-38 214
1, 31-33 102
1, 36 225
1, 39-45 224
1, 51 193
1, 57-66 224
1, 76 224
1, 78 98
1, 80 224
2, 1-7 137
2, 6-7 218
2, 7 97
2, 8-14 214
2, 14 108
2, 15-16 218
2, 19 193
2, 21 175, 218
2, 22-24 121, 218
2, 22-38 245
2, 22-40 122
2, 25-33 218
2, 32 120
2, 34-35 136, 137, 145
2, 35 136
2, 41 280
2, 41-42 112
2, 43-50 218
2, 51 218
2, 52 107
3, 2 224
3, 3 224
4, 28-29 137
7, 28 224
9, 23 133
12, 49-50 133
15, 10 214
19, 28-38 245
22, 42-43 175
22, 43 214
22, 44 131
23, 33 131
23, 43 257
23, 53 142
24, 13-35 286
24, 49 153
24, 49 155
1, 7 225
1, 11 137
1, 14 175, 263
1, 29 175, 224
1, 34 224
1, 36 175
2, 11 106
2, 18-21 262
2, 21 263
2, 22-23 281
3, 16 77, 248
3, 18 77
3, 28-30 224
3, 30 225
4, 20-24 265
4, 23 85
4, 34 77
5, 33 224
6, 40 248
6, 54 175
6, 63 23
10, 30 167
11, 55-56 280
12, 12-16 245
12, 24 254
12, 36 175
13, 1 281
13, 34 23
14, 6 77, 158
14, 26 78, 153
16, 13-15 153
16, 13-25 78
16, 28 280
17, 21 182
19, 5 129
19, 25-27 145, 203
19, 34 129, 142, 167, 173, 175
19, 37 167
19, 40-42 131
20, 20 167
20, 27 167
Acts of the Apostles
1, 11 214
1, 14 155, 191
2, 1-4 156
2, 5 280
2, 1-13 79
2, 42-47 86
4, 12 56
5, 17-20 215
7, 59 23
7, 54-60 208
8, 31-35 175
10, 38 245
12, 1-5 137
12, 6-11 215
1, 1 274
1, 5 76
5, 12 249
6, 2-6 55
6, 3-10 257
6, 4 77
6, 23 249
8, 9 77
8, 14 78
8, 15-17 78
8, 24-25 96
8, 26-27 78
8, 32 77
12,1 48, 78, 85
12, 15 252
16, 26 76
2, 10 78
3, 16 236
3, 16-17 263
5, 7 175
6, 19 236, 263
10, 16 177
11, 17-32 23
11, 24 80
11, 24-26 23
11, 23-26 55
11, 25 175
15, 25-16, 3 245
15, 42-44 252
6, 16 236, 263
8, 9 108
4, 4 180, 249
4, 10 23
2, 19-22 262
4, 13 77, 211
5, 8 153
5, 25-27 176
1, 21 259
2, 5 78
1, 13 153
1, 20 136, 175
2, 12 77
2, 16 23
2, 16-l9 23
2, 13 23
5, 17 23
2, 5 56, 77, 158, 210
2, 11 249
1, 1-2 77
1, 14 213
2, 14 180
4, 14 77
7, 25 286
8, 6 77
9, 11 263
9, 11-12 176
9, 15 77
12, 24 77
12, 28 85
13, 14 247, 249, 262, 286
1, 18 177
1, 18-20 175
1, 19 176
2, 5 46, 48, 262, 263
2, 25 77
3, 15 86
1, 2 108
1, 7 176
3, 2 96
1, 5 77, 176
1, 8 116
1, 28 80
5, 6 168
5, 8 215
6, 9 176
6, 10 176
6, 9-11 208
7, 9-17 208
7, 14 176
8, 3 215
8, 3-4 214
21, 3 263
21, 4 249
21, 22 262
22, 13 116
OF PERSONS AND PLACES
Each entry is followed by a reference to a paragraph number in the
Directory; when the reference is to a note, the number is followed by *.
Ambrose, St., 237*, 249*.
Anne, St. 211.
Augustine, St. 140*, 142*, 167*, 168, 227*, 251*, 278*, 286*
Bartholomew, St., 285.
Basil the Great, St., 216.
Beauduin, Lambert, 46*.
Bede, St., 227.
Benedict XIV, 42, 196.
Bernard, St., 169, 216.
Bernardine of Siena, St., 220*
Bonaventure, St., 169.
Botte, Bernard, 46*.
Casel, Odo 284.
Catherine Labouré, St., 206.
Catherine of Siena, St., 169.
Claude la Colombière, St., 170.
Clement VIII, 203*.
Cristoforo di Venezia, 207*.
Cyprian, St., 81*, 251*.
De' Nobili, Roberto, 43.
Eusebius of Caeseria 208*.
Eusebius of Vercelli, St., 211.
Fatima, 174, 189, 285.
Francis of Assisi, St., 104.
Francis de Sales, St., 170.
Garcia Navarro Manuel, 188*
Germanus pf Constantinople, 207*.
Giustiniani, Paolo, 37.
Gregory XIII, 227.
Gregory the Great, St., 27.
Guadalupe, 107, 207*, 285.
Guardini, Romano 46*.
Guéranger Prosper, 44.
John XXII, 169.
John XXIII, (Blessed), 178.
John Bosco, St., 170.
John Christosom, 251*.
John Eudes, St., 170.
John Paul II 2, 3*,6*, 9*, 21*,50*, 59*, 61*, 63*, 64*, 65*, 66*, 68*,
71*, 95*, 102, 139*, 154*, 156*, 167*, 174*, 204*, 207,210*, 220*, 223*,
227, 263*, 264*, 278*.
John the Baptist, St., 24-225, 229.
Joseph, St., 211, 218-223, 29.
Jungmann, Josef A., 46*.
Kowalska Faustina (St.) 154.
La Vang 285.
Leo XII 112*, 136*, 167*, 203, 220*, 222.
Leonardo da Porto Maurizio, St., 132
Loreto, 284, 285.
Louis M. Grignon de Montfort, St., 204.
Lucy, St., 211
Ludolf of Saxony, 169.
Lutgard, St., 169.
Margaret Mary Alacoque, St., 229.
Martin, St., 284.
Martimort, Aimé-Georges, 46*.
Mary Magdala, St. 229.
Matilda of Helfta, St., 169.
Matilda of Magdeburg, St., 169.
Maximilian M. Kolbe, St., 206.
Muratori, Ludovico Antonio, 42.
Newman, John henry, 44.
Omobono, St., 211.
Parsch, Pius, 46*.
Patrick, St., 211.
Paul V, 39*.
Paul VI, 2*,6*, 9*, 61*, 73+, 74*, 75*, 94*, 101*, 123*, 164*, 165*,
167*, 180*, 182*, 184*,185*, 186*, 193*, 195*, 197*, 202*, 205*, 207*,
Peter and Paul, Sts., 229; memorial in Rome, 284.
Pius V, St.,39*.
Pius IX, Blessed, 220.
Pius X, St., 46, 222.
Pius XI, 171.
Pius XII, 8*, 46*, 164*, 167*, 174, 220.
Querini, Pietro 37.
Raymond, St., 211
Ricci, Matteo, 43.
Ratzinger, Joseph, 90*, 91*.
Rosmini Antonio, 44.
Rupert of Deutz, 147*.
Saint-Michel, Mont 216, 284.
San Giovanni Rotondo, 285.
San Michele Gargano, 216, 284.
San Michele della Chiusa, 216, 284.
Santiago de Compostela, 284.
Sixtus V, 39*.
Stephen, St., 229.
Thomas the Apostle, St., 211.
Thomas Becket, St., 284.
Umberto de Romanis, 188*.
Urban IV 160.
Vagaggini, Cipriano 46*.
The entry is followed by the number of the relevant paragraph of the
Directory;where the reference is to a footnote the number is followed by
an asterisk (*).
Act of Reparation
formula to implore mercy and to make reparation the the Sacred Heart of
as a language of popular piety 15.
between liturgical forms and popular piety in the IV century 24; the
process of a. and inculturation of a pious practice 92.
Adoration of the Blood of Christ
Hour of a. and its purpose 178.
harmonisation with the a. liturgy. 96-105; a. wreath 98; a. processions.
99; the winter season 100; the memory of the Virgin Mary 101-102
and191; Christmas novena 103; Christmas crib 104; spirit of a. and popular
composition and purpose 98.
hymn to the Mother of God in the Byzantine rite 207
as intercession for the deceased 251.
Placing of relics under the a. during dedication 237; on not placing
relics or images of the saints on the a. 237 and 244.
teaching of the Church, witness of Scripture and Tradition 213-214;
veneration of the a. in particular days, circumstances and conditions 215;
devotion of the faithful to the a., nature of the guardian a. 216;
possible deviations 217.
linked to the feast of the Annunciation 187; significance and form of
the a. 195; accompanying the Angelus Dei 216 and the Requiem
invoking the guardian angel, often accompanying the Angelus Domini
Anointing of the Sick
celebrated in the shrines 269.
anthropological dimension of symbolism and expressions of popular piety
12; anthropological values and Marian feasts 187 and in the feasts of the
saints 232-233; anthropological content of procession247.
link between liturgy and popular piety in a. 23-27
the spread of apocryphal literature in the Middle Ages and its influence
on iconography 30; a. on the life of Mary 23*.
teachings concerning popular piety 2.
See Dicastery, Magisterium.
witness of elements of popular matrix 23.
in the context of private revelations 90; a. of Fatima 174 and 189.
veneration of sacred images and the artistic patrimony 18; baroque
culture 41; inculturation and artistic expression 92; artistic value of
sacred images 243; a. in the sacred shrines 276.
its meaning 125.
birth of a. in the Middle Ages 31; a. of the faithful as subjects of
popular piety 69; a. and the practice of pious exercises 72, of the Marian
Saturday 188, of the acts of consecration to Mary 204; Association
of the Holy Family 112; a. and pious devotions for the deceased 260;
a. and the care of pilgrims at shrines 275.
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (solemnity)
the solemnity of the a. 180 and expressions of popular piety 181.
in the context of the Angelus Domini 195 and of the rosary 197.
feast of the Baptism of the Lord 119; b. and consecration to Mary 204;
b. and the meaning of dying in Christ 250.
See Initiation, Christian
on Easter Sunday 245.
competence and responsibilities of the b. concerning popular piety 1, 3,
5, 18, 21; teachings of Conference/s of B. on popular piety 2; the B. as
recipients of this Directory 5; approval from the B. of a diocesan shrine
264 and its relationship to the B. 270; the competence of the B. to give
norms and guidelines concerning popular piety according to the local
when they may be named in the litany of saints 235.
the development of rites of b. in the Middle Ages, where one finds,
along with the elements of Christian faith, some aspects of other creeds
32-33; pastoral use of rites of b. at sacred shrines 272-273; b. of
children 112; of homes 118, 152; of candles 120; of a mother 121;
of eggs 150; of the family table 68, 109, 150, 260; of families 152; with
the Most Blessed Sacrament 163; of herbs 181; of rosary beads 198; of
medals 206; of fire 225; with relics of the saints 237; of sacred images
244; of pilgrims 287.
Blood of Christ
Veneration and devotion 175-179; scriptural foundations 175-176; in
liturgical worship 177; in popular piety 178; prayerful meditation on the
seven wounds 178, iconography 179.
See Body and Blood of Christ; Via Sanguinis.
Body and Blood of the Lord
the solemnity 160-163 and177; institution of the feast of the B. 160;
eucharistic procession 162-163 and 245.
See Blood of Christ
internment and cremation 252-254.
See Funeral rites.
memorial of Mary in Advent 101, in the month of August 190 *; the hymn
link between pious Marian devotions and general celebrations of the c.
or of the particular c. of the diocese or religious family 187;
celebrations of the saints in the particular c. and in the general Roman
c. 227-229; directions and norms of the Roman c. concerning the
celebrations of the saints 229.
the lack of c. in the Middle Ages as a threat to the correct expression
of the Christian faith 33; the work of c. in the missions also through
pious practices 36; the promotion of c. and Giustiniani and Querini 37;
the formative purpose of parish catechesis 39; c. of adults on Sunday at
the time of the Catholic reform 42; c. supports a healthy relationship
between liturgy and popular piety 49; c. concerning the Christian meaning
of Sunday 95; pious devotions as a means of c. 189; c. and devotion to the
saints 212-213; c. concerning sacred images 239; need for c. on the
meaning of intercession for the deceased 255.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
private revelations 90; the mystery of the Trinity 157*;
183* and commentary on the Ave Maria 197*; danger of naive
credulity 206*; Purgatory 210* and 251; the angels 213* and 215*; sacred
images 238*, 239, 240*; faith in the resurrection of the dead 248*; death
249*; intercession for the deceased 251*, 252* and 257*.
historical period 41-43.
Celebrations of the Word
importance of listening to Gods word in Marian devotions 193-194.
procession to the c. on the 2nd November and in the funeral rites 245;
visiting the c. 260.
relationship between ministry and c. concerning the expression of
popular piety 84.
forms of compassion and c. 6; c. as a value in popular piety 61; the
practice of c. in confraternities and associations 69; forms of c. linked
with infancy and human life 113; the c. of the Sacred Heart of Jesus 166;
shrines as places of c. 263 and 275.
feast of the Holy Innocents and the protection of infants and c. 113.
See Jesus Christ
origin 25 and 27; liturgical time and expressions of popular piety
106-119; Christmas tree 109; Christmas dinner 109; spirituality of
Christmas 108; midnight Mass 111; Christmas Eve 109-111; crib 104 and 109.
symbolism of the c. 109.
the C.s care for popular piety1; liturgy and popular piety in the
light of the Magisterium of the C. 2, 60-75; the faith of the C. is
expressed in forms of prayer 16; the C. as people of God 44; popular piety
belongs to the life of worship of the C. 50; the C. as a worshipping
community 81-86; the ecclesiological principle of Christian
worship 84; recognising the authority of the C. in the context of private
revelations 90; precept of the C. to confess ones serious sins at
least once per year and of receiving Holy Communion at least once per year
125; Mary as icon of the C. 147, 180; image of the C. as spouse 179;
Magisterium of the C. and Marian devotions 185-186; popular piety as a
means of promoting an ecclesial vision of Mary189; the Akathistos
prayer contains the faith of the early Church in Mary 207; doctrine of the
C. on the saints 208-212, on angels 213-214, on sacred images 240; faith
of the C. in eternal life 248.
Commemoration of the faithful departed
on the 2nd November and related intercessions for the deceased 245, 255
c. and popular piety 85-86.
Conference/s of bishops
teachings of C. on popular piety 2; C. pious devotions regarding a
nation or a large region 92; competence of the C. concerning rogation days
245 and the recognition of national shrines 264.
See Documents of the Conferences of bishops
gift of the Holy Spirit 156; baptism and c. as the basis of consecration
to God 204.
birth, development and purpose of c. in the Middle Ages 31 and in the
post-tridentine era 41; c. as subjects of popular piety and their forms of
piety, devotions and charity 69; the practice of pious devotions in c. 72;
representations of the passion fostered by c. 144; c. and devotion to the
faithful departed 260.
and the feast of the Presentation of the Lord 122.
Consecration of families
c. to the Holy Family 112, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus 171.
Consecration to Mary
c. to the Immaculate Heart of Mary 174; significance of the act of c.
Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
personal c. 68, of the family 171
Liturgy and popular piety in the c. 44-46
memorial of Mary in Advent 101, 190 *
of Chalcedon 207; of Carthage III 26*; of Constantinople I 207*; of
Ephesus 207; of Florence 210*, 251; Lateran V 38; of Lyons II 251*; of
Nicea I 207; of Nicea II 238 (Definitio de sacris imaginibus 18*,
28, 238*, 239*, 240*); of Trent 38, 39, 251 (Decretum de invocatione,
veneratione et reliquiis Sanctorum et sacris imaginibus 8*, 18*, 38*,
236*, 239*, 240*, 241*; Decretum de peccato originali 349*; Decretum
de purgatorio 38*; Decretum de sacramentis 38*; Decretum
de ss. Eucharistia 38*; Decretum de reformatione generali 38;
Decretum super petitione concessionis calicis 38*; Doctrina de
communione sub utraque specie et parvulorum 38*; Doctrina de
sacramento extremæ unctionis 38*; Doctrina de sacramento
matrimoniii 38*; Doctrina de sacramento ordinis 38*; Doctrina
de sacramento pænitentiæ 38*; Doctrina de ss. Missæ
sacrificio 38*); Vatican II 1, 2, 12, 46, 60, 70, 227, 228, 236
(Documents: Ad gentes 156*; Apostolicam actuositatem 183*,
286*; Christus Dominus 5*; Dei Verbum 76*, 87*, 88*; Gaudium
et spes 100*, 156*, 248*; Lumen gentium 5*, 70*, 83*, 183*,
204*, 205*, 207*, 210*, 212*, 251*, 257*; Optatam totius 183*;
Presbyterorum Ordinis 183*; Sacrosanctum Concilium 7*,
11*, 18*, 46, 50-59, 67*, 70*, 71*, 72*, 73*, 81*, 83*, 94*, 95*, 171*,
175*, 180*, 201*, 209*, 228*, 229*, 237*, 268*; Unitatis redintegratio
practice and canonical legislation 254.
the veneration of the C. 127-128; sign of triumph, of blessings 128;
adoration of the C. 159.
veneration of the C. 127-129
Gospel and c. meet in popular piety 63, 91-92; discerning the values of
the c. 95; 243, sacred images carry the mark of their surrounding c. 257;
the shrine as a place of c. 276.
c. and pious devotions 72.
as religious expression in some popular traditions 17.
psalm for the deceased 260.
the care of the d. in promoting liturgical life and popular piety 1;
among those to whom this directory is addressed 5.
the meaning of Christian d., in the light of the faith 248-250;
the concealment of d. 259.
See Cremation, Deceased, Funeral rites.
primitive traces in popular practice concerning the memory of the d. 23;
prayers and intercession for the d. in the Middle Ages 32; the memory of
the d. and intercession for them in the Liturgy and in popular piety
248-260; procession to the c. on the 2nd November and in the funeral rites
245, visiting the cemetery 260; Christian meaning of death 249;
celebration of the Eucharist 251-252 and 255; the souls in Purgatory 251;
intercession 251-255; the funeral rites 252-254; burial 252-254; cremation
254; remembrance of the d. in the Liturgy of the hours 255; popular piety
towards the d. 256-260 the dangers to be avoided 258-259; customs and
traditions concerning the worshipping of the d. 257; immortality of the
soul 257-258; novena for the d. 260.
See Funeral rites, Indulgences, Intercession
erroneous beliefs 217.
its influence 34-35.
meaning of the term (exterior acts animated by an interior disposition)
Dicasteries of the Holy See
Congregation of Rites: Decree Quemadmodum Deus 220*; Decree Maxima
redemptionis nostrae mysteria 143*; Instruction Eucharisticum
mysterium 2*, 141*, 164*; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,
Letter Orationis forma 57*; (Congregation of the Holy Office),
Instruction De cadaverum crematione 254*; Congregation for
Bishops, Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops 5*, 75*;
Congregation for the Clergy: Directory for the Ministry and Life of
Priests 197*; General Directory on Catechesis 2*, 59*;
Congregation for Divine Worship, Instruction De Calendariis
particularibus 231*; Congregation for Divine Worship, Letter on
the preparation and celebration of the Easter Feasts 138*, 139*, 140*,
141*, 145*, 146*, 156*; Lettera circolare Guidelines and proposals for
celebrating a marian year 66*, 73*, 183*, 184* , 186*, 188*, 190*,
191*, 194*, 195*, 197*, 199*, 200*, 202*, 203*, 204*, 205*, 266*, 275*;
Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments,
Instruction Varietates legitimae 6*, 12*, 21*, 66*, 92*; Notification
on devotion to the Beatified 236*; Penitenzieria Apostolica, Enchiridion
Indulgentiarum 72*; Pontifical Council for Culture, Per una
pastorale della Cultura 91*; Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care
of Migrants and Travellers, Il Santuario. Memoria, presenza
and profezia del Dio vivente 262*; Il Pellegrinaggio nel Grande
Giubileo del 2000 279*; Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, Directoire
pour lapplication des Principes et des Normes sur lOecuménisme
155*, 182*, 277*.
nature 4; purpose 4; structure 4; those to whom this d. is addressed 5;
on not invoking the dead for purposes of d. 258.
the devotion to the D. on the second Sunday of Easter 154.
Documents of the Conferences of Bishops
General Episcopal Conference of Latin-America, Documento di Puebla
2*, 58*, 61*, 62*, 63*, 64*, 66*, 74*; Documento de Santo Domingo
2*; Episcopal Conference of Spain, Episcopal Commision for Liturgy, Evangelización
y renovación de la piedad popular 2*; Secretariado National
Secretariat for Liturgy, Liturgia y piedad popular, Directorio
Litúrgico-Pastoral 2*; Italian Episcopal Conference, Commission
for Liturgy, Pastoral letter Il rinnovamento liturgico in Italia
Dormition of Mary
Eastern solemnity on the 15th August 23* and 190*.
to wear a particular d. 15, distinctive sign of some confraternities 69;
the scapular as a reduced form of religious d. 205.
commendation to Saint Joseph 220-221 and to the intercession of
the saints 235.
Liturgy, iconography, hymnody in the E. in the Middle Ages 28;
the Blessed Virgin Mary in Advent in the calendar of the Christian E. 101;
the feast Hypapante in the Byzantine E. 120; spread of the Trisagio
159; Marian months in the E. 190; Akathistos hymn 207; veneration
of the saints 208; iconography 243.
See Byzantine rite , Coptic rite
E. Sunday and popular piety 148-151.
See Eastertide, Easter Triduum.
used in some places at the Epiphany 118.
liturgical significance and implications for popular piety152-156..
week of prayer for Christian unity 182, the Pentecost novena 155; the
ecumenical criterion for expressions of popular piety 182; and Marian
pious exercises 186, and the hymn Akathistos 207; the shrine as a
place of ecumenical promise 277-278.
anointing of the sick and the e. 269; welcoming sick pilgrims to shrines
exchange of spousal promises 112.
Epiphany of the Lord
origin of the feast 25, anchored in the one paschal mystery of Christ
27; the solemnity of the E. 25, 27, and its implications for popular piety
recipients of this Directory 5.
acts of piety and devotion have their place outside of the Eucharistic
celebration 13; devotion to the Passion must lead to full participation in
the E. 80; memorial of Christs Pasch 81; common priesthood and the
E. 85; precept to receive Holy Communion at least once a year 125; reality
and depth of devotion to the E. 160; Eucharistic processions and adoration
of the E. 162-165; celebratory context of the E. in the practice of the
first Fridays of the month 171 and of the first Saturdays
174; the Church prays in every E. for the gifts of unity and peace 182;
triduums and novenas as a preparation for the Sunday E. 189; E. and the
feasts of the saints 227; Saints and the celebration of the E. 234; the
celebration of the eucharistic sacrifice for the deceased 251, and the
funeral rites 252 and intercession 255; E. at shrines 268; celebration of
the E. at the beginning of a pilgrimage, at its centre and at its
substitute for eucharistic communion which was rare in the Middle Ages
32; exposition and e. on December 31st 114; after the Mass of the Lords
Supper 141; expression of devotion to the Eucharist, purpose and
method of e. 164-165.
See Eucharistic devotion.
significance and correct ordering 160-163
See Eucharistic Adoration.
in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries e. was helped through the pious
exercises promoted by missionaries 36; importance of popular piety in e.
64; e. of popular piety 2, 21, 66, 80; the shrine as a place of e. 274.
Litany of the Saints during e. 235.
Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament
See Eucharistic adoration
the f. as subject of popular piety 68; feast of the Holy Family and the
carrying out of the Christian familys rites and moments of prayer
(dedication to the Holy Family, blessing of children, renewal of marriage
vows, engaged couples exchange of promises) 112; blessing of the
family table 68, 109, 150, 260; annual blessing of families in their homes
152, the consecration of the family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus 68, 171;
readings and reflections on the f. in Gods word 68; f. and pious
linked to sacred times 25; f. during Lent 126.
the mystery of Gods paternity 79-80.
apparitions at F. and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary 174;
gatherings for Marian prayer recalling F. on the 13th of every month 189;
shrine of F. 285.
times of f. 20; the source of f. days 33; Marian f. and pious exercises
187; preparation for f. 189; convergent elements in the f. of a saint 227,
its preparation and celebration 230-234; f. and their religious and
anthropological content 232 233.
practice of the nine f. 42, 171.
f. of priests and faithful 11; the importance of f. for popular piety
Eucharistic devotion 165
memorial of the Passion 130.
See First Fridays
prayers that the angels might accompany the soul of the deceased into
paradise 215; procession to the cemetery 245; rites 252-254.
liturgical meaning and demonstrations of popular pity 142-145; the
procession of the "dead Christ" 142-143; the representation of
the Passion 144; the devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows 145; the "
reproaches " 159.
Gregory the Great
reference to a fruitful relationship between Liturgy and popular piety
Guadalupe (Our Lady of)
the feast 102; the shrine 207*, 285.
h. between liturgy and popular piety as the aim of this Directory 4; h.
and not opposition or suppression 50, 58, 74; the second part of the
Directory exemplifies this h.
liturgy and popular piety throughout the centuries 22-46 (antiquity
23-27; Middle ages 28-33; modern era 34-43; contemporary era 44-46);
history of salvation 76; historical development of pilgrimages 281-285.
the liturgical feast 112
The meaning of this day 146; the pious exercise of the Ora della
Action of the H. in the Christian worship 78-80 and 85; H. and
sacraments 79; the S. and the expression of popular piety, the relevance,
action and role of the H. 80, 83 and 156.
See Novena (of Pentecost), Pentecost, Veni Creator Spiritus, Veni Sancte
Eucharistic adoration and the place of reposition of the Most Blessed
Sacrament 141 and 164.
aspersion rite at Sunday Mass 119; blessing of the table with h. At the
Easter Vigil 150; the use of h. during the funeral rites 254.
differences and harmonization between the liturgical celebrations and
demonstrations of popular piety 138-139.
See Palms, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter.
kissing and touching i. 15; the value and relevance of i. in popular
piety, and the vigilance over their production and their use 18; the
struggle against the iconoclast heresy and the cultural significance of
the icon 28; influence of apocryphal literature upon iconography 30; i.
and confraternities 41; related to the Sacred Heart of Jesus 172 173,
to the blood of Christ 179, to the Saints 244; rite of crowning an image
of the Blessed Virgin Mary 203; doctrine of the Church on sacred images.
238-244; processions with images and their veneration 239; the correct use
of i. 241-242; i. as artistic and cultural expressions 243; production of
i. 243; blessing of i. 244 placing of i. 244; i. venerated at shrines 286;
i. as a reminder of a shrine 287.
Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
solemnity and novena 102.
Immaculate Heart of Mary
liturgical memorial and devotions 174; the miraculous medal
and the I. 206.
adaptation and i. from the 4th century 24 27; i. in the 124th to
the 16th centuries 36 and 43; i. and popular piety 91-92.
pious exercises and i. 72; i. for the souls of the deceased 251.
i. and the common priesthood 85; i. and Lent 124; celebration of i. and
mystagogy during Eastertide 191.
increasing value of feasts 113.
and this Directory 5; pious practices of religious families 72; the
Saturday memorial of Mary and religious communities 188; formulas of
Marian litanies used in Orders and i. 203.
purpose and forms of i. for the dead 248-260; meaning of i. and their
various forms 251 and 255.
See Deceased, Funeral rites.
influence of j. in returning purity to Liturgy 42; g. and
devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus 170.
the mystery of J. at the centre of the life of worship 77-80; the
mysteries of the infancy of J. and devotions 34, 79, 108; memorial of the
name of J. 107; the mysteries of the Passion of J. and devotions 34, 41,
62, 79, 129, 144; reading and meditation on the Passion of J. during Lent
and on Good Friday130, 142; veneration and devotion to the crucifix and
the cross during Lent and its adoration on Good Friday 127-129, 142-143,
159; procession of the dead Christ on Good Friday 142-143;
procession with the image of the Risen One on Easter Sunday 149; Sacred
Heart of J. (solemnity and devotions) 42, 166-173, 206; devotions and
worship to the Blood of J. 175-179; Christological titles 176; the death
of the faithful in the light of the mystery of Christ 250;
See Baptism (of the Lord), Sacred Heart of Jesus, Sunday, Epiphany of
the Lord, Eucharist, Christmas, Easter, Passion of the Lord, Presentation
of the Lord, Blood of Christ, Good Friday, Via Crucis, Via
John Paul II
directives concerning popular piety 2; family 68; examples of the Via
Crucis over which he presided 139*; consecration to the Immaculate
Heart of Mary 174* and the act of consecration to Mary 204*; Akathistos
hymn 207; Documents: Allocution to the Rectors of French Shrines 263*;
Allocution to the bishops of Abruzzo and Molise 65*, 66*; Allocution to
the bishops of Basilicata and Puglia 61*; Discourse to the Fourth
Latin-american Episcopal Conference at Santo Domingo 64*; Discourse at the
Angelus in Mexico City 102; Discourse at the Angelus 278*;
Discourse at Popayan 65*; Apostolic constitution Divinitus
perfectionis magister 210*; Apostolic constitution Pastor Bonus
3*, 21; Apostolic exhortation Catechesi tradendae 2*, 6*, 61*,
64*; Apostolic exhortation Familiaris consortio 2*, 68; Apostolic
exhortation Redemptoris Custos 220*, 223*; Apostolic letter Vicesimus
quintus annus 2*, 6*, 21*, 59*, 66*; Apostolic letter Dies Domini
95*; Encyclical letter Dives in misericordia 154*; Encyclical
letter Redemptoris Mater 204*, 207*, 264*; Encyclical letter Redemptoris
missio 156*; Message for the centenary of the consecration of
the human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus 167*; Homily at La Serena 9*,
50*, 61*, 71*, 156*; Homily at the Shrine of the Virgin Mary de
Zapopan 61*, 63*; Homily at the Shrine of Jasna Góra 278*.
John the Baptist (Saint)
in Liturgy and in popular piety 224-225, 229.
extended to the Latin Church the feast of the Most Holy Trinity 157.
John XXIII (blessed)
approval of the litany of the Blood of Christ 178.
feast of the Holy Family 112; J. in the Liturgy and in popular piety
211, 218-223, 229; the protection of J.. 220; J. as model for workers and
craftsmen 220; J. as patron of those who are dying 220-221; prayer of Leo
XIII to J. 222; Litany of J. and other pious exercises 222; solemnity of
J. and Lent 223.
forms of personal and popular piety originating in J. 23; reason for
conflict concerning pilgrimage in the first centuries282.
Language of popular piety
verbal and physical expressions of popular piety, times and places
Liturgy and popular piety in Q. 124-139; reading of the Passion 130; Ash
Wednesday 125; the veneration of the Crucifix 127; 131-135 Via Crucis;
136-137 Via Matris; Holy Week 138-139; Q. and solemnity of Saint Joseph
223, and the celebration of saints 230.
Apostolic letter Deiparae Perdolentis 136*; Apostolic letter
Neminem fugit 112*; Encyclical letter Annum sacrum 167*;
Encyclical letter Quamquam pluries 220*; on the Rosary in October
203; prayer to Saint Joseph 222.
value and defense of the gift of the life 105, 113.
of the Sacred Heart of Jesus 171; of the Blood of Christ 178; of the
Blessed Virgin Mary 203; of Saint Joseph 222 of the saints 235.
Breviarium Romanum 39*; Calendarium Romanum 95*, 221*,
228*, 230*; Collectio missarum de Beata Maria Virgine 149*, 184*,
188*, 193*, 268*, 278*; Institutio generalis de Liturgia Horarum
67*, 68*, 110*, 245*, 271*; Institutio generalis Missalis Romani
237*, 244*, 255*, 268*; Liturgia Horarum 113*, 149*, 177*, 188*,
215*, 231*; Missale Romanum 39*, 40*, 79*, 80*, 108*, 115*, 116*,
124*, 177*, 182*, 188*, 210*, 211*, 215*, 220*, 234*, 248*, 249*, 250*,
255*, 257*, 281*; De Benedictionibus 112*, 121*, 150*, 152*, 198*,
205*, 206*, 243*, 244*, 272*, 273*, 287*; De sacra communione et de
cultu mysterii eucharistici extra Missam 161*, 162*, 163*, 164*,
165*, 245*; Martyrologium Romanum 227; Ordo coronandi imaginem
Beatae Mariae Virginis 203*; Ordo dedicationis ecclesiae et
altaris 237*, 244*; Ordo exsequiarum 215*, 252*, 254*; Ordo
Paenitentiae 215*, 267; Ordo unctionis infirmorum eorumque
pastoralis curae 130, 215*, 221*, 269; Rituale Romanum 181*,
development of the l. in the twentieth century 46.
formation and development of the various liturgical traditions 26.
Primacy of the l. over devotions 11, 94; celebration of the l. and
popular piety 94-182; harmonising the marian months with the
l. 191; veneration of the saints and blesseds during the l.. 209.
See also Advent, Sunday, Christmas, Lent, Palm Sunday, Pentecost, Holy
week, Paschal triduum, Eastertide, Ordinary time.
connection between L. and popular piety 2, 47-58; primacy of the L. 11;
causes of imbalance between L. and popular piety 48-49; teaching of the
Magisterium concerning the harmonisation between L. and popular piety
60-75; L. and pious exercises 73-74; the Church as worshipping community
Liturgy of the hours
ecclesial praise of God 81; office of readings on Christmas night,
before Holy Mass 110; connection between the L. and Eucharistic adoration
165; L. for the deceased 255; L. in the shrines 271, at the beginning of a
pilgrimage and during the journey 271 and 287.
incompatibility between popular piety and m. rites, superstitions and
teaching of the M. on Liturgy and popular piety 60-75; the value of
popular piety 61-64; warning on the dangers 65-66; approval of pious
exercises 72; M. and pious exercises 70-74, 192-207, and Marian pious
exercises 185-186; the renewal of popular piety 75.
See Pius XII, Paul VI, John Paul II, Dicasteries of the Holy See,
Documents of the Conferences of bishops, Marialis cultus, Sacrosanctum
Apostolic exhortation of Paul VI on Marian devotion 2*, 61*, 73*, 74*,
75*, 101*, 123*, 165*, 180*, 182*, 184*, 185*, 186*, 195*, 197*, 201*,
origin and purpose 190-191.
renewal of m. vows 112.
the proclamation of the birth of the Lord in the formula of the
Roman M. 111; book that lists the names of many saints and blesseds, for
liturgical use 227.
popular use of the cult of m. 23; memorials of the m. 25;
pilgrimages to the tombs of the m. 32 and 282; the cult of m. 208 and 227.
Mary, Blessed Virgin
the veneration of M. 183-207; act of consecration to M. 204; Mother of
Sorrows 136 and 145; Akathistos 207; Angelus Domini 31 and
195; Assumption 180-181; Advent and M. 101-102; Carmel 205; Immaculate
Heart of M. 174 and 206; ecumenical dimension of marian piety 207 and 278;
Eucharist and M. 165; Fatima 174, 189, 285; Guadalupe 102 and 285;
iconography 23; Christiana initiation and M. 191; Immaculate Conception
(solemnity, novena) 102 and 181; marian litanies 203; Mother of God
(solemnity) 115-117; votive medals 206; marian months 190-191; novenas
189; Ora della desolata and Planctus Mariae, pious
exercises on Good Friday 145; Ora della Madre, pious exercises of
Holy Saturday 147; Word of God and M. 193-194; Easter and M. 149, 151,
191; marian piety: primitive expressions 23, in the Middle Ages 32, in the
post-tridentine age 41; marian pious exercises185-186, 192-207, and their
times 187-191; Presentation (feast of the 2nd February and devotions)
120-121; Regina caeli 196; Rosary 197-202; Saturday memorial 188;
marian shrines 284-285; scapular 205; Via Matris, lenten pious
practice and guidelines concerning the month of m. 190-191.
carrying votive m.15; distinctive sign of some confraternities
69; mariane medals, the miraculous medal 206.
relationship between Liturgy and popular piety 28-33.
the m. ad gentes in Africa, America and the Far East
36; m. and local culture 43; missionary character of the Epiphany 118; day
of suffering for the missions 156; pious exercises and the
missionary imperative 186; the shrine as a place of evangelisation and of
cooperating with the m. ad gentes 274.
Liturgy and popular piety in the m. 34-43.
expression of a people 17; the function of m. regarding the Holy
customs and prayer intentions linked with January 1st 116-117.
New Years Eve (31st December)
forms of prayer 114.
source n. in the Middle Ages 32; n. and confraternities 69; n.
for the deceased 260, of the Immaculate 101-102, of Marian feasts 189, of
Christmas 103, of Pentecost 155.
Ora della Desolata
pious exercise on Good Friday 145.
Ora della Madre
pious exercise on Holy Saturday 147.
the competence of the o. to oversee the exposition of sacred images for
to approve texts for public prayer and acts of piety 16; the o. is
responsible for acts of popular piety 21 and 92; to approve a shrine and
its pilgrimages 264 and 279*.
liturgical significance and implications for popular piety 57-182.
Our Lady of Sorrows
the devotion to the Way of the Mother of Sorrows and the seven
sorrows 136-137; the memory of Marys sorrows 145; devotions
surrounding Mary at her Sons Passion 145; The miraculous medal
recalls the sorrowful heart of Mary 206.
highpoint of the liturgical year 80, 140-151; relevance to the p. of the
mystery of the Blood of Christ 177.
Passion of the Lord
the mysteries of the P. and devotion 34, 41, 62, 79, 80, 124, 127, 129;
the reading of the Passion of the Lord in Lent 130; the Via Crucis
131-135, representations of the P. 32 and 144.
in the context of confraternities and communities 31 and 118; P. of
cities and corporations 216; celebrations of P. of particular Churches
229, of a community or of a religious family 230; processions in honour of
a saint P. 246.
promulgated the Rituale Romanum (1614) 39*.
Apostolic exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi 2*, 6*, 9*, 61*;
Apostolic exhortation Marialis cultus 2*, 61*, 73*, 74*, 75*,
101*, 123*, 165*, 180*, 182*, 184*, 185*, 186*, 193*, 195*, 197*, 202*,
207*; Apostolic letter Investigabiles divitias Christi 167*;
Apostolic letter Mysterii paschalis 94*, 228*; Encyclical letter
Mysterium fidei 164*; Letter to Card. Silva Henríquez 205*;
Homily on the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple 278*.
prayer for p. and world days of peace 117.
Lent and the sacrament of P. 125; precept of the C. to confess ones
serious sins at least once per year 125; sacrament of P. and first
Fridays 171; preparation for a feast and the sacrament of P. 189; its
celebration. (place, preparation, ritual) in shrines 267; penitential
dimension of pilgrimage 286.
P. novena 155; P. Sunday156.
expression of eucharistic devotion 165.
in the Middle Ages 32; tradition, significance and development of p.
279-287; centres of pilgrimage 284; spirituality of p. (eschatological
dimensions, penance, festive, worship, apostolic, communion) 286; p. to a
shrine 287; Liturgy of the Hours during p. 271; biblical tradition 280 and
significance 7, description and characteristics 70-72; p. and
indulgences 72; Liturgy and p. 73-74; renewal 75; adaptation and
inculturation of a p. 92; Marian p. and the Magisterium 185-186 and
192-207; Marian p. 187-191.
Pius V (St.)
Promulgated the Breviarium Romanum (1568) and the Missale
Romanum (1570) 39*.
Pius IX (Blessed)
placed the universal Church under the patronage Saint Joseph 220.
Pius X (Saint)
teaching on Liturgy and popular piety and the Motu proprio
Tra le sollecitudini 46; approved the Litany of Saint Joseph 222.
consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Encyclical letter Miserentissimus
defense of pious exercises 46; concerning the liturgical movement
(Allocution to the participants at the First International Congress on
Liturgy, Assisi-Rome 1956) 46*; consecration of the Church and of the
human race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary 174; Feast of Saint Joseph the
Worker on the first of May 220; Encyclical letter Haurietis aquas
167*; Encyclical letter Mediator Dei 8*, 46, 164*.
pilgrimages to Holy places 32, 283; p. and spaces of expression of
popular piety (church, shrine, home, work environment, streets and
squares) 19; dedication of p. 33.
Marian pious exercise on Good Friday 145.
Angels 213-217; liturgical year 94-182; 16; approval of texts 16;
blessings 272-273; singing17; Church81-84; Constitution Sacrosanctum
Concilium 50-58; culture 63; Sacred Heart of Jesus 166-173; deceased
248-260; ecumenism 12, 155, 182, 277-278; Eucharist 160-165;
evangelisation 2, 21, 66, 80; family 68; formation 59; images and
iconography 18, 238-244; inculturation 58, 66, 91-92; language of p.
14-20; Liturgy in relationship to p. 2, 13, 47-58, 94; places19, 33;
Magisterium 60-75; Blessed Virgin Mary 183-207; music 17; Word of God
87-89; pilgrimage 279-287; dangers and risks 65-66; personal piety 23;
pious exercises 70-74; theological principles 11-13, 76-92; processions
245-247; teachings of the Holy See and the Episcopal Conferences 2; relics
236-237; responsibility 21; private revelations 90; renewal 12, 75, 76-92;
common priesthood p. 85-86; Saints 208-247; shrines 262-279; subject of p.
67-69; history: Christian antiquity 23-27, contemporary age 44-46, modern
age 34-43, medieval period 28-33; special themes of p. 62; times 20, 32;
terminology 6, 9; texts16; Trinity 76-80, 157-159; values 61-64.
terminology 5, 10
Liturgy and popular piety in the p. 39-41.
ancient forms of personal p. 23; p. manuals 41; personal p. and private,
methods of p. 82-83; animated by the Spirit, p. as opening to God and
neighbour 156; p. before the Most Blessed Sacrament 165; p. is helped by
sacred images 240; the p. of a pilgrim at a shrine 286.
Presentation of the Lord
liturgical feast and its relationship to popular piety 120-123.
popular piety and the ministry of the p. 1, among those to whom this
Directory is addressed 5.
their role 90.
meaning and form 245-247; p.: of Advent 99; for the Presentation of the
Lord 120; in Holy Week 138; of the palms - olive branches 139; on Holy
Thursday 141; on Good Friday 142-143, 245; Easter 149; Eucharistic 162-163
and 245; with relics 237, 245; with sacred images 239; with the holy oils
245; on rogation days 245; Lenten stations 245; baptismal vespers 245;
Viaticum 245; to the cemetery 245; votive 246.
the rise of p. 38, its development 41 and its objections 208.
places of popular piety 19.
final purification of the chosen 210, 251.
Rectors Of Shrines
recipients of the Directory 5; vigilance of the r. concerning sacred
images 18; responsibility and competence of the r. concerning liturgical
celebrations 270-272; the Bishop's collaborators 288.
Easter song to the Blessed Virgin Mary 151, 196
risks surrounding beliefs in r. 258
devotion and veneration for the r. of the Saints 15, 236-237; procession
with the r. 245; r. of the Passion 283-284.
recipients of this Directory 5; competence regarding some pious
exercises linked to a religious family 92.
criteria and principles for the r. of pious exercises 12, 75, 76-92
Representations of the Passion
r. and competences concerning popular piety 21.
Resurrection Of the Dead
the faith of the Church 248-250.
the r processions. 245.
the present Directory primarily concerns the R. 5; reform of the R.
after the Council of Trent 39.
in the Middle Ages 32; reference to the Scriptures 89; the r. and
adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament 165; meaning, value and
description of the pious exercise of the r. 197-202; blessing of the r.
198; the Litany is not an appendix to the R. 203.
blessing of r. 1.98.
their meaning 81; the celebrations of the s. in sanctuaries 272.
The action of the Holy Spirit in the s. of the Church 79; the
sacramental economy 81; the celebrations of the s. in shrines 267-270.
Sacred Heart of Jesus
devotion to the S. in the seventh century 43; liturgical solemnity and
devotions 166-173; scriptural basis for devotion to the S. 167,
riflessione patristica 168 and di Autori sacri 168-170; forme di devozione
171-172 and iconografia 173; richiamo al C. nella medaglia
in the Middle Ages 32; of the Passion 144.
insufficient knowledge of S. in the Middle Ages 30; the seperation from
S. during the period of catholic reform 41; reference to S. in the
expression of religious sentiment 87 and in pious exercises 186; reference
to S. in eucharistic adoration 165; the S. foundations for the devotion to
the Sacred Heart of Jesus 167 and to the Blood of Christ 175; the
relationship between S. and hagiography 234.
See Word of God.
the teaching of the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy of the Vatican
Council II: 7*, 11*, 18*, 46, 50-59, 67*, 70*, 71*, 72*, 73*, 81*, 83*,
94*, 95*, 171*, 175*, 180*, 201*, 209*, 228*, 229*, 237*, 268*..
Development of the memorial of S. 27; S. and confraternities 41; the
veneration of S., meaning and doctrine 208-212; the devotion to S. in the
Liturgy and in popular piety 226-247; the celebration of S. 227-229; the
feast day (preparation, religious and anthropological content) 230-233; S.
and the celebration of the Eucharist 234; Litanies 235; images 236; relics
236-237; processions 245-247; S. pilgrimage centres 284.
See Angels, John the Baptist; Holy Innocents; Joseph, Patron/s.
relevance for popular piety 19; s. in the 19th century 45; s. in honour
of the Holy Angels 216; meaning and importance of s. 261-279; s. and
charity 275; s. and celebrations of worship 265-273 (as exemplars of
Liturgy 266; Eucharist 261, 268; Christian initiation 270; Liturgy of the
Hours 271; Marriage 270; Penance 261, 267; Sacramentals 272; Sacraments
270; Anointing of the sick 269; s. and culture 276; s. and ecumenism
277-278; expression of the identity of faith and culture of a country 285;
s. and evangelisation 274; canonical recognition of a s. 264; souvenirs of
a s. 287; theological and symbolic content of s. 262-263; welcoming of
pilgrims to the s. and their departure 287.
Saturday Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary
the first five Saturdays of the month and the devotion to
the Immaculate Heart of Mary 174; the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary
in the Saturday Liturgy and in popular piety 188.
Meaning and devotion 205.
hostility of sects towards popular piety 1; healthy popular devotion as
an antidote against the s. 64.
Sense of the Sacred
in reference to time and place 25.
in preparation to a Marian feast 189.
Seven anguishes and joys
a pious exercise in honour of Saint Joseph 222.
Seven sorrows of Mary
See Via Matris.
pious exercises in honour of Saint Joseph 222.
procession with viaticum to the s. 246; shrine as a place of love for
the s. 275.
See Anointing of the Sick
Sign of the Cross
As an opening to prayer 157; sign of a blessing 272.
importance and value of s. in popular piety, combined with music and
dance 17; creation of popular songs in the fourteenth century 45.
inadmissibility of s. rites in popular piety 12.
Sub tuum praesidium
venerated prayer to the Mother of God 23.
new testament origins of S. 25; values to be safeguarded for S., even
when compared with manifestations of popular piety 95, 171; catechesis on
the value of S.. 95, 191; respecting the norms concerning the transfer to
Sunday of solemnities and feasts 95, 230; the Saturday memorial of Mary as
a preparation for S. 188; Palm S. and the Passion 139; Easter S. 149-151;
Pentecost S. 156.
non admission of s. rites in popular piety 12; supervision regarding the
exposition of images that could induce s. 244.
blessing of the family t. 68, 109, 150, 260
sung on 31st December 114; hymn T. and Trisagio 159.
around forms, practices, and demonstrations of popular piety 6-10.
the t. of the various expressions of popular pity 20; sacred t. 25, the
rhythm of the liturgical year 32; winter t. 100.
See liturgical Year.
time devoted 32 to particular devotions; in preparation to parties
Trinity, Most Holy
Trinitarian imprint on Christian worship 76-80; liturgical solemnity and
pious exercise to the Most Holy Trinity 159.
week of prayer for u. 155, 182; prayer for u. and the hymn Akathistos
207; the role of the shrines 277-278.
extension of the feast of Body and Blood of the Lord to the Latin Church
Veni Creator Spiritus
hymn sung on 1st January 116; invocation of the Holy Spirit 156.
Veni Sancte Spiritus
invocation of the Holy Spirit 156.
v. and popular piety in the Middle Ages 32; demand for the v. in the
Liturgy at the beginning of the sixteenth century 37; permission to use
the Bible in the v. 42.
scriptural 89; the pious exercise of the V. (its origin, meaning, and
form) 131-135; on Good Friday 142; related to the "via lucis "
pious exercise in Eastertide 153.
meaning of the pious exercise, in harmony with themes of Lent 136-137.
pious exercise in honour of the Blood of Christ 178.
v. and the reservation of the Body of the Lord 141, 164; procession to
bring v. to the sick 245.
Visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament
Eucharistic devotion 165.
meaning and value 100.
Word of God
reading and meditating the W. in families 68; W. and popular piety
87-89; the reading of the Passion of the Lord in Lent 130; celebrations of
the W. Marian piety 193-194; the W. in rites of blessing 272.
See Sacred Scripture
invocation invocation of the Holy Spirit at the beginning of a w.
activity 156; Saint Joseph as a model for workers and craftsmen 220.
in the context of Christian revelation 76-80.
(1) SC 10.
(2) Cf. SC 12 and 13.
(3) Cf. SC 13.
(4) Cf. S. CONGREGATION OF RITES, Instruction Eucharisticum
mysterium (25.4. 1967), 58-67; PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis
cultus (2.2.1974), 24-58; Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii
nuntiandi (8.12.1975), 48; JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi
tradendae (16.10.1979), 54; Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris
consorti (22.11.1981) 59-62; CONGREGATION FOR THE CLERGY, General
Directory on Catechesis (15.8.1997), Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città
del Vaticano 1997, nn. 195-196.
(5) See, for example, III CONFERENCIA GENERAL DEL EPISCOPADO
LATINO-AMERICANO, Documento de Puebla, 444-469, 910-915, 935-937,
959-963; CONFERENCIA EPISCOPAL DE ESPANA, Documento pastoral de la
Comision episcopal de Liturgia, Evangelizacion y renovation de la
piedad popular, Madrid 1987; Liturgia y piedad popular, Directorio
Liturgico-Pastoral, Secretariado Nacional de Liturgia, Madrid 1989;
CONFERENCIA GENERAL DEL EPISCOPADO LATINO-AMERICANO, Documento de
Santo Domingo, 36, 39, 53.
(6) JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Vicemus Quintus Annus (4.12.1988),
(7) JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus
(8) Cf. LG 21; SC 41; Decree Christus Dominus, 15; Sacred
Congregation for Bishops, Directorium de pastorali ministerio Episcoporum,
Typis Polyglotis Vaticanis 1973, 75-76, 82, 90-91; CIC, can. 835, ' 1 and
can. 839, '2; JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Vicesimus quintus annus,
(9) Treating of the same material, the Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii
Nuntiandi, 48, for example, having recalled its richness, states: "because
of this we gladly call it popular piety, that is, religion of the
people, rather than religiosity of the people"; the Apostolic
Exhortation Catechesi tradendae, 54, uses the expression "popular
piety"; the Code of Canon Law, can. 1234, '1, adopts the
term "popular piety"; John Paul II uses the term "popular
piety" in the Apostolic Letter Vicesimus quintus annus; The Catechism
of the Catholic Church, 1674-1676, uses the expression "popular
religiosity" but is also aware of the term "popular piety"
(1679); the fourth Instruction for the correct implementation of the
conciliar Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (37-40) Varietates
legitimae, published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the
Discipline of the Sacraments (25.1.1994) employs the expression "popular
piety" in article 45.
(10) Cf. SC 13.
(11) Cf. SC 13.
(12) SC 13.
(13) Cf. COUNCIL OF TRENT, Decretum de invocatione, veneratione, et
reliquiis Sanctorum, et sacris imaginibus (3. 12. 1563), in DS
1821-1825; Pius XII, Encyclical Letter Mediator Dei, in AAS 39
(1947) 581-582; SC 104; LG 50.
(14) JOHN PAUL II, Homily at the celebration of the Word in La Serena
(Chile), 2, in Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, X/1 (1987),
Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 1988, p. 1078.
(15) PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, 48.
(16) SC 7.
(17) CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP AND THE DISCIPLINE OF THE
SACRAMENTS, IV Instruction on the correct application of the Conciliar
Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (nn. 37-40) Varietates legitimae,
(18) Cf. CIC, can 826, ' 3.
(19) Cf. SC 118.
(20) Cf. COUNCIL OF NICEA II, Definitio de sacris imaginibus (23
October 787) in DS 601; COUNCIL OF TRENT Decretum de invocatione,
veneratione,et reliquiis Sanctorum, et sacris imaginibus (3 December
1563), in DS 1823-1825.
(21) Cf. SC 124-125.
(22) Cf. CIC, can 1188.
(23) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Vicesimus quintus annus,
18; CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP AND THE DISCIPLINE OF THE SACRAMENTS,
IV Instruction for the correct application of the conciliar Constitution
on the Sacred Liturgy (nn. 37-40) Varietates legitimae, 45.
(24) Cf. CIC, can 826, ' 3.
(25) The following examples can be traced to a popular context: the Benedictio
fructuum (n. 32) in A. BOTTE (ed.) La Tradition apostolicque de
saint Hippolyte. Essai de reconstruction, Aschendorff, Meunster
Westfalen, ed. 1989, pp. 18, 78.
(26) Some customs connected with the cult of the martyrs almost
certainly derive from popular practices: lamps placed at their tombs;
wreathes of flowers and leaves which lent a festive note to sacred places;
fragrant unguents placed on the tombs of the martyrs; various objects,
especially cloths called brandae, palliola, nomina touched to the
tombs of the martyrs were regarded as precious, authentic relics; the
custom of the refrigerium at the tombs of the martyrs.
(27) The famous De Navitate Mariae (third century), also known
as the Protoevangelium Icaobi and numerous accounts of the De
dormitione Mariae of the second century, all bear witness to early
Christian devotion to the Mother of God. According to scholars, these
writings refer to many popular traditions which had a significant
influence on the development of Marian devotion.
(28) "[Placuit] ut nemo in precibus vel Patrem, vel pro Filio, vel
Filium pro Patre nominet. Et cum altari assistitur, semper as patrem
dirigatur oratio. Et quicumque sibi preces aliunde describit, non eis
utatur, nisi prius cum instructioribus fratribus contulerit": THIRD
COUNCIL OF CARTHAGE , can. 23, N. 1, in I. D. Mansi, Sacrorum
Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio, III, Florentiae 1759, col.
884; "Placuit etiam hoc, ut preces quae probatae fuerint in concilio
celebrentur, sive praefationes sive commendationes, seu manus
impositiones, ab omnibus celebrentur, nec aliae omnino contra fidem
praeferantur: sed quaecumque a prudentioribus fuerint collectae, dicantur":
Codex canonum Ecclesiae Africae, can. 103 (ibid., col
(29) In DS 600-603.
(30) Text in Annales Camaldulenses, IX, Venice 1773, coll.
(31) Cf. FIFTH LATERAN COUNCIL, [Bulla reformationis Curiae] in
Conciliorum Oecumenicorum Decreta, edited by the Istituto per le
scienze religiose di Bologna, Edizioni Dehoniane, Bologna 1991, p. 625.
(32) The Decretum de sacramentis DS 1600-1630) and the Decretum
de ss. Eucharistia (DS 1635-1650), the discussions leading to the Decretum
de sacramento paenitentiae (DS 1667-1693), the De doctrina de
sacramento extremae unctionis (DS 1694-1700), the Docrina de
communione sub utraque specie et parvulorum (DS 1725-1730), the Docrinna
de ss. Missae sacrificio (DS 1738-1750) dealing with essential matters
of faith on the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist as a sacrifice, and on
points relating to its ritual celebration, the Decretum super
petitione concessionis calicis (DS 1760), the Doctrina de
sacramento ordinis (DS 1763-1770), Doctrina de sacramento
matrimonii (DS 1797-1800), the Decretum de Purgatorio (Ds
1820), the Decretum de invocatione, veneratione, et reliquiis
Sanctorum, et sacris imaginibus (DS 1821-1825), have had wide
application in the field of popular piety.
(33) In Conciliorum Oecumenicorum Decreta, cit., pp. 784-796.
(34) Pius V published the Brevarium Romanum ex decreto SS. Concilii
restitutum on 9 July 1568 with the Bull Quod a nobis, the Missale
Rmanum ex decreto sacrosancti Concilii tridentini restitutum with the
Bull Quo primum tempore of 14 July 1570; Paul V envisaged a reform
of the liturgical books when he promulagted the Rituale Romanum on
16 June 1614 with the Apostolic Letters Apostolicae Sedi.
(35) The Sacra Congregatio Rituum was founded by Sixtus V on 22
January 1588 with the Apostolic Constitution Immensa aeterni Dei.
(36) In the Bull promulagting the Missale Romanum explicit
reference it is explicitly stated that the experts engaged by the
Apostolic See "ad pristinam Missale ipsum sanctorum Patrum normam ac
(37) "Motu proprio Tra le sollecitudini (22.11.1903), in
Pii X Pontificis Maximi Acta, I, Akademische Druck-u.
Verlagsanstalt, Graz 1971, p. 77.
(38) Cf. Pius XII, Allocution to the participants of the first
International congress on pastoral liturgy, Assisi-Rome, (22.9.1956), in
AAS 48 (1956) 712; SC 43.
(39) Among those involved with the movement mention must be made of
Lambert Beauduin (+1960), Odo Casel (+ 1948), Pius Parsch (+1954), Bernard
Botte (+ 1960), Romano Guardini (+ 1968), Josef A. Jungmann (+ 1975),
Cipriano Vagaggini (+ 1999), Aimé-Georges Martimort (+2000).
(40) In AAS 39 (1947) 521-600).
(41) Cf. SC 7, 10, 13.
(42) Cf. SC 13.
(43) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Homily at the Celebration of the Word in La
Serena (Chile), 2, in Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, X/1
(1987), cit., p. 1078.
(44) SC 10.
(45) SC 7.
(46) Cf. SC 5-7.
(47) SC 2.
(48) Cf. supra n. 9.
(49) Cf. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Lettera "Orationis
forma" ai Vescovi della Chiesa cattolica su alcuni aspetti della
meditazione cristiana (15.10.1989): AAS 82 (1990) 362-379.
(50) SC 13.
(51) III CONFERENCIA GENERAL DEL EPISCOPADO LATINO-AMERICANO, Documento
de Puebla, 465 e.
(53) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Vicesimus Quintus Annus,
(54) JOHN PAUL II, Message to the Plenary meeting of the
Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (21
September 2001), having reiterated the indispensable centrality of the
Liturgy in the Church's life, he said "popular piety, although not
always concurring with it, has its natural climax in the celebration of
the Liturgy, and should ideally be oriented towards it. This should be
clearly shown by appropriate catechesis" in Notitiae 37
(2001) 403. Cf. also CONGREGATION FOR THE CLERGY, General Catechetical
Directory, cit., 195-196.
(55) SC 12.
(56) Cf. supra n. 2.
(57) JOHN PAUL II, Homily given at the shrine of the Virgin Mary of
"Zapopang", 2, in AAS, 71 (1979) 228.
(58) Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus, 31; JOHN
PAUL II, Allocution to the Bishops of Basilicata and Apulia, ad Limina
visit, 4, in AAS 74 (1982) 211-213.
(59) JOHN PAUL II, Homily given at the Celebration of the Word in La
Serena (Chile), 2, in Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, X/1
(1987), cit., p. 1078.
(60) Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, 48.
(61) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi tradendae,
(62) III CONFERENCIA GENERAL DEL EPISCOPADO LATINO-AMERICANO, Documento
de Puuebla, 913.
(63) PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi 48.
(64) III CONFERENCIA GENERAL DEL EPISCOPADO LATINO-AMERICANO, Documento
de Puebla, 913.
(65) Cf. Ibid., 912.
(66) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Homily given at the shrine of the Virgin Mary of
"Zapopan", 2, in AAS, 71 (1979) 228-229; III CONFERENCIA GENERAL
DEL EPISCOPADO LATINO-AMERICANO, Documento de Puebla, 283.
(67) JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi tradendae,
(68) JOHN PAUL II, Discourse at the inauguration of the IV GENERAL
CONFERENCE OF THE LATIN-AMERICAN BISHOPS, Santo Domingo, (12.10.1992), 12: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XV/2, Libreria Editrice
Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 1994, p. 323.
(69) III CONFERENCIA GENERAL DEL EPISCOPADO LATINO-AMERICANO, Documento
de Puebla, 913.
(70) Ibid., 960.
(71) JOHN PAUL II, Allocution to the Conference of the Bishops of the
Abruzzi and the Molise, ad Limina visit, 3, in AAS, 78
(72) JOHN PAUL II, Discourse at Popayan (Columbia), in Insegnamenti
di Giovanni Paolo II, IX/2 (1986), Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città
del Vaticano 1986, p. 115.
(73) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Vigesimus quintus annus,
18; Allocution to the Conference of the Bishops of the Abruzzi and the
Molise, ad Limina visit, 6, in AAS, 78 (1986) 1142; III
CONFERENCIA GENERAL DEL EPISCOPADO LATINO-AMERICANO, Document de
Puebla, 458-459; CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP AND THE DISCIPLINE OF
THE SACRAMENTS, Circular letter, Orientamenti e proposte per la
celebrazione dell'anno mariano (3.4.1987), 68.
(74) JOHN PAUL II, Allocution to the Conference of the Bishops of the
Abruzzi and the Molise, ad Limina visit, 6, in AAS 78
(75) Cf. CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP AND THE DISCIPLINE OF THE
SACRAMENTS, IV Instruction for the correct application of the conciliar
Constitution on the Liturgy (nn. 37-40) Varietatates legitimae,
(76) SC 12.
(77) Cf. Institutio generalis de Liturgia Horarum, 9.
(78) With reference to the Liturgy note should also be made of the
recommendation contained in the Institutio generalis de Liturgia
Horarum, 27: "It is a laudable thing for the family, the domestic
sanctuary, where possible, to celebrate in addition to the usual prayers,
some parts of the Liturgy of the Hours so as to draw closer to the Church".
(79) JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio,
(80) Cf, CIC, can. 301 and can. 312.
(81) Cf. SC 13; LG 67.
(82) Cf. SC 13.
(83) JOHN PAUL II, Homily at the Celebration of the Word in La Serena
(Chile), 2, in Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, X/1 (1987),
cit., p. 1079.
(84) Cf. SC 13.
(85) SC 13.
(86) Cf. CIC can. 23.
(87) Cf., EI, Aliae concessiones, 54.
(88) Cf. SC 7.
(89) CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP AND THE DISCIPLINE OF THE
SACRAMENTS, Circular letter Orientamenti e proposte per la
celebrazione dell'Anno mariano, 54.
(90) Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus 31, 48.
(91) THE ITALIAN EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE, EPISCOPAL COMMISSION FOR THE
LITURGY, pastoral note Il rinnovamento liturgico in Italia
(23.9.1983) 18, in Enchiridion CEI, 3, Edizioni Dehoniane, Bologna
1986, p. 886.
(92) Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus, 31; III
CONFERENCIA GENERAL DEL EPISCOPADO LATINO-AMERICANO, Documento de
(93) Cf. SACRED CONGREGATION FOR BISHOPS, Directorium de pastorali
ministerio Episcoporum, cit., 91; PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis
(94) Cf. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Constitution Dei Verbum, 2.
(95) DS 150; MISSALE ROMANUM, Ordo Missae, Symbolum
(97) St. Cyprian, De oratione dominica, 23:CSEL 3/1, Vindobonae
1868, p. 285.
(98) Cf. SC 5-7.
(99) Cf. SC 13; LG 67.
(100) Cf. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Constitution Dei Verbum, 25.
(102) On this question see J. Ratzinger, Commento teologico, in
CONGREGAZIONE PER LA DOTTRINA DELLA FEDE, Il messaggio di Fatima,
Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 2000, pp. 32-44.
(103) Ibid., p.35.
(104) Cf. PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR CULTURE, Per una Pastorale della
Cultura, Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1999, 28:Popular piety remains one
of the principal expressions of a true inculturation of the faith because
in it faith and liturgy harmonize, as well as sentiment and the arts,
while affirming a consciousness of a proper identity through local
traditions. Thus, "America, which historically has been, and still is, a
melting-pot of peoples, has recognized in the mestiza face of the
Virgin of Tepeyac, "in Blessed Mary of Guadalupe, an impressive example of
a perfectly inculturated evangelization"......(Ecclesia in America,
n. 11) Popular piety allows a people to express its faith, its
relationship with God and Providence, with Our Lady and the Saints, with
neighbours, with the dead., with creation and strengthens membership of
(105) Cf. CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP AND THE DISCIPLINE OF THE
SACRAMENTS, IV Instruction for the correct application of the conciliar
Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (nn. 37-40) Varietates legitimate,
(106) Cf. SC 7, 13.
(107) Cf. supra nn. 61-64.
(108) Cf. supra n. 74.
(109) SC 102.
(110) PAUL VI, Apostolic Letter Mysterii paschalis, in AAS 61
(111) SC 106; CALENDARIUM ROMANUM ex decreto Sacrosancti Oecumenici
Concilii Vaticani II instauratum auctoritate Pauli PP. VI promulgatum,
Typis Polyglotis Vaticanis 1969, Normae universales, 4.
(112) Cf. ibid., 58.
(113) JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter, Dies Domini (31.5.1998),
(114) Cf. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Constitution Gaudium et Spes,
34, 35, 67.
(115) Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus, 4.
(117) JOHN PAUL II, Discourse at the Angelus of 24 January 1999, Mexico
(118) DS 150; MISSALE ROMANUM, Ordo Missae Symbolum
(119) Cf. Institutio generalis de Liturgia Horarum, 215.
(120) Cf. Actus consecrationis familiarum, in EI, Aliae
concessiones, 1, p. 50.
(121) Cf RITUALE ROMANUM, De benedictionibus, Ordo benedictionis
filiorum, Editio Typica, Typis Polyglotis Vaticanis 1985, 174-194.
(122) Cf. ibid., Ordo benedictionis desponsatorum, 195-204.
(123) Erected by Leo XIII through the Apostolic Letter Neminem fugit
(14 June 1892) in Leonis XIII Pontificis Maximi Acta, XII,
Typographia Vaticana, Romae 1893, pp. 149-158: confirmed by John Paul II
with the decree of the Pontifical Council for the Laity (25
(124) Cf. EI, Piae invocationes, p. 83.
(125) PRUDENTIUS, Cathemerinon XII, 130: CCL 126, Turnholti
1966, p. 69; LITURGIA HORARUM: die 28 Decembris, Ss. Innocentium,
martyrum, Ad Laudes, Hymnus "Audit tyrannus anxius".
(126) Cf. EI, Aliae concessiones, 26, p. 71.
(127) MISSALE ROMANUM, die 1 Ianuarii, In octava Navitatis Domini,
Sollemnitas Sanctae Dei Genetricis Mariae, Collecta.
(128) Cf. ibid., In Vigilia paschali, Praeparatio cerei.
(129) cf. EI, Aliae concessiones,26, p. 70.
(130) Among the Byzantines, this feast is centred on the Hypapante,
or the Lord's encounter with those whom he has come to save, who are
represented by Simeon and Anna, reflecting the canticle Nunc dimittis
(Lk 2, 29-3), which is frequently repeated in the hymns used on this
feast: "The Light to enlighten the gentiles and give glory to your
(131) RITUALE ROMANUM, De Benedictionibus, Ordo benedictionis
mulieris ante partum,cit., 219-231.
(132) Ibid., Ordo benedictionis mulieris post partum, 236-253.
(133) PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation, Marialis cultus, 7.
(134) MISSALE ROMANUM, Feria IV Cinerum, Collecta.
(135) Cf. CIC, canons 989 and 920.
(136) Cf. RITUALE ROMANUM, Ordo unctionis infirmorum eorumque
pastoralis curae, Editio Typica, Typis Polyglotis Vaticanis 1972, nn.
(137) Cf. EI, Aliae concessiones, 13, pp. 59-60.
(138) Such is true of the "Via Crucis" in the Libro del
Pellegrino prepared by the Central Committee for the celebration of
the Holy Year of 1975.
(139) Such as the texts used by Pope John Paul II for the
at the Colosseum in 1991, 1992, and 1994.
(140) Cf. LEO XIII, Apostolic Letter Deipare Perdolentis, in
Leonis XIII Pontificis Maximi Acta, III, Typographia Vaticana
1884, pp. 220-222.
(141) CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Lettera circolare sulla
preparazione e celebrazione delle feste pasquali (16.1.1988), 27.
(142) Ibid., 28.
(143) St. AUGUSTINE, Epistula, 55, 24: CSEL 34/2, Vindobonae
1895, p. 195. Cf. SACRED CONGREGATION FOR RITES, general decree Maxima
redemptionis nostrae mysteria, in AAS 47 (1955) 338.
(144) CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Lettera circolare sulla
preparazione e celebrazione delle feste pasquali,38.
(145) The procession and reposition of the Blessed Sacrament are not
done in those churches in which the Lord's Passion are not celebrated on
Good Friday: cf. CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Lettera circolare
sulla preparazione e celebrazione delle feste pasquali, 54.
(146) Cf. CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Lettera circolare sulla
preparazione e celebrazione delle feste pasquali,55; SACRED
CONGREGATION OF RITES, Instruction on Eucharistic cult Eucharisticum
mysterium, 49, in AAS 59 (1967) 566-567.
(147) Cf. CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Lettera circolare sulla
preparazione e celebrazione delle feste pasquali, 55.
(148) Cf. ibid., 56.
(149) Cf. SC 5; St. AUGUSTINE, Ennaratio in Paslmum 138, 2: CCL
40, Turnholti 1956, p. 1991.
(150) CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Lettera circolare sulla
preparazione e celebrazione delle feste pasquali,72.
(151) Ibid., 73.
(152) RUPERTUS DI DEUTZ, De glorificatione Trinitatis, VIII, 13:
PL 169, 155D.
(153) Cf. LITURGIA HORARUM, Commune beatae mariae Virginis, II
Vesperae, Preces; Collectio missarum de beata maria Virgine, I, Formula
15. Beata Maria Virgo in ressurectione Domini, Praefatio.
(154) Cf. supra n. 143.
(155) Cf. RITUALE ROMANUM, De Benedictionibus, Ordo benedictionis
mensae, cit., 782-784, 806-807.
(156) Cf. ibid., Ordo benedictionis annuae familiarum in propris
(157) Cf. Notificazione of the Congregation for Divine Worship
and the Discipline of the Sacraments (5.5.2000).
(158) John Paul II, Encyclical letter Dives in Misericordia 8.
(159) Cf. PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE PROMOTION OF CHRISTIAN UNITY, Directoire
pour l'application des Principes et des Normes sur l'Oecuménisme
(5.3.1993), 110: AAS 85 (1993) 1084.
(160) Cf. CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP Lettera circolare sulla
preparazione e celebrazione delle feste pasquali, 107; the forms,
biblical texts and prayers for the vigil of Pentecost - already published
in some editions of the Missale Romanum - are to be found in Notitiae
24 (1988) 156-159.
(161) JOHN PAUL II, Homily given at the Celebration of the Word in La
Serena (Chile), 2, in Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, X/1
(1987), cit., p. 1078.
(162) Cf. EI, Aliae concessiones 26, pp. 70-71.
(163) Cf. Gal 5, 16.22; SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Ad gentes
4; Gaudium et spes, 26.
(164) JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical letter, Redemptoris missio 78: in
AAS 83 (1991) 325.
(165) CCC 234.
(166) Ibid., 233.
(167) ibid., 234.
(168) cf. nn. 76-80.
(169) RITUALE ROMANUM, De sacra communione et de cultu mysterii
eucharistici extra Missam, Editio Typica, Typis Polyglotis Vaticanis
(170) Ibid., 101; cf. CIC, can. 944.
(171) Cf. RITUALE ROMANUM, De sacra communione et de cultu mysterii
eucharistici extra Missam, cit., 101-108.
(172) Cf. ibid., 101-102.
(173) Ibid., 104.
(174) Ibid., 81.
(175) Cf. PIUS XII, Encyclical letter Mediator Dei in AAS 39
(1947) 568-572; PAUL VI, Encyclical letter Mysterium fidei in AAS
57 (1965) 769-772; SACRED CONGREGATION OF RITES, Instruction Eucharisticum
mysterium, nn. 49-50, in AAS 59 (1967) 566-567; RITUALE ROMANUM, De
sacra communione et de cultu mycteria eucharistici extra Missam, cit.,
(176) SACRED CONGREGATION OF RITES, Instruction Eucharisticum mysterium,
(177) On the matter of indulgences attached to Eucharistic adoration and
processions, cf. EI, Aliae concessiones, 7, pp. 54-55.
(178) Cf. RITUALE ROMANUM, De sacra communione et de cultu mycteria
eucharistici extra Missam, cit., 82-90; CIC, canon 941.
(179) Cf. CIC, canon 942.
(180) Cf. Reply ad dubium on n. 62 of the Instruction Eucharisticum
mysterium, in Notitiae 34 (1998) 133-134; concerning the
Rosary, see the following note.
(181) Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus, 46;
Letter of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline pf the
Sacraments (15.1.1997), in Notitiae 34 (1998) 506-510; see also
the rescript of the Apostolic Penitentiary of 8 March 1996, in Notitiae
34 (1998) 511.
(182) Cf. LEO XIII, Encyclical Letter Annum sacrum (25.1889) on
the consecration of mankind to the Sacred Heart, in Leonis XIII
Pontificis Maximi Acta ,XIX, Typographia Vaticana, Romae 1900, pp.
71-80; PIUS XII, Encyclical Letter Haurietis aquas, in AAS 48
(1956) 311-329; PAUL VI, Apostolic Letter Investigabiles divitias
Christi (6.2.1965), in AAS 57 (1965) 298-301; JOHN PAUL II, Message on
the centenary of the consecration of mankind to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
(11.6.1999), in L'Osservatore Romano, 12 June 1999.
(183) SC 5; cf. St. AUGUSTINE, Ennaratio in Psalmum 138, 2: CCL
40, cit.,m p. 1991.
(184) St. AUGUSTINE, Sermo 311, 3: PL 38, 1415.
(185) PIUS XI, Encyclical Letter Miserentissimus redemptorin AAS
20 (1928) 167.
(186) Cf. EI, Aliae concessiones 1, p. 50.
(187) Cf. EI, Aliae concessiones, 3, pp. 51-53.
(188) SC 106.
(189) Among the the various consecrations to the Immaculate Heart of
Mary, one of the most important is that of Pius XII's consecration of the
world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on 31 October 1942 (cf. AAS 34
 318), which was renewed by John Paul II, in communion with the
bishops of the Church, on 25 March 1984 (cf. Insegnamenti di Giovanni
Paolo II VII/1 , Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del
Vaticano 1984, pp. 774-779).
(190) Cf. supra n. 171.
(191) cf. SC 5.
(192) LITURGICAL HORARUM, Tempus Navitatis I, Ad vesperas, Hymnus "Christe,
(193) MISSALE ROMANUM, Feria VI in Passione Domini, Adoratio sanctae
crucis, Hymnus "Crux fidelis".
(194) LITURGICAL HORARUM, Tempus pascale I, Ad Vesperas, Hymnus "Ad
cenam Agni providi". Analogously, in the alternative hymn"O
Rex aeterne, Domine": Tu crucem propter hominem suscipe dignatus es;
dedisti tuum sanguinem nostrae salutis pretium.
(195) Text in AAS 52 (1960) 412-413; cf. EI, Aliae concessiones
22, p. 68.
(196) SC 103.
(197) PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus, 6.
(198) SC 103.
(199) Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus, 6.
(200) Cf. RITUALE ROMANUM Pauli V Pontificis Maximi iussu editum...SS.mi
D.N. Pii Papae XII auctoritate auctum et ordinatum, Editio iuxta Typicam,
Desclée, Romae 1952, pp. 444-449.
(201) Cf. MISSALE ROMANUM, Ordo Missae, the prayer Domine
Jesu Christe, before the sign of peace.
(202) See for example: the intercessions at Vespers on Sunday and Monday
of the first week, on Wednesday of the third week; and the prayers at
Lauds on Wednesday of the fourth week.
(203) Cf. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree Unitatis redintegratio,
(204) Cf. Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus, 32-33.
(205) SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 8.
(206) PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE PROMOTION OF CHRISTIAN UNITY, Directoire
pour l'application des Principes et des Normes sur l'Oecuménisme
(25.3.1993), 110: AAS 85 (1993) 1084.
(207) Cf. EI, Aliae concessiones, 11, p. 58.
(208) CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Circular Letter Guidelines
and proposals for the celebration of the Marian Year (3.4.1987), 67.
(209) Cf. LG 67; Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis, 18; Decree Optatam
totius, 8; Decree Apostolicam actuositatem, 4; CIC, canons 76,
' 2, 5; 663, '' 2-4; 246 ' 3.
(210) Cf. CCC 971. 2673-2679.
(211) Cf. supra nn. 47-59, 70-75.
(212) Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus, 1;
CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Circular Letter Guidelines an
proposals for the celebration of the Marian Year 7; Collectio
missarum de beata Maria Virgine, Praenotanda, 9-18.
(213) Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus,24.
(214) Ibid, Intro..
(215) Cf. ibid., 25-39; CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Circular
letter Guidelines and proposals for the celebration of the Marian Year,
(216) Cf. Ibid.,8.
(217) Cf. n. 232.
(218) The Missale Romanum contains diverse formularies for the
celebration of Mass in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday
mornings during "ordinary time", the use of which is optional.
See also the Collectio missarum de beata Maria Virgine, Praenotanda
34-36; and the Liturgia Horarum for Saturdays of "ordinary
time" which permits the Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary on
(219) Cf. ALCUIN, Le sacramentaire grégorien, II, ed. J.
DESHUSSES, Editions Universitaires, Fribourg 1988, pp. 25-27 and 45; PL
(220) Cf. UMBERTO DE ROMANIS, De vita regulari,II, Cap. XXIV,
Quare sabbatum attribuitur Beatae Virgini, Typis A. BEFANI, Romae
1889, pp. 72-75.
(221) CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Circular letter Guidelines
and proposals for the celebration of the Marian Year, 5.
(222) An example of which is to be found in Felicitacion sabatina a
Maria Inmaculada compose by Fr. Manuel Garcia Navarro, who
subsequently entered the Carthusians (+1903).
(223) In the Byzantine rite, the liturgy for the month of August is
centred on the solemnity of the Dormition of Our Lady (15 August). Until
the twelfth century, it was observed as a "Marian month"; in the
Coptic rite the "Marian mont" is that of kiahk,
corresponding approximately to January-February, and is structured in
relation to Christmas. In the West the first indications of a Marian month
date from the sixteenth century. By the eighteenth century, the Marian
month - in its modern sense - is well attested but during this period the
pastors of souls concentrate their apostolic efforts - including Penance
and the Eucharist - not so much on the Liturgy but on pious exercises,
which were much favoured by the faithful.
(224) Cf. CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Circular Letter, Guidelines
and proposals for the celebration of the Marian Year, 64-65.
(225) For comments on the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Sacraments of
Christian initiation cf. ibid. 25-31.
(226) SC 108.
(227) Cf. SC 35, 4.
(228) Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus, 30.
(229) Cf. ibid., 17; Collectio missarum de beata Virginis
Mariae, Praenotanda ad lectionarium, 10.
(230) CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Circular Letter Guidelines
and proposals for the celebration of the Marian Year, 10.
(231) Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus, 41.
(232) CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Circular Letter, Guidelines
and proposals for the celebration of the Marian year, 61.
(233) The antiphon is found in the twelfth century Antiphonary of the
Abbey of San Lupo in Benevento. Cf. R. J. HESBERT (ed.) Corpus
Antiphonalium Officii, vol. II, Herder, Roma 1965, pp. XX-XXIV; vol.
III, Herder, Roma 1968, p. 440.
(234) Regarding indulgences cf. EI, Aliae concessiones, 17, p.
62. For a commentary on the Ave maria cf. CCC 2676-2677.
(235) CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Circular Letter Guidelines
and proposals for the celebration of the Marian Year, 62.
(236) PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus, 62.
(237) Cf. CIC, canons 246, ' 3; 276, ' 2,5; 663, ' 4; CONGREGATION FOR
THE CLERGY, Directory for the Ministry and Life of Priests,
Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 1994, 39.
(238) Cf. RITUALE ROMANUM, de Benedictionibus, Ordo benedictionis
coronarum Roasrii, cit., 1183-1207.
(240) Cf. ibid.,1183-1184.
(241) CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Circular Letter Guidelines
and proposals for the celebration of the Marian Year, 62, a.
(242) Ibid., 62, b.
(243) Cf. SC 90.
(244) CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Circular Letter, Guidelines
and proposals for the celebration of the Marian Year, 62, c.
(245) PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus, 55.
(246) The Litany of Loreto was first included in the Rituale Romanum
in 1874, as an appendix. Regarding indulgences connected with it cf. EI,
Aliae concessiones, 22, p. 68.
(247) Cf. Ordo coronandi imaginem beatae Mariae Virginis, Editio
Typica, Typis Polyglotis Vaticanis 1981, n. 41, pp. 27-29.
(248) Cf. CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Circular Letter Guidelines
and proposals for the celebration of the Marian Year, 63, c.
(249) Litanies multiplied in the sixteenth century. Often, they were in
poor taste and the results of an informed piety. In 1601, Clement VIII had
the Holy Office issue Quoniam multi which was intended to curb the
excessive and uncontrolled production of litanies. According to the terms
of this decree, only the more ancient litanies contained in the Breviary,
Missal, Pontifical and Ritual, as well as the Litany of Loreto were
approved for the use of the faithful (cf. Magnum Bullarium Romanum,
III, Lugduni 1656, p. 1609).
(250) CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Circular Letter Guidelines
and proposals for the celebration of the Marian Year, 63, d.
(251) See the Atto di affidamento alla Beata Vergine Maria
pronounced by John Paul II on Sunday, 8 October 2000, together with the
Bishops gathered in Rome for he celebration of the Great Jubilee.
(252) JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter, Redemptoris Mater, 48.
(253) Cf. LG 61; JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter, Redemptoris Mater,
(254) CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Circular letter Guidelines
and proposals for the celebration of the Marian Year, 86.
(255) LG 67; cf. PAUL VI Letter to Cardinal Silva Henriquez, Papal
Legate to the Marian Congress in Santo Domingo, in AAS 57 (1965) 376-379.
(256) CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Circular Letter Guidelines
and proposals for the celebration of the Marian Year,88.
(257) RITUALE ROMANUM, De Benedictionibus, Ordo benedictionis et
impositionis scapularis, cit., 1213.
(258) RITUALE ROMANUM, De benedicionibus, Ordo benedictionis rerum
quae ad pietatem et devotionem exercendam destinatur, cit., 1168.
(260) Cf. LG 67; PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus,
(261) In addition to the Akathistos other prayers deriving from
the Oriental traditions have received grants of indulgences: cf. EI Aliae
concessiones, 23, pp. 68-69.
(262) The singing of the Akathistos at Santa Maria Maggiore on 7
June 1981 marked the anniversaries of the Councils of Constantinople (381)
and Ephesus (431); the hymn was also sung to commemorate the 450th
anniversary of the apparitions of Guadalupe in Mexico, 10-12 December
1981. On 25 March 1988, John Paul II presided at Matins in Santa Maria
Supra Minerva during which the hymn was sung in the Slavonic Rite. It is
again explicitly mentioned among the indulgenced devotions for the Jubilee
Year in the Bull Incarnationis Mysterium. It was sung at Santa
Maria Maggiore on 8 December 2000 in Greek, Old Slavonic, Hungarian,
Roumanian and Arabic at a solemn celebration with the representatives of
the Byzantine Catholic Churches at which John Paul II presided.
(263) While its author is unknown, modern scholarship tends to place its
composition some time after the Council of Chalcedon. A Latin version was
written down around 800 by Christopher, Bishop of Venice, which had
enormous influence on the piety of the Western middles age. It is
associated with Germanus of Constantinople who died in 733.
(264) JOHN PAUL II, Circular Letter Redemptoris Mater, 34.
(265) Cf. St. EUSEBIUS OF CAESAREA, Historia ecclesiastica, V,
XV, 42-47: SCh 31, Paris 1952, pp. 189-190.
(266) SC 104.
(267) DS 150; MISSALE ROMANUM, Ordo Missae, Symbolum
(268) JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Constitution, Divinitus pefctionis
magister, in AAS 75 (1983) 349.
(269) Cf. LG 4.
(271) Ibid., 48.
(272) Symbolum Apostolicum, in DS 19.
(273) CCC 1472.
(274) LG 49.
(275) Cf. Ibid.
(276) COUNCIL OF FLORENCE, Decretum pro Graecis, in DS 1305.
(277) Cf. MISSALE ROMANUM, Die 1 Novembris Omnium Sanctorum
(278) Ibid., Praefatio I de Sanctis.
(279) LG 51.
(280) CCC 328.
(281) Ibid., 336.
(282) The same is true, for example in the solemnity of Easter and in
the solemnities of the Annunciation (25 march), Christmas (25 December),
Ascension, the Immaculate Conception (8 December), St. Joseph (19 March),
Sts. Peter and Paul (29 June), Assumption (15 August) and All Saints (1
(283) MISSALE ROMANUM, Praefatio de Angelis.
(284) Cf. ibid., Prex eucharistica, Sanctus.
(285) Ibid., Prex eucharistica I, Supplices te rogamus.
(286) Cf. St. BENEDICT, Regula, 19, 5: CSEL 75, Vindobonae 1960,
(287) Cf. RITUALE ROMANUM, Ordo Paenitentiae, Editio Typica,
Typis Polyglotis Vatacanis 1974, 54.
(288) Cf. LITURGIA HORARUM, Die 2 Octobris, Ss Angelorum Custodum
memoria, Ad Vesperas, Hymnus, "Custodes hominum psallimus angelos".
(289) Cf. ibid., Ad Completorium post II Vesperas Dominicae et
Sollemnitatum, Oratio "Visita quaesumus".
(290) Cf. RITUALE ROMANUM, Ordo unctionis informorum eorumque
patoralis curae, cit., 147.
(291) Cf. RITUALE ROMANUM, Ordo exsequiarum , Editio Typica,
Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis 1969, 50.
(292) St. BASIL OF CAESAREA, Adversus Eunomium III, 1: PG 29, 656.
(293) St. BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX, Sermo XII in Psalmum "Qui
habitat", 3: Sancti Bernardi Opera, IV, Editiones Cistercienses,
Romae 1966, p. 459.
(294) Cf. EI, Normae et concessiones, 18, p. 65.
(295) MISSALE ROMANUM, Die 19 Martii, Sollemnitas S. Iosephi sposi
beatae Mariae Virginis, Collecta.
(296) SACRED CONGREGATION FOR RITES, Decree Quemadmodum Deus, in
Pii IX Pontificis Maximi Acta, Pars Prima, vol. 5, Akademische
Druck - u. Verlagsanstalt, Graz 1971, p. 282; cf. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic
Exhortation Redemptoris custos, 1, in AAS 82 (1990) 6.
(297) The declaration of St. Joseph as patron of the universal Church
took place on 8 December 1870 with the Decree Quemadmodum Deus to
which reference has already been made.
(298) LEO XIII, Encyclical Letter Quamquam pluries (15 August
1889) in Leonis XIII Pontificis Maximi Acta, IX, Typographia
Vaticana, Romae 1890, p. 180.
(299) Cf. Pius XII, Allocutio ad adscriptos Societatibus Christianis
Operariorum Italicorum (A:C:L:I:) (1 May 1955), in AAS 47 (1955) 402-407,
declaring the institution of the feast of St. Joseph the Worker for the 1
May (cf. SACRED CONGREGATION FOR RITES, Decree [24 April 1956] in
 237); JOHN PAUL II Apostolic Exhortation Redemptoris Custos, 22-24,
in AAS 82 (1990) 26-28.
(300) Cf. St. BERNARDINE OF SIENA, De Sancto Joseph sponso beatae
Virginis , art. II, cap. III, in S. Bernardini Opera omnia, t.
VII, Typis Collegii Sancti Bonaventurae, Ad Claras Aquas 1959, p. 28.
(301) Especially on days when the central theme of the liturgy is the
genealogy of Our Lord (Mt 1, 1-17): 17 December) or the angel's message to
St. Joseph (Mt 1, 18-4: 18 December); IV Sunday in Advent A): both
pericopes underline that Jesus is the Messiah, "the Son of David"
(Mt 1, 1) through Joseph who was of the house of David (cf. Mt 1, 20; Lk
(302) cf. CALENDARIUM ROMANUM, Litanae Sanctorum, cit., 1969, pp
(303) Cf. RITUALE ROMANUM, Ordo unctionis infirmorum eorumque
pastoralis curae,cit., 143.
(304) Ibid., 146.
(305) Cf. EI, Piae invocationes, p. 83.
(306) Cf. EI, Aliae concessiones, 19, p. 66.
(307) cf. EI, Aliae concessiones, 22, p. 68.
(308) JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Exhortation Redemptoris Custos, 1,
in AAS 82 (1990) 31.
(309) Cf. RITUALE ROMANUM Pauli V Pontificis Maximi iussu editum....Pii
XII auctoritate ordinatum et auctum. Tit. IX, cap. III, 13: Benedictio
rogi in Vigilia Navitatis S. Ioannis Baptistae.
(310) The tradition of the "dies natalis" or date of death of
the martyrs. This usage dates at least from the fifth century. Cf. St.
AUGUSTINE, Sermo 310, 1: PL 38, 1412-1413.
(311) MARTYROLOGIUM ROMANUM ex decreto Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii
Vaticani Secundi instauratum auctoritate Ioannis Pauli PP. II promulgatum,
Editio Typica, Typiis Vaticanis 2001.
(312) The Calendarium Romanum was published by Paul VI on 14
February 1969, with the Apostolic Letter Mysterii paschalis, in
AAS 61 (1969) 222-226.
(313) SC 111.
(315) PAUL VI, Apostolic Letter Mysterii paschalis, 1, in AAS 61
(316) SC 111.
(317) Cf. CALENDARIUM ROMANUM, cit., Normae universales, 58-59;
S.CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Instruction De Calendariis
particularibus,8-12, in AAS 62 (1970) 653-654).
(318) LITURGIA HORARUM, Commune Sanctorum virorum, Ad Invitatorium.
(319) MISSALE ROMANUM, Prex eucharistica I, Supra quae propitio.
(320) Ibid., Communicantes. Provision is made for a memorial of
the Saint or patron of the day in Prex eucharistica III.
(321) Cf. Ordo Romanus in A. ANDRIEU (ed.), Les "Ordines
Romani" du Haut Moyen-Age, III, Spicilegium Sacrum Lovaniense,
Lovain 1951, p. 249. For indulgences cf. EI, Aliae concessiones, 22,
(322) Cf. CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP AND THE DISCIPLINE OF THE
SACRAMENTS, Notificatio de cultu Beatorum,13, in Notitiae 35
(323) SC 111; cf THE COUNCIL OF TRENT, Decretum de invocatione,
veneratione et reliquiis Sanctorum, et sacris imaginibus (3 December
1563), in DS 1822.
(324) Cf. ibid..
(325) Institutio generalis Missalis Romani, 302.
(326) Cf. PONTIFICALE ROMANUM, Ordo dedicationis ecclesiae et altaris,
Editio Typica, Typis Polyglotis Vaticanis 1977, cap. IV, Praenotanda,
(327) Cf. ibid.,cap. II, Praenotanda, 5.
(329) Cf. CIC, can. 1190.
(330) Cf. St. AMBROSE, Epistula LXXVII (MAUR. 22), 13: CSEL
82/3, Vindobonae 1982, pp. 134-135; PONTIFICALE ROMANUM, Ordo
dedicationis ecclesiae et altaris, cit., cap. IV, Praenotanda,
(331) SECOND COUNCIL OF NICEA, Definitio de sacris imaginibus
(23 October 787), in DS 600.
(332) CCC 1161.
(333) Cf. COUNCIL OF NICEA II, Definitio de sacris imaginibus
(23 October 787) in DS 600-603; COUNCIL OF TRENT Decretum de
invocatione, veneratione, et reliquiis Sanctorum et sacris imaginibus
(3 December 1562), in DS 1821-1825; SC 111.
(334) Cf. CCC nn. 1159-1162.
(335) COUNCIL OF NICEA II, Definitio de sacris imaginibus, in
Conciliorum Oecumeniorum Decreta, cit., p. 135 (not contained in
(336) CCC 1161.
(338) COUNCIL OF NICEA II, Definitio de sacris imaginibus, in DS
(339) COUNCIL OF TRENT, Decretum de sacris invocatione, veneratione
et reliquiis Sanctorum, et sacris imaginibus, in DS 1824.
(340) Ibid., 1823.
(341) RITUALE ROMANUM, De Benedictionibus, Ordo as benedicendas
imagines quae fidelium venerationi publicae exhibentur, cit., 985.
(342) Cf. RITUALE ROMANUM, De Benedictionibus, Ordo benedictionis
imaginis Sanctorum, cit., 1018-1031.
(343) Ibid., 1027.
(344) Cf. CIC, can. 1188; Institutio generalis Missalis Romani,
(345) Cf. PONTIFICALE ROMANUM, Ordo dedicationis ecclesiae et
altaris, cit., cap. IV, Praenotanda, 10.
(346) Cf. RITUALE ROMANUM, De sacra communione et de cultu Mysterii
eucharistici extra Missam, cit., 101; CIC, can. 944; supra note 162.
(347) Institutio generalis de Liturgia Horarum,213.
(348) SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Constitution Gaudium et spes 18.
(349) DS 150: MISSALE ROMANUM, Ordo Missae, Symbolum
(350) CCC 989.
(351) St. AMBROSE, De excessu fratris, I, 70: CSEL 73,
Vindobonae 1955, p. 245.
(352) CCC 1007.
(354) Ibid., 1008; cf. COUNCIL OF TRENT, Decretum de peccato
originali (17 Iunii 1546), in DS 1511.
(355) CCC 1009.
(356) MISSALE ROMANUM, Praefatio defunctorum,I.
(357) Cf. ibid.,Prex eucharistica IV, Commemoratio pro defunctis.
(358) CCC 1031; cf. DS 1304; 1820; 1580.
(359) LG 50.
(360) SECOND COUNCIL OF LYONS, Professio fidei Michaelis Paleologi
(6 Iulii 1274), in DS 856: St. CYPRIAN, Epistula I, 2: CSEL 3/2,
Vindobonae 1871, pp. 466-467; St. AUGUSTINE, Confessiones, IX, 12,
32: CSEL 33/1, Vindobonae 1896, pp. 221-222.
(361) Cf. St. AUGUSTINE, De curis pro mortuis gerenda,6: CSEL
41, Vindobonae 1900, pp. 629-631; St. JOHN CHRISTOSOM, Homilia in
primam ad Corinthios, 41, 5: PG 61, 494-495; CCC1032.
(362) Cf. EI, Normae de Indulgentiis, 3, p. 21; Aliae
concessiones, 29, pp. 74-75.
(363) Cf. RITUALE ROMANUM, Ordo exsequiarum, cit., Praenotanda,
(364) This vigil, which is still called a "wake" in English
speaking countries, is an act of faith in the resurrection, even though it
may have lost all theological and historical significance, and an
imitation of the women in the Gospel who came to anoint the body of
Christ, and became the first witnesses of the resurrection.
(365) RITUALE ROMANUM, Ordo exsequiarum, cit.,Praenotanda,
(366) Ibid., 41.
(367) CCC 1689.
(368) RITUALE ROMANUM, Ordo exsequiarum, cit., Praenotanda,
(369) Ibid., 15; SUPREME CONGREGATION OF THE HOLY OFFICE,
Instruction, De cadaverum crematione, 2-3, in AAS 56 (1964)
822-823; CIC, can. 1184, 5, § 1, 2·.
(370) MISSALE ROMANUM, Prex eucharistica I, Commemoratio pro
(371) Regarding Masses for the dead cf. Institutio generalis
Missalis Romani, 355.
(372) LG 49.
(373) CCC 958.
(374) DS 150; MISSALE ROMANUM, Ordo Missae, Symbolum
(375) CIC, can 1234, ' 1.
(376) Cf. PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE PASTORAL CARE OF MIGRANTS AND
ITINERANTS, The Shrine. memory, presence and prophecy of the living
God. (8.5.1999), Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano
(377) JOHN PAUL II, Allocution to the rectors of French Shrines
in Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, IV/I (1981), Libreria
Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 1981, p. 138.
(378) CIC, can 1230. For the concession of indulgences see EI, Aliae
concessiones, 33, ' 1, 4E, p. 77.
(379) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Mater, 28.
(380) CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Circular Letter Orientations
and Proposals for the Celebration of the Marian Year, 75.
(381) RITUALE ROMANUM, Ordo Paenitentiae, cit., 6 a.
(382) Cf. Ibid, Appendix II, Specimina celebrationum panitentialium,
(383) Ibid., Praenotanda, 22.
(384) Cf. CIC, can. 961, ' 2.
(385) Collectio missarum de Beata Maria Virgine, Praenotanda,
(386) SC 47.
(387) Cf. Institutio generalis Missalis Romani, 41.
(388) Cf. n. 83.
(389) Cf. CIC, can. 1004.
(390) RITUALE ROMANUM, Ordo unctionis infirmorum eorumque pastoralis
curae, cit., 90.
(391) Cf. CIC, can. 1115.
(392) Cf. Institutio Generalis de Liturgia Horarum, 27.
(393) Cf. ibid., 245.
(394) Cf. RITUALE ROMANUM, De Benedictionibus, cit., Praenotanda,
(395) Cf. ibid., 22-24.
(396) Cf. ibid., 24 a.
(397) Cf. ibid., 30.
(398) Cf. ibid., 15.
(399) CENTRAL COMMITTEE FOR THE MARIAN YEAR, Marian Sanctuaries,
4 (Circular Letter 7. 10. 1987).
(401) CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Circular Letter, Orientations
and proposals for the Celebration of the Marian Year, 76.
(402) Cf. PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FRO THE PROMOTION OF CHRISTIAN UNITY, Directoire
pour l'application des Principes et des Normes sur L'Oecuménisme
(25.3.1993): AAS 85 (1993) 1039-1119.
(404) N. 25, in AAS 85 (1993) 1049.
(405) Cf. ibid., n. 27, p. 1049.
(406) cf. ibid., n. 110, p. 1084.
(407) Cf. Collectio missarum de Beata Maria Virgine, Form. 38: "Sancta
Maria Mater Unitatis"; St. AUGUSTINE, Sermo 192, 2: PL 38,
1013; PAUL VI, Homily on the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the
Temple, (2.2.1965), in Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, III (1965),
Tipografia Polyglotta Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 1966, p. 68;
JOHN PAUL II, Homily at the Shrine of Jasna Gora (4.6.1979) in Insegnamenti
di Giovanni Paolo II, II/1 (19799, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città
del Vaticano 1979, p. 1418; Angelus discourse (12.6.1988) in Insegnamenti
di Giovanni Paolo II, XI/2 (1988), Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città
del Vaticano 1989, p. 1997.
(408) Cf. PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR MIGRANTS AND ITINERANTS, Pilgrimage
in the Great Jubilee of 2000 (25.4.1998), Libreria Editrice Vaticana,
Città del Vaticano, 1998.
(409) According to the Code of canon Law, the frequency of pilgrimages
is an integral element of the concept of shrine: "The term shrine
signifies a church or other place to which the faithful make pilgrimages
for a particular pious reason with the approval of the local ordinary"
(410) The significance of the pilgrimage is borne out in the
of ascent", psalms 120-134, used by those going up to Jerusalem. In their
Christian interpretation, these express the Church's joy as she journeys
on her earthly pilgrimage to the heavenly Jerusalem.
(411) MISSALE ROMANUM, Prex eucharistica III, Intercessiones.
(412) Cf. St. AUGUSTINE, Tractatus CXXIV In Iohannis Evangelium,
5: CCL 36, Turnholti 1954, p. 685.
(413) Cf., supra n. 267.
(414) SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree Apostolicam actuositatem,
(415) Cf. RITUALE ROMANUM, De Benedictionibus, Ordo ad benedicendos
peregrinos, cit., 407.
(416) Cf. ibid., 409-419.
(417) Cf. supra nn. 265-273.
(418) Cf. RITUALE ROMANUM, De benedictionibus, Ordo benedictionis
peregrinorum ante vel post reditum, cit., 420-430.