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Roman Ritual

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Roman Ritual

The Roman Ritual (Latin: Rituale Romanum) is one of the official ritual works of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. It contains all of the services which may be performed by a priest or deacon which are not contained within either the Missale Romanum or the Breviarium Romanum. The book also contains some of the rites which are contained in only one of these books for convenience.


  • History 1
    • From one book to many 1.1
    • Codification 1.2
    • The 16th century 1.3
    • Post-Trent uniformity 1.4
    • From the 18th until the 20th century 1.5
    • From 1964 until today 1.6
  • Contents 2
  • Other rituals 3
  • See also 4
  • External links 5
    • Criticism of the revised rites 5.1


When first ritual functions were written in books, the Sacramentary in the West, the Euchologion in the East contained all the priest's (and bishop's) part of whatever functions they performed, not only the holy Liturgy in the strict sense, but all other sacraments, blessings, sacramentals, and rites of every kind as well.

From one book to many

The contents of the Ritual and Pontifical were in the Sacramentaries. In the Eastern Churches this state of things still to a great extent remains. In the West a further development led to the distinction of books, not according to the persons who use them, but according to the services for which they are used. The Missal, containing the whole Mass, succeeded the Sacramentary. Some early Missals added other rites, for the convenience of the priest or bishop; but on the whole this later arrangement involved the need of other books to supply the non-Eucharistic functions of the Sacramentary. These books, when they appeared, were the predecessors of the Pontifical and Ritual. The bishop's functions (ordination, confirmation, et cetera) filled the Pontifical, the priest's offices (baptism, penance, matrimony, extreme unction, etc.) were contained in a great variety of little handbooks, finally replaced by the Ritual.


The Pontifical emerged first. The book under this name occurs already in the eighth century (Pontifical of Egbert). From the ninth there is a multitude of Pontificals. For the priest's functions there was no uniform book till 1614. Some of these are contained in the Pontificals; often the chief ones were added to Missals and Books of Hours. Then special books were arranged, but there was no kind of uniformity in arrangement or name. Through the Middle Ages a vast number of handbooks for priests having the care of souls was written. Every local rite, almost every diocese, had such books; indeed many were compilations for the convenience of one priest or church. Such books were called by many names--Manuale, Liber agendarum, Agenda, Sacramentale, sometimes Rituale. Specimens of such medieval predecessors of the Ritual are the Manuale Curatorum of Roeskilde in Denmark (first printed 1513, ed. J. Freisen, Paderborn, 1898), and the Liber Agendarum of Schleswig (printed 1416, Paderborn, 1898). The Roeskilde book contains the blessing of salt and water, baptism, marriage, blessing of a house, visitation of the sick with viaticum and extreme unction, prayers for the dead, funeral service, funeral of infants, prayers for pilgrims, blessing of fire on Holy Saturday, and other blessings. The Schleswig book has besides much of the Holy Week services, and that for All Souls, Candlemas, and Ash Wednesday. In both many rites differ from the Roman forms.

The 16th century

In the sixteenth century, while the other liturgical books were being revised and issued as a uniform standard, there was naturally a desire to substitute an official book that should take the place of these varied collections. But the matter did not receive the attention of the Holy See itself for some time. First, various books were issued at Rome with the idea of securing uniformity, but without official sanction. Albert Castellani in 1537 published a Sacerdotale of this kind; in 1579 at Venice another version appeared, arranged by Grancesco Samarino, Canon of the Lateran; it was re-edited in 1583 by Angelo Rocca. In 1586 Giulio Antonio Santorio, Cardinal of St. Severina, printed a handbook of rites for the use of priests, which, as Paul V says, "he had composed after long study and with much industry and labor" (Apostolicae Sedis). This book is the foundation of our Roman Ritual. In 1614 Paul V published the first edition of the official Ritual by the Constitution "Apostolicae Sedis" of 17 June. In this he points out that Clement VIII had already issued a uniform text of the Pontifical and the Caerimoniale Episcoporum (The Ceremonial of Bishops), which determines the functions of many other ecclesiastics besides bishops. (That is still the case. The Caerimoniale Episcoporum forms the indispensable complement of other liturgical books for priests too.) "It remained", the pope continues, "that the sacred and authentic rites of the Church, to be observed in the administration of sacraments and other ecclesiastical functions by those who have the care of souls, should also be included in one book and published by authority of the Apostolic See; so that they should carry out their office according to a public and fixed standard, instead of following so great a multitude of Rituals".

Post-Trent uniformity

But, unlike the other books of the Roman Rite, the Ritual has never been imposed as the only standard. Paul V did not abolish all other collections of the same kind, nor command every one to use only his book. He says: "Wherefore we exhort in the Lord" that it should be adopted. The result of this is that the old local Rituals have never been altogether abolished. After the appearance of the Roman edition these others were gradually more and more conformed to it. They continued to be used, but had many of their prayers and ceremonies modified to agree with the Roman book. This applies especially to the rites of Baptism, Holy Communion, the form of absolution, Extreme Unction. The ceremonies also contained in the Missal (holy water, the processions of Candlemas and Palm Sunday, etc.), and the prayers also in the Breviary (the Office of the Dead) are necessarily identical with those of Paul V's Ritual; these have the absolute authority of the Missal and Breviary. On the other hand, many countries have local customs for Marriage, the visitation of the sick, etc., numerous special blessings, processions and sacramentals not found in the Roman book, still printed in various diocesan Rituals. It is then by no means the case that every priest of the Roman Rite uses the Roman Ritual. Very many dioceses or provinces still have their own local handbooks under the name of Rituale or another (Ordo administrandi sacramenta, etc.), though all of these conform to the Roman text in the chief elements. Most contain practically all the Roman book, and have besides local additions.

From the 18th until the 20th century

The further history of the Rituale Romanum is this: Benedict XIV in 1752 revised it, together with the Pontifical and Cærimoniale Episcoporum. His new editions of these three books were published by the Brief "Quam ardenti" (25 March 1752), which quotes Paul V's Constitution at length and is printed, as far as it concerns this book, in the beginning of the Ritual. He added to Paul V's text two forms for giving the papal blessing (V, 6; VIII, 31). Meanwhile, a great number of additional blessings were added in an appendix. This appendix is now nearly as long as the original book. Under the title Benedictionale Romanum it is often issued separately. Leo XIII approved an editio typica published by Pustet at Ratisbon in 1884.

From 1964 until today

With the advent of the Second Vatican Council there was a push to revise all of the official books of the Catholic Church, including the Pontifical, the Ceremonial of Bishop, The Roman Ritual, the Missal and the Breviary. The initial changes were made to the Missal, and the changes followed on from there, with each rite of the church being strenuously revised. The Roman Ritual itself was split up into Two volumes, published in 1976 with the most recent edition dating from 1990, now called "The Rites." The first volume contains the majority of the old Roman Ritual, it covers all of the sacraments with the exception of Ordination, and it covers funerary rites. The second volume covers more episcopal ceremonies including the consecration of altars, the order of ordaining Deacons, Priests and Bishops and consecrating the oils for use in the church.

The second section of the old Roman Ritual, the Benedictionale, was also extensively revised. It is now published as "The Book of Blessings", or in Latin De Benedictionibus. This was published initially in 1987 with the most recent edition dating from 1990 also. It contains many blessings, however they are far less florid in comparison to those in the Ritual. The blessings in the new book follow more the structure of the Mass, with general intercessions, readings, and other features which in the older blessings were not included.

The Rite of Exorcism also underwent a series of revisions and was finally promulgated in 1999, as De exorcismis et supplicationibus quibusdam (Concerning Exorcisms and Certain Supplications).

Following the motu proprio of Pope Benedict XVI Summorum Pontificum Fr. Philip T. Weller's translation of the ritual of 1964, in three volumes, was reprinted.


The Rituale Romanum is divided into ten "titles" (tituli); all, except the first, subdivided into chapters. In each (except I and X) the first chapter gives the general rules for the sacrament or function, the others give the exact ceremonies and prayers for various cases of administration. The following are the contents of the English Translation of the Roman Ritual made by Fr. Philip T. Weller in 1964.

  • Decree Yes
  • Apostolic Constitution of Pope Paul V on the Roman Ritual
  1. The Holy Sacraments
  2. Holy Sacraments - Introduction
  3. Holy Sacraments - General Rules
  4. The Sacrament of Baptism
  5. Holy Baptism - Introduction
  6. Holy Baptism - General Rules
  7. Rite for baptism of children
  8. Baptism of adults - Introduction
  9. Baptism of adults - General Rules
  10. Norms for new rite for baptism of adults
  11. Rite for baptism of adults
  12. Rite for supplying of ceremonies omitted in baptism
  13. Rite for baptism administered by a bishop
  14. Blessing of baptismal water
  15. The Sacrament of Confirmation
  16. Confirmation - Introduction
  17. Confirmation - General Rules
  18. Rite for confirmation apart from danger of death
  19. Rite for confirmation in danger of death
  20. Holy Eucharist
  21. Holy Eucharist - Introduction
  22. Holy Eucharist - General Rules
  23. Rite for holy communion outside of Mass
  24. Communion during Eastertime
  25. Communion for the sick, general rules
  26. Rite for communion for the sick
  27. Rules for celebrating Mass more than once the same day
  28. Mass celebrated by a blind priest
  29. Forty Hours' Adoration
  30. Penance
  31. Penance - Introduction
  32. Penance - General Rules
  33. Common form for absolution
  34. Rite for absolving from excommunication
  35. General absolution and papal blessing for religious
  36. Rite for absolving from suspension or interdict apart from sacramental confession
  37. Anointing of the Sick
  38. Anointing of the Sick - Introduction
  39. Anointing of the Sick - General Rules
  40. Rite for anointing of the sick
  41. Visit and care of the sick
  42. Spiritual assistance to the dying
  43. Apostolic blessing at the hour of death
  44. Rite for commending a departing soul
  45. Prayers at the moment of death
  46. Matrimony
  47. Instruction on the Day of Marriage and Exhortation before Marriage
  48. Rite for celebrating marriage
  49. Holy Orders: Priesthood
  50. Holy Orders - Priesthood - Introduction
  51. Rite for ordination of priests
  52. The Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany of the Saints
  53. Liturgy for the Faithful Departed
  54. Liturgy for the Faithful Departed - Introduction
  55. Liturgy for the Faithful Departed - General Rules
  56. Rite for burial of adults
  57. Exequies when the body is not present
  58. Rite for burial of children
  59. Vespers for the dead and prayers at a wake
  60. Blessings and other sacramentals, introduction and general rules
  61. Blessings and Other Sacramentals - Introduction
  62. Blessings and Other Sacramentals - General Rules
  63. Blessings for special days and feasts
  64. Blessings of persons
  65. Blessings of animals
  66. Blessings of places not designated for sacred purposes
  67. Blessings of places designated for sacred purposes
  68. Blessings of things designated for sacred purposes
  69. Blessings of things designated for ordinary use
  70. Processions
  71. Processions - General rules
  72. Rites for Processions
  73. Exorcism
  74. Exorcism - Introduction
  75. Exorcism - General Rules
  76. Rite for Exorcism
  77. Exorcism of Satan and the Fallen Angels
  78. Litanies
  79. Blessings formerly reserved to religious orders
    • Appendices
    1. Reception of Converts and Profession of Faith
    2. Profession of Faith
    3. Short Form For Profession Of Faith
    4. Short Form For Conditional Baptism Of Adult Converts
    5. The Itinerarium
    6. Blessing at Meals
    7. Home Enthronement of the Sacred Heart
    8. Oath against Modernism

    Other rituals

    The Milanese Rite has its own ritual (Rituale Ambrosianum, published by Giacomo Agnelli at the Archiepiscopal Press, Milan). In the Byzantine Rite the contents of the ritual are contained in the Euchologion. The Armenians have a ritual (Mashdotz) similar to the Roman Ritual. Other Churches have not yet arranged the various parts of this book in one collection. But nearly all the Eastern Catholics now have Rituals formed on the Roman model.

    See also

    External links

    • 1964 Roman Ritual for use in the United States

    Criticism of the revised rites

    • The New Rite of Exorcism: The Influence of the Evil One concerning the Book of Blessings.

     This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain

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