Development of the Roman Missal - Catholic Courier

Development of the Roman Missal

Below is a timeline of the Roman Missal’s development, from Vatican II to the present.

1963: Sacrosanctum Concilium promulgated

Second Vatican Council promulgates Sacrosanctum concilium (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy).This text, the first official text of the council, called for the renewal of the liturgy and the reform of the liturgical books in order to promote the “full, conscious, and active participation” of the faithful in the liturgy of the church. The fathers of the council invited consideration of the use of the vernacular, and in the years leading up to a new Roman Missal, it was determined that the vernacular could be used for the entire liturgy.

1964: ICEL takes shape

In October 1963, during one of the Vatican II sessions, the bishops of 10 English-speaking countries (including the U.S) agreed to form a mixed commission to aid in the work of the liturgical reform, the International Commission on English in the Liturgy. ICEL is formally established with the formation of its mandate as a commission for the preparation of English translations of liturgical texts.

1969: Missale Romanum promulgated

Liturgical books are issued by the Holy See as “typical editions,” the authoritative Latin texts that are used for the celebration of the liturgy in Latin, or as the basis for translation into local languages, which must then be approved by the Holy See.

1974: U.S. Sacramentary (Roman Missal) confirmed

Sacramentary (Roman Missal) confirmed by the Holy See; text published in the U.S. The Sacramentary is the large book, used by the priest at the celebrant’s chair and at the altar, containing all the prayers of the Mass.

1975: Missale Romanum Reissued

Only one year after the publication of the U.S. edition of the Roman Missal, the Holy See issued a revised authoritative Latin edition, the “second typical edition,” containing additional prayers and modifications of existing prayers and rubrics.

1985: U.S. Sacramentary (Roman Missal) second edition

This revised edition, based on the 1975 edition of the Missale Rromanum, also included prayers for recently canonized saints such as St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. John Neumann, as well as the Eucharistic Prayers for Masses with Children and the Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation. Existing texts remained largely unchanged.

2000: Missale Romanum, third edition

Pope John Paul II issued the “third typical edition” of the Roman Missal during the Jubilee Year 2000. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) had been published in March 2000 as an introduction to the revised missal. The ritual text would not be published until March 2002. Once the full text of the Missale romanum was available, the work of translating it into various languages would begin.

2001: Liturgiam Authenticam

To guide the work of preparing translations of the revised Roman Missal, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issues new instructions for the translation of liturgical texts. The guiding principle for translation is expressed as “formal equivalency.” Liturgiam Authenticam No. 20 states: “While it is permissible to arrange the wording, the syntax and the style in such a way as to prepare a flowing vernacular text suitable to the rhythm of popular prayer, the original text insofar as possible, must be translated integrally and in the most exact manner, without omissions or additions in terms of their content, and without paraphrases or glosses.”

2002: Vox Clara established

The Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments gathered bishops and consultants from English-speaking countries to assist in the review and approval of the English translation of the Roman Missal. The Vox Clara (“clear voice”) Committee has been meeting several times each year to review texts submitted to the Holy See for recognitio (approval of texts).

2002: General Instruction of the Roman Missal approved

English translation of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) approved by the USCCB; confirmed by the Holy See in 2003. The GIRM, containing the basic outline and instructions for the celebration of Mass, includes a number of adaptations for U.S. dioceses.

2008: Order of Mass confirmed

English translation of the Order of Mass confirmed by the Holy See. While the revised translation of the Order of Mass cannot be used in the celebration of the Mass, the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments granted the recognitio in order that catechesis on the revised texts could begin and musical settings of the texts could be prepared.

2010: U.S. Roman Missal approved

After a lengthy process of review and approval by the USCCB, the Holy See prepared and approved the final text of the Roman Missal. The translation will be implemented in English-speaking parishes on the first Sunday of Advent, Nov. 26-27, 2011.


Based upon Roman Missal formational materials provided by the Secretariat for the Liturgy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2010.

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