Again! Holy Thursday Mass, Pope Francis Style

Today’s Bullettino from Rome announces the Holy Father’s liturgical schedule for March and April.

Holy Thursday has this entry:

giovedì 17
Giovedì Santo  *

…and the asterisked annotation at the bottom of the page indicates that the the Pope will celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper as he did in Buenos Aires and did last year. He will selection a particular situation from a pastoral point of view, which will be announced later. There will not be a celebration in the Basilica nor possibility of participation of a large number of faithful, and tickets thus will not be distributed.


  1. I just wish they would change the rubrics to allow women’s feet to be washed! The rite- it seems to me- symbolizes service to anyone, not only Christ serving priests! I completely favor the all male priesthood, and don’t see how allow women in this rite changes its meaning. In fact, it better shows forth its meaning! The fact that the pope ignores this rule, I think, sends the wrong message. It sends either an antinomian message (to hell with the rubrics and past announcements of the CDW) or it sends the message that the pope is above the law. He is the supreme legislator, so he should change the law and then follow it! My $.02 .

  2. This is regretful. I love the symbolism, and I even love that Pope Francis does this – but why not go to some deserving population AND have a public mass at the Basilica, presided over by someone else – a curial cardinal, the Pope emeritus, some other archbishop, whatever – so that the triduum is celebrated at the Basilica in its entirety and people have an opportunity to attend?

    1. @David Jaronowski – comment #2:
      My experience is that when the pope doesn’t preside at a liturgy on a major feast day, there are still celebrations in each Major Basilica. They are usually presided over by a cardinal.

      1. @Steven Surrency – comment #3:
        If that’s the case, then that’s great.

        I thought that last year they specifically said that there was to be no mass on Holy Thursday at the Basilica. I don’t know for sure though. I might be remembering wrong.

      2. @David Jaronowski – comment #4:

        Remember that Pope Francis had only been elected two weeks before Holy Week last year. The apparent reason last year for not having Holy Thursday at the Lateran Basilica last year was because Pope Francis had not yet taken possession of it as the cathedral basilica of Rome.

        Of course, the decision for this year puts last year’s in greater context — that Pope Francis had made the decision because he wanted to be present to the youth at the prison, not because of any reason pertaining to taking possession of the Lateran.

      3. @Matthew Morelli – comment #5:

        “The apparent reason last year for not having Holy Thursday at the Lateran Basilica last year was because Pope Francis had not yet taken possession of it as the cathedral basilica of Rome.”

        um, no, that was never an issue.

        The Pope went to where he did because that’s what he wanted, and that was it.

        The only question now is: where will he go this year?

      4. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #6:

        um, no, that was never an issue.

        Actually, it was. Mass was already scheduled at one not-the-Lateran location, and Pope Francis chose to move to another.

        As reported last year by Rocco Palmo:

        In a sudden announcement this morning from the Holy See, Pope Francis has yet again turned Vatican protocol on its head – shredding the earlier plan to begin the Easter Triduum in St Peter’s Basilica, the new pontiff has instead opted to go to a juvenile prison in Rome to celebrate Holy Thursday’s Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, at which he’ll wash the feet of 12 inmates.

        The opening chapter of the church’s most sacred moment of the year, while the rite normally takes place in at St John Lateran, this year’s Evening Mass was previously slated to happen in the Vatican Basilica as the new pontiff has yet to take possession of the Lateran – the “Mother and Head” of all churches, which has served for a millennium as the cathedral of the bishop of Rome.

      5. @Matthew Morelli – comment #9:

        You said (@ comment #5): “the decision for this year puts last year’s in greater context…”

        And my point was: the Pope’s intention was always quite clear from the get-go, and it had nothing to do with protocols.

        Anyway, it sounds like we are saying the same thing but in a different way — as often happens on the Internet.

      6. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #10:

        I think you’re right… we are saying more or less the same. A little above the quoted part of the article I linked from Rocco, he was making the point of how much of a shock the decision to move the Mass to the prison was.

        I too am curious to see where he decides to go this year.

  3. Francis is celebrating the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday at 9:30 am in the Vatican Basilica. Seems pretty obvious to have the evening Mass in a more pastoral location if you are already having Mass in the largest location possible that day.

    Francis knows the pastorally minded priests already wash the feet of women, and probably assumes that bishops and the curia will come around to this way of thinking.

  4. I have heard rumours (well, not really reliable but interesting) that this year Francis will celebrate the evening mass of the Lord’s Supper with a female religious community. The tote is still open on whether they will be catholics!

  5. do we really need the rubric changed? he has already washed the feet of women and has not set precedent. if it is good enough for francis, should it not be good enough for the rest of us?

  6. Michael Bechard : do we really need the rubric changed? he has already washed the feet of women and has not set precedent. if it is good enough for francis, should it not be good enough for the rest of us?

    It should be but, unfortunately, there are those who continue insist that including women in Holy Thursday feet washing is not permitted because of the rubrics regardless of what the pope does. Many of them are bishops.

  7. Christ washed the feet of the 12 to emphasize what their attitude should be when they are “sent forth”. It was important they view themselves as servants, not “little monsters” or “princes” [as contemporary papal parlance might say). Certainly, Christ served all (the healings, the feedings, the forgivenesses, etc etc) but this time it was a point he wanted to make to the 12. Washing the feet of women? Not a bad thing at all but an “accommodation” to the intended sense of the scriptural text.

    1. @John Swencki – comment #15:
      Some might think Christ washed the feet of the Twelve. Surely they were included–most of them, anyway. But in John 13, it is the disciples who are washed. There is no mention of the Twelve. The Gospels often mention distinctions when they speak of the Lord’s followers: the three, the Twelve, disciples in the open or even in secret. The truth is that posing the Last Supper as a men-only or an apostolic event is post facto wishful thinking. And possibly incorrect from both a factual and theological perspective.

      When Jesus tells the disciples, “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do,” is this not aligned with his command to eat and drink and remember? Is the command to wash and to serve not for every believer? Only rubrics stand in the way, in the minds of some.

      1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #16:

        Maybe what is really needed then, is not merely a revised rule book, but some major theological clarifications.

        How wonderful it would be indeed if all Church documents, including not only liturgical texts but also, and perhaps more importantly, doctrinal and moral teachings, were to undergo extensive review and revision processes to provide further clarifications where needed, and to remove any and all languages that suggest unwarranted exclusion, or worse yet, propagate much bigotry and hatred.

      2. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #17:
        Agreed. The 1956 rubric retained in the Roman Missal can’t be anything but misogyny. The hypocrisy of adhering to the letter of the law in the Missal, but not in the details of the Scripture is, well, striking. Perhaps it’s not worth the bother to change the text of the Missal at all. I’d vote we go for MR4, and with Godspeed.

  8. And remember: the rubrics in the missal do not indicate twelve or any number of those to be washed…

    1. @Jeremy Helmes – comment #19:
      But someone should run out of the sanctuary with collection money.

      It would be good if we all got over the idea of the Triduum liturgies as re-enactments. They are not Passion Plays. (And the idea cuts both ways, of course; the displacement of amanesis by re-enactment rudders liturgical planning notions across the spectrum of liturgical ideologies.)

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