Misa Criolla in St. Peter’s Basilica with Pope Francis on December 12

Pray Tell reported earlier on Pope Francis’ favorite sacred music, the Misa Criolla by Ariel Ramirez.

Now the reports on the Pope’s latest interview, with La Nacion, indicate that this spicy Mass setting from Argentina will be used in St. Peter’s Basilica on December 12 for the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe:

Francis gave this exclusive interview to LA NACION a few days before a key date: December 12, the day of the festivities of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the patroness of Latin America, during which he will say mass at Saint Peter´s Basilica and during which Argentine musicians will interpret Misa Criolla, composed by Ariel Ramírez 50 years ago. The author´s son, Facundo Ramírez, and the singer Patricia Sosa will be performing together with a Roman choir.

Pope Francis says this about the work:

When I heard Misa Criolla for the first time I was a student, I think I was studying theology at that time, I can’t remember well. I really liked it! I enjoyed “Lamb of God,” which is magnificent. I will never forget that I heard Mercedes Sosa singing it.

To be sure, this account in Vatican Insider could be read to mean that the Mass will be sung as part of the pre-Mass devotions with traditional songs. But Aciprensa is also reporting that the Ramirez piece will be sung during Mass.

Here’s a video of the Lamb of God that the pope likes.

(Cordero de Dios, que quitas el pecado del mundo, ten piedad de nosotres. / danos la paz.)

The debate after the Council and still going on, especially in places like Austria and Bavaria, was about whether the choir may sing the Ordinary of the Mass alone, especially the Sanctus, or whether the congregation should always be singing that.

The Misa Criolla, be it noted, is for musicians’ ensemble and not congregation. I’m not sure that’s what the traditionalists had in mind.

But the coming celebration in the Vatican could be taken as a sign that some liturgical questions have become a bit less anguished, and there is a calmer appreciation of a variety of practices. That would be a good thing.

UPDATE: See Pray Tell’s follow-up post with the leaflet for the service in Rome here.



  1. Perhaps the people could be taught to join in on the refrain. I pray that we will never go back to Mass as a theater piece with orchestra and choir. The idea of the Eucharist as an aesthetically beautiful act of worship is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from full, active, and conscious offering of the Mass by God’s priestly people. Let choir and orchestra inspire the people in magnificent preludes, in specialty pieces during the preparation of the gifts, as a second Communion song, and as a recessional. The rest of the Mass belongs primarily to the worshipping community in which all participate but not with one part dominating another.

  2. While I would agree that normally the congregation should be able to sing or chant the parts of the Mass, such as the Kyrie, Gloria and Sanctus, not to mention the Agnus Dei, for special reasons, (extraordinary ones) and in keeping with our tradition of concert Masses that are appropriate to sing at Mass, such as this one, people can simply participate internally and be moved by the sentiments of what is being expressed by the various composers. The particular Agnus Dei posted above is splendid and I sense what Pope Francis appreciates, being moved by music to a intimate, heartfelt relationship with God even by simply listening. Isn’t that what occurred in the bad old days prior to the so-called active participation of VII when upwards to 90% of Catholics attended Mass regularly on Sunday?
    We recently celebrated the Sunday All Souls Mass in the Ordinary Form with our combined choirs singing Fauré’s Requiem. No one complained that they couldn’t join the choirs but there certainly was participation from the congregation that moved them and their souls.

  3. Musicam Sacram allows for parts of the Mass (including the Sanctus) to be sung by choir alone if the congregation have opportunities to sing elsewhere in the Mass. The liturgy police, on both sides, have a tendency to ignore MS on account of it falling after SC and before the introduction of the NO – a shame as I think it represents a middle way that would enrich both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms.

  4. “…the coming celebration in the Vatican could be taken as a sign that some liturgical questions have become a bit less anguished, and there is a calmer appreciation of a variety of practices. That would be a good thing.


  5. There might be too much read into this, as far as I know Misa Criolla has traditional been used for the Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Rome. We performed that at my parish in a concert setting in November and on December 12th I got so many calls, texts and emails that they heard it when watching the Guadalupe liturgy on TV and that was back in 2009. Quite frankly it’s not the best choice for Guadalupe. It’s highly influenced by Andean folk songs and rhythm nothing inherently Mexican. I would love to see a Mariachi make an appearance in Rome one of these days.

    1. @Carlo Argoti – comment #6:
      Is there a comparable Mexican mass setting that is somewhat popular? I’m wondering if that should also be an option.

      As far as I know, Our Lady of Guadalupe is patroness of all of the Americas (since 1999) and is patroness of the Philippines, though I don’t know if any of Fr. Hontiveros’s own settings have ever been used in Rome for the occasion. (The late Fr. Eduardo Hontiveros, SJ, began composing his settings of the Ordinary of the Mass in Filipino in the 1960s, if I recall correctly, and his work is considered pioneering in that field.)

  6. I think this is wonderful and hope it is televised for all to enjoy, it is truly a masterpiece of devotion through fokloric south-american music. I play the Misa Criolla album every Christmas Eve as it inspires me and sets in motion reflection, prayer and ushers in the celebration of Jesus birth. Every song in the album has a story, be it sorrowful or full of joy, performed by truly amazing, natural voices, a masterpiece of Ariel Ramirez.

  7. The Agnus Dei which Father Anthony has provided is very beautiful in a haunting and soul-searching way. Now I see why Pope Francis loves this Mass. The skill of the classical guitarist rivals great organists. Perhaps the organ has primacy in the musical heritage of the Church, but the organ is certainly not the only expression of great piety and service.

    I hope this is on CTV. CTV is not the best way to introduce the world to liturgical music which many may not be familiar with, but it’s a start.

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