Moderator’s note: This is the first in a series of occasional posts translated from the blog Populo Congregato of Fr. Markus Tymister, faculty member at the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy at Sant’ Anselmo in Rome.
November 12, 1962 began with a big surprise for the vast majority of Council fathers: Holy Mass at the beginning of the assembly was celebrated not in Latin, but rather in church Slavonic, which was in use at that time in seven Croatian dioceses.
Most of the Council fathers experienced for the first time on this day a celebration of Mass in the Roman rite in a language other than Latin.
The Melkite archbishop Neophytos Edelby noted in his diary about it: “This made an enormous impression on the Council fathers.” In contrast to the anxieties which had been expressed by the “fanatics for liturgy in Latin” in the council aula, “the unity of the church was not endangered by this celebration, nor did dogmas undergo any danger, the Host was consecrated as always, and the singing was very beautiful.” (N. Edelby, Il Vaticano II nel Diario di un Vescovo Arabo, ed. R. Cannelli, Milan, 1996, p. 100).
In his opinion, the same would have been true if Mass in the Roman rite were celebrated in one of the many other vernacular languages.
Translated and reprinted with permission. Original: “Hl. Messe in der Volkssprache auf dem Konzil.”