Italian Missal: “For you and for all,” 3-Year Collects

As a follow-up to Fr. O’Donoghue’s post on the new Italian missal, Pray Tell readers will be interested to see two interesting pages from it.


First, in the words over the bread and wine, the famous “pro multis” is translated in Italian as “for all” – “poured out for you and for all” (see below). This is what the previous English-language sacramentary had, based on the position that pro multis in Latin is expansive rather than restrictive in meaning. The contrast is with “for the few,” not with “for all.” The 2001 Roman instruction Liturgiam authenticam called for more literal translation, which presents the pastoral challenge – or opportunity – of learning to understand “for many” in its fullest sense rather that the first impression it gives.

The expansive translation of pro multis in many vernacular languages since Vatican II has long been a focus of attack in traditionalist circles – in some cases even leading to claims that it makes the consecration invalid. Pope Benedict was sensitive to such concerns and insisted on literal translations of pro multis – hence our 2011 Missal with “for many.

And now Rome has approved an Italian translation with “for all.” This move signals decentralization, openness to inculturation, greater trust of bishops’ conferences, and more emphasis on pastoral concerns.


The proposed 1998 English-language Sacramentary, worked on for nearly two decades and in an elevated style substantially faithful to the Latin with sensitivity to the innate beauties of the English language, was also marked by its many texts composed originally in English and not based on a Latin text. This was inspired by articles 37-40 of the Vatican II document Sacrosanctum Concilium. With Liturgiam authenticam (2001), the official mood changed and such original texts were frowned upon. And the Roman authorities rejected the 1998 translation entirely and demanded that a new team of translators start over in a more literalistic translation approach.

It is thus significant that the newly approved Italian missal retains the practice of presenting Collects (opening prayers) composed in Italian based on the three-year cycle of lectionary readings. The excerpt below shows the Collect for I Advent Year A, and you can see part of the “B” for the Collect for that year of the lectionary cycle.


  1. I maintain that both “for all” and “for many” are incorrect translations. Surely multis is a in this context a noun generally used in Latin to refer to the “multitude” “the common herd”. Just as in England they used to be referred to as “hoy polloy”, which is what is translated into Latin as “multis”.
    We could simply add “the” – for the many.

  2. I do like ICEL 1998 overall style much better than the current – but count me skeptical on things like specialized thematic Collects. IMHO, they usually end up reflecting particular emphases and biases of the composer from the text — thus limiting them in a way. In addition (at least in English) many eventually have a slightly dated air. I look at the few alternative prayers we have in the other rites in English, as well as many compositions for parts of the rites that are/were open to composition, and I’m often left with the impression that the writers were trying too hard to be poetic. Good English composers who can write prayers with succinctness and sobriety are hard to come by. Unfortunately, many modern compositions – even in the Latin – also suffer being rather idea-dense and wordy.

    Another reason I dislike some of the compositions is the injection of certain theological biases into the texts. For example, barely any of the 1998 alternative Prayers for the major feasts of saints touch on the theme of sanctoral intercession. Why sacrifice this aspect of the Catholic praying tradition for bare exemplarism?

    As for the whole “pro multis”: it would be interesting to tabulate a list of where all the other mainline denominations fall into either ‘camp’ in the translations they use.

  3. The freedom we see in the Italian Missal translation is the fruit of Francis’s motu proprio, Magnum principium. The English speaking bishops could avail themselves of this freedom now too, but they have chosen not to do so. We can no longer lay the blame on Liturgiam authenticam. Not any more.

    1. I think it is true that this is a fruit of Magnum principium, but we probably need to be mindful of the extent to which it mostly protects the status quo.

      The CDW has no leverage here, as their remaining power to refuse a recognitio would just leave the old translation in place, which would still say “for all”. That isn’t true in English anymore, which may make any attempted change more difficult than may be assumed.

  4. I wonder if when people hear that the cup of his blood was poured out “for many” for the forgiveness of sins they think, “but maybe not for my sins”, or, “but maybe not for the sins of my faithless nephew”. In plain and clear English “many” is not a synonym for “all”. When the new translation was imposed upon us nearly ten years ago I remember experts saying that Christ definitely shed his blood for all but the translators insisted that “pro multis” be rendered literally. Do I hear deck chairs being rearranged on the Titanic?

  5. Can’t we do as Jesus instructed? He said “for many” and every translation I’ve seen before the mid-twentieth century reads “for many.”

  6. Setting aside translation issues and the quality of the collects, a concern I have with the three year cycle is that you only hear the collects every three years. That is not really enough time to become familiar and internalize the texts.

    I can also picture certain priests only using the late alternate scriptural collects and certain priests only using the original Latin based collects. It would just be another division in the Church.

    1. Though, I am not sure once a year is much better for PIPs (who are just hearing it, not preparing it in advance) for anything that’s not a significant solemnity where the content of the collect has a memorable tie to the solemnity. IF that.

      1. Having heard the Prayer Book Sunday collects prayed since 2008, I have grown to recognize them and fallen into their yearly cadence. I couldn’t have told you the same about the Roman Missal collects after 27 years. One year you could get the first collect and next year (or next Mass!) get the optional or second collect. How does a internalized rhythm ever form?

      2. It’s simply not that vital a part of the Mass.

        Ordinary lay people don’t quote it, except maybe Advent 4. A Lectionary harmonization might be nice on one level if it highlighted something essential in the Scriptures to be proclaimed. On the other hand, good preaching and music will do a better job of underscoring the Lectionary of the day. And maybe pick up something different and important for the local faith community.

        Maybe a better approach would be something akin to the common responsorial psalmody: instead of 52 or 156 collects, just a dozen to twenty. How many ways do we really need to ask God to open our ears to the Scriptures and look for fruitfulness in the sacraments?

      3. It’s not just a question of tying the prayers in more closely to the scriptures of the day.

        Another reason why alternative collects were thought of at all is because, to be frank, the ones in the Missal are lacking something. Most people were not aware of this until the coming of the 2010 translation (the 1973 translators had tried to protect us from this reality), but now that they can see what the collects actually say, they realize that they no longer reflect who we are. The mentality and spirituality of 6th-8th century Christians is not ours.

        People will say “Ah, but they are part of our tradition”. My response to that would be that scripture, as divine revelation, is part of our tradition, and needs to be retained intact. But these collects are simply prayers, and prayers are for people. As people change, so the form and content of prayer changes with them. We have already seen this with Eucharistic Prayers, freed from a straitjacket.

        The argument that a three-year cycle of collects means that they are less familiar because they only come round once every three years instead of every year is thus weakened. In three years’ time we will all be in a different place from where we are now.

    2. Is there a significant number of collects only heard once every three years? I don’t see, in the current US Roman Missal (Sacramentary), variations in the Collects like the cyclical structure of the Lectionary.

      1. The USA Missal does not have a 3 year collect cycle; the MR2 1998 translation project had proposed one, but it was buried along with the demise of that project, and was not taken up with the MR3 translation project that followed coming during the times it did. The Italian Missal translation for MR3, coming during the current pontificate, was able to benefit from the changed dynamics in recent years. The US bishops are still working on translations of other liturgical books that may benefit from changed dynamics, but I strongly suspect it will be years before any attempt by them to retranslate the Missal will be undertaken here, quite possibly until there’s a MR4 (that would not prevent talented people from preparing now for a future eventuality). For time perspective: the time between now and 1998 (when Bill Clinton was acquitted in his impeachment trial…) is almost as long as between 1998 and the MR2 original edition.

  7. Sadly there is more than what meets the eye as these are very precise words used by Our Lord for the instiution of the Holy Eucharist. Our Lord’s blood was shed for those Jews (you) and many of the Gentiles /Jews who would corespond to the graces provided by God. For those in Hell didn’t avail themselves to those graces. Christ did not therfore shed His blood for all. Therefore we technically insert a “lie” in the two most important lines in all of human history. Study

  8. Christ died for all.

    From the Catechism of the Catholic Church 605:

    At the end of the parable of the lost sheep Jesus recalled that God’s love excludes no one: “So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”410 He affirms that he came “to give his life as a ransom for many”; this last term is not restrictive, but contrasts the whole of humanity with the unique person of the redeemer who hands himself over to save us.411 The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: “There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer.”412

    411 Mt 20:28; cf. Rom 5:18-19.
    412 Council of Quiercy (853): DS 624; cf. 2 Cor 5:15; 1 Jn 2:2.

    1. seriously how can we go past the very words of Jesus Christ – Matthew 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins.
      85. Pope Benedict XIV adhering to St Thomas Aquinas and the Catechism of the Council of Trent interpreted the words pro multis (‘for many’) in Book II, Chapter XV, par. 11 of his work entitled ‘De Sacrosancto Missae Sacrificio’. What he says about pro multis will assist our understanding of ‘for all’.
      86. After dealing with St Thomas in the S.Th. III, 78, 3, he writes:
      ‘And so, having agreed with the same Angelic doctor, we explain those words “for many” accordingly, though it is granted that (sometimes) the word “many”, after a manner of speaking in the Holy Scriptures, may signify “all”.’
      Pope Benedict then refers to a verse in Romans 5, where without doubt the word ‘many’ does indeed signify ‘all’ (Ubi sine dubitatione vox ‘multi’ omnes significat.)
      87. Returning then to the words ‘for many’ in the passage in question which is from Matthew 26:28, he explains:
      ‘Therefore we say that the blood of Christ was shed for all, shed for all however as regards sufficiency (Benedict’s emphasis: quoad sufficientiam) and for the elect only as regards efficacy (Benedict’s emphasis: quoad efficaciam) as the Doctor Thomas explains correctly: “The blood of Christ’s passion has its efficacy not merely in the elect among the Jews, … but also in the Gentiles … and therefore He says expressly, for you the Jews, and for many, namely the Gentiles”.’

    2. Yes all are redeemed few are saved.
      ‘This is the explanation of St Thomas, as quoted by Benedict XIV.'[17]
      The three authorities given above, dealing directly with the matter of for many and for all, explicitly reject the innovation for all because, among other reasons, it does not signify what Christ signified. Further, it signifies falsely.
      90. All the foregoing argumentation considered, it appears that in any activity incorporating the for all mutilation, what started out as bread and wine at the beginning of whatever took place at the altar is still bread and wine at the end of whatever took place at the altar, mo’The words pro vobis et pro multis (For you and for many) are used to distinguish the virtue of the blood of Christ from its fruits: for the blood of our Saviour is of sufficient value to save all men, but its fruits are applicable only to a certain number and not to all, and this is their own fault. Or, as the theologians say, this precious blood is (in itself) sufficiently (sufficienter) able to save all men, but (on our part) effectually (efficaciter) it does not save all – it saves only those who co-operate with grace.’

  9. On this feast of St Gregory the Great, we should remember his dictum:

    “Where the faith is one, a difference in customs does no harm.”

    Following on from my comment further up this thread, perhaps we might think of St Gregory as a patron saint of inculturation, and perhaps that inculturation can also include the collects of the Missal.

  10. Just in case anyone is interested, the presentation of the Missal to Pope Francis is available as a video on-line:
    It is only in Italian, but it doesn’t add anything new. But viewers can see the Missal itself and some of it’s artwork (which to be honest didn’t impress me much). Also of note the Missal comes with an “Orazionale” a thinner volume that I think contains the Prayer of the Faithful. I’m not sure if it is also a Book of the Chair” or if it contains prayers for every day or only Sundays. But it comes in the same box as the Missal itself.

  11. That is formally heretic. That Christ is dead for all and poured his blood for all is catholic doctrine. Cf. Conc. Trid. D. 795: “ille pro omnibus mortuus est”. D. 160a, 160b, 319, 480, 794, 1096 (vs. Iansenius), 1294, 1382s (vs. Quesnel).
    Cf. Thomas Aquinas, ST III q 46 a4. 11n 47, 4.
    The subjective reception can not be understood as limitation of the universal redemption. So, do penance for your heretical assertion.

  12. Does anyone know the status of the revised Missals in German and in French? Both were said to be all but complete over a year ago.

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