"What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place."
Letter of Pope Benedict XVI to the Bishops of the World to Present the "Motu Proprio".
+ Pre-1955 HOLY WEEK +
"Traditional Holy Week"
This page is offered as a resource for those interested in the promotion and preservation of the Sacred Triduum of the “older liturgical tradition” (n. 33, Universae Ecclesiae, the instruction on the application of the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum). During his Easter Vigil homily in 2011, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of traditional Holy Week as “before the reform [when] there were twelve Old Testament readings,” helping us to more clearly understand the reference to “older liturgical tradition” in Universae Ecclesiae. While some may argue that this reference was not the intent of that document, the reform of the Holy Week liturgies promulgated in 1955 was clearly not traditional, but served as a transitional liturgy that was experimental at best. Pope Paul VI, in his Apostolic Constitution of the Roman Missal, demonstrates this openly: "It was felt necessary to revise and enrich the formulae of the Roman Missal. The first stage of such a reform was the work of Our Predecessor Pius XII with the reform of the Easter Vigil and the rites of Holy Week, which constituted the first step in the adaptation of the Roman Missal to the contemporary way of thinking.” These “contemporary way of thinking” adaptations frequently broke from ancient practices which deeply expressed the meaning of the rites themselves, replacing traditions passed down to us from ancient times. Since these unprecedented innovations eliminated or obscured traditional meaning, they directly impacted the root of Catholic liturgy and thus potentially the lex orandi, lex credendi of both the faithful and the clergy.
Therefore the purpose of this site is not, as some might say, a “desire to go backward,” as if to presume that what is older is better, but rather to simply take up again the traditional sensus fidelium in conformity with the perennial Christian tradition. Holy Mother Church has always considered Holy Week the great “Holy of Holies,” a liturgical, catechetical and devotional summit profoundly expressed by its ancient and untouchable ceremonies. The growing desire by so many faithful and clergy for the pre-1955 Holy week stems from our love of the Church and her holy rites, and our longing to more profoundly dispose ourselves to worthily participate in these most august mysteries of our Redemption, in union with our dear Blessed Lord and His Most Holy Mother.
Pope St. John XXIII venerating the Cross on Good Friday according to the older pre-1955 rubrics.
With that in mind, here you will find all that is needed for the faithful, as well as some liturgical aids for the Sacred Ministers and articles from various sources that critically examine the reformed liturgy of Holy Week. May these resources help us to a better understanding of this priceless jewel of our faith: the pre-1955 Holy Week liturgies.
Comments, suggestions, corrections and contributions to this page are greatly welcomed. Pastors and Religious are welcome to email if in need of practical or pastoral counsel regarding the implementation of the pre-1955 Holy Week. Note that where the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form Holy Week liturgies will be observed on the same day, the pre-1955 Holy Week liturgies leave the evening free for the Ordinary Form liturgies, since they are held in the late morning. However, in those places where the Extraordinary Form is used exclusively, the ceremony times may be kept according to either the pre-1955 or the 1955 "Restoration of Holy Week" rubrics. These are of course practical and “pastoral” suggestions that will not be found in any rubrical manual, but are derived from general consensus among those currently using the pre-1955 Holy Week in different parts of the world.