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The Mass of All Time in the Eternal City

Traditional Mass not difficult to find in Rome

by John Burke


(Special to The Remnant)

Posted 03/5/10 ROME—The old Mass can now be heard in at least seven of Rome’s places of worship, five of which offer it on Sundays, including three where it is said daily.  This is besides St Peter’s itself where it is being said publicly on an increasing number of special occasions.

Significantly, one Roman church is now dedicated to the entire Latin liturgy.  It was on 23 March 2008 that Cardinal Ruini, at the behest of Benedict XVI, created this personal parish in the ancient pilgrims’ church which displays Reni’s magnificent painting of the Trinity (1625) above the high altar.  Starting there, the seven Mass-centres are as follows:

Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini has Mass every evening at 6:30 with two additional Masses on Sundays: 9:00 and 10:30.   From the start, the parish priest has been Fr Joseph Kramer from Melbourne who has been in Rome since 1977. Seminarians at the American College provide deacons, sub-deacons and servers at High Mass.

The number of Father Kramer’s parishioners has reached 300, two-thirds of whom stay in Rome for Sunday worship.  I saw for myself that a weekday Mass can draw as many as 30 faithful, mostly Italians but also some tourists. The first twelvemonth saw several Baptisms as well as four Confirmations and two Marriages, all in the old rite.

Do not mistake Trinità dei Monti at the top of the Spanish Steps for this church.  To get to the right one, find the Tiber and cross the Ponte Sisto (Sistine Bridge) eastwards from the Trastevere side, where the Vatican is, to Rome proper.  Continue straight on – through a small square and along the connecting lane, Via dei Pettinari, for five minutes until you see a Carabinieri police-station in the square named after the church.

Do not overshoot into Via Arco di Monte as far as another square where stands the small S Barbara church, though this is a useful landmark from the other direction, as it faces via Giubbonari, linking the better-known squares of Campo dei Fiori and Largo Piazza Cairoli.  If coming this way, alight at nearby Largo Argentino from buses 40 or 64 running between Termini and the Vatican, and negotiate the side streets. 

Gesù e Maria is where old Masses are said at 10:00 on Sundays/Holy Days as well as at 7:00 pm on first Fridays and when requested by the faithful.  This Augustinian church is located where the namesake street meets Via del Corso 45.  It is opposite a hospital near the north end of a long thoroughfare (not to be confused with Corso Vittorio Emmanuele) served by buses 117 and 119. 

San Gregorio dei Muratori offers Mass on Sundays/Holy Days at 9:00 am; 10:30 (sung); 6:30 (after vespers) as well as at 7:00am and 6:30pm on all other days.  The address is Via Leccosa 75, a cul-de-sac between the Borghese palace and the bridge named after Cavour.  Buses 70, 87, 492 turn south along the connecting Via di Ripetta.  Masses are said by priests from the Society of St. Peter, to which Fr. Kramer is also attached.

Santa Maria Maggiore, a towering edifice on its namesake square, has the old Mass on first Saturdays at 11:00am in the Cesi chapel.  As at Gesù e Maria, celebrants come from the Institute of Christ the King.  (Mass with Latin on Sundays is actually Novus Ordo.)  The basilica is only 400 yards from Termini station, and on eight bus routes from there, with the 16 and 714 continuing past the following place of worship with daily Mass.  

Rettoria San Antonio at Via Merulana 124 provides the old Mass at 5:00am on Sundays, Thursdays and Saturdays.  It starts at 10:00 on the other days, but always in the left-hand nave.

San Giuseppe is in Via Capo delle Case with Masses said on Sundays/Holy Days at 11:00 by the Uruguayan president of Human Life International.    The location is halfway between the underground (Metro) stations of Barberini and Spagna, with the latter leading to Piazza Mignanelli dominated by the Spanish Steps.  Continue parallel past them and then past Keats House into the wide Via due Macelli or the narrow Via di Propaganda.  Linking them is the short street with the church.           

Santa Catarina di Sienna has Masses on Sundays/Holy Days at 11:00; Thursdays and first Fridays at 6:30pm (but check for July/August).   This is the Society of Pius X’s chapel, located at Via Urbana 85 just south of Maria Maggiore; the same 75 and 84 buses from Termini for here continue along the parallel Via Cavour.

Almost as important as Tridentine availability in Rome is a poll by the Doxa Institute.   It concludes that two-thirds of practising Catholics in Italy know of the motu proprio and that, of these, seven out of ten would accept both rites in their parish; four out of ten would like the old Mass each Sunday; and some others would attend occasionally.

Small steps, perhaps, but significant steps—and certainly steps in the right direction. Deo Gratias!

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