The side altars of St. Peter’s basilica were almost all devoid of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass this morning as a Vatican directive suppressing individual Masses being celebrated in the upper part of the basilica came into force.
From today, priests can only concelebrate the Masses in the main body of the basilica in the morning between 7am and 9.30am Rome time — a break with the usual custom of allowing individual priests to freely celebrate their daily Mass at the basilica’s many altars.
At 7am this morning, when this Register correspondent was there, two concelebrated Masses with between two and four priests were taking place at just two altars: The Choir Chapel on the basilica’s southern side and at the Altar of the Chair.
The Traditional Latin Mass, until now allowed in the main body of the basilica, was celebrated this morning by an “authorized priest” in the small, Clementine Chapel, in the grotto underneath the basilica, as stipulated by the Vatican’s March 12 instruction.
The five-point directive, unusually addressed to the administrators of the basilica from the Secretariat of State, rather than the basilica’s cardinal archpriest, and pinned to the door of the basilica sacristy, has drawn much controversy since it came to public attention 10 days ago.
Imposed in a “top-down” fashion without any consultation, according to an informed Vatican source who asked to remain anonymous, the change primarily affects priest officials working in the Vatican who used to celebrate Masses individually in the basilica’s 45 side altars and 11 chapels before beginning their workday.
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