|ROME, 15 APRIL 2008 (ZENIT)
Answered by Legionary of Christ Father
Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum
Q: Regarding the special Mass formulas, I was wondering why two of the
greatest saints of the 20th century, Padre Pio and Josemaría Escrivá de
Balaguer, aren't included in the Roman Missal. There are lots of other
saints which we have Masses for, and a lot of people don't know anything
about them. But here we have two very close people and no special Mass
for them. That is a shame.
M.G., Limhamn, Sweden
A: Actually, St. Pio of Pietrelcina is included in the universal
calendar on Sept. 23 as an optional memorial. However, because his
canonization occurred after the publication of the third edition of the
Latin Missal, he did not make it into that book. His was practically the
last celebration added to the calendar by Pope John Paul II.
His feast day, along with the specific Mass formulas, will certainly be
included in the translations of the missal under way and due for
publication in English within the next couple of years. Some episcopal
conferences have meanwhile published supplements with all the proper
texts of new saints while awaiting the definitive translation of a new
St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, founder of Opus Dei, is certainly a
major figure of 20th-century sainthood as witnessed by the multitude
that attended his canonization and by the fact that his statue already
graces one of the outer niches of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
I believe that the Personal Prelature of Opus Dei has proper Mass
formulas, approved by the Holy See, for the celebration of his feast day
on June 26. Even though these texts are not found in the Roman Missal
they may be used by any priest who opts to celebrate the memorial of St.
Josemaría on this day.
Because he is included in the Roman Martyrology his celebration is not
impeded since the celebration of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, which falls on
the same day, is an optional memorial.
St. Josemaría will probably eventually find a place in the universal
calendar as the importance of his spiritual heritage continues to grow.
However, the general criteria applied in the last few years, and
recently codified in specific norms, has been to limit the number of
saints added to the universal calendar. The preference is that they
first be added to the calendars of specific dioceses, countries, or
other ecclesial organizations such as religious congregations where
devotion to them is most present.
Those who have been admitted recently have reflected an explicit desire
to give a more universal face to the array of saints celebrated by the
whole Church. This includes saints from continents and countries of more
recent evangelization or otherwise underrepresented sectors of the
Church such as the Eastern Churches.
Another criterion, not so easy to calculate, is the devotion of the
faithful to this saint on a fairly extended basis. Long before his
beatification, popular devotion to the figure of Padre Pio was already
widespread in many countries. Above all, he was deeply venerated by John
Paul II who took the personal initiative of enrolling his name in the
While St. Josemaría is equally esteemed throughout the world, devotion
to him is practiced above all by those faithful who are in some way
associated with the life and work of Opus Dei, and is less present in
the general faithful. Since for the moment these faithful can easily
fulfill this devotion with the aid of the priests of the prelature,
there seems to be no urgency in including him among the saints of the
This inclusion will likely come about in time along with some other
great saintly figures of our epoch such as Mother Teresa of Calcutta
and, perhaps, the recently departed Chiara Lubich, founder of the
* * *
Follow-up: Padre Pio, Monsignor Escrivá and the Roman Missal
After our mention of the feasts of Cosmas and Damian coinciding with
that of St. Josemaría Escrivá (see April 15 column), a pediatrician from
Louisiana wrote: "You said their feast is June 26; I believe you meant
Sept. 26. Usually I take our group of pediatricians and their spouses
out to dinner that evening to celebrate their feast and God's blessings
to our practice."
Our reader, who is also a deacon, is quite correct. I mixed up my
saintly pairs and should have said Sts. John and Paul, Roman martyrs in
362 under Julian the Apostate.
These two saints, who are specifically mentioned in the first list of
saints in the Roman Canon, are actually not present in the universal
calendar but only in that of the Diocese of Rome. The ancient Roman
basilica that houses their tomb and site of martyrdom also contains a
chapel with the relics of St. Paul of the Cross, founder of the
Some readers pointed out that St. Padre Pio was an obligatory and not
an optional memorial. This is true in Italy, the United States and many
other countries. However, the Latin decree promulgating the feast did
not specify it as an obligatory memorial, perhaps leaving some leeway
for countries where devotion to this saint is less prevalent.
Some other readers asked for the general criteria to be observed in
celebrating those who had been declared blessed but not yet canonized.
We dealt with this topic in our columns of Dec. 21, 2004, and Jan. 18,