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Francis marks 50th anniversary of first papal vernacular Mass

Pope Francis preaches during Mass at Ognissanti parish in Rome (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

Pope Francis has appealed for Catholics to increase their “love for the house of God” as he marked the 50th anniversary of the first papal Mass in the vernacular.

Celebrating Mass in Ognissanti (All Saints) church in Rome, where Blessed Pope Paul VI celebrated his first public Mass in Italian, rather than Latin, he said: “The Church is calling us to have and to promote an authentic liturgical life, so that there may be harmony between what the liturgy celebrates, and what we live in our daily existence.”

According to Vatican Radio, he described the liturgy as “the privileged place to hear the voice of the Lord, who guides us on the path of righteousness and Christian perfection”.

He urged the congregation to rediscover the sacrament of Confession, which “makes us go from the darkness of sin to the light of grace and friendship with Jesus”.

We must never forget, he said, “the great strength that this sacrament has for the Christian life: it makes us grow in union with God, makes us regain lost joy and experience the consolation of knowing we are personally welcomed by the merciful embrace of the Father.”

Pope Francis said that, “in a certain sense”, Blessed Paul VI had “inaugurated the liturgical reform” with the celebration of Mass “in the language of the people”.

Pope Francis said he hoped that the anniversary would revive in everyone a great “love for the house of God” – a reference to the Gospel reading of the cleansing of the Temple (Jn 2:13-25).

Paul VI celebrated the historic Mass at Ognissanti on March 7 1965, the first Sunday of Lent.

He said: “As you witnessed this morning, the spoken language has officially entered the liturgy in all parishes and churches. Across the world this date marks the first time a new way of praying, of celebrating Holy Mass has been inaugurated. It’s a great event, one that will be remembered as a new commitment in the great dialogue between God and man.”

The Mass followed the publication of Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Second Vatican Council document authorising the use of the vernacular in Mass.

Elsewhere the change had taken place earlier. In the United States vernacular Masses were celebrated in November 1964.