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A "Particular" Curiosity of the 1962 Missale Romanum

Louis J. Tofari


Published originally at Rorate Caeli on October 14, 2012 under the title "1962 Missal at 50: A 'particular' curiosity of the 1962 Missale Romanum". Some additional remarks (in []) and a footnote have been added here.

This 2012 in Anno Domini marks the 50th publication anniversary of the 1962 Missale Romanum. Well, sort of. That's often the problem with misnomers like “1962 Roman Missal”—they're catchy titles and thus easy to remember, but often inaccurate!

So why is “1962” a misnomer? Though the last rubrical revisions to the juxta typica (standard) edition were completed by June of 1962, and the last textual in November (the long and eagerly-awaited insertion of St. Joseph's name into the Communicantes), nevertheless, a "1962" Missale Romanum could not be had in hand (or on altar) until May of 1963 at the very earliest. This was courtesy of the Vatican's instructions to Printers of the Apostolic See so as to prevent a missal gap war (i.e., undue competition).[1]

In the United States though, the last insertion to the “1962” Missale Romanum actually occurred in 1963—in fact, just a month before it was due on the shelves of Catholic religious supply stores everywhere. The point in question particularly affected the missal edition being printed by the famed Benziger Brothers—once proudly boasting offices in New York, Boston, Cincinnati, Chicago and San Francisco, but now virtually no more. Benziger did not receive their last printing instruction for the missal until April 8, 1963 via the imprimatur of Cardinal Francis Spellman of Novi Eboraci (“The Big Apple” in Latin).


[I had the privilege to manage the reproduction of Benziger Brothers' 1962 missal made available in February 2009. Also, it is interesting to note in the sidebar on the missal page images the various imprimatur dates for various sections of this missal.]


This episcopal approbation was for the first-time insertion of the Praefationes Particulares into Benziger’s American-produced missal. These were the so-called “Gallican Prefaces” that could be utilized if a diocese obtained permission from the Sacred Congregation of Rites. As the addition of this special section occurred after Benziger’s missals had already left the presses, this led to a printing curiosity with their edition.

The printed, but apparently still unbound, missals consisted of two parts:

  1. the juxta typica parts (the standard universal sections and texts found in every Roman Missal regardless of the region in which it was printed in),

  2. and unique to the Benziger edition: the Missae Propriae Dioecesium Statuum Foederatorum Americae Septentrionalis section containing the feasts and calendar dates particular to the USA as a whole.

So when Cardinal Spellman’s inclusive approbation was received, the special prefaces were simply added after the aforementioned sections—but after a section of 22 blank pages.

To this observation you might be inclined to say, “So what?” It is true that missal printers would occasionally include some blank pages at the end of the missal, either for make-up pagination purposes (e.g., a sewn signature must be in sets of four pages), or to enable the insertion of newly-issued feasts. But 22 pages and between printed sections... that's quite an exception, in fact, a rarity indeed (if never seen before). Their presence was made even stranger after turning the last page of the Praefationes Particulares section, only to find another eight blank pages, but of heavier text stock and each perforated along the spine! [NB: if you own a copy of the SSPX’s Benziger reprint (available from Angelus Press [with either a red or green cover]), don’t bother rushing off to find these perforated pages—deemed unnecessary, they were omitted in their reprint.)

The oddity of these blank pages becomes even more apparent when comparing the Benziger edition to one printed by Pustet. More formerly known as Ratisbonae-Pustet (but also publishing under the name “Frederick Pustet”), this German Printer to the Apostolic See was located in Ratisbon, Bavaria, but in its heyday also had offices in the United States. In Pustet’s “1962” Missale Romanum, the Praefationes Particulares section bears an imprimatur dated June 27, 1962 (granted in Ratisbon). This earlier date is significant, because it gave Pustet enough time to set up their presses so they could include the special prefaces immediately after the juxta typica section without the addition of any blank pages.

If anything, this obscure curiosity found in the Benziger Brothers’ edition of the “1962” Missale Romanum shows how the year commonly used to refer to the revised missal promulgated during the pontificate of Pope John XXIII is really not completely accurate as far as publication dates go. But concerning the fixing of the juxta typica portion, certainly this date is accurate, and thus it is a befitting moniker.

May the 1962 Missale Romanum—which in preserving and promoting the uncompromised Catholic Faith is slowly turning the tide in the struggle against the enormous liturgical crisis of the Novus Ordo Missae—enjoy a happy anniversary et ad multos annos!



1 As a note of interest, Mike Becker, owner of the I.Donnelly Religious Supply Co. in Kansas City, Missouri, related to me the story of witnessing railroad "box cars" full of 1962 Benziger missals just sitting on a track rotting away. These missals would not sell as it was common knowledge that an even newer missal—subsequently the 1965 edition—would be coming soon, so the priests (and parishes) did not want to spend their money on this edition.

As fate would have it, the transitional 1965 Missale Romanum was not even printed by Benziger Brothers, but rather by the Catholic Book Publishing Company based in New York. It should also be mentioned that their typesetting format was rather inferior to Benziger's.

It is my firm belief that the 1962 Missale Romanum was a great (if not primary) cause for the demise of the Benziger Brothers company. For this reason, I have often quipped that the 1962 Missale Romanum "was the missal that bankrupted Benziger Brothers".

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