Instruction Regarding the Norms of the Arrival of a Bishop at a Church and Solemn Vesting before Liturgy

15 October A.D. 2012

1. A bishop in his own jurisdiction arriving for solemn liturgy will arrive to the church building in cappa magna or mozzetta, and in both cases either the biretta or the clerical hat (saturno). In the case of a bishop outside his jurisdiction or an auxiliary bishop, he is vested in mantelletta or, if so approved, the cappa, worn not curtailed if invited to preside. If there is a procession to the church, then it forms in order of dignity according to the usual use. An archbishop has his cross carried immediately before him, and a cardinal has not only his cross, but his mace, if the occasion is sufficiently solemn, carried immediately before the cross. The baldacchino may be carried over the bishop for bishops within their own jurisdiction. None wear the biretta except the bishop and Sacred Ministers (if they are in mass vestments). All other clerics carry their birettas in the usual manner.

2. Upon arriving at the church, the Dean of the Cathedral Chapter or the Rector of the Parish, or else some other suitable dignitary presents the bishop a crucifix, which same usually shall be affixed to a cushion, to kiss. Having done do, the bishop receives the aspergillum from the same dignitary, removes his hat, and first asperses himself. This he does by dipping the aspergillum in the holy water and making the sign of the cross on his forehead with it. Having done this, he asperses those around him. All kneel, except for prelates, who remain standing.

3. The above completed, the bishop, if he is not wearing the cappa, removes the mozzetta and takes the cappa. In any case, he takes the biretta. If an auxiliary bishop of bishop outside of his diocese, he remains in the mantelletta unless so invited or authorized to take the cappa.

4. The bishop then proceeds with his household, leading the procession (blessing the people, when in his diocese), to the high altar, first genuflects if the Sacrament is present, or else kneels, and then kneels at a genuflexorium prepared in advance for him, and prays awhile. But note that if the bishop is an archbishop, his cross is carried before him, and for a cardinal, also his mace if used. If the full rites of solemn reception of a bishop are to be done, or the rites to begin a pastoral visit, they are done at this time. This finished, he proceeds to the appropriate location depending on the liturgy or rites to follow.


5. The bishop in his own diocese then proceeds either to the throne or to a chapel set aside as the Secretarium, blessing the people as he goes (which is done only within the bishop’s own diocese). Or, if he so chooses, to the sacristy, but only if the Office will not be said. The Ministers should vest elsewhere at this time, or else have already vested before the arrival of the bishop.

6. If the Office is to be said, the bishop begins it with the silent Dual Prayer, and then the opening versicles. He participates in the Office as usual until the psalms begin. Then he sits wearing the biretta. A clerk carries the pontifical slippers, or else the sandals and buskins, if they are to be used (and note that sandals and buskins are used only by a bishop while celebrating a solemn pontifical mass himself, whereas the pontifical slippers may also be worn at low masses without solemnity and with choir dress, as given in canon law; and note also that the pontifical slippers may be worn at masses of the dead, but the sandals and buskins may never be worn at masses of the dead), on a salver to the bishop. The clerk wears the humeral veil in the color of the day to carry the salver, the ends of the veil covering the salver and footwear. But note that the humeral veil is omitted if it is a mass for the dead. Upon arrival, he reverences the bishop as usual. Attendants remove the footwear of normal use and assist in the placement of the pontifical footwear, the right foot first. The veil is folded and placed on the salver and, along with the footwear of normal use, taken to the sacristy or some other convenient location, the proper reverence having first been made.

7. The change of footwear complete, the bishop rises, taking off his biretta and handing it to an attendant. He then reads the prayers in preparation for celebrating the Holy Mass, as provided in the Rituale.

8. He is next divested of the cappa, which also is taken to a convenient location. He then continues with the prayers for each vestment. Next he sits, wearing the rochet and biretta, and his attendants assist at the washing of the hands as in the usual way for the lavabo at the throne. This completed, the biretta is taken away.

9. The bishop is then vested with the pontifical mass vestments, which have previously been laid out on the altar, and which are brought by clerks. The order in which they are brought is the amice, the alb, the pectoral cross, the cincture, and the stole. Next, the bishop takes the cope and mitre, and then sits for the remainder of the psalms if they are not finished. Then he rises, wearing the mitre, for the Chapter. This finished, the mitre is removed, and he says the prayers for the Office. After the prayers, while the Benedicamus Domino is said, he stands without the mitre and then says the concluding verses and final Pater as usual. The clerks then take the cope and bring to him the dalmatic, the gloves, and the chasuble. If he is an archbishop, the pallium is either pinned to the chasuble at this time, or has previously been attached. The bishop then takes the mitre and the crosier, and the procession forms as usual to go to the high altar to begin the mass with the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar.

10. If the Office is not said, all is done as above, except that the references to the Offices are ignored, and the bishop does not take the cope, but rather continues vesting with the dalmatic, gloves, and chasuble.


11. If the bishop is outside his diocese, or else is an auxiliary bishop, it is unusual for him to celebrate from the throne. If he is so invited, then the vesting proceeds as above for a bishop within his own diocese. If he celebrates from the faldstool, then he vests either in the sacristy, or else at the faldstool, with the vestments arrayed on the high altar. The Office may be said during the vesting.


12. If the bishop is to preside, but not celebrate a solemn mass, then he either vests in cope and mitre at the throne, in the Secretarium, or in the Sacristy, or else remains in cappa.

13. If the bishop vests in cope, then the procedure for vesting is precisely as given for a bishop vesting before celebrating a solemn pontifical mass in his own diocese, and the vesting stops at the cope and mitre. He then takes the crosier, and the procession forms with the Celebrant as usual, and all proceeds as given in the norms and instructions for celebrating a mass in the presence of bishop in his own diocese.

14. If the bishop remains in cappa, then after praying before the altar, he proceeds to the throne, where a clerk brings the pontifical slippers on a salver, using the humeral veil, and the exchange of footwear is as given for the vesting of a bishop before a solemn pontifical mass. He then rises, and the procession forms with the Celebrant as usual, and all proceeds as given in the norms and instructions for celebrating a mass in the presence of bishop in his own diocese.


15. If a bishop sits in choir at the mass or in any liturgy or devotion, whether a great prelate or not, the arrival is as usual with a few exceptions. The bishop is vested in either mozzetta or mantelleta as appropriate. The rites of arrival take place as usual. The bishop proceeds to the high altar, genuflecting or bowing according to whether or not the Sacrament is reserved, and then kneels and prays awhile before taking his seat in the choir.

16. If several bishops are to assist at the mass, however, then none are presented with the crucifix or aspergillum except the senior-most bishop, whether the Celebrant or not. In the case of multiple bishops arriving, if they will arrive at separate times, then the one of highest rank still should arrive last. Upon arriving, they proceed to the high altar, genuflecting or bowing according to whether or not the Sacrament is reserved, and then proceed to take their seats in choir. If, however, the several bishops accompany the senior-most bishop to the church, then they remain at the door of the church as the rites of solemn arrival take place as usual.

17. If a bishop is to take the pontifical slippers, they are donned in the sacristy only. They may optionally be brought on a salver by a clerk, but without the humeral veil.


18. If a priest (or a lesser bishop) celebrates a low mass (without solemnity) in the presence of a bishop, then the bishop arrives as for a bishop seated in choir and either takes his seat in choir or, if he is so entitled and wishes, upon the throne.


19. A bishop arrives for a low mass (without solemnity) as given for a bishop seated in choir. He vests for mass either in the sacristy or at the throne, but not in the Secretarium. Vesting may be done during the Office. The procedure for vesting is otherwise the same, except the dalmatic and gloves are not used, the biretta is worn instead of the mitre, and the crosier is not carried. The bishop may, however, in accordance with Canon Law, omit the biretta altogether. Also, if he is performing a pontifical rite such as administering the Sacrament of Confirmation or of Holy Orders, he wears the mitre and carries the crosier.


20. The bishop arrives for solemn vespers just as for a solemn mass, according to whether he is a jurisdictional bishop in or out of his own diocese, or an auxiliary bishop. That is, a bishop in his own diocese wears the cappa, and a bishop outside his own diocese or an auxiliary bishop wears the mantelletta.

21. If the bishop is officiating at Vespers, he vests in cope and mitre in the usual manner at the throne, if so entitled, or else at the faldstool.

22. If the bishop is not officiating, but presiding at Vespers, then he vests in either cope and mitre or remains in the cappa.

23. The bishop officiating at Vespers remains in the cappa for the beginning of Vespers. When the psalms begin, the bishop vests in cope and mitre following the procedures of vesting as for the solemn pontifical mass as given for the vesting during the Office. However, he does not wash his hands, and he does not recite the vesting prayers, which are only used when vesting to celebrate the mass.

24. The bishop presiding at Vespers, but not officiating, if he is to preside in cope and mitre, does exactly as given for a bishop officiating. If he is to preside in cappa, then he begins Vespers as usual. Once the psalms have begun, he sits, wearing the biretta, and the footwear of normal use is exchange for the pontifical slippers, which are carried on a salver, but without the humeral veil.


25. All is for solemn Lauds as is given for solemn vespers.

26. If the bishop is to officiate or preside at Matins immediately preceding Lauds, then he wears the cappa with the hood over the head through Matins (after entering the church) until the beginning of Lauds.


27. For penitential rites and offices, the liturgy of the Sacred Triduum, excepting the Mass of Holy Thursday and the Chrism Mass, and masses and offices of the dead, the cappa magna is worn with the hood over the head after entering the church. During such times, he does not give the customary blessing of the people as he processes to the altar. And note that if the bishop goes to the church building in procession, he may also wear the hood up, but if he does not, then he does not wear the biretta, but only the zucchetto. At times when the bishop wears the hood over the head, the biretta is not worn by anyone.



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