BY MADELEINE TEAHAN AND MARK GREAVES
BISHOP ARTHUR Roche of Leeds last week presented Pope Benedict XVI with a specially made white version of the new Roman missal.
Bishop Roche, chairman of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), opened and showed the missal to the Pope, who then leafed through it, pausing on the illustrated pages.
Bishop Roche spoke enthusiastically about their meeting and described the new missal as a landmark in the life of the Church. He said: “At the end of Pope Benedict's visit to Great Britain he spoke about the then forthcoming new translation of the Roman Missal. It is therefore with great pleasure that today we are able to present him with a special edition of the missal which has been approved for use in England and Wales, Scotland and Australia.
“The publication of the Missal is a significant landmark in the life of the Church in England and Wales. It will help us to respond to the Holy Father’s call to deepen our knowledge and faith in the Eucharist and renew our liturgical celebration. I am grateful to the Catholic Truth Society for producing the magnificent edition for the Holy Father but also the general high quality of the missals which will soon be gracing our altars.” The missal presented to the Pope was a specially bound version of the Catholic Truth Society (CTS) altar missal that will be used by priests across Britain and Australia.
Accompanying Bishop Roche was Mgr Bruce Harbert, former executive director of ICEL, Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne and Pierpaolo Finaldi, commissioning editor at the CTS.
According to Mr Finaldi, the Pope immediately asked how the new English translation had been received in parishes and remarked on the importance of beauty in liturgical books. Bishop Roche said the translation had been received well.
Mr Finaldi, who oversaw the production of all the new CTS missals, said it was “like handing in your homework after 10 years”.
He said: “It was John Paul II who set the ball rolling in 2001 [with Liturgiam authenticam], so it was great to be able to bring it back with the job done.” For a year and a half Mr Finaldi has overseen the entire production of the Roman Missal with great attention to detail. He has examined the artwork, the design of the paper, the width of the paper and even the type of grain in the leather cover.
The altar Missal, which costs £230, contains illustrations from the Ingeborg Psalter, a 12thcentury illuminated manuscript. The CTS altar Missals arrived in parishes on Tuesday.
The Missal given to the Holy Father has binding featuring uniquely shaped boards and handtooling for the cover, marbled endpapers and a dedicatory inscription to His Holiness. It was bound in top-grade white leather using a technique known as German binding which is said to be a particular favourite of the Pope’s.
Earlier in the year Mr Finaldi said the CTS had for a long time sought to improve the aesthetic value of its books. The new altar missals are designed to be both beautiful and sturdy.
“The most beautiful thing in the world is the love of Christ for us, for his Church. So things presented for the Church should always be beautiful. They are made for God to raise people’s spirits to God,” he said.
By December every parish in Britain will have a copy.