Q: When I prayed the Liturgy of the Hours on August 13 this year, I noticed that the optional collect for morning and evening prayer includes the names of Saints Pontian and Hippolytus, but their names are not included in the collect at mass. Why were they removed from the revised translation of the missal?
A: That prayer is first found in the 6th-century Verona Sacramentary. It was probably written a century or so before that. The Verona listed it among the prayers for the feast of Saints Chrysogonus and Gregory on November 24. The pre-Vatican II Roman Missal used it for the common of martyrs who were not popes, allowing the priest to insert the names of the martyrs for whose feast the prayer was being used. The same Roman Missal had a different prayer for August 13, which on that calendar was the feast of Saints Hippolytus and Cassian. After Vatican II, the Verona prayer moved into place on August 13 for Pontian and Hippolytus. Throughout its long history, it never has mentioned the names of those two saints. But the first English translation of the missal – and of the Liturgy of the Hours – inserted them so that people would know whose feast it was. The revised translation adheres closer to the Latin, so the names do not appear there. But we do end up with a prayer that is about 1500 years old, still at work in the missal.