Mass for the Vietnamese Martyrs – Updated

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q:  We have invited a Vietnamese priest to celebrate Mass on an upcoming weekday. A member of our community has asked if they can do the Mass for the Vietnamese Martyrs, whose memorial occurs on November 24.

In our ordo, the day when this priest is coming is a ferial day with an optional memorial. As I remember the rubrics, the celebrant can choose an optional memorial assigned to that day, or any saint inscribed in the Roman Martyrology on that day. I have not seen anything that would allow a memorial to be transferred, or a votive Mass to be celebrated for one saint (or group of saints). Is that correct? Is there anything they can do to commemorate the Vietnamese Martyrs on a day that is not their memorial?

A: I believe you have analyzed this correctly. The best solution may be to use the Votive Mass for All Saints (#19). It takes white vestments instead of red, but the presider could definitely speak about the Vietnamese martyrs in a homily, and it’d be fine to use Vietnamese for some of the music and readings.

In my view, the presidential prayers work nicely.


Q:  I was a little surprised at your answer on Votive Masses (re:”Mass for the Vietnamese Martyrs”), since I have often practiced the opposite. Your answer seemed to suggest that the reference in GIRM 355c to Votive Masses could only refer to those Masses in the section of the missal marked “Votive Masses”. But it seems to me that any Mass of a saint (or of Christ or Mary, with the caveat of GIRM 375) can be taken as a Votive Mass unless a special Votive text is provided. Thus, the rubric before the Proper of Saints in the missal:

“The Masses contained in this Proper of Saints are also used as  Votive Masses, with the exception of Masses of the mysteries of the life of the Lord and of the Blessed Virgin Mary (cf. General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 375) and also of Masses of certain Saints for whom a special Votive Mass is provided. When Masses of the Proper of Saints are used as Votive Masses, words in the prayers indicating the heavenly birthday or the Solemnity or Feast are not used but are replaced by the word memorial or commemoration.”

This also seems to reflect the definition of the Votive Mass in GIRM 375 as being “of ANY given saint” (emphasis mine). As to why GIRM 355c might mention the Mass of a saint in the martyrology on that day if any saint is possible, I would suggest that it is simply to indicate a certain preference for saints of the day before other saints selected for some pastoral/devotional reason?


A:  Good catch. Thank you. You are correct. The mass of any saint may be celebrated as a votive mass on any ferial day.

As to the reason why GIRM 375 refers to “any” given saint, it is referring to the mass of the day, not a votive mass.

Your remarks are helpful to see that not every votive mass is included in the section of the missal devoted to votive masses.