In marked contrast to the Missale and the Breviarium Romanum there was no new Vatican edition of the Rituale Romanum in the early 1960s, just prior to the Second Vatican Council. Therefore the most recent version of the Rituale Romanum is the Editio typica of 1952 or the Vatican edition of 1957 respectively, which had been augmented by several rites of Benediction.  These editions were published during the reign of Pope Pius XII. and consequently contained only the psalm translations approved by him. So until now there has been no edition of the Rituale Romanum representing the Editio typica of today, which makes use of the traditional translations of the psalms: the so-called Psalms of the Vulgate.

Yet the Rituale Romanum is the indispensable companion to a priest when he administers the sacraments, when he gives benedictions and when he fulfils his pastoral duties. So we take great pride in publishing this new edition and filling this gap. All the texts were newly prepared and set, and printing and book binding represent the very best craftsmen can offer.

When you click on a thumbnail picture you will be able to download a pdf-file with several specimen pages to illustrate the accompanying text.

Font and notes

For the Rituale Romanum we have used the same font that we had especially made for our Breviarium Romanum and which has all the characters needed for a liturgical text. Unlike the Breviary which comprises only text passages the Rituale also features liturgical chants and psalmodies.  Therefore a musical notation was needed that not only matches the font, but is also clearly legible.
For several decades the art of typesetting the notes of Gregorian chant has not been practised according to traditional standards. Until then each metal letter or sometimes even several letters had been placed by hand so that they corresponded to the respective syllable of the word. Then this so-called hot-metal composition went into printing. In today’s printing plants you are not likely to find a single press that will process hot-metal composition.
In recent times several attempts have been made to develop software that will generate note symbols and set them automatically. But none of these methods produces results that will compare even vaguely with the old art of manual typesetting.
Yet with liturgical books only the best will do! Therefore we decided to use computer-based manual typesetting to create the complete musical notation: even the tiniest detail of a note symbol was arranged by hand. So all staves were painstakingly made by hand on a “blank sheet”: each line, each symbol and each text line. A single stave would thus take about half an hour to complete.
We closely followed the pattern of notes and symbols of the “Laacher Missale” (please see our Lectionarium specimen page). However for our Rituale we had to create new and more diverse symbols too.

Using such a computer-based manual typesetting we were able to produce a pattern of notation and texts that is not only harmonious, legible and aesthetic and does not fall short of old liturgical notations.

Contents, structure and changes in the Editio typica of 1952

The Rituale Romanum contains, first of all, the formulae, i.e. the prayers and rites, of the sacraments administered by the priest and then the liturgies for the sick and the deceased. The most extensive part of the Rituale describes the wealth of approved benedictions: be it for humans, places or items. The last paragraphs comprise the formulae for processions and for the Great Exorcism of the church. Each liturgical ordo is preceded by a chapter of pastoral guidelines giving essential explanations of the respective rites. A short appendix features, inter alia, hymns set to music and the words of the Anti-Modernist-Oath.

The Editio typica of the 1952 Rituale Romanum not only brought about some changes and added all until 1952 approved benedictions, but it also revised the Rituale’s structure. Thus, the annex that had grown considerably in size over the years was incorporated into the respective paragraphs (tituli) of the main body thereby, for the first time, completely arranging the benedicitions in a systematical fashion.

Illustrations and Vignettes

The Rituale contains a number of vignettes and eleven illustrations marking the beginning of some chapters and mostly depicting biblical scenes.

These finely drawn reproductions of late 19th century engravings with their delicate features could still be found adorning rituals and other liturgical books well into the 1940s. All illustrations were painstakingly edited and partly redrawn.

Content / Indices

In a Rituale both the contents and the sequence of texts are exactly prescribed. Even the indices at the back always follow the same pattern: the table of contents is succeeded by several thematical indices, e.g. the index psalmorum, the index canticorum or the index hymnorum and most importantly the alphabetical index of benedictions. This particular index makes it easier for the priest to choose the relevant benediction. These indices have been neatly arranged in a clear layout, thus facilitating the use of the Rituale.

You can find a complete summary of contents in the adjoining file.

As in the 1957 Vatican edition two additional benedictions have been included at the back of the book. As they had only received approval on 31st October 1956 they have not been included in the table of contents.