Benedict faces east at Mass in the Sistine Chapel
Pope Benedict XVI this week celebrated a public Mass facing east for the first time since becoming pontiff.
In a historic step widely welcomed by traditionalists the Pope celebrated Mass in the Sistine Chapel while facing Michaelangelo’s painting of the Last Judgment.
Dr. Alcuin Reid: "A subtle but decisive liturgical reform being enacted..."
The latest and perhaps most striking step in this reform took place on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord when, as has become customary, the Pope celebrated Mass in the Sistine Chapel and baptised newborn infants. As papal ceremonial goes, this is not usually a grand liturgical occasion: the Mass is in the vernacular and is largely said, not sung.
Yet it was precisely there – in perhaps as close to a parish setting as papal ceremonies often get – that the Holy Father chose to make a significant liturgical adjustment.