Friday, 13 May 2011
Usus antiquior Mass daily at St Peter's 7am
Fr Mark Withoos, who works at the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, normally celebrates Mass at the altar of the Transfiguration at St Peter's at 7am. (Normally - the chap may have to be away once in a while.) Above you can see a plan of the Basilica with the altar circled in red.
To get to the Mass, you will have to be at St Peter's Square early - I suggest at least 15 minutes before Mass starts. The Basilica opens to the public at 7am but you need to go through "airport style" security to get in. Then simply walk down aisle on the left and the altar is in front of you.
If you are a priest visiting Rome, you can celebrate Mass at St Peter's if you get there between 7am and about 8am. If you want to celebrate the usus antiquior, you could ask for the altar of the Transfiguration. If you are lucky enough to get it, there are some framed altar cards and a 1962 missal in the cupboard just off the gospel side of the altar. However it is worth bringing a travelling Missal and some altar cards (you can print some off from my parish website) since about a third of the priests who celebrate private Masses early in the morning at St Peter's nowadays are saying the older form of the Mass. (For lay people, just hang around at the sacristy door - 29 in the plan above - and wait for a priest who has identifying features - biretta, an old missal, altar cards, something like that - and follow him.)
Here is a photo of the altar of the Transfiguration:
The mosaic, a reproduction of Raphael's "deathbed" painting, has two parts. Above is the Transfiguration, below is a boy, possessed by the devil, whose father is seeking help: the scene is one of turmoil. The apostle points upwards to the tranquil contrast of Christ transfigured: He is the only answer to our problems. The woman who is kneeling at the foot of the composition, represents the Church.