Pre-1955 Holy Week

The ancient Latin Easter Triduum features the beautiful and sacred ceremonies according to the ancient pre-1955 liturgy (which dates back to 1570) and differs from the Latin 1962 Triduum.  This liturgy has grown in interest after the Congregation of Doctrine and Faith (Pontifical Commission of Ecclesia Dei) granted limited authorization to select traditional societies to offer this liturgy in 2018.

The Pre-1955 Easter Triduum is a rich, sacred liturgy filled with much more beauty and symbolism which dates back centuries. Here are some of the differences you may notice. Please note these are layman descriptions and are just meant to give an overall perspective of the differences:

  1. No washing of feet on Holy Thursday: As Christ washed the feet of only his priest-apostles, the washing of feet in the ancient liturgy was intended as a sign of priestly consecration. This ceremony was separate from the liturgy and reserved only for priests and brothers. Thus this will not be conducted.
    (Source: St. Joan of Arc parish bulletin, Couer d’Alene, Idaho:
  1. No Holy Communion on Good Friday: Although laity won’t be present at the Triduum this year, traditionally only the officiating priest receives Holy Communion on Good Friday This symbolizes the fact that on the first Good Friday, neither the Blessed Mother nor the apostles were able to receive Our Lord’s (living) body that day.  This symbolism enables the faithful to unite themselves to the Blessed Mother’s experiences on that day, and allows us to offer this sacrifice (of not receiving Holy Communion) in reparation for our sins which crucified Christ.
    (Source: St. Joan of Arc parish bulletin – see above)
  1. Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday: The veneration is essentially the people’s “Communion” for Good Friday. Separately, the Passion reading is longer.
  1. Triple Reed Candle at Easter Vigil: This unique candle which lights the Pascal Candle symbolizes the 3 person of the Holy Trinity and each part of the candle is lit when the deacon chants the 3-fold Lumen Christi.
  1. 12 Lessons at Easter Vigil:  Instead of 4 lessons during the Easter Vigil, there are 12 giving a more beautiful and fuller account of God’s dealings with his people before Christ (source: Adrian Fortescue)

Palm Sunday: Not discussed above, but worthy of mention is the Pre-1955 Palm Sunday, which basically includes 2 liturgies into 1 Mass. The Blessing of Palms is the first liturgy (which occurs on the altar, and features its own readings, propers, etc., and even a semi-Canon). The “Holy Communion” of the Palm Blessing is the distribution of Palms. The second liturgy is that of the Palm Sunday Mass.

Additional Resources

In-depth comparison: These comparisons courtesy of the Latin Mass Society Australia and Restore the ’54 Facebook page may also be helpful (available in PDF as well):