Presbyterium: What This Means for Consecrated Virgins

by Therese Ivers, JCL

UPDATE:  St. Cantius parish has removed their post and photos of the virgin consecrated at their parish.  You may still see it cached on at least one search engine.  Are they trying to distance themselves from their own liturgical faux paus by removing their online entry?  That’s not the way to do it. Either they had documentation backing up their actions (which they could have shared) or they decided of their own authority to do things the way they did.  If the latter was the case, all they had to do was issue an explanation or an apology for those paying attention to the matter.  Something like “We did not realize the rubrics called for the virgin to remain in the sanctuary…. and mindful of the fact that people look to us for information on how the rubrics are to be carried out, apologize for this.  We will follow them more carefully should another virgin honor us with her consecration.”

I was excited when I heard today that Marie Margaret Beccaloni was consecrated to a life of mitre st thomas becketvirginity recently.  (For photos, simply search online.  The brief description of the ceremony and who celebrated it are on one site, and the photos are on Flicker)  However, the photos taken of her consecration surprised me.  It is not clear what Rite was used, the current one, or the 1962 Rite (to my knowledge, Summorum Pontificorum doesn’t apply to this case).  What was surprising?  Several things:

1)  Whether the 1970 or the 1962 Rites is used, the virgin is to be seated in the presbyterium (sanctuary) along with the priests and bishop from the calling of the candidate on through the rest of the Mass.  I am surprised that for a parish that apparently cares for the rubrics, that Rev. Miss. Marie Beccaloni was left out of the sanctuary for what is probably most of the Mass.  You can tell this by the photos of her exciting the sanctuary with the priest celebrant still seated in the sanctuary and of her with her veil and insignia on, actually sitting in the pews with her bridesmaids.

It is true that I myself did not sit in the sanctuary, but this was for an eminently practical reason- my consecration ceremony was held in a very small cathedral adoration chapel

Priests in front pew kneeling for Litany of the Saints
Priests in front pew kneeling for Litany of the Saints

that had like 2′ around the altar of space; even the concelebrating priests had to sit in the pews.  The main cathedral itself was closed since it was in the middle of a three year renovation.   Beccaloni’s parish, however, has an enormous sanctuary compared to my tiny little one.  There was plenty of room for her to be seated in the sanctuary, even if they had to borrow three chairs and kneelers/cushions to do so.

2)  The most dramatic point* of the Rite of Consecration, whether it be in the 1962 or 1970 Rite, is of the sacred virgin receiving Holy Communion (if the rubrics are followed).  In the 1962 Rite, the virgin ascends the altar steps to receive Communion from the Bishop.  She doesn’t simply stay at her seat in the sanctuary, she climbs the additional 3-7 steps to the actual altar.  She kneels on the predella with her two attendants and receives under both Species.   Since the rubrics indicating that this was a Pontifical Mass was ignored to begin with (you don’t have a priest celebrating Mass with the Cardinal just sitting in choro, sorry, it isn’t done any more than you’d have an ordination done with the priest celebrating it and the bishop sitting in choro), Beccaloni probably did not receive Communion at the hands of her bishop under both Species (as is her right under both Rites).

Since this is a dramatic photo opportunity and there are no photos to this effect, one wonders if they made her receive Communion under one species at the altar rail at the hands of the priest!  The Church intends for the symbolism to be very clear to the faithful:  this is a spouse of Christ.  She consummates her wedding at the high altar, and the bishop who represents her Spouse communicates her under both Species at the altar.  Even in the 1970 Rite, the virgin, who is already seated in the sanctuary, leaves her place to approach the altar and receive directly after the Bishop, at the hands of the Bishop.  If there are steps, she climbs them.  If not, then she simply goes up close to the Bishop at the altar and there she receives.

3)  At this liturgy, one of the most important liturgies that a Diocesan Bishop can celebrate in his diocese, there are a mere handful of clerics (for what can be seen in the photos).  Here again, the Church is very clear about what is expected at a consecration ceremony:  the bishop is to be surrounded by the college of priests and important ministers.  Contrast  the consecration photos published by the parish to those of an ordination that took place at the very same parish!  There are over a dozen clerics in the sanctuary!  Yet the expectations are exactly the same.  The bishop is to be surrounded by his priests and ministers whether he does an ordination or a consecration.

Bottom line?  This is not a private vow ceremony.  This is not a profession of religious vows ceremony.  This is the ceremony of a bride being wed to Jesus Christ through the ministry of her bishop.  It was deliberately written over the centuries (as can be seen by the different Pontificals in existence) to take place in the same manner as an ordination.  Why?  Because of all the forms possible in the consecrated life, only sacred virgins going through this Rite fully participate in the Church’s charism and identity as virgin, bride, and mother.  She is the clearest image of the Church-Bride after Our Lady you can get.

It may make some people uncomfortable to see a sacred virgin in the sanctuary, but two thousand years of liturgical tradition (starting with the sacred Virgin who was physically a sanctuary for 9 months) should not be ignored.  Of course, things will always get dicey when you try to mix a non-pontifical Mass with a Rite that demands pontificals, which is why it is not suitable to use the 1962 Rite for non-monastics.  While it was a very nice gesture for the Cardinal to try to accommodate the desire for a traditional liturgy, it just does not work out.

*Obviously, liturgically, the two most important moments in the Consecration Rite is when the virgin is ontologically changed to be a bride of Christ through the prayer of consecration and when the bread and wine are ontologically changed to be the Body of Christ through the prayer of eucharistic consecration.  Most people, never having seen a sacred virgin ascend the steps of a high altar for Communion, would point to the prostration during the Litany of Saints (a favorite photo moment for ordinations) as being the most visually compelling moment.  When, however, the rubrics are followed and Mass is held in a location with a high altar and is celebrated at the high altar with several steps, this is certainly the most visually dramatic moments of the entire Liturgy.  Astute liturgists who have read the different versions of the Rites promulgated over the centuries have pointed out plenty of parallels to priestly ordinations.  Examples abound beginning with the call of the candidate from the pews to within the sanctuary, the Litany of the Saints, the presentation of the candle to the bishop at the offertory by the newly ordained priest or virgin, the placing of hands within the bishop’s, the bishop personally giving Communion to the newly ordained priest or consecrated virgin, etc.

The first reader who can identify (1) which current document specifies that liturgy of the consonebrideconsecratedvirginityecration of virgins is one of the most important diocesan Masses a bishop can celebrate surrounded by his priests (2) which Pontifical [name and century] specified that enough Hosts from that Mass were reserved for the sacred virgin to consume for the octave following the consecration will receive a complementary copy of The One Bride by Sr. Klimisch due to be released any day now in reprint form.  Use the contact form for this as the comments do not always work.

Update: The One Bride has now been republished and available on Amazon. Those who purchased it at the discounted pre-order rate will be mailed their copy as soon as we get our shipment in.

Update #3:  Because of the St. John Cantius priests’ reluctance to keep the consecration post up on their website, I am going to add another thought.  Both the 1962 Rite and the 1970 Rite (and the Rites proceeding them throughout the centuries) called for a Bishop to celebrate not just the Consecration, but the Mass.  In the older Rites, the Bishop gives Communion to the virgins.  He receives the candles from the virgins after the offertory.  He prays the prayers written specifically for the Consecration Mass.  What on earth is a mere priest doing, usurping the place of the bishop in this Mass?  There is a reason why it is in the Roman Pontifical.  The only excuse I can come up with is that they truly do not understand the gravity of this vocation.  Only if you think it is akin to a private vow ceremony or a “consecration” to Our Lady ceremony can one proceed thus.

(c) 2014 by Therese Ivers, JCL

All Rights Reserved.

This entry was posted in Consecrated Virgins. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Presbyterium: What This Means for Consecrated Virgins

  1. mysteriumfidai says:


    Sadly I do not know the answer to the question (yet). But I do indeed have a related question for you, which has had several priests and indeed Bishops rather unsure. There are several candidates who are deeply devoted to the Extraordinary Form of the liturgy, many who belong to parishes of St John Cantius, FSSP and Institute of Christ the King, where only this 962 liturgy is celebrated. They would like to know if the 1962 Rite may be used? Universae Ecclesiae at n.35 says the older Pontifical may be used, and Summorum Pontificum (at n.5 I think) says the extraordinary form mass can be used for speicial occassions where requested.

    in your example above, i have been told by two bishops that the 1962 mass may not be used with the current rite of consecration due to the structure of the rite. the consecration of the virgin must occur before or after the 1962 mass, as nothing may be inserted or varied in the 1962 mass itself.

    please can you clarify whether it is allowed to use the 1962 rite of consecration for those in the world? or what can be done for the traditional catholics deeply devoted to the extraordinary liturgy? all of their parish communities are accustomed to women veiled at mass, communion kneeling on the tongue, ad orientem celebration, the tabernacle in the middle, no EMHCs, the double confiteor etc. Many regularly travel for several hours to attend the older liturgy. Here is not a place perhaps to discuss why that is, a google search will tell you some of the reasons. So it is deeply important and meaningful that at least some aspects of the 1962 pontifical or liturgy may be used. can you calrify? please can you also confirm if the 1962 mass was used here, and if so, whether the consecration was before or after the mass?

    thanks a million!

  2. Therese Ivers, JCL says:

    To my knowledge, it is not permitted to use the 1962 Rite of Consecration for virgins living in the world. A sacred virgin who is a friend of mine did consult the now Cardinal Burke and used the 1970 Consecration Rite within the EF Mass. I don’t think the 1962 Rite will be revived as it presents too many problems for women living in the world because it was designed for nuns. The 1970 Rite abolishes the problematic parts of the 1962 Rite for women living in the world, and the “Apostle Matthew” Consecration prayer is the oldest known extant (dating at least from the 4th century, and may actually have been composed by St. Matthew). It is very fitting to return to the time when there were only consecrated virgins and no nuns in the Liturgy. I was actually giving the benefit of the doubt when writing about the St. Canatius Parish celebration, because I know nothing about what actually happened there other than what they wrote, and what could be deduced from the photos.

    Another aspect which virgin candidates should seriously consider is that unless the location of the cathedral is dangerous, the consecration really should be held at the cathedral regardless of what form the Mass takes place in. If the bishop is well versed enough in the EF, then he can say it at the cathedral just as in a parish setting. The sacred virgin is consecrated for the universal Church and has a special tie to the diocese. Having a consecration take place in a parish setting diminishes the symbolism inherent in having it at the cathedral, and helps ghetto-ize the vocation more by downplaying its importance to the diocese. In speaking with a sacred virgin recently (her consecration took place at her parish, I think), a fellow parishioner commented on how nice it was that she was able to take advantage of the bishop’s presence for the Rite. She didn’t get the fact that only a bishop can do this. Having it done at cathedral with the clergy and ministers and faithful (both EF and OF goers), really points to the dignity of the vocation. Right now, with the new Rite being only 40 years old, it is particularly important that people start to realize that having the consecration at the parish is an exception and not the rule. Ordinations are common enough that people do “get” it and when they attend one at a parish, they know that the Church usually has it done at the cathedral.

  3. mysteriumfidai says:

    Thanks Therese!

    A great point about the consecration being in the Cathedral! I also think it shows the relationship to the universal church, also the CV personifying the eschatalogical image of the (whole) Church as Bride, Virgin and Mother, much better. It is even mentioned in the Rite (Introduction) that it SHOULD be in the Cathedral. Unfortunately in many places, it has become the norm for these consecrations to be in the CV’s parish church. Then when these things become norms, and you try to point out what the Rite says to your Bishops and you provide an explanation of the theology of it, people say ‘well yes, but no-one else has done that…’. I think the Rite also has parts which allow for what is ‘customary’. So when a misunderstanding of the Rite becomes normal, it also becomes customary, and is permissable and normal even though technically it is incorrect. Another example is the veil – some areas do not give the veil often, as they misunderstood it to be the religious veil, proper only to nuns. This becomes customary, then candidates face difficult requesting the most ancient insignia of the consecration because ‘no-one else does that’.

    Before the suppression of the Rite for women living in the world between 1927 – 1950ish, presumably the pre-62 Rite was used for those living in the world AND nuns (even though it was rare as most joined convents). Rene Metz (in his 1951 study of the development of the liturgy – not his revised publication) says there were women in the world being consecrated before ’62, even during the suppression of the Rite for those in the world, and as there was only the ’62 Rite avaliable at that time, I would assume this was used but the vesting of the habit omitted. Thre were many beautiful things in the ’62 Rite which have been lost including the solemn anaethema, the crowning with flowers etc. In his 1951 book (not his later edition – I have both) , he goes through the 1962 liturgy line by line showing by footnotes where it came from. As it is out of print, if someone can sort out the copyright for me, I would love to share it online!

    It is a shame that there is no information in the public domain on the use of the EF mass with the 1970 Rite. Before I saw Marie’s consecration photos, I had been trying to find out if it was possible to request the EF mass at a 1970 consecration for some time. I consulted the USA CV, FIUV, CIEL, FSSP, ICKSP, an Ecclesia Dei priest and several Bishops and none of them knew if it was even possible and said an official answer from Rome was needed. This is because the EF mass does not allow anything to be inserted into it, so the consecration would need to be before or after the mass, and the 1970 Rite would therefore need to be altered to accomodate this – as it provides for the consecration to be after the Readings but before Communion. So the people I asked (above) said that official info from Rome is needed to say where the mass shouldbe inserted,(start/end) and if it is allowed. Originally the ’62 Rite of CV consecration, the entire consecration was done outside of mass.

    And you are right regarding symbolic things like the CV sitting with the congregation, kneeling at tha altar rail for communion, communion under both forms etc. It just doesnt work here.

    It is unfortunate that each CV requesting the EF mass has to write to Rome to Cardinal Burke (or seek permission from another Cardinal) to see if it is allowed and how it should be done, then just keep it for their own knowledge. The only info online on this point seems to be of the ‘a friend of a friend…’ variety, nothing official. If I get a response I will publish it online!

  4. Therese Ivers, JCL says:

    Unless a Congregation in Rome (Ecclesia Dei or Divine Worship) gives permission for the 1962 Rite to be used or the 1970 Rite to be inserted in the 1962 Mass, one must proceed as if it isn’t permitted. Again, there are multiple problems with the 1962 Rite being used. The 1970 Rite correctly gives the LOTH as a symbol of praying always. The 1960 Rite correctly gives NUNS the mandate to pray the office in the name of the Church. A CV in the world can’t receive that mandate (because it would have to become universal law first). The coronation with a crown (not a floral crown) is a custom that was rejected in the 1970 Rite because historically the Rite has always followed ordination and wedding customs. It was customary to crown spouses at one point in time (the Eastern Churches continue this custom but we don’t). We have the ring because at one point the ring became customary for spouses and this has not been dropped because it continues to be a current custom. The anathema is not needed as it is a sacrilege to harm a sacred virgin by the mere fact of her receiving the consecration. Custom in ignorantly disobeying the Rite does not establish the norm or lawful custom. I wrote my book on planning consecrations because there are so many misunderstandings despite the clear language of the Rite.

    I, too, have Metz’s two books (and many of his articles) in French. They are some of the books I’ve been trying to get permission to translate into English and publish. Right now, given the few orders for The One Bride, a classic on the theology of the Church and the virgin as bride, I am very inclined to say it’s not worth the effort and cost to translate Metz as nobody would buy anyway. I myself paid a hefty sum for the 1954 book (around $200 if I recall) and I just don’t see the average CV being interested enough in this authoritative work to actually buy it at even $100 or $75. Right now, copies with the fees to the copyright holder costs ~ $500 each. Again, my interest in this project is waning because I can read the French original that is in my bookshelf and I don’t think the other CVs care enough to pay a fair price for a copy were it to be translated into English. They apparently prefer the lightweight books the USACV puts out, that don’t even cite the basic Vatican II source for the renewed Rite.

  5. mysteriumfidai says:

    Many thanks Therese.

    I know Metz’s later book (after the revised Rite) has been translated into Spanish as well as French, so it would be good if it was in English! I cannot afford those copyright fees unfortunately, but I do highly recommend his 1951 work for those interested in the development of the litugy. [I only looked into how much it would cost to make 1 copy of Metz’s 1954 book, not the one recently published. We’ll see if anyone publishes an authorized English translation. It would take a lot of money and time.]

    I greatly appreciate the USACV materials, and I understand they are aimed at young women with no theological background, to help them discern the vocation. But some of us do need more dense material, fully referenced, in particular, sometimes to direct even Bishops to those sources, when issues of contention arise, as this vocation is widely misunderstood. [Yes, the info packet materials are worthwhile for the most part, since most of it is a compilation of articles from respected writers.]

    Re your point “Unless a Congregation in Rome (Ecclesia Dei or Divine Worship) gives permission for the 1962 Rite to be used or the 1970 Rite to be inserted in the 1962 Mass, one must proceed as if it isn’t permitted. ”

    Nothing can be inserted into the 1962 Mass. It is not allowed. It is the 1962 Mass that would be inserted (in its entirety) into the Rite, probably at the start or at the end of the 1970 Consecration Ceremony. And that would require some alterations to the structure of the 1970 Rite to accomodate this. Which is why I wanted to know how this was done in the consecration above, and if indeed it is officially allowed? It must be, as that one was by a Cardinal?

    [The EF Mass and the 1970 Rite are incompatible. That is why I had such a problem with them inserting the 1970 Rite into the 1962 Mass. A lot of -unauthorized and unintended- adaptations must be made. Until and unless the Congregation ever comes up with a Rite that is compatible with the 1962 Mass, I think the best policy is for women to simply be consecrated in the 1970 Rite (and in Latin if they want) at their Cathedral by their bishop.]

    Thank you for your work in making all this info avaliable to the public domain, God bless you!

  6. mysteriumfidai says:

    also, at 400 pages, the USACV Info packet is not lightweight! And Sacrosanctum Concilium does not go into detail into the Rite, just that it was to be revised. [I was referring to the newly published book that the USACV has put out. It is obvious that it has not been compiled by degreed theologians, canonists, or liturgists. No theologian, canonist, or liturgist worth his salt would omit such a critical citation. Nothing that the virgin members of the USACV have written themselves in the book have much gravitas. The most scholarly part is from Cardinal Burke.]

  7. mysteriumfidai says:

    Sorry one more question: you said “A sacred virgin who is a friend of mine did consult the now Cardinal Burke and used the 1970 Consecration Rite within the EF Mass” but then you said “Unless a Congregation in Rome (Ecclesia Dei or Divine Worship) gives permission for the 1962 Rite to be used or the 1970 Rite to be inserted in the 1962 Mass, one must proceed as if it isn’t permitted.” Did your friend have permission from the either of these bodies? I was of the same opinion as you, that such official permission was needed, even for St John Cantius here. [I don’t know the exact details, and bishops often write to the proper dicasteries without notifying anyone they are consulting. The best thing to do is write Ecclesia Dei or Divine Worship and ask.]

    Sorry for all the questions, but I have been attempting to clarify this for a couple of years and no-one ever addresses these questions…until now!

  8. mysteriumfidai says:

    hi there.

    1) I reaaaallly want to enter the competition, is it still open? Your comment box just says there is an error when i try to submit any message! [The contest is still open but I am trying to fix the contact us form.]

    2) Re the consecration above, I spoke to various people and the priest (not the cardinal) celebrated the 1962 Mass in Latin up to the gospel and homily, then inserted the 1970 Rite on Consecration of the virgin into the 1962 mass (completely against the rubrics of the 62 mass) then after the consecration, the 1962 mass continued. so in accordance with the rubrics of the ’62 mass, communion is of one kind at the altar rail. [Again, completely unacceptable. She was supposed to have been in the sanctuary from the beginning of Mass to the end, and received Communion at the altar at the hands of the Cardinal.] Oh, she was given the current ‘liturgy of hours’, rather than the 1962 breviary. the calendar is obviously different, so why this is, i have no idea. [It doesn’t really matter what book she was given. It is only a symbol for “praying always”.]

    As breaching the rubrics of mass is a big deal, obviously it would not invalidate the consecration of the Eucharist (the breaches are illicit not invalidating) , but do unauthorised adaptations render the virgins consecration invalid? [ As long as the words of consecration were not tampered with, and it was said by the Cardinal, it is a valid consecration.]

    3) re the CARDINAL sitting in choir during mass, you are right, that is not correct practice “When a bishop presides at the Eucharist but is not the celebrant he does everything in the liturgy of the word that belongs to the celebrant and he concludes the Mass with the rite of dismissal.” From one of the Notitiae in 2009 [This concerns the current ordinary Form, not the extraordinary.

    It is the intent of the Church that the bishop preside over both the Mass and the Rite, and this is true even in the 1962 pontifical.

    There are two parts to the 1962 Rite of Consecration in the Roman Pontifical. Both require the bishop to be the celebrant. The first part is the Consecration Rite which takes place before Mass, and the second part is the Mass itself. The words of the rubrics for the Mass are unmistakable. It is the Bishop who is the main celebrant! The 1962 unequivocally stipulates in the rubrics that even in the Mass, it is the Bishop who celebrates. There are no exceptions listed, because this is still one integral liturgical celebration, and only the Bishop has the authority (and obligation) to continue seamlessly with the Mass and all that the rubrics indicate for his interactions with the virgin. Unlike Confirmation, where a bishop is allowed to be in choir, no exceptions from the Vatican have been granted, the whole Rite of the Consecration of Virgins (including the entire Mass) has always been reserved to the Bishop just like ordinations. No exceptions. If the Bishop cannot celebrate in the 1962 Rite, he should do so in the Ordinary Form and use the 1970 Rite as prescribed. There is nothing to prevent him from saying the entire Mass and Consecration in Latin in the Ordinary Form.

    It should be clear that in this article, we are not criticizing the new sacred virgin, nor the Cardinal who presumably relies on others to help in this matter. The commentaries on the Rite, and its versions in Latin over the centuries are available, and I do not understand why the Cantius priests took it upon themselves to tinker with the rubrics and indeed the whole Rite without apparently doing any elementary research into it.

    The Bishop and the Priest are not authorized to deviate from the rubrics on their own authority. The Cardinal has no authority to depute a priest to celebrate this particular Ritual Mass. It has never been the tradition (nor was it ever permitted by law) for a priest to substitute as the main celebrant of the Mass of Consecration, nor to ignore rubrics concerning the recpetion of Communion, and other things that are clearly laid out in both the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms. This was a serious liturgical abuse, unless it was authorized unbeknownst to us directly by the Holy See. Seeing how the CDF clamped down on anything contrary to the Bishop being the main celebrant of the revised Rite of Consecration, it is hard to believe it would brook a mere priest celebrating the 1962 Mass.

  9. mysteriumfidai says:

    Thanks Therese for the above. I agree that we are indeed not criticising the sacred virgin, but rather it is wonderful that you, a canon lawyer and someone well read in this vocation will comment on the liturgy of the Rite in this way in the public domain, so we can understand and avoid the same misunderstandings in our own consecrations.

    Re the competition, should we just post the answers here? can we email them somewhere? [send to: q u e s t i o n @ Remove spaces.]

    Just to be clear re your long comment above – the Rite in the 1962 Pontifical WAS NOT used here at all! [This is why this was a serious abuse. You DO NOT do a normal Mass in conjunction with the Consecration Prayers.] Therefore the rubrics of that Rite do not apply. What happened was

    – 1962 Latin Mass, normal Tridentine mass of the day (as per Missale Romanum 1962) up to the Gospel and Homily [Absolutely unacceptable. You DO NOT EVER combine the PONTIFICAL with the MISSALE. I would like to see St. Cantius priests do an 1962 Rite Mass of the Day with an OF ordination. It doesn’t work for the same exact reason. You are not permitted to combine a priest celebrated Mass with a Pontifical Rite of Ordination, or Consecration.]
    – Then inserting the 1970 Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity Lived in the World (as per the current Roman Pontifical) to consecrate the virgin, in the vernacular (English).
    – Then switching back to the 1962 Latin Mass for the Eucharist onwards to the last Gospel and dismissal (as per Missale Romanum 1962)

    So as Holy Communion was given OUTSIDE of the Rite of Consecration (due to the odd blend of forms), the special allwoances permitting the sacred virgin to be in the sanctuary and recieve at the hands of the Bishop in both kinds, in EITHER the 1962 or 1970 Pontifical would not have applied – therefore the rubrics of the Eucharist would have been as per any ordinary 1962 Traditional Mass – kneeling, on the tongue, one kind, at the rail.

    I do agree with your points though, this is an unfortunate mixing of rubrics but at least everyone out there who like me were wondering about this, now know. I have written to Rome regarding my own consecration in relation to the use of the 1962 Mass and/or 1962 Rite and will post here when/if anyone responds. I will also share any response with the USA CV so it will be avaliable for reference.

Leave a Reply