Celebrating Mass outside


Just one of those things that popped into my head. I know Popes frequently celebrate Mass outside, Paul VI celebrated Mass at Yankee Stadium, I think JPII celebrated at Giant stadium, etc. Basically every time a pope has come to the US he’s celebrated Mass in a sports stadium and probably does it in most countries he visits.

Now I was always told that Mass had to be celebrated inside a church and I would think that at least on consecrated ground, but obviously Yankee stadium and Giant stadium are none of the above. So what are the requirements that have to be met to celebrate a Mass outside? Can a priest do it? A Bishop? Or is it only the Pope?



It doesn’t HAVE to be celebrated in a church. However, it is STRONGLY PREFERRED that is be celebrated in a church. It may be celebrated outside a church when the situation warrants it.

For example, even if the Pope celebrated Mass in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, it still couldn’t fit 100,000 people in it. So, he has to celebrate in a place where that many people can be gathered into one place.

If a priest knows he’s going to be in a place where there is no church, let’s say, he’s on a hike with the youth from his parish, he would need permission from his bishop in order to celebrate Mass outside.

However, a bishop certainly doesn’t need permission to celebrate Mass outside in his own diocese.


Pope John Paul II, when he was a priest, used to say Mass outside when he and his friends went on camping trips. I think they used an overturned kayak as an alter and the paddles as a cross. Celebrating outside is allowed. I have also been at Mass at person’s house. Of course, it is better to celebrate in church because then you have a consecrated altar, etc.


In some instances, while a church is preferred in all cases, there may not be a choice to celebrate mass inside. For instance, a military chaplain out in the field with the battalion he is stationed with. This was regular occurrence in Vietnam and the wars of the 2000’s. A google image search can yield these results, and what is great about many of them is that they are celebrated so reverently.


This is one of many great examples.


Slightly off topic but the first parish that my family belonged to, when a mission church, celebared Mass in a storeroom of the town tavern. :D


When I was a kid, we always had mass at the grange hall.

Set up a table, and some chairs. We were ready to go.

Confession kneeling on the floor while the priest was sitting next to us.


House Masses were frequently celebrated in many countries,


See below for when outdoor masses were very common in Ireland when saying mass in a Church was illegal during the penal law period:-



It does not have to be inside a church. Here in the Philippines on Sundays shoppers in large malls can attend Mass in the shopping mall. Masses being celebrated there leave shoppers no excuse for missing Mass.


Yankee Stadium is the only American venue to have hosted three different Papal Masses:

1965, Paul VI

1979, Blessed John Paul II

2008 Benedict XVI


Anyone know about outdoor weddings? That was something else I was always told was a no no. I’ve never seen or heard of a Catholic wedding outdoors and I think this was actually what got me thinking about the whole thing.


Outdoor wedding are definitely frowned upon. There would have toi be some exceptional reason I think for that to take place.
The norm is that the marriage must take place in the parish of the bride or groom. It can only be outside home parish if own parish priest gives permission and its supposed to be in Church.

Can. 1118 §1 A marriage between Catholics, or between a Catholic party and a baptised non-Catholic,** is to be celebrated in the parish church**. By permission of the local Ordinary or of the parish priest, it may be celebrated in another church or oratory.

§2 The local Ordinary can allow a marriage to be celebrated in another suitable place.


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