Commemorating the Metropolitan


In the present OF of the Roman Rite, only the local ordinary and the pope are commemorated. If the mass is celebrated within a suffragan diocese, the local bishop is commemorated, but the metropolitan archbishop of the province is not. In the Eastern Churches, as far as I know, the metropolitan is always commemorated in addition to the local bishop. Now this may be due to the general diminishing of the metropolitan prerogatives in the Latin Church, but my question is whether the metropolitan was commemorated at one point in the history of the Roman Rite?



These practices have varied widely over the centuries.

Especially in the earliest centuries (the times of the early ecumenical councils) it was considered very important to mention the metropolitan.

Sometimes, all the bishops of the province (aka archdiocese) were mentioned; not always by the local priests, but at least by the bishop.

In the Church’s 2000 year history, this practice has been constantly changing.


For reference

The liturgical use of diptychs offers considerable interest. In the early Christian ages it was customary to write on diptychs the names of those, living or dead, who were considered as members of the Church a signal evidence of the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. Hence the terms “diptychs of the living” and “diptychs of the dead.” Such liturgical diptychs varied in shape and dimension. Their use (sacrae tabulae, matriculae, libri vivorum et mortuorum) is attested in the writings of St. Cyprian (third century) and by the history of St. John Chrysostom (fourth century), nor did they disappear from the churches until the twelfth century in the West and the fourteenth century in the East. In the ecclesiastical life of antiquity these liturgical diptychs served various purposes. It is probable that the names of the baptized were written on diptychs, which were thus a kind of baptismal register. The “diptychs of the living” would include the names of the pope, bishops, and illustrious persons, both lay and ecclesiastical, of the benefactors of a church, and of those who offered the Holy Sacrifice. To these names were sometimes added those of the Blessed Virgin, of martyrs, and of other saints. From such diptychs came the first ecclesiastical calendars and the martyrologies. The “diptychs of the dead” would include the names of persons otherwise qualified for inscription on the diptychs of the living, e.g. the bishops of the community (also other bishops), moreover priests and laymen who had died in the odour of sanctity. It is to this kind of diptychs that the later necrologies owe their origin. Occasionally special diptychs were made to contain only the names of a series of bishops; in this way arose at an early date the episcopal lists or catalogues of occupants of sees. Whatever their immediate purpose the liturgical diptychs admitted only the names of persons in communion with the Church; the names of heretics and of excommunicated members were never inserted. Exclusion from these lists was a grave ecclesiastical penalty; the highest dignity, episcopal or imperial, would not avail to save the offender from its infliction. The content of the diptychs was read out, either from the ambo or from the altar by a priest or a deacon. In this respect a variety of customs obtained in different churches and at different periods, sometimes the diptychs were simply laid on the altar during Mass, and when read publicly, such reading did not always occur at the same stage of the Mass. The order of which traces are now seen in the Roman Canon of the Mass was the fixed usage of the Roman Church as early as the fifth century. In that venerable document a long passage after the Sanctus corresponding to the ancient recitation of the diptychs of the living; it contains, as is well known, mention of those for whom the Mass is offered, of the pope, of the bishop of the diocese, of the Blessed Virgin, and of several saints. At Easter and at Pentecost the Hanc igitur furnished a proper occasion to mention the names of the newly baptized, now mentioned only as a body. Finally the recitation of the “diptychs of the dead” is still recalled by the Memento which for the consecration.


In practice, it usually depends on the bishop who offers the prayers. I’ve heard, “…with N., bishop of this local church, and N. our bishop…”


Some eucharistic prayers have the option of including auxiliary bishops. I prefer just the Pope and the Ordinary myself, but it is common to hear the auxiliaries included. I also hear bishops (and now Pope) emeritus included, though there is no provision of which I am aware in any EP for retired bishops.


Actually, retired bishops are not supposed to be mentioned.

Only the diocesan bishop, one who is equivalent to the diocesan bishop (such as an Ordinary or abbot-ordinary), coadjutors, and auxiliary bishop(s). Other bishops who are present are not to be named. The retired bishop is not in the list of who may be named, therefore he should not be.

Episcopus dioecesanus, aut qui eidem in iure aequiparatus est, nominari debet hac formula: una cum fámulo tuo Papa nostro N. et Epíscopo (vel: Vicário, Praeláto, Praefécto, Abbáte) nostro N.

Episcopos Coadiutorem et Auxiliares, non autem alio Episcopos forte preasentes, nominari licet in Prece eucharistica. Quando plures nominandi sunt, dicitur sub formula generali: et Epíscopo nostro N. eiúsque Epíscopis adiutóribus.

Notitiae 45 (2008), 175–176


You commemorate the pope who is the Latin patriarch and your local bishop. The Melkites commemorate the pope, the Melkite patriarch, and our local bishop. During our Liturgy the priest says:
“First, Lord, remember our Father Francis, Pope of Rome, our Most Blessed Patriarch Gregorios III, our Father and Bishop Nicolas. Graciously bestow them to Your holy Churches in peace, safety, honor, health, long life, rightly dispensing the word of Your truth.”

In Eastern Churches that do not have a patriarch, they probably commemorate the pope, their highest hierarch (Major-Archbishop or Metropolitan), and then the local bishop.


There is some unfortunate news (mentioned in a recent new post on CAF) that helps put this topic into perspective not only from ancient tradition, but from current practice.

According to the article, the Patriarch of Antioch has removed the name of the Patriarch of Jerusalem from the diptychs. The word “diptychs” refers to both the physical object (the folding leaves) and the prayer itself.

It’s unfortunate news, but it illustrates the importance of the diptychs as an expression of ecclesial communion.


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