Facing East in OF?

If the OF calls for the use of Ad orientem then why does the Holy Father still celebrate the Mass facing the people? Does anyone have a video or pictures of an OF done Ad orientem? Thanks


I have yet to find one in English

It’s not required to do ad-orientum, but the Pope has clearely expressed his prefference to using the 6 candlea and crucifix on the altar.

The OF does not call for the use of ad orientem. It merely allows for the possibility of it.

And a very quick Google search found this photo and these videos for you. :slight_smile:

Pope Benedicts private Chapel in the Vatican has Ad Orientem altar. He celebrates both form there.


John Paul II wrote that if the New Mass is celebrated ad orientem and in Latin very few people can tell the difference from the TLM.

I regularly attend Ad Orientem New Mass at the St Peter Volo parish. I feel myself home there.

I wonder how many churches actually have the altar on the East end? The TLM church I attend has the altar at the North end as does one of the OF churches I attend; two other OF churches I attend have the altar at the East end. Shoulden’t ad orientem really be ad altare?

According to the Roman Catholic tradition, I believe facing East doesn’t actually mean facing literal compass East but facing the Lord who will rise from the East.

Exactly my point, ad altare, although I don’t know what that means either if the Tabernacle is somewhere other than on the altar! Since there are cultures in which facing East refers to the compass direction the figurative reference is misleading.

In the Vatican, I believe that ad orientem (facing liturgical east) and facing the people are actually the same direction, due to the geographical location of St. Peter’s. Check out Masses by John XIII or Pius XII. They also faced the people.

Ad orientem at St. Peter’s

I’ve been at an OF Mass (twice actually) at Monte Cassino abbey in Italy where the abbot celebrated ad orientem, and facing the altar and not the people.

It’s not required under the OF to face ad orientam nor to face vs populem. It is required that, at certain points, the celebrant faces the people, and at others, the gifts. When done ad orientam, this means he is turning back and forth. When done vs populem, he is not turning, but directing his gaze either down to the altar or out to the people.

Further, the EF has, for centuries, had a few parishes where it was celebrated vs populem… in a couple cases, because the alter is at the west end; in others, because there was a tomb in front of the altar.

Every Mass at our parish is ad orientem - you can see a large number of photos here, look on the right panel for photo stories about Assumption Grotto Parish: te-deum.blogspot.com/


It’s true that there is not a requirement either way in the OF, but the rubrics in the OF to “face the people” are just what they say. The rubrics are what they are, and say that if the the presumed posture (ad orientem) is used, the priest is to turn at this point or that. Saying that rubrics refer to eye movement is just a bit much.

Yes, the Major Basilicas in Rome, but not so much “parishes” as such. They face geographical west, and are constructed in a way that the nave and the altar both face the confessio. The High Altar faces east. The nave faces west. It was the practice in times past that the deacon would call all present to “turn toward the Lord” and thus actually turn their backs to the altar, so that the ministers and congregation would all face east together.

In the good old times Church were built on that way, that the oltar was either in the East side or in the South side of the building. I do not remember Church parallel with the main road, so if the main road was East-West direction, the altar was on the South side, even if that was closer to the main Road.

So the correct expression is ‘Liturgical East’.

The parody of the ‘facing East’ is e.g. in my territorial Church. The free standing altar is on the West side, the tabernacle is on the East side of the Church. The priest faces East and the people and the Tabernacle, the people faces West and turn their back to the tabernacle.

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