The Pope's Master of Ceremonies and other Masters of Ceremonies?


Anyone know any websites where one can get information about the Pope’s Master of Ceremonies, other Vatican Masters of Ceremonies or others throughout the Catholic Church, now or in the past?

Who they are, background, etc?
What exactly they do, duties and responsibilities, etc.?
Video’s of them in action?
Interesting stories?

Anything at all would be welcome.



Here’s a small bit:

The role of the master of ceremonies is outlined in the Ceremonial of Bishops, Nos. 34-36. The norms make it clear that he is at the service of the liturgy in order that a solemn celebration be carried out with grace, simplicity and order.

He is needed to “prepare and direct the celebration in close cooperation with the bishop and others responsible for planning its several parts.” It continues: “He should seek to ensure an observance of liturgical laws that is in accord with the true spirit of such laws and those legitimate traditions of the particular Church that have pastoral value.”

Before the celebration he should “arrange with the cantors, assistants, ministers and celebrants the actions to be carried out and the texts to be used, but during the celebration he should exercise the greatest discretion: he is not to speak more than is necessary, nor replace the deacon or assistants at the side of the celebrant. The master of ceremonies should carry out his responsibilities with reverence, patience and careful attention.”

Regarding the qualities required of him, the document says: “He should be well-versed in the history and nature of the liturgy and its laws and precepts. But equally he should be well-versed in pastoral science, so that he knows how to plan liturgical celebrations in a way that encourages fruitful participation by the people and enhances the beauty of the rites.”

The qualities mentioned in these norms in no way exclude the possibility of a lay master of ceremonies and, indeed, there are many excellent lay masters in churches and cathedrals around the globe.

In this sense the question of “obedience” toward a master of ceremonies or of his being “in charge” should be largely beside the point. Preparing a proper liturgical celebration is a collaborative effort in which the master of ceremonies coordinates beforehand with the various persons involved.

A master of ceremonies who arrives saying he is “in charge” has probably failed in his duties to adequately prepare the ceremonies in advance.

If anybody is properly speaking “in charge” of the celebration, it is the principal celebrant. For example, it is he, not the master of ceremonies, who determines the texts to be used, which optional ritual elements are included or omitted, and what is to be sung or recited. In preparing the celebration the master of ceremonies may make suggestions to the celebrant as to what is most appropriate. But the final decision rests with the celebrant. The celebration can even make changes during the course of the celebration if unforeseen circumstances recommend it.

The master of ceremonies is “in charge” of coordinating all those who assist at the Mass and these should diligently follow his instructions.

Although we have said that, strictly speaking, concelebrants do not owe obedience to the master of ceremonies, this statement must be qualified in some cases. There are situations in which a large number of concelebrants arrive shortly before the beginning of Mass, and it is materially impossible to prepare the celebration beforehand.

In such cases the priests should punctually follow the MC’s indications, not so much out of obedience to his person as to obedience toward the reverent and dignified celebration of Mass.

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Monsignor Guido Marini (born 31 January 1965) is a Roman Catholic priest, currently serving as the Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations. He was appointed to this post on 1 October 2007, replacing Piero Marini (no relation). He previously served as chief liturgist for the Archdiocese of Genoa.

Marini was ordained on 4 February 1989 by Cardinal Giovanni Canestri. He earned a BA in the psychology of communication in early 2007 from the Pontifical Salesian University in addition to an earlier JUD, a degree in both canon and civil law, from the Pontifical Lateran University

From 1988 to 2003 he served as secretary to the cardinal archbishops of Genoa Canestri (until 1995), Tettamanzi (until 2002) and Bertone.[2]

From 1996 to 2001 served on the presybteral council. He was appointed chancellor of the diocese in 2005. In 2004 he was appointed spiritual director of the Seminary in Genoa.

Marini serving the Inauguration of Pope Francis

Marini has received praise[citation needed] for returning traditional elements of the church’s liturgical history to the papal Masses and other liturgical celebrations.

In a speech given in January 2010 Marini supported calls in the church for a “reform of the reform” of liturgy. He said during the talk, “For some years now, several voices have been heard within church circles talking about the necessity of a new liturgical renewal,” adding that a new renewal movement would be “capable of operating a reform of the reform, or rather, move one more step ahead in understanding the authentic spirit of the liturgy and its celebration,” he said.[3]

In May 2010, Marini celebrated Mass ad orientem at the altar of Mary Salus Populi Romani in the Basilica of St. Mary Major.[citation needed]

Papal conclave 2013
As Master of Ceremonies, Marini, while not a cardinal-elector, had duties during the 2013 sede vacante and at the 2013 conclave which elected Pope Francis. On March 11, the day before the conclave, at a ceremony presided over by the Camerlengo Tarcisio Bertone, Marini himself led the non-cardinal officials, support staff and other non-elector personnel with duties in the conclave in taking an absolute oath of secrecy pertaining to the conclave.[4][5][6][7] On the opening day of the conclave itself, after the cardinal-electors had taken the electors’ oath in the Sistine Chapel, it was Marini who called out the command “Extra omnes” (Everybody out) and closed the chapel doors once the outsiders had left the chapel.
Guido Marini assisting at a Papal Mass
Marini helped organise the liturgical ceremony of 13 January 2008 at which, for the first time in thirty years, the Pope celebrated Mass publicly ad orientem.[citation needed]

He has touched on themes such as the proper orientation in the liturgy, the primacy of Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony as a “permanent criterion” for sacred music, forms of liturgy, sacred art and architecture, receiving communion kneeling and upon the tongue, the hermeneutic of continuity, silence, and many other aspects of liturgy. Marini, following his appointment as Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, restored some traditional elements of papal ceremonial.[citation needed] During his time as Master of Ceremonies the Papal Altar was rearranged. The seven candles and crucifix were placed in a line across the Altar rather than clustered on the sides. This arrangement has become known as the “Benedictine arrangement”.[citation needed]

During his time as Master of Ceremonies Pope Benedict ceased to use the papal staff made for Paul VI, and began to use an older one made for Pius XI (pictured). Due to the weight of that staff, Benedict had his own made which is much lighter, and shares a similar style with the previous one (Pope Francis occasionally makes use of this one also in order to emphasize continuity with his predecessor).[citation needed] He also made decisions about the use of papal vestments at Mass and other pontifical celebrations, dressing Cardinal-Deacons in dalmatics when serving pontifical celebrations.[citation needed]


Found this as well:


Yes, and this is true also when applied per the 1962 liturgical books to the deacon and subdeacon, acolytes, thurifers, etc.

I still remember the Cardinal’s own MC when the Cardinal was doing confirmations back in 1961. He messed up everything we had practiced on. :slight_smile:


A long tradition lies behind the Office of Magistri Caerimoniarum Apostolicarum (Masters of Apostolic Ceremonies). From the 15th century onwards Masters of Papal Ceremonies acquired considerable fame thanks to Diaries kept by a few, namely Johannes Burkard, Paride de Grassis, a custom continued down to this day by successive Prefects and Masters of Papal Ceremonies whose writings are preserved in a special Archive. Various measures taken by the Apostolic Chamber (4th January 1533, 11th June 1550 and 15th September 1560), were followed by an Apostolic brief dated 10th May 1563, with which Pope Pius IV confirmed certain rights of the Magistri nostri Caermoniarum, previously recognised a Romanis Pontificibus ab immemoriali tempore (by the Roman Pontiff from time immemorial).

By virtue of successive regulations approved by the Roman Pontiffs last of all Benedict XV on 25 June 1917, the Magistri Caerimoniarum S.R.E. et Sedis Apostolicae formed a Collegium presided by a Praefectus, appointed with special Apostolic Brief by the Supreme Pontiff, with the grade of Domestic Prelate (today Prelate of Honour of His Holiness) and Apostolic Protonotary ad instar (today Apostolic Protonotary Supernumerary). The other Masters of Ceremonies had the grade Cubicularii intimi ad vitam (today Chaplains of His Holiness). After the election of the Supreme Pontiff they acted as Secret Participant Valets (later Prelates of the Anti-chamber) until the new Masters were appointed. The Prefect and the second Master of Ceremonies, both participants, were assigned to the person of the Supreme Pontiff; the remaining ten, non participants, were three ex-number and seven supernumerary. All were Consultors of the Sacred Congregation of Rites pro re liturgica by right and considered Ritum Ecclesiae Latinae Custodes (custodians of the Rites of the Latin Church) (in Privilegia et iura, praeeminentiae et distinctiones Magistrorum Caerimoniarum S. R. E. et Sedis Apostolicae, of the S. C. Cerimoniale, 6 Nov. 1801).

The Prefecture, or College of Masters of Papal Ceremonies, was restructured on the occasion of the 1967 reform of the Roman Curia and in particular with Regulations for the Office of Papal Ceremonies issued in 1970. The Prefecture assumed at that time the title of Office for Papal Ceremonies. These regulations established that the Masters of Ceremonies should be twelve in number (eight active and four attachés).

With the reform introduced by the Second Vatican Council, the Office for Papal Ceremonies assumed ever greater importance in the field of liturgical pastoral activity. In fact Liturgies presided by the Pope, multiplied in number and renewed in style, began to be seen, due also to the impact of the media, as an exemplary point of reference for the implementation of the Liturgical Reform in accordance with the spirit and norms of the Council.

The Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, dated 28 June 1988, also in conformity with the principles of liturgical renewal fostered by Vatican II, made radical changes with regard to the Office for Papal Ceremonies instituting a new “Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff”. This change was not merely nominal, it entailed the creation of a completely new Institution of the Roman Curia with proper legislation and exclusive competencies.

Read more at Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff


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