Meet Marini, "Master of Liturgy"

Imagine my surprise to find this story splashed on the front page of the Washington Post - a profile of the papal master of ceremonies:

In Rome on a rainy Christmas Eve, Pope Benedict XVI followed a procession of Swiss guards, bishops and priests down the central nave of St. Peter’s Basilica to celebrate midnight Mass before dignitaries and a global television audience.

And Monsignor Guido Marini, as always, followed the pope.

A tall, reed-thin cleric with a receding hairline and wire-framed glasses, Marini, 45, perched behind the pope’s left shoulder, bowed with him at the altar and adjusted the pontiff’s lush robes. As Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, he shadows the pope’s every move and makes sure that every candle, Gregorian chant and gilded vestment is exactly as he, the pope and God intended it to be.

“The criterion is that it is beautiful,” Marini said.

But beauty, especially when it comes to the rituals of Roman Catholic liturgy, is a topic of great debate between conservative and liberal Catholics, who share differing views on everything from the music and language of the Mass to where a priest should stand and how he should give Communion.

Some of the key trappings of the Mass – the vestments and vernacular, the “smells and bells” – have taken on a more ancient air since Benedict succeeded John Paul II, and since Marini succeeded Piero Marini.

Piero, 68, is a gruff Vatican veteran, a progressive who advocates a more modern ritual that reflects the great church reforms of the 1960s. The younger and more punctilious Guido, who is not related to Piero, has argued for more traditional liturgical symbols and gestures – like the pope’s preference that the faithful kneel to accept Communion – that some church liberals interpret as the harbinger of a counter-reformation.

The coincidence of their shared last names has resulted in YouTube links like “Battle of the Marinis.” (“These things on the YouTube are fun but not important,” said Marini the Second.) But within Vatican and wider liturgical circles, the Marini schism is actually a profound one about the direction of the church.

The liturgical changes enacted under Guido Marini are “a great microcosm for broader shifts in the church,” said John Allen, a veteran Vatican watcher with the National Catholic Reporter.

Check out the rest.


  1. Linda Lucy S says:

    Smells and Bells — this sounds like my Traditional Anglican Church (we’re Anglican Catholics) and are praying to become an Ordinariate of the RC church, as an Anglican Rite. Our church is very much like Pre-Vatican II as well … but with a married priesthood. Since leaving OLQM, I stopped attending church, but returned to the RC church in 1997 in FL, and after moving to CA in 1999 went church shopping and found the Traditional Anglican Church (as many say, more Catholic than many RC churches with the liturgy and Bells & Smells and all the kneeling… yes, we kneel for Holy Communion… not while standing as many modern RC churches do these days).

    I just shared this on my FB page as well:


    Hey OLQM grads or like me, former students… I was just looking at the OLQM website after posting this link regarding Frank’s snow & cold in NC and I was looking at the name of the Fr, Rectors and Deacon, and OMG!

    The Deacon here at my (…our) old stomping grounds elementary school is the Deacon who’s posts I’ve enjoy reading on BELIEFNET.COM over the last few yrs!! Deacon Greg Kandra … and that must be a pix of OLQM altar in the pix.

    new website blog:

    orig website blog:


  1. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    RT @TopsyRT: Meet Marini, "Master of Liturgy"

  2. RT @TopsyRT: Meet Marini, "Master of Liturgy"

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