What are Gregorian Masses? A Brief History

Gregorian Masses are a series of thirty Masses celebrated consecutively for the repose of the soul of a deceased person. They derive their name from Pope St. Gregory the Great, who instituted the practice of celebrating such a series of Masses for the dead when he was the Abbot of St. Andrew’s Benedictine Monastery in Rome. The tradition dates back to the end of the sixth century and surpasses all other devotions that benefit the souls in Purgatory, not only because of its antiquity and the authority of its founder, but also because of its exceptional efficacy.

St. Gregory had distinguished himself for his affectionate goodness toward the monks of his monastery, but he also followed the demands of the Rule with a scrupulous severity. In the fourth book of his Dialogues, St. Gregory relates the story of the death of one of his monks, Justus. Three gold coins were found in the monk’s cell, and since this was against an article of the Rule that prohibited all individual property, St. Gregory ordered his body to be tossed on the dung hill instead of buried properly. The three coins were thrown on the cadaver in the presence of all the religious, who took turns repeating aloud: “May your money perish with you . . . (Pecunia tua tecum sit in perditionem)” (Acts 8: 20). Once this act was completed, mercy won over the heart of Abbot Gregory and he ordered for the Holy Mass to be celebrated for thirty continuous days, asking God for the liberation of this poor soul from Purgatory, “See to it that for thirty days the Holy Sacrifice be offered for him and that not one day be missed in which the Holy Victim be immolated for his intention” (Dialogues, Book IV, Chap. 55). The text adds that on the thirtieth day, St. Gregory learned of the liberation of Justus’ soul and the efficacy of those thirty Masses through a private revelation.

Another day, inflamed with a very ardent charity for the souls in Purgatory, Abbot Gregory lamented that after his death he would not be able to do anything else for them. “My Friend,” our Lord said to him, “I want to grant in your favor a privilege that will be unique. All souls in Purgatory, for whom thirty Masses may be offered in your honor and without interruption, will immediately be saved however great may be their debt toward Me.”

The practice of having Gregorian Masses offered for the deceased has remained a custom of the faithful for centuries. The shortage of Priests, the majority of whom are occupied in parish ministries, often makes the celebration of the Gregorian Masses impossible. Fortunately, Miles Christi offers you the unique opportunity of requesting the celebration of Gregorian Masses for your dearly departed.

Please contact us to make a request for Gregorian Masses.