A Rubrical Guide For Altar Servers
A Low Mass For A Bishop: Simple Form 
The preparations are as usual for a Low Mass with
- To the right of the vestments, place on two
silver salvers  the bishop’s skullcap and
- If the bishop wears a biretta, it will be
purple , but will be set up as usual.
- A medium-sized ewer filled halfway with warm
water and a basin (instead of the usual Lavabo bowl;
the water cruet is still necessary though), and a large finger towel
(this should be rather absorbent).
- Place a salver on the Epistle-side near the
tabernacle  for the bishop’s skullcap .
- Four candles instead of the usual two may be
In the center of the Foot
- Place the maniple on the second
Altar step in front of Ac2’s Confiteor position.
Serving a Low Mass for a bishop is performed in
the same manner as for a priest with these differences:
Preparatory Prayers at the Foot
- Upon reaching the Foot, Ac1 takes the
bishop’s biretta, giving the solita oscula to the
bishop’s ring instead of his hand. Then both Acolytes genuflect while
the bishop bows.
- After the Acolytes have said the Confiteor,
the bishop will say the Misereatur and Indulgentiam
prayers, which the servers both respond to
then Ac2 gives the maniple to the bishop, kissing first the bottom
cross on the maniple and holding it so that the bishop may kiss the
center cross easily [if necessary, Ac2 may stand to perform this
- If the Gloria is said,
the bishop will turn for the Collect
and say, Pax vobis,
to which the Acolytes respond, Et
cum spiritu tuo. If the Gloria is not
said, the bishop says, Dominus vobiscum
- Upon returning to
credence after the Offertory, Ac1 picks
up the towel as usual, and Ac2 picks up the ewer and basin as he would
with cruet and bowl, and both then proceed to the Epistle side steps.
- When the bishop joins his hands in an
arc-like motion for the Veni sanctificator, both
ascend to the second Altar step and kneel, but
do not bow (the reverence of kneeling replaces the bows).
- When the bishop has finished drying his
hands and has returned the
towel to Ac1, the bishop will present his ring to each Acolyte to kiss
(Ac1 first, then Ac2), then he will bless them silently with the sign
- Both Acolytes then rise and return to
- After the Acolytes have
switched the missal and veil, they proceed to the center of the Foot per
longiorem and then immediately to the credence. There they
retrieve the Lavabo
items, and proceed to the Foot of the steps on the Epistle side. When
bishop has placed the burse on the assembled chalice, both Acolytes
ascend to the predella, and perform the Lavabo in
the same manner as described for the first Lavabo.
- Afterwards, they replace the Lavabo
items and then turn
over the Communion Rail cloth (having genuflected first at the center
of the Foot before going to the rail). They then return to their normal
- After the bishop has
said Ite, missa est,
and then silently the Placeat tibi (for which he
bows low), he will stand erect and facing the altar will say these
responses with the Acolytes:
- Bishop: Adjutorium
nostrum in nomine Domini (the Acolytes do not sign
themselves with cross for this response ).
- Acolytes: Qui fecit
caelum et terram.
- Bishop: Sit nomen Domini
benedictum in saecula.
- Acolytes: Ex hoc nunc et
usque in saeculum.
- The bishop begins to pronounce the blessing
(the Acolytes bowing at the word Deus as
usual), then he will turn towards the nave and give the triple blessing
reserved for a bishop. The Acolytes sign themselves only once, and this
should be done in conjunction with the cross the bishop makes in the
- After the Leonine Prayers,
Ac1 will retrieve the biretta,
and after the Acolytes have genuflected while the bishop bows, Ac1
presents the biretta giving the solita oscula to
the bishop’s ring instead of his hand.
 The full version of the
Pontifical Low Mass is executed with four chaplains, bugia and Pontifical
Canon. The version given here is the simplified form
performed with just two Acolytes and is the more common form that is
 A salver is a small round or oval
 It should be noted here that
purple is strictly a prelatial color, i.e.,
the color worn by prelates (in this case a
bishop), while violet is strictly a liturgical
for vestments of the sacred ministers and of decorations for the altar
sanctuary). Both colors are made from a combination of red and blue,
violet having more blue, and purple having more red. However, these
colors symbolize completely opposite things: violet is a sign of
penance and mourning (i.e., to
be blue), while purple is a sign of joy and royalty (i.e.,
the royal purple). The Missale Romanum and Ceremoniale
Episcoporum are very clear about the distinctions of these
two types of colors and of their use as just described.
 If the altar mensa is not deep
enough, this can be placed on the gradine.
 When he removes it after saying
the Secret. He puts the skullcap back on after
performing the first part of the Ablutions.
 Ac2 does not kiss the bishop’s
ring in this instance; L. O’Connell, pg. 469.
This follows the same principle that is used during the Divine Office
for the little chapter at the hour of Prime: since it is immediately
proceeding a blessing, the cross is not made for this response.
from the bishop’s left, to his center, to his
2007. Louis J. Tofari. All rights reserved.