Code of Rubrics

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The Code of Rubrics is a three-part liturgical document promulgated in 1960 under Pope John XXIII, which in the form of a legal code indicated the rules governing the celebration of the Roman Rite Mass and Divine Office.

Pope John approved the Code of Rubrics by the motu proprio Rubricarum instructum of July 25, 1960. The Sacred Congregation of Rites promulgated the Code of Rubrics, a revised calendar, and changes (variationes) in the Roman Breviary and Missal and in the Roman Martyrology by the decree Novum rubricarum the next day. The official publication was in Acta Apostolicae Sedis 52 (1960), pp. 593–740.

The Code of Rubrics replaced the rules previously given in the Roman Breviary. In the Roman Missal, it replaced the sections, Rubricae generales Missalis (General Rubrics of the Missal) and Additiones et variationes in rubricis Missalis ad normam Bullae "Divino afflatu" et subsequentium S.R.C. Decretorum (Additions and alterations to the Rubrics of the Missal in line with the Bull Divino afflatu and the decrees of the Sacred Congregation of Rites that followed it). As Pope Pius X himself declared in his Apostolic Constitution Divino afflatu, by which he radically revised the Psalter of the Roman Breviary, the change of the Roman Breviary was intended to be followed up by a revision of the Roman Missal. Accordingly, while awaiting that revision, the first of the two sections of the Roman Missal mentioned continued to be printed as before, although the second rendered some of its provisions invalid. This anomalous situation was remedied in the 1962 typical edition of the Roman Missal, which printed in their place the parts of the Code of Rubrics that concerned the Missal. In its turn, the Code of Rubrics was superseded by the General Instruction of the Roman Missal of 1970, but it remains in force for celebrations of the Roman Rite Mass in accordance with the 1962 Missal, as authorized by the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of 7 July 2007.


The Code of Rubrics is in three parts. The first part, "General Rubrics" (Rubricae generales), gives rules concerning liturgical days such as Sundays, vigils, feasts, octaves, and matters such as the colour of the sacred vestments. The second part, "General Rubrics of the Roman Breviary" (Rubricae generales Breviarii Romani), contains rubrics specific to the Roman Breviary. The third part, "General Rubrics of the Roman Missal" (Rubricae generales Missalis Romani), contains rubrics specific to the Roman Missal.

An English translation of the Code of Rubrics, revised calendar, and changes (variationes) is available in The New Rubrics of the Roman Breviary and Missal: Translation and Commentary by the Rev. Patrick L. Murphy. Another English translation of the Code of Rubrics and changes, from The New Liturgy: A Documentation, 1903-1966 by Rev. Kevin Seasoltz, is available at Divininum Officium. The text of the Code of Rubrics in Latin is available at Ordo Divini Officii Recitandi Sacrique Peragendi and, together with a parallel French translation, at Code des Rubriques - 1960.

See also