Reprint: Proposal for the Internal Design and Layout of the Pauline Missal

Being interested in liturgical book binding, layout and design, while modern missal designs have improved in recent years, I think there are still further opportunities for improvement --though these do require the appropriate ecclesiastical permissions and approvals since missal production is not merely left to the private determinations of private publishers.

The following intends to look at two pages of two sections of Roman Missal, using as its basis the 2011 English translation of the Roman Missal. The two sections which we shall look at for demonstrative purposes are from the “Roman Canon” (Eucharistic Prayer I) and from the Proprium de Tempore (Proper of Time).

The focus of this particular exercise is on the internal textual and artistic layout of the missal. The design takes its inspiration from the traditional layout of various Latin Rite missals, applied to the liturgical books of the Paul VI. Beauty and continuity are the aim. 

This proposal also has the benefit of seeing a more economic use of the printed page, thereby also requiring less printed pages (which thereby also makes it more “green” environmentally speaking), and, on a practical liturgical level, would additionally require less page turning on the part of the priest during the course of the celebration of the Mass.

A Word about the Art

The art used within this is simply demonstrative of the type of plate layouts that might work well within this context. I am grateful to the artist Leonard Porter for permission to use his Crucifixion painting for demonstrative purposes. The other artwork shown is taken from twentieth century editions of the Roman Missal.

In addition to the demonstration pages shown below, I believe it would also be desirable for each major section (the Order of Mass, the Proper of Saints, etc.) and for major feast days to also employ artwork as a way of both emphasizing these sections and also beautifying the missal. This could be manifest either through full page illustrations, or by illustrations similar to that used in the Proper of Time in this exercise.

With regard to full page art plates particularly, but also artwork more generally, I believe an important printing consideration is that these be printed in such a way that sees them consistent and integrated with the rest of the missal – rather than, for example, printed as glossy page inserts distinct from the other pages of the Missal. I would once again point back to the missal printing and design tradition in this regard, noting as well that I have seen this successfully done using both coloured and non-coloured artworks.

Drop Capitals

Drop capitals of varying sizes that indicate major or minor breaks are an important aspect of this design, both as a visual queue and also from an ornamental perspective. More ornate drop-capitals could also be used as appropriate (as for example at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayers, or to mark the Entrance Antiphons of the Sundays and Solemnities). However the simplest possible manifestation has been given here.

Page Borders

Borders for the pages have been included which further contribute to the visual integrity of the printed page. The only place where these would not be found in this design are on pages where there are full page illustrations such as the crucifixion image opposite the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer(s). 

Even more desireable is the inclusion of border art to accompany the facing pages of full colour plates (such as for the Canon Missae or important feast days). 

Double Column

The use of the double column is a particularly important aspect of this proposal, making, again, for visible continuity with our Latin Rite missal printing tradition, better utilizing the printed page, requiring less printed pages, and requiring less page turning by the priest at the altar. As already noted this not only has a certain visual and practical appeal, but further an environmental case to be made for it.

Possible Future Revisions / Additions

Beyond the approved texts and titling, there are other aspects which I think would bear some consideration on the part of the same ecclesiastical bodies/authorities, and in view of the principle of reform/development in continuity within the scope of the present edition of the Roman Missal:

Inclusion of the Latin Ordo Missae

While entirely Latin or vernacular editions of the Pauline Missal have been printed, and in some instances historically, a Latin supplement placed in the back of the vernacular edition of the missal, it would certainly seem recommendable utilize the double column in the Order of Mass section of the missal to present the texts and rubrics of the Mass in parallel Latin-English.

This would not only allow for better use of both the Latin and vernacular missal texts interchangeably within the context of Mass, it would also be simpler and more noble than requiring inserts or additional books on the altar for those communities that wished to make use of some of the Latin texts.

Concluding Remarks

My hope is that by producing this layout it may help to show the potentialities and the benefits for possible future or additional printings of the vernacular editions of the Pauline Missal.

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