VATICAN CITY – The feast day of Blessed John Paul II will be marked Oct. 22 each year in Rome and the dioceses of Poland.
When the Vatican made the announcement April 11, it also said Catholics throughout the world will have a year to celebrate a Mass in thanksgiving for his beatification. While thanksgiving Masses for a beatification – like the observance of a feast day – usually are limited to places where the person lived or worked, “the exceptional character of the beatification of the Venerable John Paul II, recognized by the entire Catholic Church spread throughout the world,” led to a general permission for the thanksgiving Mass, said a decree from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
The decree was published in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, and included information about the thanksgiving Mass, Pope John Paul’s feast day, annual Masses in his honor and naming churches after him. The newspaper also published the text of the opening prayer – formally the “collect” – for his feast day Mass in Latin, English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Polish.
A local bishop or the superior general of a religious order is free to choose the day or dates as well as the place or places for the thanksgiving Mass, as long as the Masses are celebrated by May 1, 2012, which is one year after the beatification, the decree said.
In the Diocese of Rome, where Pope John Paul served as bishop, and in all the dioceses of his native Poland, his feast day is to be inserted automatically into the annual calendar, the decree said. Oct. 22 was chosen as the day to remember him because it is the anniversary of the liturgical inauguration of his papacy in 1978.
Outside Rome and Poland, bishops will have to file a formal request with the Vatican to receive permission to mark the feast day, the decree said. The local-only celebration of a blessed’s feast is one of the most noticeable differences between being beatified and being canonized, which makes universal public liturgical veneration possible.
The only places where parishes and churches can be named after Blessed John Paul without special Vatican permission are in the Diocese of Rome and the dioceses of Poland or other places that have obtained specific Vatican permission to insert Pope John Paul’s Oct. 22 feast in their liturgical calendar, the decree said.
The text of the opening prayer for the Mass in honor of Blessed John Paul is: “O God, who are rich in mercy and who willed that the Blessed John Paul II should preside as pope over your universal church, grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching, we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ, the sole redeemer of mankind. Who lives and reigns.”