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Turn to Jesus (Article)

What is the Gregorian Mass Series?
The Legionaries of Christ offer Gregorian Masses for the souls of the deceased.

Caliz, ramos, espiga

March 4, 2008. Many Catholics are not familiar with the term, but “Gregorian Masses” are 30 consecutive Masses offered for the repose of the soul of a particular person. The practice goes back to St Gregory the Great, who ruled the Church from 590 to 604 as its first Benedictine pope.

Charity That Reaches Beyond the Grave
According to the fourth book of St Gregory’s Dialogues, the practice began as an act of charity for a slightly imperfect monk.

While St Gregory was abbot of a monastery, one of the monks passed away after living a good life marked by some imperfections in the vow of poverty. St Gregory was concerned that this monk, named Justus, might have to suffer for a long time in purgatory, so he ordered 30 consecutive Masses to be said for the repose of his soul. At the end of the 30 day period, Justus appeared to a brother in the monastery, telling him that he was now freed from purgatory because of the Masses that had been said for him.

Since then, the Gregorian Masses have been a traditional, if nowadays relatively unknown, act of charity toward the faithful departed. The practice fell into disuse after the social upset of the Protestant Reformation and the French Revolution. Prior to that time, it was customary to celebrate Gregorian Masses for the soul of each and every faithful departed.

The Sacred Congregation on Indulgences has said that this practice “has a special efficacy for obtaining from God the speedy deliverance of a suffering soul, and that this is a pious and reasonable belief of the faithful.”

There are a number of simple requirements to gain this benefit for a departed loved one.

  • It is required that thirty consecutive Masses be said; i.e., one per day for thirty days;
  • They must be said on thirty consecutive days WITHOUT interruption;
  • They can only be offered for one deceased person; not for several and not for all the faithful departed;
  • It is not required that these Masses be said by the same priest, but, they must be said for thirty consecutive days, whether by one, two or more priests, all for the same intention.

Due to the serious obligation on the part of a priest to offer the 30 Gregorian Masses without interruption, it may be difficult to find one priest or several priests who can make the commitment.  Since diocesan priests are often busy with special Masses such as funerals, weddings, and the like, it is more common for people to ask priests from religious orders to fulfill these requirements for the soul of a loved one.

The Legion’s Mass Program
The Legionaries of Christ do offer Gregorian Masses upon request. The Legion’s Mass program, coordinated by Mary Sill, assigns these and other Mass requests to over 750 Legionary priests.  The usual offering for the series is $300.

About the Mass program, Mary Sill said, “This is an opportunity for people to give the precious gift of the holy sacrifice of the Mass to their loved ones. It’s a source of comfort for people to know that these Masses can be offered for others—and for themselves—after death.”

For more information about the Legion’s Mass program, contact Barbara DiSpirito at



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