The Divine Office Online
Published by the Confraternity of Saints Peter & Paul
What is the Breviary Online?
The Official Prayer of the Church
Next to the Holy Mass, the Divine Office (or Breviary) is the most important prayer offered to God. It is offered by the Church and in the name of the Church, conferring multifold graces and blessings on those who recite it worthily, attentively and devoutly. Normally the domain of priests and religious, the Church has continued to recommend her official prayer to the faithful. However, until now, the complexity of the rubrics and a lack of suitable translations has deterred many.
Now Accessible to the Layman
With the help of modern technology, it has become easier to overcome these problems. The result is the Roman Breviary published by the Confraternity of Ss. Peter & Paul in both Latin and English. No knowledge of the liturgy is required. All you have to do is click on the feastday, and then on the Canonical Hour you want to say. The rest is just like reading a book—everything is laid out for you in order according to the rubrics of the day. No more flicking through the ribboned sections of a weighty volume. No more apprehension that you are forgetting some obscure rubric. It's all there spelled out, in order, every day.
Learn More about the Breviary
And if you do want to deepen your knowledge of the Breviary or the Confraternity, this website can help you with that too. We already provide a short history of the Breviary, instructions on when to recite which Hours, a brief commentary on the psalms, and much more. And for those who would really like to understand the rubrics in greater depth, we provide in our bookstore a detailed but simply written electronic manual entitled How to Say the Breviary. We shall be expanding this website regularly with more information, so check back with us frequently. And may God reward your prayers by bestowing on you all those spiritual favours that come from a devout reading of the Church's Divine Office.
Is this Breviary for You?
Link to our Features Page to see what a difference our online edition of the traditional Roman Breviary can make in your life.
Link to the Office for the Feast of St. Pius X, our secondary patron. You can browse through the various Hours of the Office and get a feel for what to expect.
Check out the artwork, the original photos, play some of the music. We hope you enjoy the experience. More importantly do you think this approach to prayer is something that could be spiritually beneficial for you?
How Do I Get Started?
Register and Subscribe
Link to our online Breviary homepage. Underneath the login form is a box, with the words First-Time User? and Register Here in red letters underlined. Click on this link and complete the short form. Click the Sign up link.
Log in to our webiste using the user name and password you have chosen. When you first attempt to Recite the Breviary you will be linked to the subscription page. Here you may choose from our monthly subscription of $2.50 (USD) per month, or $24.00 for an annual subscription. Or simply send a check to the address provided on our Contacts page.
The Traditional Roman Breviary Online
- Fully Traditional — pre-dates Bugnini reforms of 1950s and 60s
- Easy-to-Use Format — no liturgical knowledge required
- Latin and English — fully traditional English translation
- Thousands of Images — traditional artwork and photographs
- Hundreds of Hours of Liturgical Music — sung by the monks and nuns of Europe and the cathedral choirs of England
- Includes Little Office of Our Lady, Office of the Dead, and much more
- Pray the Office from any Computer or Smart Phone with Wi-Fi
- And Now... Includes Daily Missal
New This Week!
Sermon for Sexagesima Sunday
The sower goes out to sow his seed in this week's Sunday Sermon, and Our Lord himself explains the parable to us. We reinforce this lesson with the story of Noah taken from today's readings at Matins.
St. Matthias the Apostle
Monday of this week is the feastday of the Apostle St. Matthias. St. Matthias is unique among the Apostles as being the only one who was not chosen directly by Our Lord himself. Instead Our Lord had mysteriously chosen Judas Iscariot, knowing full well that he would betray him, but nevertheless bestowing on this most evil of men the graces and opportunities for him to save his soul. We know the outcome, and Judas, alas, never availed himself of these gifts of God, so mercifully offered to all who offend him.
After Our Lord’s Ascension, the Apostles set to work righting the division in their ranks. During the nine days between the Ascension and Pentecost, they chose to draw lots, invoking the Holy Spirit who would soon descend upon them in his full glory. St. Peter, their leader, asked the brethren present numbering one hundred and twenty, to come up with nominations to replace Judas. Two names were then presented, Joseph who was called Barsabas, and Matthias. Under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, the two of them drew lots, and Matthias was chosen.
Matthias was one of the disciples of Jesus, who had been with him from the time of his Baptism until his Ascension. There are conflicting stories of where he spent the remainder of his life, and how he was martyred. Some accounts have him stoned to death in Ethiopia, others stoned in Jerusalem before being beheaded. Hippolytus of Rome speaks about him simply dying of old age in Jerusalem. The most disturbing biographies report his presence in the “City of the Cannibals”. It is not certain where that was, but it doesn’t sound like a nice place.
The feast of St. Matthias was included in the Roman Calendar in the 11th century and celebrated on the sixth day of the Kalends of March (in other words on February 24 most years, but February 25 on leap years). Never able to leave well enough alone, the new Church after Vatican II moved the feast to May 14, the date on which the Feast of St. Matthias is celebrated by the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
According to tradition, St. Matthias’ Day is said to be the luckiest day of the year. This is because St. Matthias was chosen by lot to replace Judas Iscariot. It is therefore regarded as a propitious day on which to buy lotto tickets!
St. Mattiias is especially invoked against temptations of the flesh.
It is claimed that the remains of St. Matthias the Apostle are interred in the Abbey of St. Matthias in Trier, Germany, brought there by the Empress Saint Helena of Constantinople, mother of the Emperor Constantine the Great. The abbey church, a Romanesque basilica, is a renowned place of pilgrimage because of the tomb of the Apostle. St. Matthias is the only apostle to be buried in Germany, or indeed anywhere north of the Alps. His relics were discovered in the year 1127 during some demolition work on the predecessor of the present church buildings.
Other New Features
Septuagesima (in full, Septuagesima Sunday) is the name for the ninth Sunday before Easter, the third before Ash Wednesday. The term is sometimes applied also to the period that begins on this day and ends on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. This period is also known as the pre-Lenten season or Shrovetide.
The other two Sundays in this period of the liturgical year are called Sexagesima and Quinquagesima, the latter sometimes also called Shrove Sunday. The earliest date on which Septuagesima Sunday can occur is January 18 (Easter falling on March 22 in a non-leap year) and the latest is February 22 (Easter falling on April 25 in a leap year).
Origins of the term
Septuagesima comes from the Latin word for "seventieth" with Sexagesima and Quinquagesima equalling "sixtieth" and "fiftieth" respectively. They are patterned after the Latin word for the season of Lent, Quadragesima, which means "fortieth", as Lent, not counting Sundays, is forty days long.
Because every Sunday recalls the resurrection of Christ, they are considered "little Easters" and not treated as days of penance. Quinquagesima Sunday is indeed the fiftieth day before Easter (counting inclusively), but the numbers indicated by the names "Sexagesima" and "Septuagesima" do not correspond to the interval between these Sundays and Easter.
Amalarius of Metz would have the name indicate a period of seventy days made up of the nine weeks to Easter plus Easter Week, which would mystically represent the seventy-year Babylonian captivity. Septuagesima was also the day on which one could begin a forty-day Lenten fast that excluded from its observance Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Devotional and liturgical practices
The 17-day period beginning on Septuagesima Sunday was intended to be observed as a preparation for the season of Lent, which is itself a period of spiritual preparation (for Easter). In many countries, however, Septuagesima Sunday still marks the traditional start of the carnival season, culminating on Shrove Tuesday, sometimes known as Mardi Gras.
In the liturgy, the Alleluia ceases to be said. At first Vespers of Septuagesima Sunday, two alleluias are added to the closing verse of Benedicamus Domino and its response, Deo gratias, as during the Easter Octave, and then, starting at Compline, it is no longer used until Easter. Likewise, violet vestments are worn, except on feasts, from Septuagesima Sunday until Holy Thursday. As during Advent and Lent, the Gloria in Excelsis and Te Deum are no longer said on Sundays.
The readings at Matins for this week are the first few chapters of Genesis, telling of the creation of the world, of Adam and Eve, the fall of man and resulting expulsion from the Garden of Eden, and the story of Cain and Abel. In the following weeks before and during Lent, the readings continue to Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. The Gospel reading for Septuagesima week is the parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16).
A pre-Lent season also exists in the Byzantine Catholic liturgical calendar, and is found in the liturgical book known as the Triódion (which continues to Easter Even). It is 22 days long because it begins on the Sunday before Septuagesima, but not 24 since the Byzantine Lent commences on a Monday instead of a Wednesday.
Luciadagen: St. Lucy's Day in Sweden
Around Christmas time in Sweden, one of the biggest celebrations is St. Lucia's Day (or St. Lucy's Day) on December 13th. The celebration comes from stories that were told by Monks who first brought Christianity to Sweden. St Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred, killed for her faith, in 304AD. The most common story told about St Lucia is that she would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city. She would wear candles on her head so she had both her hands free to carry things. Lucy means 'light' so this is a very appropriate name.
December 13th was also the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, in the old "Julian" Calendar and a pagan festival of lights in Sweden was turned into St. Lucia's Day.
St. Lucia's Day is now celebrated by a girl dressing in a white dress with a red sash round her waist and a crown of candles on her head. Small children use electric candles but from about 12 years old, real candles are used! The crown is made of Lingonberry branches which are evergreen and symbolise new life in winter. Schools normally have their own St. Lucia's and some town and villages also choose a girl to play St. Lucia in a procession where carols are sung. A national Lucia is also chosen. Lucias also visit hospitals and old people's homes singing a song about St Lucia and handing out 'Pepparkakor', ginger snap biscuits.
Small children sometimes like dressing up as Lucia (with the help of their parents!). Also boys might dress up as 'Stjärngossar' (star boys) and girls might be 'tärnor' (like Lucia but without the candles).
A popular food eaten at St. Lucia's day are 'Lussekatts', St Lucia's day buns flavoured with saffron and dotted with raisins which are eaten for breakfast.
St Lucia's Day first became widely celebrated in Sweden in the late 1700s. St Lucia's Day is also celebrated in Denmark, Norway, Finland, Bosnia, and Croatia. In Denmark it is more a of a children's day and in some part of Italy, children are told that St Lucy brings them presents. They leave out a sandwich for her and the donkey that helps carry the gifts!
Veni Emmanuel: St. Lucy's Day at the Storkyrkan, the Royal Cathedral of Stockholm
An Incentive to Prayer
Foreword to an English Edition of the Roman Breviary, published in 1950
Given by His Eminence Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York
For the truth is, the Breviary is fast becoming the prayer-book of the nun in the convent, even as it has long been the daily book of prayer for the priest. It is more than likely to become the Vade Mecum of the man in the street. This hope is justified, for the world has urgent need of the spirit, both of penance and prayer, which the Breviary, when properly used, abundantly supplies. Any earnest soul who looks about for helps in his life of prayer and in his practice of penance, need look no further. The Breviary, which is the official prayer-book of the Church, brings great graces: such as the grace to know the mind of the Church, the grace to live the life of the Church, the grace to share in the mission of the Church. In a word, more than any other book, the Breviary reveals the inner spirit of the Church and, what is just as important, it attracts the soul to intimate union with Her. All is said when it is stated that the Breviary helps the soul through and beyond such union into unity with the Church, possessing with Her "cor unum et anima una."
It is worth recalling in this regard that the closer the soul is to the Church, the closer it is to Christ. For, as Saint Paul teaches in so many places, the Church is "the body" of Christ (Eph. 5:30). Though this truth is shrouded in mystery, it emits bursts of light, as precious as they are dazzling. It helps the seeking soul to realize that the Son of God actually lives in His Church and works through Her, continuing in Her and through Her the mission He initiated in and through the Body Which His Virgin Mother gave to Him. It is an incentive to the soul to pray the prayer of the Church when the soul knows that Christ is now praying through the Church after the manner of His praying through His mortal Body. It gives courage to the soul to suffer with the Church when the soul is convinced that Christ is now suffering through His "body" which is the Church.
I point to this shining truth for the value it gives to the use of the Breviary. In this venerable book the Church has deposited the heritage of the ages, the inspirations which the Holy Spirit of God breathed into the minds and hearts of the faithful down the centuries. Actually, the thoughts dwelling therein are Christ's own; He conceived them through the mind of the Church. The feelings to be found here, too, are His own; He experienced them through His life in the Church. The prayers, with which the Breviary is replete, reveal the way Christ prays in His Church. Any one essaying to pray with Christ can pray with Him, through the open mouth of His Church, by using this prayer-book of the Church. Such a soul can be sure that in praying thus he is echoing the prayer which the Holy Spirit played on the heart-strings of the saints, evoking purest melody before the Lord.
In fine, the Breviary can best be described as the daily prayer of the Church, beginning with morning prayers, called Matins, and ending with night prayers, Compline. From dawn till dusk, and into the black watches of the night, the Church prays by the Spirit of Christ; Christ, too, prays through "his body", the Church. The Breviary is, thus, in very truth "the prayer of God" (Luke 6:12).
As a prayer-book, the Breviary is a library in itself, and a vast one, matchless for its variety, beauty and power. For instance, there are psalms of praise and petition, running the gamut of the emotions. These range from the woeful cry of misery in Psalm 29: "Out of the depths" to the hymn of exultation in Psalm 88: "The graces of the Lord I will sing forever"-the psalm, which Saint Teresa of Avila loved. There is history too. The Breviary contains selected readings from the lives of the patriarchs and prophets, as well as the history of Christ on earth and during the first years of His life in the Church. There is even prophetic history, wherein, as in the Apocalypse, the plan of God may be traced until its progress ends in triumph and glory for the striving God and regenerated humanity. All these are, of course, drawn from the Bible; in the Breviary, however, there is this advantage: they are read against a special background, proper to the various seasons and feasts of the calendar year.
A most appealing feature of the Breviary is this aspect of the spirit of the Church, expressing itself prayerfully through seasons and feasts. The praying soul who accompanies the Church through Advent is caught by Her radiant joy as She prepares, all expectant, for the journey to Bethlehem, with its Christ Child, the Angels' Song and the nearing Star. The Office for this period is charged with a calm jubilation such as we cannot hope to enjoy in its fullness until we reach the Vision of Heaven. Then, there is the season of Lent. At its coming, the Church lays aside her festive robes and puts on sackcloth and ashes for the penances She needs must undergo if Christ is to have in Her, His Agony in the Garden and His Death on the Cross. All this is but a prelude to Her cry of triumph as She stands before the Empty Tomb, adoring Her Risen Lord, Who is within a few days to send down upon Her the Divine Spirit of Love.
To us who wander the way of life in cold and darkness, the use of the Breviary affords much comfort through the short lives of the Saints as recorded in their feasts. These show how the Holy Spirit of Love worked the wonders of His grace in willing souls, thus giving to us both hope and strength against temptation. To the seekers after truth, the Breviary unlocks immense stores of wisdom through the explanation of Biblical texts by the great Doctors of the Church, such as Saint Jerome, Saint Augustine and Saint John Chrysostom. The lovers of sublime songs will here find the noble hymns composed by saintly singers and sung by the faithful, from the remote past up to the present day. I refer to the "Pange Lingua" of Saint Thomas Aquinas and the "Te Deum" of Saint Ambrose.
For a long time the Breviary was a closed book to the layman, largely because it was written in Latin. Yet its charm cast a potent spell wherever the priest prayed or the monk chanted his Breviary. In consequence, the demand for wider use of it has been growing more insistent. Moreover, this demand has been calling for better renditions, such as embody the newest translations of the Psalter and of the New Testament. Now that this present edition includes these features, it is to be hoped that the greater use of it will stimulate ever greater love for the Breviary. Certainly, such use of it will help to satisfy the inner hunger of those souls who yearn to pray through Christ, with Christ and in Christ, unto the praise of the glory of his glory, in which he hath graced us in his Son (Eph. 1:6).
In these fearful days of crises and crosses, the pattern of life in the world is tangled and oddly out of focus. Minds are confused at it, and hearts restless. If the human mind is to have calmness in crises, if the human heart is to have courage amid crosses, recourse must be had to the power that prayer gives and to the patience that penance brings. Prayer and penance, and they alone, can compose the problems now trying the souls of men. For this reason The Sovereign Pontiff's proclamation of the Holy Year is, to this generation, like to the voice of John the Baptist in the wilderness of Judea; it is a call to penance and prayer, a promise of progress towards peace and plenty where now there are war and want. It is my earnest hope and belief that this new edition of the Roman Breviary in English may be fruitful in many souls, fruitful of prayer, fruitful of penance and fruitful of unity with Christ through His Church.