The Roman Martyrology
Confraternity of Ss. 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.
For the Roman Martyrology
Included in our new stand-alone version of the Roman Martyrology is a Perpetual Calendar for use in its recitation. This provides our subscribers with an easy way of referring to any page of the Martyrology according to the day of the year. A non-working illustration of this calendar may be seen on this website.
Table of Moveable Feasts
For Easy Reference
There are two factors which create the need for a Table of Moveable Feasts. The first of course is the fact that the Festival of Easter does not fall on a fixed date of the civil calendar, but was established by the First Council of Nicea in 325 as the first Sunday after the full moon following the northern hemisphere’s vernal equinox. The second factor is that several feasts are linked to Sundays, which again, fall on a different date each year.
During the course of the liturgical year, we therefore run into many feasts, linked to either Easter or to a particular Sunday, which cannot be ascribed to a fixed date. The Martyrology consigns the most important of these to a Table of Moveable Feasts, comprising a list of those feasts and commemorations contained in that book.
In our stand-alone version of the Martyrology we include a link to this Table at the beginning of each day’s reading, thus allowing readers to refer to it and include any reading from it appropriate to the day.
The Simple Version
While the official rubrics for the Roman Martyrology are actually extremely complicated and involve the use of astronomical and mathematical formulae, in practice for the average reader they are extremely simple. We provide on our website an abbreviated list of the most important things to remember while reciting the Martyrology.
For those who are interested in an in-depth look into some of the more advanced and exotic features of the rubrics, we present elsewhere on this site a monograph written by the learned Provost of the Confraternity.
Introduction to the Martyrology
The Roman Martyrology is, like the Roman Missal and the Roman Breviary, an official liturgical book of the Catholic Church. It provides an extensive but not exhaustive list of the saints recognized by the Church.
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The Roman Martyrology was first published in 1583 by Pope Gregory XIII, who in the year before had decreed the revision of the calendar that is called, after him, the Gregorian Calendar. A second edition was published in the same year. The third edition was made obligatory wherever the Roman Rite was in use.
In 1630 Pope Urban VIII ordered a new edition. 1748 saw the appearance of a revised edition by Pope Benedict XIV, who personally worked on the corrections: he suppressed some names, such as those of Clement of Alexandria and Sulpicius Severus, but kept others that had been objected to, such as that of Pope Siricius.
Since then, the Martyrology has remained essentially unchanged, save
for the addition of new saints canonized during the intervening years.
Since then, the Martyrology has remained essentially unchanged, save for the addition of new saints canonized during the intervening years.
The Martyrology generally begins (see the three exceptions below) with the announcement of the calends. This simply provides the date, which in the Latin is given in the old Roman format, followed by the current phase of the moon. After the mention of any movable feast which happens to fall on this day, there then follows the reading of the saints who either died or who are for some other reason commemorated on this anniversary. Each entry generally provides the name and type of saint, information on the location where the saint died, and if a martyr, the name of the persecutor, a description of the tortures, and the method of execution. Often other information is added, thus making the Martyrology an invaluable reference for those interested in the lives of the saints in addition to those celebrated in the Universal Kalendar. The Church recognizes that the Martyrology is not an exhaustive compilation of the entire Church Triumphant, and so the daily reading always concludes with the words “Et álibi aliórum plurimórum sanctórum Mártyrum et Confessórum, atque sanctárum Vírginum” (And elsewhere in divers places, many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins) with the response “Deo gratias”.
Recitation of the Martyrology
The entry for each date in the Martyrology is to be read during the Office of Prime on the previous day. Reading in Choir is recommended, but the reading may also be done otherwise: in seminaries and similar institutes it has been traditional to read it in the refectory after the main meal of the day.
Whenever the Martyrology is not said in Choir, its reading becomes optional for those bound to the recitation of the Divine Office (eg. clerics in major orders).
Reading of the Martyrology is completely omitted on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.
On certain dates of the liturgical year, the Martyrology prescribes special proclamations to be made before the commemoration of the saints of the day:
On Christmas Eve, a long proclamation of the birth of Christ is made immediately after the announcement of the calends. This has special ceremonies and recitation tones, and is generally celebrated with great ceremony.
On Easter Sunday, the Martyrology not having been read during the three previous days of the Paschal Triduum, a proclamation of the Resurrection of Christ precedes the announcement of the calends.
On All Souls Day, in order to separate the Church Suffering from the Church Triumphant, the proclamation of the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed is made before the announcement of the calends.
Online Breviary's Two Versions
The Roman Martyrology is an integral part of the Roman Breviary. It is read as part of the Office of Prime, and can be found within that context in the text of our Divine Office prepared daily for the recitation of our subscribers. This original version has the following advantages over the standalone version we now present:
A daily illustration of the phase of the moon, clearly showing what to expect in the night skies on the day the Martyrology is read;
The inclusion of the movable feasts in their proper context within the reading of the Martyrology of the day;
Appropriate contextual modifications for the anticipation of vigils, the transfer of feasts, and so on.
We thus encourage our members to read the Martyrology in this context as part of their daily recitation of Prime.
However, it is often the case that our members wish to refer easily to a list of saints for a particular day of the year or simply to read the day’s Martyrology outside Prime. We are therefore presenting a new stand-alone version of the Roman Martyrology as part of your subscription. This new version has all the same text and artwork as the original, but is laid out in a manner convenient for reference or for reading outside the Office of Prime.
We hope you will find this a useful addition to our online Breviary.