Missals before the Council of Trent
Before the high Middle Ages, several books were used at Mass: a Sacramentary with the prayers, one or more books for the Scriptural readings, and one or more books for the antiphons and other chants. Gradually, manuscripts came into being that incorporated parts of more than one of these books, leading finally to versions that were complete in themselves. Such a book was referred to as a Missale Plenum (English: "Full Missal").
In 1223 Saint Francis of Assisi instructed his friars to adopt the form that was in use at the Papal Court (Rule, chapter 3). They adapted this missal further to the needs of their largely itinerant apostolate. Pope Gregory IX considered, but did not put into effect, the idea of extending this missal, as revised by the Franciscans, to the whole Western Church; and in 1277 Pope Nicholas III ordered it to be accepted in all churches in the city of Rome. Its use spread throughout Europe, especially after the invention of the printing press; but the editors introduced variations of their own choosing, some of them substantial. Printing also favoured the spread of other liturgical texts of less certain orthodoxy. The Council of Trent determined that an end must be put to the resulting disparities.
The first printed Missale Romanum (Roman Missal), containing the Ordo Missalis secundum consuetudinem Curiae Romanae (Order of the Missal in accordance with the custom of the Roman Curia), was produced in Milan in 1474. Almost a whole century passed before the appearance of an edition officially published by order of the Holy See. During that interval, the 1474 Milanese edition was followed by at least 14 other editions: 10 printed in Venice, 3 in Paris, 1 in Lyon. For lack of a controlling authority, these editions differ, sometimes considerably.
Annotations in the hand of Cardinal Gugliemo Sirleto in a copy of the 1494 Venetian edition show that it was used for drawing up the 1570 official edition of Pope Pius V. In substance, this 1494 text is identical with that of the 1474 Milanese edition.
From the Council of Trent to the Second Vatican Council
"Missale Romanum": a 1911 printing of the 1884 typical edition
Implementing the decision of the Council of Trent, Pope Pius V promulgated, in the Apostolic Constitution Quo primum of 14 July 1570, an edition of the Roman Missal that was to be in obligatory use throughout the Latin Church except where there was another liturgical rite that could be proven to have been in use for at least two centuries.
Some corrections to Pope Pius V's text proved necessary, and Pope Clement VIII replaced it with a new typical edition of the Roman Missal on 7 July 1604. (In this context, the word "typical" means that the text is the one to which all other printings must conform.) A further revised typical edition was promulgated by Pope Urban VIII on 2 September 1634.
Beginning in the late seventeenth century, France and neighbouring areas saw a flurry of independent missals published by bishops influenced by Jansenism and Gallicanism. This ended when Bishop Pierre-Louis Parisis of Langres and Abbot Guéranger initiated in the nineteenth century a campaign to return to the Roman Missal. Pope Leo XIII then took the opportunity to issue in 1884 a new typical edition that took account of all the changes introduced since the time of Pope Urban VIII. Pope Pius X also undertook a revision of the Roman Missal, which was published and declared typical by his successor Pope Benedict XV on 25 July 1920.
A French prayerbook of 1905 containing extracts from the Roman Missal and the Roman Breviary of the time with French translations
Though Pope Pius X's revision made few corrections, omissions, and additions to the text of the prayers in the Roman Missal, there were major changes in the rubrics, changes which were not incorporated in the section entitled "Rubricae generales", but were instead printed as an additional section under the heading "Additiones et variationes in rubricis Missalis."
In contrast, the revision by Pope Pius XII, though limited to the liturgy of only five days of the Church's year, was much bolder, requiring changes even to canon law, which until then had prescribed that, with the exception of Midnight Mass for Christmas, Mass should not begin more than one hour before dawn or later than one hour after midday. In the part of the Missal thus thoroughly revised, he anticipated some of the changes affecting all days of the year after the Second Vatican Council. These novelties included the first official introduction of the vernacular language into the liturgy for renewal of baptismal promises within the Easter Vigil celebration.
Pope Pius XII issued no new typical edition of the Roman Missal, but authorized printers to replace the earlier texts for Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil with those that he began to introduce in 1951 and that he made universally obligatory in 1955. The Pope also removed from the Vigil of Pentecost the series of six Old Testament readings, with their accompanying Tracts and Collects, but these continued to be printed until 1962.
Acceding to the wishes of many of the bishops, Pope Pius XII judged it expedient also to reduce the rubrics of the missal to a simpler form, a simplification enacted by a decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites of 23 March 1955. The changes this made in the General Roman Calendar are indicated in General Roman Calendar of Pope Pius XII.
In the following year, 1956, while preparatory studies were being conducted for a general liturgical reform, Pope Pius XII surveyed the opinions of the bishops on the liturgical improvement of the Roman breviary. After duly weighing the answers of the bishops, he judged that it was time to address the need for a general and systematic revision of the rubrics of the breviary and missal. This question he referred to the special committee of experts appointed to study the general liturgical reform.
His successor, Pope John XXIII, issued a new typical edition of the Roman Missal in 1962. This incorporated the revised Code of Rubrics which Pope Pius XII's commission had prepared, and which Pope John XXIII had made obligatory with effect from 1 January 1961. In the Missal, this Code of Rubrics replaced two of the documents in the 1920 edition; and the Pope's motu proprio Rubricarum instructum took the place of the superseded Apostolic constitution Divino afflatu of Pope Pius X.
Other notable revisions were the omission of the adjective "perfidis" in the Good Friday Prayer for the Jews and the insertion of the name of Saint Joseph into the Canon (or Eucharistic Prayer) of the Mass.
Revision of the Missal following the Second Vatican Council
Roman Missal in Esperanto (1995)
In 1965 and 1967 some changes were officially introduced into the Mass of the Roman Rite in the wake of Sacrosanctum Concilium, but no new edition of the Roman Missal had been produced to incorporate them. They were reflected in the provisional vernacular translations produced in various countries when the language of the people began to be used in addition to Latin. References sometimes met in an English-language context to "the 1965 Missal" concern these temporary vernacular productions, not the Roman Missal itself. Some countries that had the same language used different translations and varied in the amount of vernacular admitted.
A new edition of the Roman Missal was promulgated by Pope Paul VI with the Missale Romanum of 3 April 1969. The full text of the revised Missal was not published until the following year, and full vernacular translations appeared some years later, but parts of the Missal in Latin were already available since 1964 in non-definitive form, and provisional translations appeared without delay.
In his apostolic constitution, Pope Paul made particular mention of the following significant changes that he had made in the Roman Missal:
- To the single Eucharistic Prayer of the previous edition (which, with minor alterations, was preserved as the "First Eucharistic Prayer or Roman Canon") he added three alternative Eucharistic Prayers, increasing also the number of prefaces.
- The rites of the Order of Mass (in Latin, Ordo Missae)—that is, the largely unvarying part of the liturgy—were "simplified, while due care is taken to preserve their substance." "Elements which, with the passage of time, came to be duplicated, or were added with but little advantage" were eliminated, especially in the rites for the preparation of the bread and wine, the breaking of the bread, and communion.
- "'Other elements which have suffered injury through accidents of history are now to be restored to the earlier norm of the Holy Fathers' (Sacrosanctum Concilium, art. 50), for example, the homily (see Sacrosanctum Concilium, art. 52) and the 'common prayer' or 'prayer of the faithful' (see Sacrosanctum Concilium, art. 53)." Paul VI also added the option of "a penitential rite or act of reconciliation with God and the brothers, at the beginning of the Mass," though this was neither an ancient part of the Introductory Rite nor mentioned in Sacrosanctum Concilium.
- He greatly increased the proportion of the Bible read at Mass. Even before Pius XII reduced the proportion further, only 1% of the Old Testament and 16.5% of the New Testament was read at Mass. In Pope Paul's revision, 13.5% of the Old Testament and 71.5% of the New Testament are read. He was able to do this by having more readings at Mass and introducing a three-year cycle of readings on Sundays and a two-year cycle on weekdays.
In addition to these changes, the Pope noted that his revision considerably modified other sections of the Missal, such as the Proper of Seasons, the Proper of Saints, the Common of Saints, the Ritual Masses, and the Votive Masses, adding: "In all of these changes, particular care has been taken with the prayers: not only has their number been increased, so that the new texts might better correspond to new needs, but also their text has been restored on the testimony of the most ancient evidences."
Editions of the Vatican II Roman Missal
In 1970, the first typical edition of the Roman Missal (in Latin) bearing the title Missale Romanum ex decreto Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II instauratum was published, after being formally promulgated by Pope Paul VI in the previous year. A reprint that corrected misprints appeared in 1971. A second typical edition, with minor changes, followed in 1975. In 2000, Pope John Paul II approved a third typical edition, which appeared in 2002. This third edition added feasts, especially of some recently canonized saints, new prefaces of the Eucharistic Prayers, and additional Masses and prayers for various needs, and it revised and amplified the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.
In 2008, under Pope Benedict XVI, an emended reprint of the third edition was issued, correcting misprints and some other mistakes (such as the insertion at the beginning of the Apostles' Creed of "unum", as in the Nicene Creed). A supplement gives celebrations, such as that of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, added to the General Roman Calendar after the initial printing of the 2002 typical edition.
Three alterations required personal approval by Pope Benedict XVI:
- A change in the order in which a bishop celebrating Mass outside his own diocese mentions the local bishop and himself
- Omission from the Roman Missal of the special Eucharistic Prayers for Masses with Children (which were not thereby abolished)
- The addition of three alternatives to the standard dismissal at the end of Mass, Ite, missa est (Go forth, the Mass is ended):
- Ite ad Evangelium Domini annuntiandum (Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord)
- Ite in pace, glorificando vita vestra Dominum (Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life)
- Ite in pace (Go in peace)
Pope John XXIII's 1962 edition of the Roman Missal began a period of aesthetic preference for a reduced number of illustrations in black and white instead of the many brightly coloured pictures previously included. The first post-Vatican II editions, both in the original Latin and in translation, continued that tendency. The first Latin edition (1970) had in all 12 black-and-white woodcut illustrations by Gian Luigi Uboldi. The 1974 English translation adopted by the United States episcopal conference appear in several printings. Our Sunday Visitor printed it with further illustrations by Uboldi, while the printing by Catholic Book Publishing had woodcuts in colour. The German editions of 1975 and 1984 had no illustrations, thus emphasizing the clarity and beauty of the typography. The French editions of 1974 and 1978 were also without illustrations, while the Italian editions of 1973 and 1983 contained both reproductions of miniatures in an 11th-century manuscript and stylized figures whose appropriateness is doubted by the author of a study on the subject, who also makes a similar observation about the illustrations in the Spanish editions of 1978 and 1988. The minimalist presentation in these editions contrasts strongly with the opulence of United States editions of the period between 2005 and 2011 with their many full-colour reproductions of paintings and other works of art.
The first vernacular version of the third edition (2002) of the Vatican II Roman Missal to be published was that in Greek. It appeared in 2006. The English translation. taking into account the 2008 changes, came into use in 2011. Translations into some other languages took longer: that into Italian was decided on by the Episcopal Conference of Italy at its November 2018 meeting and was confirmed by the Holy See in the following year, as announced by the conference's president at its 22 May 2019 meeting. It replaces the 1983 Italian translation of the 1975 second Latin edition. The new text includes changes to the Italian Lord's Prayer and Gloria. In the Lord's Prayer, e non c'indurre in tentazione ("and lead us not into temptation") becomes non abbandonarci alla tentazione ("do not abandon us to temptation") and come noi li rimettiamo ai nostri debitori ("as we forgive our debtors") becomes come anche noi li rimettiamo ai nostri debitori ("as we too forgive our debtors"). In the Gloria pace in terra agli uomini di buona volontà ("peace on earth to people of good will") becomes pace in terra agli uomini, amati dal Signore ("peace on earth to people, who are loved by the Lord").
Continued use of earlier editions
The 1962 edition of the Roman Missal.
In his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of 7 July 2007, Pope Benedict XVI stated that the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal was never juridically abrogated and that it may be freely used by any priest of the Latin Rite when celebrating Mass "without a congregation". Use of the 1962 edition at Mass with a congregation is allowed, with the permission of the priest in charge of a church, for stable groups attached to this earlier form of the Roman Rite, provided that the priest using it is "qualified to do so and not juridically impeded" (as for instance by suspension). Accordingly, many dioceses schedule regular Masses celebrated using the 1962 edition, which is also used habitually by priests of traditionalist fraternities in full communion with the Holy See such as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, the Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney, the Canons Regular of Saint John Cantius, and the Canons Regular of the Mother of God  in Lagrasse, France.
Of groups in dispute with the Holy See, the Society of St. Pius X uses the 1962 Missal, and smaller groups such as the Society of St. Pius V and the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen use earlier editions.
For information on the calendars included in pre-1970 editions (a small part of the full Missal), see General Roman Calendar of 1960, General Roman Calendar of Pope Pius XII, General Roman Calendar of 1954, and Tridentine Calendar.