This winter, the National Shrine in Champion will hold a special Advent Candlelight Mass commonly known as Rorate Caeli. While this Liturgy has deep roots within the history of the Catholic Church, the Advent devotion has somewhat faded in practice throughout the years. Recently, there has been a resurgence within the Church to honor and reintroduce the Rorate Caeli Mass to the faithful and reignite the beauty of our Church’s liturgical heritage. But what is it? Why was it originally celebrated? Below are some of your most asked questions about this cherished Advent devotion.

What is a Rorate Caeli Mass?

Rorate Caeli is Latin for “Drop down, ye heavens” and are the opening words of the Introit (which is an opening psalm or antiphon), coming from Isaiah 45:8.

“Rorate, caeli, desuper, et nubes pluant justum, aperiatur terra, et germinet Salvatorem.”

“Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just: let the earth be opened and bud forth a Savior.” – Isaiah 45:8

A Rorate Caeli Mass is traditionally celebrated just before dawn in Advent as a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Mass is only lit by candles, representing Mary’s role in bringing the Light of the World into the darkness of the world.

What is the History of the Rorate Caeli?

The Rorate Caeli Mass originated in the Middle Ages as one of the many Advent devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Liturgy was very popular among the people, especially in German-speaking areas, and was commonly celebrated on all Saturdays during Advent, with some areas having a Rorate Mass several or even all weekdays in the season.

How is it Celebrated?

Mass begins in darkness before sunrise, with only candles lighting the church to remind us of a world in darkness and sin that is anticipating the coming of the “Light of the World.” As Mass progresses, the church becomes brighter until the risen sun fills it with the light of day. As a votive Mass for the Blessed Mother, white vestments are worn instead of the violet normally used during Advent. The Mass readings and prayers highlight the prophecies of the coming of Christ and Mary’s role in bringing the Light into the world.

How can I participate?

The National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion in Champion, Wisconsin, will celebrate a Rorate Caeli Mass on Saturday, December 10, 2022, at 6:30 am. Mass will be followed by the Rosary, the Litany of Loreto, and a hot breakfast in Mother of Mercy Hall. We encourage you to join us in the beautiful liturgy and tradition! Please email to reserve a spot for breakfast.

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