Stowe Missal

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The Stowe Missal, also called the Lorrha Missal, is a sacramentary (rather than a missal) written in Latin and Irish, of Irish provenance. It does not contain everything needed for the rite, but rather what portions a certain priest most likely needed for traveling and celebrating the liturgy in remote places.

The book itself dates to approximately AD 750, though Dr. Bartholomew MacCarthy has demonstrated that the Mass contained within the volume is likely of the 6th century. The liturgy in the Stowe Missal is the only surviving example of the Divine Liturgy for the Celtic rites still extant. There are a few other books for Office, such as the Bangor Antiphonary. Other missals from Celtic areas or with Celtic connections fall firmly within Gallican or Roman liturgical tradition.

The Liturgy itself follows the basic Western model common to Roman and Gallican rites. The Canon of the Mass is the Gelasian Canon, and includes a single Preface of Irish origin unknown in any other rite. Besides material common to the Roman and Gallican rites, there are also a few prayers or phrases from the Coptic, East Syrian, and Ethiopian rites. The impact of Spanish liturgy is also clear upon the text. The Nicene Creed in the liturgy has the filioque inserted by a later hand in the margins above the line. The Stowe Missal is believed to have been in use and added to at the monastery of Lorrha in Ireland from c. 1050 AD onward, and was compiled at Tallaght in Dublin, Ireland, by Culdees associated with Saint Maelruain and Saint Aengus the Culdee. This missal is one of the many extant manuscripts of complete Western liturgies predating the Great Schism.

The book derives its name of Stowe from the Stowe library of the Dukes of Buckingham where it was contained for a few centuries after its discovery at Lorrha in Ireland.

Orthodox Usage

At the beginning of the 21st century, translations of the Stowe Missal were approved for use in the Russian Orthodox Church. A Dutch/Flemish language adaptation of the English translation Celtic Missal by Abbot-Bishop Maelruain of the Celtic Orthodox Christian Church in North America has been in use by two Russian Orthodox monasteries in Belgium since 2001. In 2000 St. Petroc Monastery produced an English language translation that was published in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.


  • "Liturgy and Ritual of the Celtic Church" by F. E. Warren
  • Catholic Encyclopedia: The Celtic Rite
  • "The Stowe Missal" in Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, XXVII (1886) by Dr. Bartholomew MacCarthy
  • Journeys on the Edges, Dr. Thomas O'Loughlin, 2000
  • Celtic Theology, Dr. Thomas O'Loughlin, 2001

External links

  • The Stowe Missal, translated from the Latin by Dr. West
  • [Celtic Missal: The Liturgy and Diverse Services from the Lorrha ("Stowe") Missal], translated by Fr. Kristopher G. Dowling