When did Saturday Mass begin?

When did the Catholic Church start having Mass on Saturdays? Did it begin in large churches before smaller churches? I think it was in the 1970s. I tried googling it but I did not have luck. I came upon this site through google!

The first time I was in a Church with a Saturday Mass was in the mid-1960s (1964 or 1965).

Are you talking about a standard Saturday Mass or the vigil Mass for Sunday?

Since there has ALWAYS been daily Mass, I’m sure he’s referring to the vigil Mass for Sunday.

I am asking about the Saturday Mass for Sunday.

I’m not sure when the Saturday Mass began but I certainly wish it had started earlier. My husband was a Fireman and of course, had to work on Sunday. He had to be at the firehouse at 8:00 A.M. The earliest Mass in our Parish was the 7:00 and my husband talked to the pastor and asked that it be at 6:30 – unfortunately they didn’t change it – SO - O - O I seem to recall that he went to a neighboring Parish 6:30 Mass or a Church near his Firehouse. In the meantime, with my 3 little ones I think my Mom babysat my “kids” so I could get to Mass. I know at times it was “tough” but we made it!!!

How does January 10, 1970 sound?


They had them in certain places in England before the war.

It was for the coal miners who had to work.

We went to Saturday evening mass in the mid to late 1960’s when I was a kid.

Evening Masses, yes, but I don’t think those were Saturday evening Masses that fulfilled the Sunday obligation.

Before 1953, Mass could not be celebrated after 12 noon. In 1953, Pius XII allowed Masses to be celebrated in the evening, but not daily. On feast days and Holy Days of Obligation, yes; but not every day. Those evening Masses were not to be celebrated before 4 p.m. There is evidence though, that in limited cases, evening Masses were allowed before 1953, particularly during WWII.

When Paul VI allowed a Saturday evening Mass to fulfill the Sunday obligation, the definition of ‘evening’ remained ‘after 4 p.m.’.

You may be right on what Paul VI said before his words were translated, I don’t know, but now (1983) canon law uses the word “vespere” (cognate of Vespers). In other words, the 4 p.m. is not set in stone but could be by the bishops.

In documents where 4 p.m. is mentioned the footnote usually refers us to Rule VI of the Apostolic Constitution Christus Dominus.


It was in the late 60’s. No one in my house would go for years, because it was too weird to not go to Mass on Sunday!

I have always thought that Saturday evening Mass to fulfill Sunday obligations came as one of the results of Vatican II.
I understand that if the consecration occurs after 4 PM that Mass can start prior to 4 PM but depending on the celebrant and the length of the sermon it probably couldn’t start before 3:30.

I’m sure that Scott Hahn or Fr. Robert Barron could give us a definitive answer. Maybe I’ll ask the moderator of the Curia in my diocese. He should know the when, where and what of it.

You are going to get all kinds of different answers to this one.

Before 1983, the local bishop had to give his permission for the Sunday Mass to be celebrated on Saturday evening. Therefore, each diocese will have a different start date. That’s why some will say “we had it when I was growing up in 19—…” and others will say “I remember 19— and there was no such thing…”

Individual bishops had different responses. Some allowed it at all parishes, some allowed it only at designated parishes, and some never did allow it until it became universal law in the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

There were all kinds of special permissions (indults) given by the Holy See beginning around the Second World War.

The permission became universal in 1970 (I’m searching for the document but cannot find it, only references without a name) by a decree issued by the Congregation for the Clergy. Again, I can find plenty of references to it, but none that actually name it. See the link posted by ProVobis.

Remember that even though the permission was universal beginning in 1970, the permission of the local bishop was still required; so the that does not mean it was happening in every diocese or parish.

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I remember that when the Saturday Vigil Masses started that there was also a statement made about them that they were only for individuals who were unable to attend on Sundays. That has been changed.

My father’s former land lady from when he was stationed in San Diego during WWII told us that our (then single) dad loved that they had allowed a Saturday Evening Mass so he could go out dancing Saturday nignt. I gathered this was a special dispensation not for dancing but to help those who may nay have been serving on Sudany and not able to go to Mass. Of course I wasn’t laive then but my dad didn’t deny it when asked

Pope Pius XII set up a Pontifical Commission for the Reform of the Liturgy in 1948 and was the first to permit Mass to be celebrated during the evening hours.

*Chrisus Dominus * Pope Pius XII issued on January 6, 1953:Rule VI. If the circumstance calls for it as necessary, We grant to the local Ordinaries the right to permit the celebration of Mass in the evening, as we said, but in such wise that the Mass shall not begin before four o’clock in the afternoon, on holy days of obligation still observed, on those which formerly were observed, on the first Friday of every month, and also on those days on which solemn celebrations are held with a large attendance, and also, in addition to these days, on one day a week; with the requirement that the priest observe a fast of three hours from solid food and alcoholic beverages, and of one hour from non-alcoholic beverages. At these Masses the faithful may approach the Holy Table, observing the same rule as regards the Eucharistic fast, the presumption of Canon 857 remaining in force.

Some were allowed to fulfill obligation for the next day, from Eucharisticum Mysterium, of May 25, 1967:28. Anticipating the Sunday and Feast Day Masses on the Previous Evening

Where permission has been granted by the Apostolic See to fulfill the Sunday obligation on the preceding Saturday evening, pastors should explain the meaning of this permission carefully to the faithful and should ensure that the significance of Sunday is not thereby obscured. The purpose of this concession is in fact to enable the Christians of today to celebrate more easily the day of the resurrection of the Lord.

All concessions and contrary customs notwithstanding, when celebrated on Saturday this Mass may be celebrated only in the evening, at times determined by the local Ordinary.


When the 1983 Code of Canon Law took effect, the requirement to have a reason to go on Saturday evening rather than Sunday itself was removed.

It’s worth noting what St John Paul the Great had to say about the Sunday Mass celebrated on Saturday evening:

  1. Because the faithful are obliged to attend Mass unless there is a grave impediment, Pastors have the corresponding duty to offer to everyone the real possibility of fulfilling the precept. The provisions of Church law move in this direction, as for example in the faculty granted to priests, with the prior authorization of the diocesan Bishop, to celebrate more than one Mass on Sundays and holy days, the institution of evening Masses and the provision which allows the obligation to be fulfilled from Saturday evening onwards, starting at the time of First Vespers of Sunday. From a liturgical point of view, in fact, holy days begin with First Vespers. Consequently, the liturgy of what is sometimes called the “Vigil Mass” is in effect the “festive” Mass of Sunday, at which the celebrant is required to preach the homily and recite the Prayer of the Faithful.
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