The 7 Rites of The Catholic Church

Most people probably don’t know that the Catholic Church has a wide variety of rites. It is important to note that there is some disagreement among sources as to what exactly constitutes a rite and how many there are before discussing these rituals. In this article will shall be looking at the 7 rites of the catholic church.

A rite is a set of prescribed rituals for the public celebration of a sacrament in a particular church. Without ever altering their essential form and matter, the sacraments were celebrated by the early Church as they would be best understood and received in the context of individual cultures as it spread. During the first centuries after Christ, the early Church actively pursued evangelism in the world’s most influential cultural hubs. Rome, Antioch (Syria), and Alexandria were three of these major hubs. All modern rituals originated in the liturgical practices and ecclesiastical structure of the churches in these urban centers.


Byzantine Rites of The Catholic Church
Source: Britannica

The Byzantine rite is the most prominent of these eastern practices. St. Basil (329-379) and St. John Chrysostom (who lived in the 4th century) adapted the liturgy created by St. James for the Antiochaian church to become the basis for the Byzantine liturgy. The Orthodox liturgy is very close to this one. After the split between Rome and Constantinople in 1054, several local churches continued to operate independently from the Vatican. Some of the churches eventually rejoined the larger Christian body. Despite their similar or even identical liturgy, these churches, even after they returned to the fold, are typically recognized as independent rites due to their specific location.


Over 1.28 billion people worldwide practice the Latin rite. Twenty-five to twenty-seven million people adhere to one of the 22 Eastern rites, which share a rich history and cultural heritage. The Ukrainian rite is the largest, followed by 8-10 million people.

In addition to the Cistercian and Dominican rites, the Latin rite also has Ambrosian, Mozarabic, Sarum, etc. rites.

The Pope is known by many names. Among his many titles and responsibilities is that of Bishop of Rome, Vicar of the Universal Church, and Primate of Italy. His position as Bishop of Rome makes him the leader of the Roman Catholic Church’s Latin Rite. The vast majority of Christians participate in this ceremony. It was established in Rome by St. Peter in the year 42 A.D. Since at least the 4th century, the Eucharistic liturgy as we know it today has been passed down largely unchanged. In Rome, they followed this liturgy. There were other liturgies used in the West up to the Council of Trent (1526-1570). (1526-1570). Due to the decrees of the Council of Trent, the use of any other liturgy was forbidden. Except for rituals that predate the Reformation by more than two centuries, liturgical traditions are generally abandoned.

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Other pre-Tridentine liturgical rites also have a vicar in the Pope. Mozarabic rite of Spain, Ambrosian rite of Milan, Italy (named after St. Ambrose, 340-397), Bragan rite of Portugal, and Dominican, Carmelite, and Carthusian order liturgies are all examples of such rites.

The Pope, as Vicar General of the Catholic Church, oversees both the Western and Eastern liturgical traditions. The eastern rites, which adhere to their own canon law, are on par with the Western rites in terms of respect and honor. Through the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, a department of the Roman Curia, the Pope exercises authority over all of these eastern ritual churches. A Patriarch, Major Archbishop, Metropolitan, or other designated officiant presides over the ceremonies. In order to receive ecclesiastical communion from the Pope, Patriarchs must first be elected by a synod of bishops of their rite. The Pope must approve any candidate for the position of Major Archbishop after they have been elected by a synod of bishops of their rite. The Pope appoints metropolitans after receiving recommendations from a council of bishops.


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Saint Mark the Evangelist is often credited with writing the liturgy used by the church in Alexandria, Egypt. In both Arabic and Greek, the term for Egyptian is “Copt,” which explains how this church got its name. Having rejected the teachings of the Council of Chalcedon, the Copts slid into heresy long before the Islamic conquest of their land in 641. (451). Some of these have been reunified in recent years thanks to missionary efforts. Today there exists in Egypt the Coptic rite which is Orthodox and the Coptic rite that is loyal to the Bishop of Rome.

There is a strong connection between the Coptic rite and the Ge’ez rite of Ethiopia. In the fourth century, Christian missionaries from Alexandria began to spread the gospel throughout Ethiopia. The native language (Ge’ez) was used instead of Greek in the liturgy. Similarly, the church in Ethiopia drifted into heresy after the Council of Chalcedon but has been restored by missionary work in recent decades. Due of the Metropolitan See’s establishment in 1961, this ritual’s parameters are relatively new.

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Source: Catholicnyc

Syriac Christians believe that the Apostle James composed their liturgy. The church at Antioch, now in what is modern-day Syria, utilized this liturgy. As elsewhere, several bishops in this region went their separate ways following the Council of Chalcedon. They stopped using Greek and used the Syriac language in their liturgy. Similarities exist between Syriac and Aramaic, the language Jesus used. Many adherents of this rite, including the Patriarch of this rite in 1781, re-united with Rome thanks to the efforts of Jesuit and Capuchin missionaries.

The Malankarese liturgy developed in India. St. Thomas the Apostle, who made his way to South India, is considered the progenitor of their Christian faith. This ceremony symbolized the coming together of the Assyrian (Chaldean) church, which had embraced the Nestorian heresy following the Council of Ephesus in 431. Portuguese missionaries “found” this church in the 16th century. After attempts to “latinize” the ritual, many adherents split off to establish their own branch, which is now governed by the Syrian Patriarch. After four bishops of this form reconciled with Rome in the 1920s and 1930s, many of their adherents also returned to the mother church. The Indian state of Kerala is the site of this ritual.


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Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as the state religion in the 4th century. They used the Antiochine liturgy of St. James said in the Armenian language. Armenia used to be situated in what is now eastern Turkey. Following its destruction in the 11th century, it was relocated to Cilicia (southern Turkey). That is why to this day the Patriarch of this rite is known as the Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians. The Armenians also fell into heresy after the Council of Chalcedon. Unity with the Armenians was proclaimed by the Council of Florence in 1439, and Pope Benedict XIV confirmed the first Patriarch in 1742. At the conclusion of World War I, the Turks killed an estimated two million Armenians. Lebanon is home to the vast majority of this religion’s adherents.

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Source: Our Sunday Visitor

The Maronites can trace their religion back to the 4th century, when St. Maron established a monastery to the east of Antioch. Later, monks settled in the mountainous region that is modern-day Lebanon. This ritual never veered off into heresy; rather, it became politically distinct from Rome due to the reality of Moslem or Ottoman occupation. The Maronites combine elements of the Roman Catholic Mass with the Antiochian St. James liturgy. Since Maronites only make up about 17% of the population, the country’s law mandates that the president of Lebanon must also be a member of that religious group.


Source: Catholicsun

The ancient name for the populations of what are now Iran and Iraq was the Assyrians. Although the church was quickly established in the region, its adherents eventually fell prey to the heresy of Nestorianism in the fifth century. As a result of missionary work, many Chaldeans eventually rejoined the Roman Catholic Church, and in 1553 Pope Julius III recognized the first Patriarch of the Chaldeans. Babylonians are referred to in the Bible as Chaldeans. Most followers of this sect can be found in Baghdad, Iraq, home to the rite’s current Patriarch.


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The Malabar rite, which is central to SYRO-MALABAR, originated in India. They are related to the Malankarese in that they are both descended from Thomas Christians. Despite fighting with the Portuguese in the 16th century, the Malabar rite never severed ties with Rome. The Assyrian (later termed Chaldean) church provided their bishops until the Portuguese took over, hence they are typically classified with the Chaldean family of rites. The liturgy of the Chaldean church was originally written in Syriac. Despite its antiquity, the rite did not have a central leader until Pope John Paul II appointed a Major Archbishop in 1992.

Closing Remarks

All the Catholic Church’s sacraments are holy and equally valid. In order to satisfy the Sunday requirement, it is sufficient to attend a different rite. The Catholic Church is truly universal since it brings together so many different religious traditions whose adherents all believe the same things.

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