Where can I view the oldest filmed recording of a mass?

  • This I imagine it is somewhere in the 1940s to the 1950s.
    – Ken Graham
    May 29 at 19:34

The Midnight Mass of Christmas in 1943 from the then Cathedral of Saint Vibiana, Los Angeles was included in the film Christmas Holiday starring Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly, released in 1944.

Because there is no studio lighting, the sequence is really dark, but they filmed the actual mass.

Screenshot of Mass from the film "Christmas Holiday"

  • Nice find, Andrew! Christmas Holiday is a movie that has part of the mass within it. It is unfortunately does not contain the whole mass. Christmas Holiday is a 1944 crime film based on the 1939 novel of the same name by W. Somerset Maugham, the film is about a woman who marries a Southern aristocrat who inherited his family's streak of violence and instability and soon drags the woman into a life of misery. After he is arrested, she runs away from her husband's family, changes her name, and finds work as a singer in a New Orleans.
    – Ken Graham
    May 30 at 14:37
  • It's true it's merely a plot feature and not the entire mass. However the question merely asks for the oldest film which recorded a mass. This might be a contender. Indeed, Hollywood might have sown the seed for the SFT broadcast in your answer — that such a thing could be done. May 31 at 9:44
  • True, that why it is a nice find and +1.
    – Ken Graham
    May 31 at 14:05
  • Do you know if the Mass within the Christmas Holiday has the act of consecration by a priest in it? If not, I would not consider it as portraying a Catholic Mass! I would simply look on it as portraying scenes within a Catholic Mass. Sorry for being picky, but it is just the way I see things! Pax!
    – Ken Graham
    Jun 1 at 6:07
  • I don't remember: it's six minutes of the film at the link in the answer. Jun 1 at 7:10

What is the oldest recorded filmed Catholic mass?

The first complete televised Catholic Mass was on Christmas Eve 1948.

Andrew Leach’s answer puts forth a earlier date of 1943, which in a sense is true, but it is not of a complete Catholic Mass and is simply part of the movie: Christmas Holiday! If the Mass within the Christmas Holiday has the act of consecration by a priest in it, I would consider the movie as genuinely portraying a Catholic Mass. If not, I would not consider it as portraying a Catholic Mass. (I can not verify this in Canada, due to copyright restrictions in place here!)

Letter of his Holiness Pope John Paul II to Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger for the 50th Anniversary of the First Broadcast of Midnight Mass Celebrated in the Cathedral of Norte-Dame de Paris

To Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger Archbishop of Paris

On Christmas Eve in 1948, Fr Raymond Pichard, O.P., in agreement with the Société française de Télévision, had the good idea of the first-ever world-wide broadcast of the Midnight Mass celebrated in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of this event, which marked an important turning point in the proclamation of the Gospel, I willingly join in prayer all who contribute to the broadcast Le Jour du Seigneur, the pastors and faithful who are once again gathered in Notre-Dame de Paris on this occasion and all those who are following Christmas Mass on radio and television.

Through the media, the French public transmission offers Catholics and people of goodwill the opportunity to see or hear religious broadcasts: this also permits members of the faithful who are unable to go for serious reasons to participate in the Eucharistic celebration, especially on the days and times which, for the Christian community, are dedicated to Sunday and feast-day gatherings. This Christian presence over the air is part of the tradition of dialogue and openness which do France honour.

I ask Christ, whose birth among men we celebrate on this most holy night, to be close to all who are taking part in this liturgy or joining in it thanks to the media. May the Saviour, who came to bring peace to the world, give comfort and hope to all people of goodwill, so that together they can build a society of justice and love! On the occasion of this 50th anniversary of the televised broadcast of Mass, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to all who contribute to this broadcast and its transmission, as well as to the celebrants, preachers, Christian communities and faithful who join in the liturgy by means of radio and television.

From the Vatican, 2 December 1998.

Ioannes Paulus PP. II

Where can I view the oldest filmed recording of a mass?

The first Catholic Mass was aired by the French broadcasting company Le Jour du Seigneur in 1949.

The oldest French television series that is still running. Since 1949, it has aired every Sunday morning for an hour and a half. The program airs Catholic religious ceremonies, interviews and testimonials.

Le Jour du Seigneur est issu du travail précurseur du père dominicain Raymond Pichard. Le 24 décembre 1948, il obtient la retransmission de la messe de minuit depuis la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris sur RDF Télévision française . C'est une première mondiale. - Le Jour du Seigneur (émission de télévision)

Noël historique: La première messe télévisée en direct de Notre-Dame de Paris IMBd

Until I can find a complete source, please accept a partial viewing of this mass from a French YouTube video: Messe de Noël 1948 (INA)

Hopefully I will be able to find the complete Mass for you shortly.

The homily of His Eminence Cardinal E. Suhard, Archbishop of Paris during this Mass, can be read in French here: Homélie du cardinal E. Suhard - Noël 1948 Notre-Dame de Paris, première messe télévisée de l’histoire

  • Remarkable finding. Maybe it would be good to contact "Société française de Télévision", they probably have it in their archives.
    – Ph Ex
    May 29 at 20:25
  • @PhEx That may be one possibility.
    – Ken Graham
    May 29 at 20:51

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