Last Gospel read at the conclusion of Tridentine Mass.

"The Last Gospel" is the name given to the prologue of the Gospel of John (John 1:1–14)[1] when read as part of the concluding rites in the Ordinariate and the Extraordinary forms of the Mass in the Catholic Church. The Prologue speaks on Jesus Christ as the Logos and on the Incarnation. The Last Gospel was included as an option for the Ordinariate Form of Mass, but omitted in the Ordinary Form of Mass.


The Last Gospel began as a private devotional practice on the priest's part, known well in the Sarum Rite in Catholic England, but was gradually absorbed into the rubrics of the Mass.[2] Immediately after the blessing, the priest goes to the Gospel side (i.e., to his left) of the altar, beginning with the Dominus vobiscum as is usual at the Proclamation of the Gospel within the Mass. However, as the priest reads from an altar card, he traces a Sign of the Cross with his right thumb on the altar's surface instead of the Gospel text, before signing his own forehead, lips, and chest. At the words "Et Verbum caro factum est" ("And the Word became flesh"), the priest (and, if present, servers and the congregation) genuflects.

The text of the Gospel of John is perhaps best known for its opening, "In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum",[3] which in most English translations has been rendered as "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."[4]

The third Mass of Christmas Day, where this same text is the Gospel of the Mass, has no Last Gospel; before 1954, the Gospel for the Feast of the Epiphany would be read here. A Mass on Palm Sunday which is not immediately preceded by the palm blessing will use Matthew 21:1-9, the Gospel that would have been read during the palm blessing, in place of the usual reading from the Gospel of John. A superseded Mass, e.g. a Sunday superseded by a saint's feast, could also be commemorated by, among other things, having its Gospel as the Last Gospel.[citation needed]

The Armenian Rite, used by both the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church, adopted the Last Gospel, a legacy of frequent interactions between Latin Rite Crusaders and the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia.

References and sources

  1. ^ John 1:1–14
  2. ^ Adrian Fortescue (1909). "Gospel in the Liturgy." The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Accessed 2008-07-13.
  3. ^ "Biblia Sacra Vulgata (Stuttgartensia)/Ioannes - Wikisource". Archived from the original on 2009-02-01.
  4. ^ "The King James Bible".