On July 7th 2007, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI issued an apostolic letter called “Summorum Pontificum.”
In this letter he declared that older form of the Roman rite was never abrogated, and that it “must be given due honor for its venerable and ancient usage.”
(SP Art. 1)
His Holiness termed this older form.
The Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
This older form has been in use for many centuries. During this time it was at the heart of the Church and Western culture. It nourished many saints including Saint Therese of Lisieux, St. Francis, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and many more.
The Extraordinary Use of the Roman Rite is a treasure of our Catholic heritage. Indeed the Pope says, “In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too.” (Explanatory letter accompanying Summorum Pontificum)
The most visible aspect of the Extraordinary Form is the Holy Mass itself. This ancient form of mass has been called “The most beautiful thing this side of heaven.”