Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds yesterday presented Pope Benedict XVI with a specially made white version of the new Roman Missal.
Bishop Roche, chairman of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), opened and showed the missal to the Pope, who then leafed through it, pausing on the illustrated pages.
The missal was a specially bound version of the Catholic Truth Society (CTS) altar missal used by priests in Britain.
Accompanying Bishop Roche was Mgr Bruce Harbert, former executive director of ICEL, Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne and Pierpaolo Finaldi, commissioning editor at the CTS.
According to Mr Finaldi, the Pope immediately asked how the new English translation had been received in parishes and remarked on the importance of beauty in liturgical books. Bishop Roche said the translation had been received well.
Mr Finaldi, who oversaw the production of all the new CTS missals, said it was “like handing in your homework after 10 years”.
He said: “It was John Paul II who set the ball rolling in 2001 [with Liturgiam authenticam], so it was great to be able to bring it back with the job done.”
The altar missal, which costs £230, contains illustrations from the Ingeborg Psalter, a 12th-century illuminated manuscript.
The Pope’s version is bound in top-grade white leather, using a technique known as German binding.
Earlier in the year Mr Finaldi said that CTS had for a long time sought to improve the aesthetic value of its books.
“The most beautiful thing in the world is the love of Christ for us, for his Church. So things presented for the Church should always be beautiful. They are made for God – to raise people’s spirits to God,” he said.