Pax (liturgy)

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Pax vobis (peace to you), or pax vobiscum (peace with you), are salutations in the Catholic Mass and the Lutheran Divine Service.


Like the other liturgical salutations (e.g. Dominus vobiscum), the Pax is of Scriptural origin.

The Gospels contain such forms as: "veniet pax vestra", "pax vestra revertetur ad vos" ("Let your peace rest on you" - Matthew 10:13), "Pax huic domui" ("Peace to this house" - Luke 10:5), "Pax vobis" ("Peace be with you" - Luke 24:36; John 20:21, 20:26). The salutation "Gratia vobis et pax" or "Gratia misericordia et pax" is the opening formula of most of the Epistles of St. Paul and of St. Peter, and occurs also in those of St. John as well as in the Apocalypse.

The formula was quoted from the Old Testament by Christ and his Apostles,[1] and was preserved in the liturgy and in Christian epigraphy. Like the Dominus vobiscum, it was first used in the liturgy (in the form of Pax vobis) by the bishop in welcoming the faithful at the beginning of the Mass before the Collect or the Oratio.

When the Confiteor, Introit and Gloria in excelsis were added at a later period, the Pax vobis and the Dominus vobiscum were preserved. The form Pax vobis was employed by bishops and prelates only at the first Collect, while Dominus vobiscum was used by priests. Hence the Dominus vobiscum became the ordinary introduction to all the orations and most of the prayers. The Greeks have preserved the Pax omnibus or Pax vobiscum.

There was a certain rivalry between the two formulae - Pax vobis and Dominus vobiscum - and some councils (notably that of Braga in 561) ordained that both bishops and priests should employ the same form of salutation (for the texts, see the bibliography).

Besides this episcopal or sacerdotal salutation, the words Pax tecum, Pax vobis, or Pax vobiscum are used in the liturgy at the kiss of peace. On such occasions the liturgy contains prayers or collects ad pacem.[2] In the Ambrosian Liturgy, at the end of the Mass, the people are dismissed with the words: "Ite in pace".[3] Dom Martene[4] gives other instances of the use of the word Pax.

In Christian epigraphy there are a variety of formulae: pax; in pace; pax tecum; vivas in pace; requiescat in pace; pax Christi tecum sit; anima dulcissima requiescas in pace; dormit in pace; in locum refrigerii, lucis et pacis (from the formula in the Mass at the Momento of the Dead).[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ cf. especially "Pax vobiscum", "Pax tecum", Gen 43:23; Judges 6:23.
  2. ^ cf. Kiss; Cabrol in "Dict. d'archéol. et de liturgie", s.v. "Baiser de Paix", where all references are given.
  3. ^ cf. "Auctarium Solesmense", 95.
  4. ^ Martene, III, 171, 174.
  5. ^ Le Blant, "Inscriptions chret. de la Gaule", I, 264, etc.; James Spencer Northcote, "Epitaphs of the Catacombs" (London, 1878), v.


For the formula Pax and other formulas in funeral epigraphy:

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pax in the Liturgy". Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.