Ite missa est

Discussion in 'Lingua Latina (Latin)' started by toscairn, Sep 26, 2006.

  1. toscairn Banned

    Ite missa est.

    What is the subject of this sentence? Why is it feminine?
  2. Talant

    Talant Senior Member


    "ite" is the imperative of the second person (plural)
    "missa", I suppose it's a feminine word. However remember that in Latin words are declined ("inflect for number, gender, case, etc.")

    "[you] go, the mass is over"
  3. toscairn Banned

    Thanks Talant.
    I think "missa" is a declined form of "mitto" (to send, dispatch) but I wonder why it is a feminine form? I think there must be a hidden or omitted subject, but what would be it?
  4. Talant

    Talant Senior Member

    Yes, I've done a little research and found a little surprise. I though that "missa" was a word on it's own but you're right. It comes from "mitto".

    The "offering" is what is hidden

    "[you] go, the/your offering has been sent"
  5. Talant

    Talant Senior Member

    Another probable origin of "missa" is explained in

    "The origin and first meaning of the word [missa], once much discussed, is not really doubtful. We may dismiss at once ...... . Nor is it the participle feminine of mittere, with a noun understood ("oblatio missa ad Deum", "congregatio missa", i.e., dimissa -- so Diez, "Etymol. Wörterbuch der roman. Sprachen", 212, and others). It is a substantive of a late form for missio. There are many parallels in medieval Latin, collecta, ingressa, confessa, accessa, ascensa -- all for forms in -io. It does not mean an offering (mittere, in the sense of handing over to God), but the dismissal of the people, as in the versicle: "Ite missa est" (Go, the dismissal is made)......"
  6. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Or better, "Go, you are dismissed". :D

    Or perhaps the idea was "Go, we are finished".

    The sentence has two clauses, "Ite" and "missa est". The subject of "ite", which is implicit, is "vos" (plural "you"); the subject of "missa est" would seem to be "missa" ("the dismissal", "the conclusion").
  7. Oratio New Member

    perhaps "missa" refers to the congregation as an imperative "noun", such as we refer to the Church, country or even seafaring vessels in the feminine sense.
  8. Oratio New Member

    Perhaps "missa" refers to the congregation as an imperative "noun", such as we refer to the Church, country or even seafaring vessels in the feminine sense. Or perhaps it refers to the sended in the plural form. Can someone please help clarify if these meanings are valid?
  9. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    The explanation in post #5 seems authoritative: missa here is a medieval Latin variation of missio, a feminine noun meaning "dismissal." Thus missa est literally means "the dismissal is/ exists", but it could reasonably be translated as above: "the dismissal has been made".
  10. Aoyama Senior Member

    川崎市、巴里 (黎)
    français Clodoaldien
    French renders this with "la messe est dite" (the mass is/has been said).
  11. cassandradixit Member

    Córdoba, Argentina
    Argentina - Castellano
    Muy interesante toda la discusión. Por eso es importante aclarar de qué época data la expresión. Si se tratara de latín clásico, la interpretación de missa = missio sería imposible, y lo más probable es que se tratara de un perfecto pasivo (missa como parte de la forma verbal compuesta). El femenino sólo podría explicarse por el contexto, que aquí desconocemos. Por ejemplo, epistula. Pero todo esto si se trata de un latín clásico. Si es efectivamente de época medieval, se resuelven muchos problemas.
  12. Ite missa est comes from the very early days of Christianity.

    Originally, the sacred mysteries of the Eucharist were reserved for baptised Christians only. Catechumens (i.e. those who were receiving pre-baptismal instruction in Christianity) were allowed to attend the "Liturgy of the Word" (i.e. the readings from the scriptures) but not the "Liturgy of the Eucharist". After the readings, the priest would say to the these novices Ite missa est, meaning "Go, this is the dismissal".

    In time, the "Missa" came to be regarded as the beginning of the Eucharistic part of the service. Then the service in general became the "Missa" in Latin (and Italian, Spanish etc.), which is translated as "la Messe" in French and "the Mass" in English.

    In the modern Latin liturgy of the mass, Ite missa est is now the end of the whole service, informing the congregation that the mass is ended.
  13. cassandradixit Member

    Córdoba, Argentina
    Argentina - Castellano
    ¡Qué interesante lo que nos informas, Kevin! De hecho, en español la palabra para esta ceremonia es, precisamente, misa, pues en nuestra lengua no existen palabras con -ss-, simplificándose siempre en una sola -s- cuando en latín había dos.
    Muchas gracias, he aprendido muchísimo.
  14. Preacheroftruth New Member


    When the sermon ended those who were not allowed to remain for the Lords supper were to leave at the words of the deacon, “Ite Missa Est”--You are dismissed. This was a signal that they could depart without disturbing the services. It’s originally had nothing to so with the services which followed. Later the phrase was shortened to “the mass” and was applied to the Lord’s supper.
    An eminent authority, Polydore Virgil said, “When the mass is ended, the deacon turning to the people sayeth, “Ite Missa Est,” which word are borrowed from the rites of the pagans, and signifieth that the company may dismissed. It was used in the sacrifice of Isis, that when the observances were duly and fully performed and accomplished, then the minister of religion should give warning or a watchword what time they should lawfully depart. And of this springs our custom of singing “Ite Missa Est” for a certain signification that the full service was finished.” This practice was bond upon the apostate church until 394.
  15. Can you tell us the source of this passage,please?
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2009

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