I am writing a mass setting that I would like to call the "Mass of the Butterfly". Since it doesn't include all of the ordinary, it's a missa brevis.

I started with Google Translate, but it is convinced I mean "mass" in the physics sense and gives me constructions based around massa. The word I think I want is papilio, and I think it should be in the genitive, so papilionis.

How do I combine all of this? Is the complete phrase "Missa Brevis Papilionis" correct (and is it idiomatic to capitalize it)?

1 Answer 1


I looked up historical missae, and the custom seems to be to either name the piece short (missa brevis), or give the name in full without the length (missa <hoc nomen>). Though Haydn provides an example with de: Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo. In your case I'd go with missa brevis papilionis.

With regard to capitalisation I'd follow modern rules if you want a familiar feel, or none if you want to comply with Ancient Latin.

  • I'm not quite I understand your first paragraph. Do you think you could clarify it a bit, perhaps with some examples? Thanks!
    – cmw
    Jun 4, 2022 at 17:13
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    I was thinking of missa brevis versus missa <hic nomen>. Though on further looking I found adding a name to the brevis was in fact not unheard of. Haydn for instance called his short mass Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo, so there is a pattern to follow. I've amended the original answer. Jun 4, 2022 at 17:44
  • 1
    I edited your post to include this information.
    – cmw
    Jun 4, 2022 at 20:06

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