The hands that make the Missal

In a bindery outside Vicenza, Italy, the new altar missals are picked off a conveyor belt, checked carefully and placed on a stack. They are almost ready, but not quite: ribbons and leather tabs are still to be added. After that, they will be wrapped in paper, packed in a box and sent by lorry through Europe, reports the Catholic Herald.

Watching the missals emerge is Pierpaolo Finaldi, commissioning editor at the Catholic Truth Society (CTS). For a year and a half he has overseen everything to do with their production: from artwork and design to the thickness of paper and the type of grain in the leather cover. Seeing the result, he says, is like watching a baby being born. “Except it’s taken a lot longer than nine months.”

Chugging away in front of us is the machine that glues the cover on to each big block of paper. It is a key moment in the production. Inside, a swirl of wheels, rollers and hammers presses the book together and moulds the spine into shape.

Giulio Olivotto, the head of Lego, the printers, is showing us around. His great-grandfather founded the company in 1900; it now prints Bibles, Jamie Oliver cookbooks, and high-end editions of anything (it printed Andrew Morton’s book on the royal wedding).

The production of the missal, says Giulio, has been unique: a mixture of hand-made and machine-made. Such high-spec books are not unheard of, he says, but they tend to have print runs of about 50 – not, as with the altar missal, 10,000.

The missals, which will cost A$330 each, are meant to be beautiful, but also fantastically sturdy: they will be used by priests every day and are expected to last decades. For months Pierpaolo has been tormented by seeing old missals falling apart, the ribbons frayed, the endpaper ripped: cautionary tales for a publisher.

FULL STORY These are the hands making your Missal (Catholic Herald)

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