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In the liturgy, before the Second Vatican Council, most frequently a selection from one of the letters of the Apostles read at Mass after the Collects, at the priest's right-hand side of the altar, and therefore called the Epistle side. As a rule there was only one, but on some days there were several. At solemn High Mass the Epistle was chanted in one tone by the subdeacon. In the revised liturgy the Epistle has become the First Reading and Second Reading. (Etym. Latin epistola, letter; from Greek epistole, message, letter.)
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.