Lent (Latin: Quadragesima: Fortieth) is a solemn religious observance
in the Christian liturgical calendar that begins on
Ash Wednesday and
ends approximately six weeks later, before
Easter Sunday. The purpose
Lent is the preparation of the believer for
Easter through prayer,
doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins, almsgiving,
and self-denial. This event is observed in the Anglican, Eastern
Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, and Catholic
Anabaptist and evangelical churches also
observe the Lenten season. Its institutional purpose is
heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the
death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the tradition
and events of the
New Testament beginning on Palm Sunday, further
climaxing on Jesus' crucifixion on Good Friday, which ultimately
culminates in the joyful celebration on
Easter Sunday of the
Resurrection of Jesus
Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In Lent, many Christians commit to fasting, as well as giving up
certain luxuries in order to replicate the sacrifice of
journey into the desert for 40 days. Many Christians also add
a Lenten spiritual discipline, such as reading a daily devotional or
praying through a Lenten calendar, to draw themselves near to
God. The Stations of the Cross, a devotional commemoration of
Christ's carrying the Cross and of his execution, are often observed.
Catholic and some
Protestant churches remove flowers from
their altars, while crucifixes, religious statues, and other elaborate
religious symbols are often veiled in violet fabrics in solemn
observance of the event. Throughout Christendom, some adherents mark
the season with the traditional abstention from the consumption of
meat, most notably among Lutherans, Roman Catholics and
Lent is traditionally described as lasting for 40 days, in
commemoration of the 40 days
Jesus spent fasting in the desert,
according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, before beginning
his public ministry, during which he endured temptation by
Holy Week and the season of Lent, depending on the Christian
denomination and local custom, end with
Easter Vigil at sundown on
Holy Saturday, on the morning of
Easter Sunday, or at the midnight
2 Duration and traditions
2.1 Roman Catholicism
2.2 Protestantism and Western Orthodoxy
2.3 Eastern Orthodoxy and Byzantine Rite
2.4 Oriental Orthodoxy
3 Other related fasting periods
4 Associated customs
5 Omission of Gloria and Alleluia
6 Veiling of religious images
7 Pre-Lenten festivals
Fasting and abstinence
9 Media coverage
10 Holy days within the season of Lent
12 See also
14 External links
Lent celebrants carrying out a street procession during Holy Week, in
Granada, Nicaragua. The violet color is often associated with penance
and detachment. Similar Christian penitential practice is seen in
other Christian countries, sometimes associated with mortification of
The English word
Lent is a shortened form of the
Old English word
len(c)ten, meaning "spring season", as its
Dutch language cognate
Old Dutch lentin) still does today. A dated term in German,
Old High German
Old High German lenzo), is also related. According to the Oxford
English Dictionary, 'the shorter form (? Old Germanic type *laŋgito-
, *laŋgiton-) seems to be a derivative of *laŋgo- long ... and may
possibly have reference to the lengthening of the days as
characterizing the season of spring'. The origin of the -en element is
less clear: it may simply be a suffix, or lencten may originally have
been a compound of *laŋgo- 'long' and an otherwise little attested
word *-tino, meaning 'day'.
In languages spoken where
Christianity was earlier established, such
as Greek and Latin, the term signifies the period dating from the 40th
day before Easter. In modern Greek the term is Σαρακοστή,
derived from the earlier Τεσσαρακοστή, meaning "fortieth".
The corresponding word in Latin, quadragesima ("fortieth"), is the
origin of the term used in Latin-derived languages and in some others:
for example, Croatian korizma, French carême, Irish carghas, Italian
quaresima, Portuguese quaresma, Albanian kreshma, Romanian păresimi,
Spanish cuaresma, Basque garizuma and Welsh c(a)rawys.
In other languages, the name used refers to the activity associated
with the season. Thus it is called "fasting period" in Czech (postní
doba), German (Fastenzeit), and Norwegian (fasten/fastetid), and it is
called "great fast" in Polish (wielki post) and Russian
(великий пост – veliki post).
The terms used in Filipino are kuwaresma (from the Spanish) and Mahál
na Araw ("precious/great days"); the latter term is also used
specifically for Holy Week.
Duration and traditions
Christian denominations calculate the 40 days of Lent
differently. The way they observe
Lent also differs.
Lent starts on
Ash Wednesday and finishes on Holy
Saturday. This comprises a period of 46 days. This includes 6 Sundays
which are not considered part of
Lent because Sundays are days of
celebration for Catholics.[not in citation given]
In the Ambrosian Rite,
Lent begins on the Sunday that follows what is
Ash Wednesday in the rest of the
and ends as in the Roman Rite, thus being of 40 days, counting the
Sundays but not Holy Thursday. The day for beginning the Lenten fast
is the following Monday, the first weekday in Lent. The special Ash
Wednesday fast is transferred to the first Friday of the Ambrosian
Lent. Until this rite was revised by Saint
Charles Borromeo the
liturgy of the First Sunday of
Lent was festive, celebrated in white
vestments with chanting of the
Gloria in Excelsis
Gloria in Excelsis and Alleluia, in
line with the recommendation in Matthew 6:16, "When you fast, do not
The period of
Lent observed in the Eastern
corresponds to that in other churches of
Eastern Christianity that
have similar traditions.
Protestantism and Western Orthodoxy
Protestant and Western Orthodox Churches, the season of
Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday. This calculation makes
Lent last 46 days, if the 6 Sundays are included, but only 40, if they
are excluded, This definition is still that of the Anglican
Methodist Church, and Western
Rite Orthodox Church.
Eastern Orthodoxy and Byzantine Rite
Main article: Great Lent
In the Byzantine Rite, i.e., the
Great Lent (Greek:
Μεγάλη Τεσσαρακοστή or Μεγάλη Νηστεία,
meaning "Great 40 Days" and "Great Fast" respectively) is the most
important fasting season in the church year.
The 40 days of
Great Lent includes Sundays, and begins on Clean Monday
and are immediately followed by what are considered distinct periods
Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday, which in turn are
followed straightway by Holy Week.
Great Lent is broken only after the
Paschal (Easter) Divine Liturgy.
Eastern Orthodox Church maintains the traditional Church's
teaching on fasting. The rules for lenten fasting are the monastic
Fasting in the Orthodox Church is more than simply abstaining
from certain foods. During the
Great Lent Orthodox Faithful intensify
their prayers and spiritual exercises, go to church services more
often, study the Scriptures and the works of the
Church Fathers in
depth, limit their entertainment and spendings and focus on charity
and good works.
Among the Oriental Orthodox, there are various local traditions
regarding Lent. Those using the Alexandrian Rite, i.e., the Coptic
Orthodox, Coptic Catholic, Ethiopian Orthodox, Ethiopian Catholic,
Eritrean Orthodox, and Eritrean
Catholic Churches, observe eight weeks
In Ethiopian Orthodoxy, fasting (tsome) lasts for 55 continuous days
Easter (Fasika), although the fast is divided into three
separate periods: Tsome Hirkal, eight days commemorating an early
Christian figure; Tsome Arba, 40 days of Lent; and Tsome Himamat,
seven days commemorating Holy Week.
abstention from animal products (meat, dairy, and eggs), and
refraining from eating or drinking before 3:00 pm. Ethiopian
devotees may also abstain from sexual activity and the consumption of
As in the
Eastern Orthodox Churches, the date of
Easter is reckoned
according to the Julian Calendar, and usually occurs later than Easter
Gregorian Calendar used by
Catholic and Protestant
Other related fasting periods
The season of
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, most notably by the public
imposition of ashes. In this photograph, a woman receives a cross of
Ash Wednesday outside an Anglican church.
Lutheran pastor distributes ashes during the Divine Service on Ash
The number 40 has many Biblical references:
Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai with God (Exodus 24:18)
Elijah spent 40 days and nights walking to
Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:8)
God sent 40 days and nights of rain in the great flood of Noah
The Hebrew people wandered 40 years in the desert while traveling to
Promised Land (Numbers 14:33)
Jonah's prophecy of judgment gave 40 days to the city of
which to repent or be destroyed (
Jesus retreated into the wilderness, where He fasted for 40 days, and
was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1–2, Mark 1:12–13, Luke
4:1–2). He overcame all three of Satan's temptations by citing
scripture to the devil, at which point the devil left him, angels
ministered to Jesus, and He began His ministry.
Jesus further said
that His disciples should fast "when the bridegroom shall be taken
from them" (Matthew 9:15), a reference to his Passion.
Since, presumably, the Apostles fasted as they mourned the death of
Jesus, Christians have traditionally fasted during the annual
commemoration of his burial.
It is the traditional belief that
Jesus laid for 40 hours in the
tomb, which led to the 40 hours of total fasting that preceded the
Easter celebration in the early Church (the biblical reference to
'three days in the tomb' is understood by them as spanning three days,
from Friday afternoon to early Sunday morning, rather than three
24-hour periods of time). Some Christian denominations, such as The
Way International and Logos Apostolic Church of God, as well as
E. W. Bullinger in The Companion Bible, believe
Christ was in the grave for a total of 72 hours, reflecting the type
Jonah in the belly of the whale.
One of the most important ceremonies at
Easter is the baptism of the
Easter Eve. The fast was initially undertaken by the
catechumens to prepare them for the reception of this sacrament.
Later, the period of fasting from
Good Friday until
Easter Day was
extended to six days, to correspond with the six weeks of training
necessary to give the final instruction to those converts who were to
be baptized.
Christianity followed a strict catechumenate or period of
instruction and discipline prior to receiving the sacrament of
baptism, sometimes lasting up to three years. In
the close of the fourth century, classes were held throughout
three hours each day. With the legalization of
Christianity (by the
Edict of Milan) and its later imposition as the state religion of the
Roman Empire, its character was endangered by the great influx of new
members. In response, the Lenten fast and practices of
self-renunciation were required annually of all Christians, both to
show solidarity with the catechumens, and for their own spiritual
Statues and icons veiled in violet shrouds for
Passiontide in St
Pancras Church, Ipswich, England
There are traditionally 40 days in Lent; these are marked by fasting,
both from foods and festivities, and by other acts of penance. The
three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigour during
Lent are prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self),
and almsgiving (justice towards neighbours).
However, in modern times, observers give up partaking in vices and
often invest the time or money saved in charitable purposes or
In addition, some believers add a regular spiritual discipline, to
bring them closer to God, such as reading a Lenten daily
devotional. Another practice commonly added is the singing of the
Stabat Mater hymn in designated groups. Among Filipino Catholics, the
Jesus Christ' passion, called Pasiong Mahal, is also
observed. In some Christian countries, grand religious processions and
cultural customs are observed, and the faithful attempt to visit seven
Holy Week in honor of
Jesus Christ heading to Mount
In many liturgical Christian denominations, Good Friday, Holy
Easter Sunday form the
Lent is a
season of grief that necessarily ends with a great celebration of
Easter. Thus, it is known in
Eastern Orthodox circles as the season of
"Bright Sadness". It is a season of sorrowful reflection which is
punctuated by breaks in the fast on Sundays.
Omission of Gloria and Alleluia
The Gloria in excelsis Deo, which is usually said or sung on Sundays
at Mass of the
Roman Rite and Anglican rite, is omitted on the Sundays
of Lent, but continues in use on solemnities and feasts and on special
celebrations of a more solemn kind. Some mass compositions were
written especially for Lent, such as Michael Haydn's Missa tempore
Quadragesimae, without Gloria, in D minor, and for modest forces, only
choir and organ. The Gloria is used on Maundy Thursday, to the
accompaniment of bells, which then fall silent until the Gloria in
excelsis of the
Lutheran Divine Service, the
Roman Rite of the
and the Presbyterian service of worship associate the
joy and omits it entirely throughout Lent, not only at Mass
but also in the canonical hours as well as outside the liturgy. Before
1970, the omission began with Septuagesima. The word "Alleluia" at the
beginning and end of the Acclamation Before the Gospel at Mass is
replaced by another phrase. Before 1970, the whole Acclamation was
omitted and was replaced by a Tract. Again, before 1970, the word
"Alleluia" normally added to the
Gloria Patri at the beginning of each
Hour of the
Liturgy of the Hours was replaced by the phrase Laus tibi,
Domine, rex aeternae gloriae (Praise to you, O Lord, king of eternal
glory). Now it is simply omitted.
Ambrosian Rite was revised by Saint
Charles Borromeo the
liturgy of the First Sunday of
Lent was festive, celebrated with
chanting of the Gloria and Alleluia, in line with the recommendation
in Matthew 6:16, "When you fast, do not look gloomy".
In the Byzantine Rite, the Gloria (Great Doxology) continues to be
used in its normal place in the
Matins service, and the Alleluia
appears all the more frequently, replacing "God is the Lord" at
Veiling of religious images
Methodist minister prostrates at the start of the Good Friday
Holy Family Church, in accordance with the rubrics in the
Book of Worship. The processional cross is veiled in black, the
liturgical colour associated with
Good Friday in
A crucifix on the high altar is veiled for Lent. Saint Martin's
parish, Württemberg, Germany
In certain pious Christian states, in which liturgical forms of
Christianity predominate, religious objects were traditionally veiled
for the entire 40 days of Lent. Though perhaps uncommon in the United
States of America, this pious practice is consistently observed in
Goa, Malta, Peru, the Philippines (the latter only for the entire
duration of Holy Week, with the exception of processional images), and
in the Spanish cities: Barcelona, Málaga, and Seville. In Ireland,
before Vatican II, when impoverished rural
Catholic convents and
parishes could not afford purple fabrics, they resorted to either
removing the statues altogether or, if too heavy or bothersome, turned
the statues to face the wall. As is popular custom, the 14 Stations of
the Cross plaques on the walls are not veiled.
Crucifixes made before the time of
Saint Francis of Assisi
Saint Francis of Assisi did not
have a corpus (body of Christ) and therefore were adorned with jewels
and gemstones, which was referred to as Crux Gemmatae. To keep the
faithful from adoring the crucifixes elaborated with ornamentation,
veiling it in royal purple fabrics came into place. The violet colour
later evolved as a color of penance and mourning.
Further liturgical changes in modernity reduced such observances to
the last week of Passiontide. In parishes that could afford only small
quantities of violet fabrics, only the heads of the statues were
veiled. If no violet fabrics could be afforded at all, then the
religious statues and images were turned around facing the wall.
Flowers were always removed as a sign of solemn mourning.
In the pre-1992
Methodist liturgy and pre-1970 forms of the Roman
Rite, the last two weeks of
Lent are known as Passiontide, a period
beginning on the Fifth Sunday in Lent, which in the 1962 edition of
Roman Missal is called the First Sunday in
Passiontide and in
earlier editions Passion Sunday. All statues (and in England paintings
as well) in the church were traditionally veiled in violet. This was
seen as in keeping with the Gospel of that Sunday (John 8:46–59), in
Jesus "hid himself" from the people.
Within many churches in the United States of America, after the Second
Vatican Council, the need to veil statues or crosses became
increasingly irrelevant and was deemed unnecessary by some diocesan
bishops. As a result, the veils were removed at the singing of the
Gloria in Excelsis
Gloria in Excelsis Deo during the
Easter Vigil. In 1970, the name
"Passiontide" was dropped, although the last two weeks are markedly
different from the rest of the season, and continuance of the
tradition of veiling images is left to the discretion of a country's
conference of bishops or even to individual parishes as pastors may
On Good Friday, the Anglican, Lutheran, and
traditionally veiled "all pictures, statutes, and the cross are
covered in mourning black", while "the chancel and altar coverings are
replaced with black, and altar candles are extinguished". The fabrics
are then "replaced with white on sunrise on
Main article: Shrovetide
Further information: Carnival, Mardi Gras,
Swabian-Alemannic-Fastnacht, Maslenitsa, Pancake Day, and Baklahorani
The carnival celebrations which in many cultures traditionally precede
Lent are seen as a last opportunity for excess before
Some of the most famous are the
Carnival of Barranquilla, the Carnival
of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the
Carnival of Venice, Cologne Carnival,
the New Orleans Mardi Gras, the Rio de Janeiro carnival, and the
Trinidad and Tobago Carnival.
The day immediately preceding
Lent is variously called Mardi Gras
("Fat Tuesday"), Pancake Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday. Sometimes, it is
the peak of the pre-Lenten festival, while sometimes it is largely
occupied with preparations for Lent. The observances vary from culture
to culture, and even from town to town.
Originally, in Lebanon and Syria, the last Thursday preceding
called "Khamis el zakara". For Catholics, it was meant to be a day of
remembrance of the dead ones. However, zakara (which means
"remembrance", in Arabic) was gradually replaced by sakara (meaning
"getting drunk" in Arabic), and so the occasion came to be known as
Khamis el sakara, wherein celebrants indulge themselves with alcoholic
Fasting and abstinence
Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness (Jésus tenté dans le désert), James
Tissot, Brooklyn Museum
Further information: Christian dietary laws
Lent was more prominent in ancient times than today.
Socrates Scholasticus reports that in some places, all animal products
were strictly forbidden, while various others permitted fish, or fish
and fowl, others prohibited fruit and eggs, and still others permitted
only bread. In many places, the observant abstained from food for a
whole day until the evening, and at sunset, Western Christians
traditionally broke the Lenten fast, which was often known as the
Black Fast. In
India and Pakistan, many Christians continue
this practice of fasting until sunset on
Ash Wednesday and Good
Friday, with some fasting in this manner throughout the whole season
Latin Catholics, by the early 20th century the theoretical
obligation of the penitential fast throughout
Lent except on Sundays
was to take only one full meal a day. In addition, a smaller meal,
called a collation, was allowed in the evening, and a cup of some
beverage, accompanied by a little bread, in the morning. In practice,
this obligation, which was a matter of custom rather than of written
law, was not observed strictly. The
1917 Code of Canon Law
1917 Code of Canon Law allowed
the full meal on a fasting day to be taken at any hour and to be
supplemented by two collations, with the quantity and the quality of
the food to be determined by local custom. The Lenten fast ended on
Holy Saturday at noon. Only those aged 21 to 59 were obliged to fast.
As with all merely ecclesiastical laws, particular difficulties, such
as strenuous work or illness, excused one from observance, and a
dispensation from the law could be granted by a bishop or parish
priest. In addition to fasting, abstinence from meat was to be
Ash Wednesday and on Fridays and Saturdays in Lent. A
rule of thumb is that the two collations should not add up to the
equivalent of another full meal. Rather portions were to be:
"sufficient to sustain strength, but not sufficient to satisfy
hunger". The apostolic constitution
Paenitemini of 17 February
1966 reduced the fasting days to two:
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday,
and allowed episcopal conferences to "substitute abstinence and fast
wholly or in part with other forms of penitence and especially works
of charity and the exercises of piety". This was made part of the
1983 Code of Canon Law, which made obligatory fasting for those aged
between 18 and 59, and abstinence for those aged 14 and upward.
Catholic Bishops' Conference decided to allow other forms of
Friday penance to replace that of abstinence from meat, whether in
Lent or outside Lent, suggesting alternatives such as abstaining from
some other food, or from alcohol or smoking; making a special effort
at participating in family prayer or in Mass; making the Stations of
the Cross; or helping the poor, sick, old, or lonely. The Catholic
Bishops' Conference of England and Wales made a similar ruling in
1985 but decided in 2011 to restore the traditional year-round
Friday abstinence from meat. The United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops has maintained the rule of abstention from meat on
Friday only during Lent.
Lutheran Churches advocate fasting during designated times such
as Lent, especially on
Ash Wednesday and Good
Friday. A Handbook for the Discipline of Lent
delineates the following
Lutheran fasting guidelines:
Ash Wednesday and
Good Friday with only one simple meal during
the day, usually without meat.
Refrain from eating meat (bloody foods) on all Fridays in Lent,
substituting fish for example.
Eliminate a food or food group for the entire season. Especially
consider saving rich and fatty foods for Easter.
Consider not eating before receiving Communion in Lent.
Abstain from or limit a favorite activity (television, movies, etc.)
for the entire season, and spend more time in prayer,
Bible study, and
reading devotional material.
Methodist homilies regarding the Sermon on the Mount
stress the importance of the Lenten fast, which begins on Ash
Wednesday. The United
Methodist Church therefore states that:
There is a strong biblical base for fasting, particularly during the
40 days of
Lent leading to the celebration of Easter. Jesus, as part
of his spiritual preparation, went into the wilderness and fasted 40
days and 40 nights, according to the Gospels.
Good Friday, which is towards the end of the Lenten season, is
traditionally an important day of communal fasting for Methodists.
Rev. Jacqui King, the minister of Nu Faith Community United Methodist
Church in Houston explained the philosophy of fasting during
"I'm not skipping a meal because in place of that meal I'm actually
dining with God".
Many of the Churches in the
Reformed tradition retained the Lenten
fast in its entirety. The
Reformed Church in America
Reformed Church in America describes the
first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday, as a day "focused on prayer,
fasting, and repentance" and considers fasting a focus of the whole
Lenten season, as demonstated in the "Invitation to Observe a
Lenten Discipline", found in the
Reformed liturgy for the Ash
Wednesday service, which is read by the presider:
We begin this holy season by acknowledging our need for repentance and
our need for the love and forgiveness shown to us in
Jesus Christ. I
invite you, therefore, in the name of Christ, to observe a Holy Lent,
by self-examination and penitence, by prayer and fasting, by
practicing works of love, and by reading and reflecting on God's Holy
Good Friday, which is towards the end of the Lenten season, is
traditionally an important day of communal fasting for adherents of
During the early Middle Ages, eggs, dairy products, and meat were
generally forbidden. In favour of the traditional practice, observed
both in East and West,
Thomas Aquinas argued that "they afford greater
pleasure as food [than fish], and greater nourishment to the human
body, so that from their consumption there results a greater surplus
available for seminal matter, which when abundant becomes a great
incentive to lust." Aquinas also authorized the consumption of
candy during Lent, because "sugared spices" (such as comfits) were, in
his opinion, digestive aids on par with medicine rather than food.
Carnival is represented by a fat man on a beer barrel
who wears a huge meat pie as headdress;
Lent is represented by a thin
gaunt woman on a cart (shown here) bearing Lenten fare: mussels,
pretzels, and waffles. Oil painting The Fight Between
Pieter Bruegel the Elder
Pieter Bruegel the Elder (circa 1558–1559).
In Spain, the bull of the Holy
Crusade (renewed periodically after
1492) allowed the consumption of dairy products and eggs during
Lent in exchange for a contribution to the cause of the crusade.
Giraldus Cambrensis, in his Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin through
Wales, reports that "in Germany and the arctic regions", "great and
religious persons" eat the tail of beavers as "fish" because of its
superficial resemblance to "both the taste and colour of fish". The
animal was very abundant in Wales at the time.
In current Western societies the practice is considerably relaxed,
though in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern
Catholic Churches, abstinence from all animal products including eggs,
fish, fowl, and milk sourced from animals (e.g., cows and goats, as
opposed to the milk of coconuts and soy beans) is still commonly
practiced, so that, where this is observed, only vegetarian (or vegan)
meals are consumed for the whole of Lent, 45 days in the Byzantine
In the Western
Catholic Church, the obligation to fast no longer
applies to all weekdays of
Lent (40 days), but only to Ash Wednesday
and Good Friday. In the tradition of this part of the
abstinence from eating some form of food (generally meat, but not
dairy or fish products) is distinguished from fasting. Fasting
involves having during the day only one proper meal with up to two
"collations", light meatless meals sufficient to maintain strength
but not adding up to the equivalent of a full meal. In principle,
abstinence is to be observed on
Ash Wednesday and on every Friday of
the year that is not a solemnity (a liturgical feast day of the
highest rank); but in each country the episcopal conference can
determine the form it is to take, perhaps replacing abstinence with
other forms of penance.
Present canonical legislation on these matters follows the 1966
Apostolic Constitution of Pope Paul VI, Paenitemini, in which he
recommended that fasting be appropriate to the local economic
situation and that all Catholics voluntarily fast and abstain. He also
allowed replacing fasting and abstinence with prayer and works of
charity in countries with a lower standard of living. The law of
abstinence binds those age 14 or over, and that of fast binds those
who are at least 18 years of age and not yet 60. The sick and
those who have special needs are excused, and dispensations can be
granted by episcopal conferences or individual bishops, which can be
wider outside of Lent. Even during Lent, the rule about solemnities
holds, so that the obligation of Friday abstinence does not apply on
19 and 25 March when, as usually happens, the solemnities of Saint
Joseph and the
Annunciation are celebrated on those dates. The same
applies to Saint Patrick's Day, which is a solemnity in the whole of
Ireland as well as in dioceses that have
Saint Patrick as principal
patron saint. In some other places, too, where there are strong Irish
traditions within the
Catholic community, a dispensation is granted
for that day. In Hong Kong, where
Ash Wednesday often coincides
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year celebrations, a dispensation is then granted
from the laws of fast and abstinence, and the faithful are exhorted to
use some other form of penance.
Protestant Reformation, in the
Lutheran Church, "Church
orders of the 16th century retained the observation of the Lenten
fast, and Lutherans have observed this season with a serene, earnest
attitude." In the Anglican Churches, the Traditional Saint
Prayer Book: A Book of Devotion for Members of the
Anglican Communion, a companion to the Book of Common Prayer, states
that fasting is "usually meaning not more than a light breakfast, one
full meal, and one half meal, on the forty days of Lent". It
further states that "the major Fast Days of
Ash Wednesday and Good
Friday, as the American Prayer-Book indicates, are stricter in
obligation, though not in observance, than the other Fast Days, and
therefore should not be neglected except in cases of serious illness
or other necessity of an absolute character."
In many Christian countries, religious processions during the season
Lent are often accompanied by a military escort both for security
and parade. Ceuta, Spain
Traditionally, on Sunday, and during the hours before sunrise and
after sunset, some Churches, such as Episcopalians, allow "breaks" in
Lent promises. For Roman Catholics, the Lenten penitential
season ends after the
Easter Vigil Mass. Orthodox Christians also
break their fast after the Paschal Vigil, a service which starts
around 11:00 pm on Holy Saturday, and which includes the Paschal
celebration of the Divine
Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. At the end
of the service, the priest blesses cheese, eggs, flesh meats, and
other items that the faithful have been abstaining from for the
duration of Great Lent.
Lenten traditions and liturgical practices are less common, less
binding, and sometimes non-existent among some liberal and progressive
Christians, since these generally do not emphasize piety and the
mortification of the flesh as a significant virtue. A greater
emphasis on anticipation of
Easter Sunday is often encouraged more
than the penitence of
Lent or Holy Week.
Some Christians as well as secular groups also interpret the Lenten
fast in a positive tone, not as renunciation but as contributing to
causes such as environmental stewardship and improvement of
health. Even some atheists find value in the Christian
tradition and observe Lent.
During Lent, BBC's
Radio Four normally broadcasts a series of
programmes called the
Lent Talks. These 15-minute programmes are
normally broadcast on a Wednesday and have featured various speakers,
such as John Lennox.
Holy days within the season of Lent
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Methodist minister distributing ashes to confirmands kneeling at the
chancel rails on Ash Wednesday
Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Old
Jerusalem on Golgotha, Mount
Calvary, where tradition claims
Jesus was crucified and died
There are several holy days within the season of Lent:
Ash Wednesday is the first day of
Lent in Western Christianity, such
Roman Rite of the
Catholic Church, Methodist
Reformed traditions, etc.
Ambrosian Rite and the Mozarabic Rite, there is no Ash
Lent begins on the first Sunday and the fast begins on the
The Sundays in
Latin names in German Lutheranism, derived
from the beginning of the Sunday's introit. The first is called
Invocabit, the second Reminiscere, the third Oculi, the fourth
Laetare, the fifth Judica, the sixth Palm Sunday.
The fourth Sunday in Lent, which marks the halfway point between Ash
Easter Sunday, is referred to as
Laetare Sunday by
Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and many other Christians, because of the
traditional Entrance Antiphon of the Mass. Due to the more "joyful"
character of the day (since laetare in
Latin means "rejoice"), the
priest, deacon, and subdeacon have the option of wearing vestments of
a rose colour (pink) instead of violet.
Additionally, the fourth Lenten Sunday, Mothering Sunday, which has
become known as Mother's Day in the United Kingdom and an occasion for
honouring mothers of children, has its origin in a 16th-century
celebration of the Mother Church.
The fifth Sunday in Lent, also known in some denominations as Passion
Sunday (and in some denominations also applies to Palm Sunday) marks
the beginning of Passiontide.
The sixth Sunday in Lent, commonly called Palm Sunday, marks the
beginning of Holy Week, the final week of
Lent immediately preceding
Wednesday of Holy Week,
Holy Wednesday (also sometimes known as Spy
Wednesday) commemorates Judas Iscariot's bargain to betray
Holy Week is known as
Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday,
and is a day Christians commemorate the
Last Supper shared by Christ
with his disciples.
The next day is Good Friday, on which Christians remember Jesus'
crucifixion, death, and burial.
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remove this template message)
In the Anglican, Lutheran, Old Catholic, Roman Catholic, and many
other churches, the
Easter Triduum is a three-day event that begins
Maundy Thursday evening, with the entrance hymn of the Mass of the
Lord's Supper. After this celebration, the consecrated Hosts are taken
solemnly from the altar to a place of reposition, where the faithful
are invited to meditate in the presence of the consecrated Hosts.This
is the Church's response to Jesus' question to the disciples sleeping
in the Garden of Gethsemane, "Could you not watch with me one hour?"
On the next day, the liturgical commemoration of the Passion of Jesus
Christ is celebrated at 3 pm, unless a later time is chosen due
to work schedules.
This service consists of readings from the Scriptures, especially John
the Evangelist's account of the Passion of Jesus, followed by prayers,
veneration of the cross of Jesus, and a communion service at which the
hosts consecrated at the evening Mass of the day before are
Easter Vigil during the night between Holy Saturday
Easter Sunday morning starts with the blessing of a fire
and a special candle, and with readings from Scripture associated with
baptism. Then, the
Gloria in Excelsis
Gloria in Excelsis Deo is sung, water is blessed,
baptism and confirmation of adults may take place, the people are
invited to renew the promises of their own baptism, and finally, Mass
is celebrated in the usual way from the Preparation of the Gifts
Holy Week and the season of Lent, depending on denomination and local
custom, end with
Easter Vigil at sundown on
Holy Saturday or on the
Easter Sunday. It is custom for some churches to hold
sunrise services which include open air celebrations in some places.
The chancel of a
Lutheran church decorated with red paraments, the
liturgical colour of the last week of Lent, Holy Week, in the Lutheran
and Anglican Churches
In the Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed, Roman Catholic, and many
Anglican churches, the pastor's vestments are violet during the season
of Lent. On the fourth Sunday in Lent, rose-coloured (pink) vestments
may be worn in lieu of violet. Historically, black had also been used:
Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III declared black to be the proper color for Lent,
Durandus of Saint-Pourçain claims violet has preference over
In some Anglican churches, a type of unbleached linen or muslin known
as "Lenten array" is worn during the first three weeks of Lent,
crimson is worn during Passiontide, and on holy days, the colour
proper to the day is worn. In certain other Anglican churches, as
an alternative to violet for all of
Holy Week and red
Palm Sunday through Holy Saturday, Lenten array,
typically made of sackcloth such as burlap and trimmed with crimson
cloth, often velvet, is worn, even during
Holy Week -- since the
sackcloth represents penance and the crimson edges represent the
Passion of Christ. Even the veils that cover the altar crosses or
crucifixes and statuary (if any) are made of the same sackcloth with
the crimson trim.
Fasting in the
Eastern Orthodox Church
Fasting and abstinence in the
Fasting and abstinence of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria
Fast of Nineveh
Counting of the Omer
Lent Event, asks people to donate the value of what they forego during
^ Stoll, Anita K.; Smith, Dawn L. (2000). Gender, Identity, and
Representation in Spain's Golden Age. Bucknell University Press.
p. 178. ISBN 9780838754252. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
^ Comparative Religion For Dummies. For Dummies. 31 January 2011.
ISBN 9781118052273. Retrieved 8 March 2011. This is the day Lent
begins. Christians go to church to pray and have a cross drawn in
ashes on their foreheads. The ashes drawn on ancient tradition
represent repentance before God. The holiday is part of Roman
Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, and Episcopalian liturgies, among
^ a b Gassmann, Günther (4 January 2001). Historical Dictionary of
Lutheranism. Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 180.
^ Benedict, Philip (3 March 2014). Christ's Churches Purely Reformed:
A Social History of Calvinism. Yale University Press. p. 506.
^ Mennonite Stew – A Glossary: Lent. Third Way Café. Retrieved 24
February 2012. Traditionally,
Lent was not observed by the Mennonite
church, and only recently have more modern Mennonite churches started
to focus on the six-week season preceding Easter.
^ Brumley, Jeff. "
Lent not just for Catholics, but also for some
Baptists and other evangelicals". The Florida Times Union. Retrieved 3
^ Burnett, Margaret (5 March 2017). "Students observe
Lent on campus
– The Brown and White". The Brown and White. Retrieved 14 March
^ a b Chisholm, Hugh (1911). The Encyclopaedia Britannica: A
Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information.
Encyclopaedia Britannica. p. 428. The Lenten fast was retained at
the Reformation in some of the reformed Churches, and is still
observed in the Anglican and
Lutheran communions. access-date=
requires url= (help)
^ a b c Gassmann, Günther; Oldenburg, Mark W. (10 October 2011).
Historical Dictionary of Lutheranism. Scarecrow Press. p. 229.
ISBN 9780810874824. In many
Lutheran churches, the Sundays during
the Lenten season are called by the first word of their respective
Latin Introitus (with the exception of Palm/Passion Sunday):
Invocavit, Reminiscere, Oculi, Laetare, and Judica. Many Lutheran
church orders of the 16th century retained the observation of the
Lenten fast, and Lutherans have observed this season with a serene,
Special days of eucharistic communion were set aside
Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. access-date= requires url=
^ a b Crumm, David. Our Lent, 2nd Edition. ISBN 1934879509.
^ Ambrose, Gill; Craig-Wild, Peter; Craven, Diane; Moger, Peter (5
March 2007). Together for a Season. Church House Publishing.
p. 34. ISBN 9780715140635.
^ a b c Weitzel, Thomas L. (1978). "A Handbook for the Discipline of
Lutheran Church in America. Retrieved 17
^ a b Gavitt, Loren Nichols (1991). Traditional Saint Augustine's
Prayer Book: A Book of Devotion for Members of the Anglican Communion.
Holy Cross Publications. access-date= requires url= (help)
^ This practice is observed in numerous pious Christian countries,
although the form of abstention may vary depending on what is
customary. Some abstain from meat for 40 days, some do so only on
Fridays, or some only on
Good Friday itself. By pontifical decree
under Pope Alexander VI, eggs and dairy products may be consumed by
penitents in Spain and its colonized territories.
^ "What is
Lent and why does it last forty days?". The United
Methodist Church. Retrieved 24 August 2007.
^ "The Liturgical Year". The Anglican
Catholic Church. Retrieved 24
^ Knowlton, MaryLee (2004). Macedonia. Marshall Cavendish.
p. 125. ISBN 9780761418542. Traditionally, as in many
Christian countries, the carnival marked the beginning of Lent, which
ushered in a six-week period of fasting for Christians.
access-date= requires url= (help)
^ "lente (voorjaar)". etymologiebank.nl. Archived from the original on
4 February 2016. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Lent". Encyclopædia Britannica.
16 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 427.
^ "Questions and Answers about
Lent and Lenten Practices".
www.usccb.org. Retrieved 2018-02-20.
^ a b "Il Tempo di Quaresima nel rito Ambrosiano" (PDF) (in Italian).
Parrocchia S. Giovanna Antida Thouret. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
^ a b c Herbert, Thurston (1910). "Lent". In Herbermann,
Catholic Encyclopedia. 9. New York: Robert Appleton
Company. See paragraph: Duration of the Fast
^ a b The "Secret of the Mass" in the First Sunday of
"Sacrificium Quadragesimalis Initii", Missale Romanum Ambrosianus
^ Akin, James. "All About Lent". EWTN. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
^ The Roman and the
Lutheran Observance of Lent. Luther League of
America. 1920. p. 5.
^ What is
Lent and why does it last forty days?. The United Methodist
Church. Retrieved 20 April 2014.
Lent is a season of forty days, not
counting Sundays, which begins on
Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy
Saturday. Sundays in
Lent are not counted in the forty days because
each Sunday represents a "mini-Easter" and the reverent spirit of Lent
is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection.
^ Kitch, Anne E. (10 January 2003). The Anglican Family
Church Publishing, Inc. p. 130.
^ The Northwestern Lutheran, Volumes 60–61. Northwestern Publishing
House. 1973. p. 66.
^ Langford, Andy (4 January 1993). Blueprints for worship: a user's
guide for United
Methodist congregations. Abingdon Press.
^ Fenton, John. "The Holy Season of
Lent in the Western Tradition".
Western Rite of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North
America. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
Great Lent - Antiochian Orthodox Christian
Archdiocese". Antiochian.org. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
^ a b c James Jeffrey (22 March 2017). "Ethiopia: fasting for 55
days". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
^ "Tsome Nenewe (The Fast of Nineveh)". Minneapolis: Debre Selam
Medhanealem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. 28 January 2015.
Archived from the original on 5 April 2015. Retrieved 30 March
^ Robel Arega. "
Fasting in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church". Ethiopian
Orthodox Tewahedo Church Sunday School Department – Mahibere
Kidusan. Why Fifty-Five Days?. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
Lent & Beyond: Dr. Peter Toon—From
Quadragesima (web site gone, no alternate source found, originally
cited 27 August 2010)
Jesus Was Literally Three Days and Three Nights in the Grave,
www.logosapostolic.org, retrieved 23 March 2011
^ Burke, Daniel (13 April 2011). "Just How Long Did
Jesus Stay in the
Tomb?". www.huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
^ Hinson, E. Glenn (1 January 1981). The Evangelization of the Roman
Empire: Identity and Adaptability. Mercer University Press.
ISBN 9780865540149. Like its parent, Judaism, earliest
Christianity had a catechism for its converts, as much recent study
has proven. ... Hippolytus required up to three years' instruction
before baptism, shortened by a candidate's progress in developing
Christian character. access-date= requires url= (help)
^ "Lent—disciplines and practices". Spirit Home. Retrieved 27 August
2010. [self-published source?]
^ "General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, 19".
Catholicliturgy.com. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
^ General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 53
^ Roman Missal, Thursday of the Lord's Supper, 7
^ "Why don't we use alleluias during Lent?" (PDF). Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America. 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
^ Jr., J. Dudley Weaver, (2002). Presbyterian Worship: A Guide for
Clergy. Geneva Press. p. 106. ISBN 9780664502188. The
alleluia is traditionally not sung during Lent, and, here at the first
service of Easter, it is at last reintroduced to the church's
liturgy. access-date= requires url= (help)
^ Bratcher, Dennis (2015). "The Days of Holy Week". CRI.
^ Cléir, Síle de (5 October 2017). Popular Catholicism in
20th-Century Ireland: Locality, Identity and Culture. Bloomsbury
Publishing. p. 101. ISBN 9781350020603. Catherine Bell
outlines the details of fasting and abstinence in a historical
context, stating that the
Advent fast was usually less severe than
that carried out in Lent, which originally involved just one meal a
day, not to be eaten until after sunset. access-date= requires
^ Guéranger, Prosper; Fromage, Lucien (1912). The Liturgical Year:
Lent. Burns, Oates & Washbourne. p. 8. St. Benedict's rule
prescribed a great many fasts, over and above the ecclesiastical fast
of Lent; but it made this great distinction between the two: that
Lent obliged the monks, as well as the rest of the faithful, to
abstain from food till sunset, these monastic fasts allowed the repast
to be taken at the hour of None. access-date= requires url=
^ "Some Christians observe Lenten fast the Islamic way". Union of
Catholic Asian News. 27 February 2002. Retrieved 28 February
^ O'Neill, James David (1909). "Fast". In Herbermann, Charles.
Catholic Encyclopedia. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
^ "CIC 1917: text – IntraText CT". Intratext.com. Retrieved 21
^ Gregson, David. "Fasting". EWTN. Eternal Word Television Network.
Retrieved 9 February 2015.
Paenitemini (February 17, 1966) - Paul VI". w2.vatican.va.
Retrieved 21 November 2017.
^ a b c "Code of Canon Law - IntraText". Vatican.va. Retrieved 21
Penance resource from ICBC". Catholicbishops.ie. Retrieved
21 November 2017.
Fasting and Abstinence. Statement from the Bishops of England and
Wales on Canons 1249–1253" (PDF).
^ "Catholics asked to abstain from meat for Friday penance". BBC
^ "EWTN Q & A, Response". Ewtn.com. Retrieved 21 November
^ What is the holiest season of the Church Year? Archived 2009-02-09
at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved 2010-02-03. Archived copy at the
^ Hatch, Jane M. (1978). The American Book of Days. Wilson.
p. 163. ISBN 9780824205935.
Special religious services are
Ash Wednesday by the Church of England, and in the United
States by Episcopal, Lutheran, and some other
Protestant churches. The
Episcopal Church prescribes no rules concerning fasting on Ash
Wednesday, which is carried out according to members' personal wishes;
however, it recommends a measure of fasting and abstinence as a
suitable means of marking the day with proper devotion. Among
Lutherans as well, there are no set rules for fasting, although some
local congregations may advocate this form of penitence in varying
degrees. access-date= requires url= (help)
^ Pfatteicher, Philip H. (1990). Commentary on the
Lutheran Book of
Liturgy in Its Ecumenical Context. Augsburg Fortress
Publishers. pp. 223–244, 260. ISBN 9780800603922. The Good
Friday fast became the principal fast in the calendar, and even after
the Reformation in Germany many Lutherans who observed no other fast
Good Friday with strict fasting. access-date=
requires url= (help)
^ Jacobs, Henry Eyster; Haas, John Augustus William (1899). The
Lutheran Cyclopedia. Scribner. p. 110. By many Lutherans Good
Friday is observed as a strict fast. The lessons on Ash Wednesday
emphasize the proper idea of the fast. The Sundays in
their names from the first words of their Introits in the Latin
service, Invocavit, Reminiscere, Oculi, Lcetare, Judica.
access-date= requires url= (help)
^ Abraham, William J.; Kirby, James E. (2009-09-24). The Oxford
Methodist Studies. Oxford University Press.
pp. 257–. ISBN 978-0-19-160743-1.
^ "What does The United
Methodist Church say about fasting?". The
Methodist Church. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
^ a b Ripley, George; Dana, Charles Anderson (1883). The American
Cyclopaedia: A Popular Dictionary for General Knowledge. D. Appleton
and Company. p. 101. The
Protestant Episcopal, Lutheran, and
Reformed churches, as well as many Methodists, observe the day by
fasting and special services. access-date= requires url=
^ Chavez, Kathrin (2010). "Lent: A Time to Fast and Pray". The United
Methodist Church. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
^ "The Liturgical Calendar".
Reformed Church in America. 2018.
Retrieved 13 March 2018.
^ a b "Ash Wednesday".
Reformed Church in America. 2018. Retrieved 13
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^ a b "Penitential Days –
Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong".
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Lent – Discipline and History
– Teaching the
Catholic Faith". Catholics United for the Faith –
Catholics United for the Faith is an international lay apostolate
founded to help the faithful learn what the
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^ Engber, Daniel (15 March 2006). "Thou Shalt Eat Corned Beef on
Friday: Who Sets the Rules on Lent?". Slate. Retrieved 13 February
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Lent – USA –
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^ Hebden, Keith (3 March 2014). "This
Lent I will eat no food, to
highlight the hunger all around us". The Guardian.
^ DiLallo, Matt (2 March 2014). "Believe it or Not, Catholics
Lent Save Our Environment". Fool.com. Retrieved 25 March
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your waistline could reap the benefits". Daily Express. Retrieved 25
^ Winston, Kimberly. "After giving up religion, atheists try giving up
something else for Lent". Religion News Service. Retrieved 19 March
Lent Talks". BBC.
^ Lennox, John (27 March 2012). "John Lennox's
Talk for Radio 4".
RZIM. Archived from the original on 14 March 2016. Retrieved 22 March
^ "spy, n.", OED Online, Oxford University Press, December 2013, Spy
Wednesday n. in Irish use, the Wednesday before Easter.
^ Packer, George Nichols (1893). "Our Calendar: The Julian Calendar
and Its Errors, how Corrected by the Gregorian". Corning, NY: [The
author]. p. 112. Retrieved 15 December 2013. Spy Wednesday, so
called in allusion to the betrayal of Christ by Judas, or the day on
which he made the bargain to deliver Him into the hands of His enemies
for 30 pieces of silver.
^ McNichol, Hugh (2014). "
Spy Wednesday conversion to Holy Wednesday".
Catholic Online. Retrieved 10 May 2014.
^ Gally, Howard E. (25 January 1989). Ceremonies of the Eucharist.
Cowley Publications. p. 45. ISBN 9781461660521. In recent
decades there has been a revival of the ancient use of red (crimson or
Holy Week among both Episcopalians and Lutherans. The
Roman rite has restored the use of red only on
Palm Sunday and Good
Friday. access-date= requires url= (help)
^ Kellner, K. A. H. (1908). Heortology: A History of the Christian
Festivals from Their Origin to the Present Day Kegan Paul Trench
Trubner & Co Limited. p. 430.
^ The Church of England rubric states: "The colour for a particular
service should reflect the predominant theme. If the Collect,
Readings, etc. on a Lesser Festival are those of the saint, then
either red (for a martyr) or white is used; otherwise, the colour of
the season is retained." See page 532 here.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Lent (fasting period).
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Lent
Lent in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
The Lenten Season and How To Observe Lent
Daily Lenten Devotional – LHM
Burial of Jesus
Crucifixion of Jesus
Dormition of the Theotokos
Good Friday Prayer
Good Friday prayer for the Jews
Resurrection of Jesus
Burning of Judas
Clipping the church
Easter egg tree
Egg decorating in Slavic culture
Holy Week procession
Pace Egg play
Scoppio del carro
Easter games and customs
Ecclesiastical new moon
Paschal Full Moon
Reform of the date of Easter
Divine Mercy Sunday
Octave of Easter
Liturgical year of the
Based on the
General Roman Calendar
General Roman Calendar (1969)
Christmas (Nativity of Jesus)^
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God^
Baptism of the Lord
Ordinary Time I
Jesus at the Temple (Candlemas)
Feast of the Annunciation
Saint Joseph's Day^
Holy Week: Palm Sunday, Holy Wednesday,
Maundy Thursday (Mass of the
Maundy Thursday (Mass of the Lord's Supper)
Liturgy of the Word, Adoration of the Cross, Holy Communion
Easter Sunday: Resurrection of Jesus
Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)
Feast of the Ascension^
Ordinary Time II
Visitation of Mary
Saint John the Baptist
Feast of Saints Peter and Paul^
Transfiguration of Jesus
Assumption of Mary^
Nativity of Mary
Feast of the Cross
All Saints' Day^
All Souls' Day
Presentation of Mary
Feast of Christ the King
^ = Holy days of obligation (10)
See also: Computus
General Roman Calendar
General Roman Calendar of 1960
General Roman Calendar
General Roman Calendar of Pope Pius XII of 1950
General Roman Calendar
General Roman Calendar of 1954