Calendar of saints (Episcopal Church)

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The veneration of saints in the Episcopal Church (United States) is a continuation of an ancient tradition from the early Church which honors important and influential people of the Christian faith. The usage of the term saint is similar to Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions. Episcopalians believe in the communion of saints in prayer [1] [2] [3] and as such the Episcopal liturgical calendar accommodates feasts for saints. [4]


This is the liturgical calendar found in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, Lesser Feasts and Fasts and additions made at recent General Conventions; the relevant official resources of the Episcopal Church.

About feasts, fasts, the Anglican Communion and the liturgical calendar

The Episcopal Church publishes Lesser Feasts and Fasts, which contains feast days for the various men and women the Church wishes to honor. The 2018 version of Lesser Feasts and Fasts was formally approved at the 2022 General Convention. It and the prayer book are the only authorized calendars for the church. [5]

There is no single calendar for the various churches making up the Anglican Communion; each makes its own calendar suitable for its local situation. As a result, the calendar here contains a number of figures important in the history of the church in the United States. Calendars in different provinces will focus on figures more important to those different countries. Different provinces often borrow important figures from each other's calendars as the international importance of different figures become more prominent. In this way the calendar of the Episcopal Church in the United States has importance beyond just the immediate purpose of supporting the liturgy of the American church. It is one of the key sources of the calendar for the international daily office Oremus. [6]

Because of its relation to the Episcopal Church of the United States, the Episcopal Church in the Philippines follows this calendar rather closely.

Ranking of observances

The Episcopal Church's Book of Common Prayer identifies four categories of feasts: Principal Feasts, other Feasts of our Lord (including Sundays), other Major Feasts, and minor feasts. Two major fast days are also listed (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday). In addition to these categories, further distinctions are made between feasts, to determine the precedence of feasts used when more than one feast falls on the same day. In addition, Lesser Feasts and Fasts gives further rules for the relative ranking of feasts and fasts. These rules of precedence all establish a ranking, from most to least important, as follows: [7]

Days of fasting and prayer

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are appointed as major fast days with special services. "Days of special observance" or lesser fast days include all the weekdays of Lent and every Friday in the year, with the exception that fasting is never observed during the Easter or Christmas seasons, or on Feasts of our Lord. The Episcopal Church does not prescribe the specific manner of observance of these days.

Other days for prayer and optional fasting include rogation days, traditionally observed on April 25 and the three weekdays before Ascension Day, as well as the sets of Ember days four times each year.

Baptismal feasts

The Great Vigil of Easter, Pentecost, All Saints' Day, and The Baptism of our Lord, are appointed as baptismal feasts. It is preferred that baptism be reserved for those occasions.

History of the Calendar

Early Calendars

When the Episcopal Church separated from the Church of England, it created a new version of the Book of Common Prayer. [8] It listed only 25 holy days assigned to a specific date, nearly all of them honoring New Testament persons or events. This was similar to the 16th century prayer books and in contrast to England's prayer book in use at the time of the American Revolution. That prayer book had 93 holy dates, including the feast of Charles I, martyr, and the feast of the Restoration of Charles II. It added a feast to honor Civil and Religious Liberty on July 4. [9]

The calendar changed little in the 1892 revision of the Book of Common Prayer. [10]

In the early 20th century, the Episcopal Church planned a revision to the book. The Commission of the Book of Common Prayer made official reports in 1916, [11] 1919, [12] and 1922 [13] recommending the addition of 45 to 54 holy days. None of those were accepted, and the 1928 prayer book included none of the recommendations. [14]

Lesser Feasts and Fasts

Starting in 1950, the Standing Liturgical Commission released sixteen Prayer Book Studies during the process of creating what eventually became the Book of Common Prayer (1979). [15] Two of those studies proposed new sanctoral calendars for the church.

Prayer Book Study IX was published in 1957. It proposed more than 80 new feasts to the calendar, including new major feasts for the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, Saint Mary Magdalene and Holy Cross Day.

Prayer Book Study XVI was published in 1964 as Lesser Feasts and Fasts. [16] It was the first publication to bear that name, and also marked the first time feasts were approved for "trial use." It included more than 25 feasts that were not part of the 1957 publication. A second edition of Lesser Feasts and Fasts was published in 1973, added more than a dozen additional feasts. It was also authorized for trial use.

The first Lesser Feasts and Fasts calendar given finally approval was the 1980 edition. Its calendar was published in the Book of Common Prayer's list of optional observances. [16]

Lesser Feasts and Fasts was revised every three years when the General Convention met. Delegates to the convention submitted names to the calendar in the form of resolutions. The convention then voted to either reject a proposed feast, refer it to the Standing Commission on Liturgy to consider, add it to the calendar on a trial basis, or give it final approval. For example, the General Convention asked the committee to consider a feast for Hildegard of Bingen in 1991. [17] It approved her feast on a trial basis in 1994 [18] and gave it final approval in 1997. [19]

21st Century Trial Calendars

In 2003, the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music began extensive work on calendar revision. It was charged with increasing the cultural diversity of the church's calendar. At the time, women made up about 7% of commemorations and most dates honored white male clergy. [20]

In 2009, the General Convention authorized a new calendar for trial use, called Holy Women, Holy Men. [21] The book had more than 100 additional commemorations to honor a variety of historical persons such as poet Christina Rossetti, astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, and the Dorchester Chaplains. [22] It increased the percentage of women represented by only 9 percentage points and was less racially diverse than past calendars. [20]

Holy Women, Holy Men was approved with additions for three years of trial use again in 2012, [23] with additions. It was never given final approval. [24]

In 2015, the commission submitted a new volume, A Great Cloud of Witnesses. [25] It was envisioned as a replacement for Holy Women, Holy Men, and was introduced after study and collection opinion from Episcopalians online. [26] The text of A Great Cloud of Witnesses stated that it was not intended to be a calendar of saints, but "an extended family history." The 2015 General Convention voted to make it available, but did not authorize it for trial use. [27]

In 2018, the commission released a report saying the calendar had been thrown into a "situation of great confusion." [28] It proposed a new calendar that updated Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006, the last publication that had met with final authorization. It increased the percentages of women and laypersons to roughly 50%. [20] The 2018 General Convention approved Lesser Feasts and Fasts for trial use. [29]

2022 General Convention

The 2022 General Convention gave final authorization to the more than 90 feasts days that had been added as part of the Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 trial use calendar. [30] This represented the largest number of additions to the calendar at a single general convention since 1979. The calendar in this Wikipedia article reflects those official additions.

The general convention also authorized the trial deletion of William Porcher DuBose from the calendar [31] and authorized five feasts for trial use.


Principal Feasts are in BOLD, ALL CAPS. Feasts of our Lord are in bold italics. Other Major Feasts and Fasts are in bold. Appropriate Collects and Prayers for use in celebrating the commemorations are in brackets. [32] [33]

Movable days

The following observances occur on different dates depending on the date of Easter.

Thanksgiving Day is a feast on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States which may be celebrated on another day elsewhere. In addition, every Sunday in the year is observed as a "feast of our Lord".













Trial Use

The 2022 General Convention authorized five feasts for trial use.

It also authorized the trial deletion of William Porcher DuBose from the calendar. [37]

See also

Related Research Articles

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Innocent of Alaska</span> Russian bishop and saint (1797–1879)

Saint Innocent of Alaska, also known as Saint Innocent Metropolitan of Moscow, was a Russian Orthodox missionary priest, then the first Orthodox bishop and archbishop in the Americas, and finally the Metropolitan of Moscow and Kolomna. Remembered for his missionary work, scholarship, and leadership in Alaska and the Russian Far East during the 19th century, he is known for his abilities as a scholar, linguist, and administrator, as well as his great zeal for his work.

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April 29 - Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar - May 1

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This article lists the feast days of the General Roman Calendar as they were at the end of 1954. It is essentially the same calendar established by Pope Pius X (1903–1914) following his liturgical reforms, but it also incorporates changes that were made by Pope Pius XI (1922–1939), such as the institution of the Feast of Christ the King, and the changes made by Pope Pius XII (1939–1958) prior to 1955, chief among them the imposition of the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary upon the universal Church in 1944, the inscription of Pius X into the General Calendar following his 1954 canonization, and the institution of the Feast of the Queenship of Mary in October 1954.

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The Lutheran Church has, from the time of the Reformation, continued the remembrance of saints. The theological basis for this remembrance may be best illustrated in the words of the Epistle to the Hebrews: "Seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us." The Apology of the Augsburg Confession states that the remembrance of the saints has three parts: "The first is thanksgiving. For we ought to give thanks to God because He has shown examples of mercy; because He has shown that He wishes to save men; because He has given teachers or other gifts to the Church. And these gifts, as they are the greatest, should be amplified, and the saints themselves should be praised, who have faithfully used these gifts, just as Christ praises faithful business-men. The second service is the strengthening of our faith; when we see the denial forgiven Peter, we also are encouraged to believe the more that grace truly superabounds over sin. The third honor is the imitation, first, of faith, then of the other virtues, which every one should imitate according to his calling."

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  3. Sokol, David F. (2001). The Anglican Prayer Life: Ceum Na Corach', the True Way. p. 14. ISBN   978-0-595-19171-0. In 1556 Article XXII in part read ... 'The Romish doctrine concerning ... invocation of saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the word of God.' The term 'doctrina Romanensium' or Romish doctrine was substituted for the 'doctrina scholasticorum' of the doctrine of the school authors in 1563 to bring the condemnation up to date subsequent to the Council of Trent. As E. J. Bicknell writes, invocation may mean either of two things: the simple request to a saint for his prayers (intercession), 'ora pro nobis', or a request for some particular benefit. In medieval times the saints had come to be regarded as themselves the authors of blessings. Such a view was condemned but the former was affirmed.
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