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In the liturgical calendar of the Roman Rite, a solemnity is a feast day of the highest rank celebrating a mystery of faith such as the Trinity, an event in the life of Jesus, his mother Mary, his legal father Joseph, or another important saint. The observance begins with the vigil on the evening before the actual date of the feast. Unlike feast days of the rank of feast (other than feasts of the Lord) or those of the rank of memorial, solemnities replace the celebration of Sundays outside Advent, Lent, and Easter (those in Ordinary Time).
The word comes from postclassical Latin sollemnitas, meaning a solemnity, festival, celebration of a day.
The solemnities of Nativity of the Lord, the Epiphany, the Ascension, and Pentecost are outranked only by the Paschal Triduum.
Other solemnities inscribed in the General Roman Calendar give way also to the following celebrations:
Solemnities inscribed in particular calendars yield not only to these, but also to the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed.
With the exceptions noted in the table below regarding the solemnities of Saint Joseph and the Annunciation of the Lord, a solemnity that falls on the same day as a celebration of higher rank is transferred to the next day not occupied by a solemnity, a Sunday or a feast.
Among solemnities inscribed in the General Roman Calendar, those of the Lord have precedence over those of the Blessed Virgin and these latter over solemnities of other saints. Thus if, for instance, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus coincides with that of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist or that of Saints Peter and Paul, it is these that are transferred to the next free day.
Among solemnities inscribed in particular calendars (proper solemnities) the order of precedence is:
The solemnities inscribed in the General Roman Calendar and which are therefore observed throughout the Latin Church are indicated in the following list.
|Date||Solemnity||Notes about date|
|1 January||Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God||Octave of Christmas, Circumcision of the Lord, New Year's Day|
|6 January||Epiphany of the Lord||Where not a holy day of obligation, transferred to the Sunday between 2 January and 8 January, inclusive|
|19 March||Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary||If the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, where observed as a holy day of obligation, coincides with Palm Sunday, it is, by exception to the general rule, anticipated to Saturday, 18 March; where not observed as a holy day of obligation, the episcopal conference may transfer it to a date outside Lent.|
|25 March||Annunciation of the Lord||If the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord falls on any day of Holy Week, it is always transferred to the Monday after the Second Sunday of Easter (30 March to 9 April), rather than, in accordance with the general rule, to the next day not occupied by a celebration with at least the rank of feast|
|(22 March to 25 April)||Resurrection of the Lord (Easter)||Concludes the Paschal Triduum that commemorates also the last supper, passion, death, burial and resurrection of Christ. See Computus for date computation. Begins Octave of Easter, eight consecutive days celebrated as one continuous solemnity, ending 29 March to 2 May). See also Resurrection of Jesus.|
|Thursday after the Sixth Sunday of Easter (40th day of Eastertide - 30 April to 3 June)||Ascension of the Lord||If not a holy day of obligation, transferred to replace the Seventh Sunday of Easter (3 May to 6 June)|
|50th day of Eastertide (10 May to 13 June)||Pentecost||(Whitsunday); always on a Sunday|
|Sunday after Pentecost (17 May to 20 June)||Trinity Sunday|
|Thursday after Trinity Sunday (21 May to 24 June)||Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ||"Corpus Christi"; in some dioceses, celebrated on the following Sunday (24 May to 27 June).|
|Friday (8 days after Corpus Christi Thursday, 5 days after Corpus Christi Sunday) (29 May to 2 July)||Most Sacred Heart of Jesus|
|24 June||Nativity of Saint John the Baptist|
|29 June||Saints Peter and Paul|
|15 August||Assumption of Mary|
|1 November||All Saints|
|Last Sunday before Advent (20–26 November)||Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe||Replaces 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time|
|8 December||Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary|
|25 December||Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)||everywhere a holy day of obligation; see also Nativity of Jesus|
There are also solemnities not inscribed in the General Roman Calendar, which are observed in particular places, regions, churches or religious institutes. The optional memorial of Saint Patrick on 17 March is a solemnity in Ireland, the memorial of Saint Josemaría Escrivá on 26 June is a solemnity within the prelature of Opus Dei, and the optional memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on 16 July is a solemnity for the Carmelites.
A partial list of proper solemnities follows:
|Date||Solemnity||Country or religious order|
|19 January||Saint Henry (bishop of Finland)||Finland|
|31 January||Don Bosco (Saint John Bosco)||Salesians of Don Bosco|
|1 March||Saint David||Wales|
|17 March||Saint Patrick||Ireland (holy day of obligation) and Australia|
|23 April||Saint George||England|
|23 April||Saint Adalbert of Prague||Poland|
|3 May||Our Lady, Queen of Poland||Poland|
|6 May (formerly 9 March)||Saint Dominic Savio||Salesians of Don Bosco|
|8 May||Saint Stanislaus of Szczepanów||Poland|
|8 May||Our Lady of Luján (Nuestra Señora de Luján)||Argentina|
|24 May||Mary Help of Christians||Australia, Salesians of Don Bosco|
|24 May||Transfer of remains of Saint Dominic||Dominican Order (where 8 August is not a solemnity)|
|26 June||Saint Josemaría Escrivá||prelature of Opus Dei|
|3 July||Saint Thomas the Apostle||India and Syro-Malabar Catholic Church (holy day of obligation in some Middle Eastern countries)|
|5 July||Saints Cyril and Methodius||Slovakia, Czech Republic|
|11 July||Saint Benedict of Nursia||Order of Saint Benedict|
|16 July||Our Lady of Mount Carmel||Carmelites, Discalced Carmelites, Bolivia, and Chile|
|20 July||Saint Elijah the Prophet||Carmelites (not discalced)|
|20 July||Saint Andrew Kim Taegon the Priest and Martyr||South Korea|
|25 July||Saint James, son of Zebedee, the Apostle (Santiago el Mayor)||Spain (holy day of obligation)|
|29 July||King Saint Olaf II of Norway||Norway|
|31 July||Saint Ignatius of Loyola||Society of Jesus|
|8 August||Saint Mary MacKillop of the Cross||Australia|
|8 August||Saint Dominic||Dominican Order (where 24 May is not a solemnity)|
|11 August||Saint Clare of Assisi||Poor Clares and some other Franciscans|
|20 August||King Saint Stephen I of Hungary||Hungary|
|26 August||Black Madonna of Częstochowa||Poland|
|28 August||Saint Augustine of Hippo||Augustinians|
|30 August||Saint Rose of Lima||Peru|
|4 September (?)||Our Lady of Consolation||Augustinians|
|8 September||Nativity of Mary||Lithuania and Syro-Malankara Catholic Church (holy day of obligation in some Middle Eastern countries)|
|15 September||Our Lady of Sorrows||Slovakia|
|28 September||Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia||Czech Republic|
|1 October||Saint Therese of Lisieux||Discalced Carmelites and France and some European Countries|
|4 October||Saint Francis of Assisi||Franciscan|
|12 October||Our Lady of Aparecida||Brazil|
|15 October||Teresa of Ávila||Discalced Carmelites|
|3 November||Saint Martin de Porres||Peru|
|16 November||Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn (Mother of Mercy)||Lithuania|
|19 November||Our Lady of Providence||Puerto Rico|
|30 November||Andrew the Apostle||Russia and Scotland|
|3 December||Saint Francis Xavier||India|
|12 December||Our Lady of Guadalupe||Mexico (holy day of obligation)|
|14 December||Saint John of the Cross||Discalced Carmelites|
Even if it is a weekday, if the day is a Solemnity, then the Gloria is said, as well as the Creed at Mass, and there are two scriptural readings, not one, before the Gospel. Also, there will sometimes be processional and recessional hymns, and use of incense.
Some but not all solemnities are also holy days of obligation, on which, as on Sundays, Catholics are required to attend Mass and to avoid work and business that hinder divine worship or suitable relaxation of mind and body.All holy days of obligation have the rank of solemnity at least at local level, though not necessarily holding that rank in the General Roman Calendar. With the exception of the solemnities of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Annunciation of the Lord and the Birth of John the Baptist, all the solemnities inscribed in the General Roman Calendar are mentioned as holy days of obligation in canon 1246 of the Code of Canon Law, but are not necessarily all observed in a particular country.
When a solemnity falls on a Friday, the obligation to abstain from meat or some other food as determined by the episcopal conference does not apply.
The liturgical year, also known as the church year or Christian year, as well as the kalendar, consists of the cycle of liturgical seasons in Christian churches that determines when feast days, including celebrations of saints, are to be observed, and which portions of Scripture are to be read either in an annual cycle or in a cycle of several years.
Saint Joseph's Day, also called the Feast of Saint Joseph or the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, is in Western Christianity the principal feast day of Saint Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary and legal father of Jesus Christ celebrated on 19 March. It has the rank of a solemnity in the Catholic Church. It is a feast or commemoration in the provinces of the Anglican Communion, and a feast or festival in the Lutheran Church. Saint Joseph's Day is the Patronal Feast day for Poland as well as for Canada, persons named Joseph, Josephine, etc., for religious institutes, schools and parishes bearing his name, and for carpenters. It is also Father's Day in some Catholic countries, mainly Spain, Portugal, and Italy. It is not a holy day of obligation for Catholics in the United States.
In some traditions of Christianity, Holy Week is the most sacred week in the Church year. In Eastern Rite Churches, also known as Eastern Orthodox, Holy Week occurs the week after Lazarus Saturday and starts on the evening of Palm Sunday. In the rites of the Western/Latin/Roman Church it begins with Palm Sunday and concludes on Easter Sunday. For all Christian traditions it is a moveable observance. In Eastern Rite Churches, Holy Week starts after 40 days of Lent and two transitional days, namely Saturday of Lazarus and Palm Sunday. In Western Rite Churches, Holy Week falls on the last week of Lent or Sixth Lent Week.
In the Catholic Church, holy days of obligation are days on which the faithful are expected to attend Mass, and engage in rest from work and recreation, according to the Third Commandment.
Ordinary Time is the part of the liturgical year in the liturgy of the Roman Rite, as revised in 1969, which falls outside the two great seasons of Christmastide and Eastertide, or their respective preparatory seasons of Advent and Lent. Ordinary Time thus includes the days between Christmastide and Lent, and between Eastertide and Advent. The liturgical color assigned to Ordinary Time is green. The last Sunday of Ordinary Time is the Solemnity of Christ the King.
The Paschal Triduum or Easter Triduum, Holy Triduum, or the Three Days, is the period of three days that begins with the liturgy on the evening of Maundy Thursday, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and closes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday. It is a moveable observance recalling the Passion, Crucifixion, Death, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus, as portrayed in the canonical Gospels.
The Octave of Easter is the eight-day period, or octave, that begins on Easter and ends with the following Sunday. In Christian churches that celebrate it, it marks the beginning of Eastertide. The first seven of these eight days are also collectively known as Easter Week.
A memorial in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church is a lower-ranked feast day in honour of a saint, the dedication of a church, or a mystery of the religion.
Feria is a day other than the sabbath day. In the liturgy of the Catholic Church, a feria is a day of the week other than Sunday.
Eastertide or Paschaltide is a festal season in the liturgical year of Christianity that focuses on celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It begins on Easter Sunday, which initiates Easter Week in Western Christianity, and Bright Week in Eastern Christianity. There are several Eastertide customs across the Christian world, including sunrise services, exclaiming the Paschal greeting, clipping the church, and decorating Easter eggs, a symbol of the empty tomb. The Easter lily, a symbol of the resurrection, traditionally serve as the chancel flowers that decorate the chancel area of churches throughout Eastertide. Other Eastertide customs include egg hunting, eating special Easter foods and watching Easter parades.
The Eastern Orthodox Liturgical Calendar describes and dictates the rhythm of the life of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Passages of Holy Scripture, saints and events for commemoration are associated with each date, as are many times special rules for fasting or feasting that correspond to the day of the week or time of year in relationship to the major feast days.
In the Latin liturgical rites of the Catholic Church, a commemoration is the recital, within the Liturgy of the Hours or the Mass of one celebration, of part of another celebration that is generally of lower rank and impeded because of a coincidence of date.
In Christian liturgy, a vigil is, in origin, a religious service held during the night leading to a Sunday or other feastday. The Latin term vigilia, from which the word is derived meant a watch night, not necessarily in a military context, and generally reckoned as a fourth part of the night from sunset to sunrise. The four watches or vigils were of varying length in line with the seasonal variation of the length of the night.
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.
"Octave" has two senses in Christian liturgical usage. In the first sense, it is the eighth day after a feast, reckoning inclusively, and so always falls on the same day of the week as the feast itself. The word is derived from Latin octava (eighth), with dies (day) understood. In the second sense, the term is applied to the whole period of these eight days, during which certain major feasts came to be observed.
The Mass is the central liturgical rite in the Catholic Church, encompassing the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, where the bread and wine are consecrated and become the Body and Blood of Christ. As defined by the Church at the Council of Trent, in the Mass, "the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross, is present and offered in an unbloody manner". The Church describes the Mass as the "source and summit of the Christian life". It teaches that the sacramental bread and wine, through consecration by an ordained priest, become the sacrificial body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ as the sacrifice on Calvary made truly present once again on the altar. The Catholic Church permits only baptised members in the state of grace to receive Christ in the Eucharist.
The Feast of the Annunciation, contemporarily the Solemnity of the Annunciation, and also called Lady Day, the Feast of the Incarnation, or Conceptio Christi, commemorates the visit of the archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, during which he informed her that she would be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is celebrated on 25 March each year. In the Roman Catholic Church, when 25 March falls during the Paschal Triduum, it is transferred forward to the first suitable day during Eastertide. In Eastern Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholicism, it is never transferred, even if it falls on Pascha (Easter). The concurrence of these two feasts is called Kyriopascha.
The Ranking of liturgical days in the Roman Rite is a regulation for the liturgy of the Roman Catholic church. It determines for each liturgical day which observance has priority when liturgical dates and times coincide, which texts are used for the celebration of the Holy Mass and the Liturgy of the hours and which liturgical color is assigned to the day or celebration.
Feasts of Jesus Christ are specific days of the year distinguished in the liturgical calendar as being significant days for the celebration of events in the life of Jesus Christ and his veneration, for the commemoration of his relics, signs and miracles. While Easter is treated everywhere as the central religious feast in the Christian liturgical year, the other feasts differ in the liturgical practice.
Mysterii Paschalis is an apostolic letter issued motu proprio by Pope Paul VI on 14 February 1969. It reorganized the liturgical year of the Roman Rite and revised the liturgical celebrations of Jesus Christ and the saints in the General Roman Calendar.