Saint Brigid Religious Education
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West Hartford, CT 06110

Holy Days of Obligation


Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God ~ January 1

Ascension Thursday ~ Thursday of the sixth week of Easter

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary ~ August 15

All Saints Day ~ November 1

Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary ~ December 8

The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ (Christmas) ~ December 25

Catholic holy days, which may also be called feast days, are certain days within each year that commemorate spiritual things. These days may celebrate the lives of saints, apostles or martyrs, or may be commemorative of the Virgin Mary. Other times, they are celebrations of specific days in the life of Jesus Christ.

There are a vast number of Catholic holy days, but these are not considered holy days of obligation. Holy days of obligation are days when practicing Catholics must attend church.

There are a few Catholic holy days of obligation that are easy to remember. Easter and Christmas immediately spring to mind. Easter is always celebrated on a Sunday, so regular churchgoers are not likely to miss mass. Conversely Christmas is celebrated on the 25th of December and going to church the Sunday before or after Christmas does not lift obligation for church attendance on Christmas.

The number Holy Days of Obligation other than Sundays has varied considerably through the Church’s history, and at some periods and places dozens of saints days were included as obligatory. The number of holy days of obligation was once at 36. In 1911, Pope Pius X reduced the number of Holy Days of Obligation for the universal Church to eleven, eliminating most patronal feasts. In 1983, the year the new Code of Canon Law came into effect, the US bishops issued a “Complementary Norm” to Canon 1246, decreeing that the Holy Days of Obligation to be observed in the United States was set at six in the present calendar.

Non-Sunday holy days of obligation all have the rank of solemnity. Accordingly, if in Ordinary Time one of them falls on a Sunday, the Sunday celebration gives way to it; but the Sundays of Advent, Lent and Easter take precedence over all solemnities, which are then transferred to another day.

There are other holy days but they are not holy days of obligation. Here are just a few.

Epiphany ~ Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary ~ Palm Sunday ~ The Body and Blood of Christ ~ Trinity Sunday ~ Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles ~ Holy Thursday ~ Good Friday ~ Holy Saturday ~ Easter ~ Divine Mercy Sunday ~ Pentecost ~ Christ the King ~ First Sunday of Advent  ~ Feast of the Holy Family  ~ Ash Wednesday

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