Saint Brigid Religious Education
100 Mayflower Street
West Hartford, CT 06110
Holy Days of Obligation
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.
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 ~
Divine Mercy Sunday ~
Christ the King ~
First Sunday of Advent ~
Feast of the Holy Family ~