Tag: Memorials

Catholic Church Holy Days of Obligation

Catholic Church Holy Days of Obligation

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HOLY DAYS OF OBLIGATION IN THE CHURCH

On holy days of obligation, Catholics are obliged to participate in Mass. Every Sunday is a holy day of obligation, as are six other days throughout the year.

The following days must also be observed:

    • the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ,
    • the Epiphany,
    • the Ascension,
    • the Body and Blood of Christ,
    • Holy Mary the Mother of God,
    • her Immaculate Conception,
    • her Assumption,
    • Saint Joseph,
    • Saint Peter and Saint Paul the Apostles,
    • and All Saints.

Vatican City

These ten are the exact holy days of obligation that are celebrated in Vatican City, but there is variation elsewhere (including in Italy). The reason is that the Code of Canon Law goes on to state:

Can.  1246 §2. With the prior approval of the Apostolic See, however, the conference of bishops can suppress some of the holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday.

Country with fewest Holy Days

Thus different countries celebrate different holy days of obligation (apart from Sunday, which they all celebrate).

  • The country with the fewest number of holy days of obligation seems to Hong Kong, which has only one: Christmas.
  • Canada has two: Christmas and Mary, Mother of God.
  • The United States, by contrast, has a fairly robust eight holy days of obligation, though two to three have been transferred to Sundays (depending on where you live).

The details can be a little bewildering though, so here is a complete, up-to-date list of the holy days of obligation in the United States:

  • January 1: The Feast of Mary, the Mother of God

  • 40 days after Easter Sunday: Ascension Thursday

  • August 15: Assumption of Mary into heaven

  • November 1: All Saints’ Day

  • December 8: The Feast of the Immaculate Conception

  • December 25: Christmas, the Nativity of Our Lord

In the United States, Christmas Day (December 25) and the Immaculate Conception (December 8) are always days of obligation. Christmas and Easter (which always falls on Sunday) are the highest-ranking holy days, and the Immaculate Conception is the feast for the United States.

Holy Days for Europe

Europe has four more holy days than the United States observes: January 6 (Epiphany), March 19 (St. Joseph), Corpus Christi (Thursday after Trinity Sunday, which is the Sunday after Pentecost, which is 50 days after Easter), and the Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul (June 29)