The Church attempts to live out the mystery of Christ and salvation history within the year. As such it designates specific days of the year to celebrate the chief events of this mystery. Additionally the Church commemorates the lives of great saints by designating certain days of the year to remember them. These days are both an act of remembrance, as well as a way to instruct the faithful by making the calendar reflect the life of Christ.

   These days of commemoration and instruction have been classified according to their importance. They are called, in order of precedence: solemnities, feasts, and memorials.

SOLEMNITIES: Solemnities are the great events of the Church, but they must not be confused with holy days of obligation. For example the solemnities of St. Joseph the Husband of Mary, and Saints Peter and Paul are indeed solemnities but not holy days. The general calendar is the calendar used for the majority of the Roman Rite. There are 24 solemnities in the general calendar. Certain religious orders, such as Dominicans and Carmelites have a slightly different list of solemnities. Solemnities begin with evening prayer (Vespers) the night before, unlike other liturgical days, which begin at midnight. For that reason the evening prayer before a solemnity is called evening prayer I, while that celebrated on the solemnity itself is called evening prayer II. Some solemnities have their own vigil masses, which are celebrated after evening prayer I. Every day in the Octave of Easter is a solemnity. Some solemnities have a fixed date on which they are celebrated, such as Christmas, which is always the 25th of December. Other solemnities are moveable, such as Easter, which is based on the Vernal Equinox. Solemnities usually take precedence over weekdays in the liturgy and in most cases over Sunday. If a solemnity takes precedence over the day it lands on, the readings and prayers are for the solemnity and not for that day. For instance, this year the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary falls on the Wednesday after the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Therefore, on that day the readings and prayers will be for the Assumption rather than for the Wednesday after the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time in the liturgical calendar.

FEASTS: Down one step from solemnities are feasts. Feasts are celebrated within the normal liturgical day of midnight to midnight. There are 25 feasts listed in the general calendar. All feasts, except Holy Family, are fixed in date. Like solemnities, feasts sometimes take precedence over the liturgy for the day they fall on. Not all feasts are of equal stature. The "feasts of the Lord" take precedence over Sundays of Christmas and Ordinary Time, but the feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary do not. All feasts take precedence over all weekdays except Ash Wednesday; Weekdays of Holy Week (including the Triduum) and days within the octave of Easter.

MEMORIALS: Lower in importance than solemnities and feasts are memorials. There are 159 memorials listed in the general calendar, and six more that are celebrated only in the dioceses of the United States. Many of the days dedicated in memory of a saint are memorials. All memorials are fixed in date. Memorials can be either obligatory or optional. Of the 165 memorials celebrated in the US, 71 are listed as obligatory and 94 are listed as optional. As the name implies, the celebrant may choose to use the prayers for an optional memorial or not. Many of the memorials, both optional and obligatory, have specific written prayers for each individual saint or other occasion for use at Mass. These prayers are known as the "proper" for the occasion. Some saints do not have specific prayers. There are generic prayers written for each category of saint being honored in a memorial. These generic prayers are known as the "common" for the occasion. Those such honored will usually fall into the category of: Saint, pope, bishop, priest, religious, virgin, or martyr. For instance St. Blase, which is an optional memorial, is both a bishop and a martyr. Therefore the readings can be either from the common for bishops or the common for martyrs.

   The liturgical celebrations of solemnities, feasts, and memorials enhance the richness of the Church's calendar. These enhancements turn the calendar into a living history lesson of the life of Christ and his Church.

Liturgical Days
January 1Mary Mother of God     
January 2     SS. Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, bishops and doctors  
January 4     St. Elizabeth Ann Seton*  
January 5     St. John Neumann bishop*  
January 6       Bl Andre Bessette
Movable. Closest Sunday to January 6 Epiphany of the Lord†      
January 7       St. Raymond of Penyafort, priest
Sunday after Jan 6
  Baptism of the Lord   
January 13       St. Hilary, bishop and doctor
January 17     St. Anthony, abbot  
January 20       St. Fabian, pope and martyr; Sebastian, martyr
January 21     St. Agnes, virgin, martyr  
January 22       St. Vincent, deacon and martyr
January 24     St. Francis de Sales, bishop and doctor  
January 25   The Conversion of St. Paul    
January 26     SS. Timothy and Titus, bishops,  
January 27      Angela Merici, virgin
January 28    St. Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor  
January 31     St. John Bosco, priest,  
February 2   Presentation of the Lord    
February 3       St. Blase, bishop and martyr; Ansgar, bishop
February 5     St. Agatha, virgin and martyr  
February 6     St. Paul Miki and companions, martyrs  
February 8       St. Jerome Emiliani
February 10     St. Scholastica, virgin  
February 11       Our Lady of Lourdes
February 14     SS. Cyril, monk and Methodius, bishop  
February 17       Seven Founders of the Orders of Servites
February 21       St. Peter Damian, bishop and doctor
February 22   The Chair of St. Peter apostle    
February 23  St. Polycarp, bishop and martyr  
March 4   St. Casimir
March 7     SS. Perpetua and Felicity, martyrs  
March 8       St. John of God, religious
March 9       St. Frances of Rome, religious
March 17       St. Patrick, bishop
March 18       St. Cyril of Jerusalem, bishop and doctor
March 19 St. Joseph husband of Mary      
March 23       St. Turibius de Mongrovejo, bishop
March 25 The Annunciation      
Movable. First Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Easter Sunday      
Movable. Easter Sunday to 2nd Sunday of Easter inclusive Octave of Easter      
April 2       St. Francis of Paola, hermit
April 4       St. Isadore, bishop and doctor
April 5       St. Vincent Ferrer, priest
April 7     St.John Baptist de la Salle, priest  
April 11       St. Stanislaus, bishop and martyr
April 13       St. Martin I, pope and martyr
April 21       St. Anselm, bishop and doctor
April 23       St. George, martyr
April 24       St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, priest and martyr
April 25   St. Mark Evangelist    
April 28       St. Peter Chanel, priest and martyr
April 29     St. Catherine of Siena, virgin and doctor  
April 30       St. Pius V, pope
May 1       St. Joseph the Worker
May 2     St. Athanasius, bishop and doctor  
May 3   SS. Philip and James the Apostles    
May 12       SS. Nereus and Achilleus, martyrs; Pancras, martyr
May 14   St. Matthias Apostle    
May 15       St. Isidore*
May 18       St. John I, pope and martyr
May 20       St. Bernadine of Siena, priest
May 25       Venerable Bede, priest and doctor;
St. Gregory VII, pope:
Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, virgin
May 26     St. Philip Neri, priest  
May 27      St. Augustine of Canterbury, bishop
May 31 The Visitation of the BVM    
Movable. Forty days after Easter Ascension of the Lord†     
Movable. Nine days after Ascension. Pentecost      
Movable. First Sunday after Pentecost. The Holy Trinity      
Movable. Thursday after Holy Trinity. Corpus Christi†      
Movable. Friday following second Sunday after Pentecost. Sacred Heart of Jesus      
Movable. Saturday following second Sunday after Pentecost.       Immaculate Heart of Mary
June 1     St. Justin, martyr  
June 2       SS. Marcellinus and Peter, martyrs
June 3     St. Charles Lwanga and companions, martyrs  
June 5     St. Boniface, bishop and martyr  
June 6       St. Norbert, bishop
June 9       St. Ephrem, deacon and doctor
June 11     St. Barnabas, apostle  
June 13     St. Anthony of Padua, priest and doctor  
June 19       St. Romuald, abbot
June 21     St. Aloysius Gonzaga, religious  
June 22       St. Paulinus of Nola, bishop; St. John Fisher, bishop and martyr; St. Thomas More, martyr
June 24 Birth of John the Baptist      
June 27       St. Cyril of Alexandria, bishop and doctor
June 28     St. Irenaeus, bishop and martyr  
June 29 SS. Peter and Paul, apostles      
June 30       First Martyrs of the Church of Rome
July 3   St. Thomas, Apostle    
July 4       St. Elizabeth of Portugal
July 5       St. Anthony Zaccaria, priest
July 6       St. Maria Goretti, virgin and martyr
July 11     St. Benedict, abbot  
July 13       St. Henry
July 14     Blessed Katyeri Takakwitha, virgin*  
July 15     St. Bonaventure, bishop and doctor  
July 16       Our Lady of Mount Carmel
July 18       St. Camillus de Lellis, priest††
July 21       St. Lawrence of Brindisi, priest and doctor
July 22     St. Mary Magdalene  
July 23       St. Bridget, religious
July 25   St. James the Apostle    
July 26     SS. Joachim and Anne, parents of Mary  
July 29     St. Martha  
July 30       St. Peter Chrysologus, bishop and doctor
July 31     St. Ignatius of Loyola, priest  
August 1     St. Alphonsis Liguori, bishop and doctor  
August 2       St. Eusebius of Vercelli, bishop
August 4     St. John Mary Vianney, priest  
August 5       Dedication of Saint Mary Major
August 6   The Transfiguration    
August 7       St. Sixtus II, pope and martyr and companions, martyrs; St. Cajetan, priest
August 8     St. Dominic, priest  
August 10   St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr    
August 11     St. Clare, virgin  
August 13       SS. Pontian, pope and martyr, and Hippolytus, priest and martyr
August 14     St. Maximilian Kolbe, priest, martyr  
August 15 The Assumption of the BVM      
August 16       St. Stephen of Hungary
August 19       St. John Eudes, priest
August 20     St. Bernard, abbot and doctor  
August 21     St. Pius X, pope  
August 22     Queenship of the BVM  
August 23       St. Rose of Lima, virgin
August 24   St. Bartholowmew, apostle    
August 25       St. Louis; St. Joseph Calasanz, priest
August 27     St. Monica  
August 28     St. Augustine, bishop and doctor  
August 29     Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist  
September 3     St. Gregory the Great, pope and doctor  
September 8   The Birth of the BVM    
September 9     St. Peter Claver, priest*  
September 13     St. John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor  
September 14   Triumph of the Holy Cross    
September 15     Our Lady of Sorrows  
September 16     SS. Cornelius, pope and martyr, and Cyprian, bishop and martyr  
September 17       St. Robert Bellarmine, bishop and doctor
September 19       St. Januarius, bishop and martyr
September 20     St. Andrew Kim Taegon, St. Paul Chong Hasang and companions  
September 21   St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist    
September 26       SS. Cosmas and Damian, martyrs
September 27     St. Vincent de Paul, priest  
September 28       St. Wenceslaus, martyr
September 29   SS. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels    
September 30     St. Jerome, priest and doctor  
October 1     St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, virgin, doctor  
October 2     The Guardian Angels  
October 4     St. Francis of Assisi  
October 6       St. Bruno, priest
October 7     Our Lady of the Rosary  
October 9     St. Denis, bishop and martyr, and companions, martyrs;
St. John Leonardi, priest
October 14       St. Callistus I, pope and martyr
October 15     St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila), virgin and doctor  
October 16     St. Hedwig, religious;
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, virgin
October 17   St. Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr  
October 18   St. Luke Evangelist    
Oct 19     SS. Isaac Jogues and John de Brebeuf, priests and martyrs and their companions, martyrs* St. Paul of the Cross, priest
October 23       St. John of Capistrano, priest
October 24       St. Anthony Claret, bishop
October 28   SS. Simon and Jude, apostles    
November 1 All Saints      
November 2All Souls**   
November 3       St. Martin de Porres, religious
November 4     St. Charles Borromeo, bishop  
November 9   The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome    
November 10     St. Leo the Great, pope and doctor  
November 11     St. Martin of Tours, bishop  
November 12     St. Josaphat, bishop and martyr  
November 13     St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, virgin*  
November 15       St. Albert the Great, bishop and doctor
November 16       St.Margaret of Scotland; St Gertrude, virgin
November 17     St. Elizabeth of Hungary, religious  
November 18       Dedication of the churches of SS. Peter and Paul, apostles
November 21     The Presentation of the BVM  
November 22     St. Cecilia, virgin and martyr  
November 23       St. Clement I, pope and martyr; St Columban, abbot
November 24     St. Andrew Dung-Lac, priest and martyr and his companions, martyrs  
Movable. Last Sunday in Ordinary Time. Christ the King      
November 30   St. Andrew the Apostle    
December 3     St. Francis Xavier, priest  
December 4       St. John Damascene, priest and doctor
December 6       St. Nicholas, bishop
December 7     St. Ambrose, bishop and doctor  
December 8 The Immaculate Conception of the BVM      
December 11       St. Damascus I, pope
December 12     Our Lady of Guadalupe* St. Jane Frances de Chantel, religious
December 13     St. Lucy, virgin and martyr  
December 14     St. John of the Cross, priest and doctor  
December 21       St. Peter Canisius, priest and doctor
December 23       St. John of Kanty, priest
December 25 Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)      
December 26   St. Stephen, first martyr    
December 27   St. John Apostle and Evangelist    
December 28   Holy Innocents martyrs    
December 29       St. Thomas Becket, bishop and martyr
Movable. Sunday within the Octave of Christmas or if there is no Sunday within the Octave, December 30th.   Holy Family    
December 31       St. Sylvester I, pope
†Celebrated on the closest Sunday.
*Proper to Dioceses of the United States of America
††Celebrated on July 14 in the Universal Calendar
**All Souls day has the precedence of a solemnity but is not categorized as are other Liturgical Days



Published by The Minnesota St. Thomas More Chapter of Catholics United for the Faith, August 2001.