CHRISTIAN HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

CHRISTIAN HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

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Pentacost, the Day of the
Descent of the Holy Spirit
Celebrations honoring local patron saints are the main annual events in many towns and regions. Some Christians celebrate their patron saint day rather than their birthday. For example, if someone is named George they have a big party on St. George's feast day. In some places first communions are big social events in which parents by buy their children fancy clothes and have a nice dinner.

The Orthodox Church observes the Julian calendar instead of the Gregorian calendar (the calendar used in most of the world today). Holidays such as Christmas, New Year and Easter are 13 days later than holidays on the Gregorian calendar.

Why is the Christian Sabbath on Sunday and the Jewish Sabbath on Saturday? Swiss scholar Willy Rordorf has argued that it is because early Christians regarded the Sabbath as every day of their life while Jews regarded it as symbolic of the seventh day of Creation, on which God rested. Christians replaced the Jewish Saturday Sabbath (seventh day of the week) with Sunday (the first day of the week) to symbolize their belief in the everyday Sabbath. “The idea of rest played absolutely no part in the Christian Sunday," Rordorf said. Sunday was also the day of rest that Constantine ordained as such in A.D. 321. But Christians did not necessarily abandon the Jewish Sabbath which is why. Some argue, we have a weekend. ["World Religions" edited by Geoffrey Parrinder, Facts on File Publications, New York]

Major Saint Days: April 25, St. Mark; April 30, St. Catherine; May 16, Joan of Arc; June 5, St. Boniface; June 13, St. Anthony; June 24, St. John the Baptist; June 29, Sts. Peter and Paul; July 25, St. James the Great; July 25, St. Christopher; September 21, St. Matthew; October 4, St. Francis of Assisi; October 18, St. Luke; November 22, St. Cecilia; and November 30, St. Andrew.

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St. Catherine
Annual Christian Festivals:
Annunciation, 25 March
The Easter period, in Spring (dates vary):
Lent
Holy Week
Easter
Ascension Day (40 days after Easter)
Pentecost (7th Sunday after Easter)
The Christmas period, late November to early January
Advent, the period leading up to Christmas: begins on the Sunday closest to 30 November
Christmas Eve, 24 December
Christmas Day, 25 December
Epiphany, early January
Some demoninations of Christianity also celebrate Saints' days, which happen on fixed dates every year. |::|

Websites and Resources: Christianity Britannica on Christianity britannica.com//Christianity ; History of Christianity history-world.org/jesus_christ ; BBC on Christianity bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity ;Wikipedia article on Christianity Wikipedia ; Religious Tolerance religioustolerance.org/christ.htm ; Christian Answers christiananswers.net ; Christian Classics Ethereal Library www.ccel.org ; Bible: Bible Gateway and the New International Version (NIV) of The Bible biblegateway.com ; King James Version of the Bible gutenberg.org/ebooks ;

Early Christianity: Elaine Pagels website elaine-pagels.com ; Sacred Texts website sacred-texts.com ; Gnostic Society Library gnosis.org ; PBS Frontline From Jesus to Christ, The First Christians pbs.org ; Guide to Early Church Documents iclnet.org; Early Christian Writing earlychristianwritings.com ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Christian Origins sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Early Christian Art oneonta.edu/farberas/arth/arth212/Early_Christian_art ; Early Christian Images jesuswalk.com/christian-symbols ; Early Christian and Byzantine Images belmont.edu/honors/byzart2001/byzindex

Book: “History of Christianity” by Owen Chadwick; “The Faith: A History of Christianity” by Brian Moynahan

B.C., A.D. and Who Said the World began in 4004 B.C.?

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God Creating the Earth
The modern system of dating was devised by Dionysius Exiguus (Little Dennis), a 6th century Christian monk who was trying to figure out a way to reliably predict Easter. He lived in Rome and devised the system for counting years after Christ was born based on erroneous calculations. Worldwide use of the Christian calendar didn't catch until the 1800s when it was spread around the globe by imperialism and trade.

"B.C." stand for "Before Christ" and "A.D." stands for Anno Domini ("Year of Our Lord"). Some scholars have replaced "B.C." with "B.C.E." ("Before Common Era") and A.D. with "C.E." ("Common Era") to get rid of religious prejudice. Early calendars had no year 0 because the Romans hadn't devised zero. The year of Christ' birth was designated as 1 A.D. See When Christ was Born

Irish prelate and scholar Archbishop James Ussher (1581-1659) was the person who fixed the date of creation in the year 4004 B.C. by examining the scriptures. During the Middle Ages most people weren't concerned with investigating ancient history because they believed the Bible recorded the events between Eden and Jerusalem adequately and the Greeks and Romans recorded the development of the Mediterranean. The world outside the Holy Land and Europe did not exist and most people did not think about what happened before Biblical Times.

An Irish prelate by the name of James Ussher (1581-1656) is the source of the generally accepted view among creationists that God created the world at 9:00am on October 26, 4004 B.C. Ussher was expert in Semitic languages, who had studied ancient texts from the Middle East and Europe nearly his entire lifetime before he announced the date in 1654. The assertion gave credibility to Christian belief that the world was created in a single week and no species existed before or were added afterwards.

The Jewish rabbi Natan Slifkin, based on his literal reading of Genesis, claims the world began in 3759 B.C. After declaring this he was condemned by leading rabbis and Jewish scholars. One of Rabbi Slifkin’s supporters told the New York Times, “the same scientists who tell you with such clarity what happened 65 million years ago — ask what the weather will be like in New York in two weeks time.”

Christian Year and Immovable and Movable Feasts

According to the BBC: “The Christian year is divided by festivals, some of which happen on the same date each year, while others move around the calendar, often so that they will happen on a Sunday. The Church year is divided up by various festivals and seasons. Some, like Christmas Day, happen on the same date every year, while others move around within a range of dates. The main festival that moves is Easter, and since many other festivals have their dates fixed in relation to Easter, they move with it. [Source: June 16, 2009 BBC |::|]

Immovable feasts are Christian holidays that keep the same date every year. They include: New Year’s Day (January 1); Epiphany (January 6); Candlemass (February 2); Annunciation (March 25); Transfiguration (August 6); Assumption (August 15); All Saint’s Day (November 1); All Soul’s Day (November 2); Immaculate Conception (December 2); Christmas (December 25th);

Movable feasts are Christian holidays that change every year. They are a manifestation of the church to keep moon-fixed festivals in line with the solar calendar. The most famous of the ones are set to Easter and Lent.

Lent is a period of 40 days, not including Sundays, ending with Easter. Carnival embraces the days before Lent Shrove Tuesday is the day before Lent. Ash Wednesday is First Day of Lent.

Holy Week is the week before Easter. It embraces Palm Sunday (Sunday before Easter), Maundy Thursday (Thursday before Easter); Good Friday ( Friday before Easter) and Easter (First Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal (spring) equinox).

The main movable feasts and after Easter are: Ascension Day (40 days after Easter); Whitsunday, or Pentecost Day (50 days after Easter); Whitmonday (the day after Whitsunday); Trinity Sunday (Sunday after Whitsunday); and Corpus Christi Day (two Thursdays after Whitsunday).


Christian feasts in June


Annunciation

“The Annunciation on March 25th marks the visit by the angel Gabriel's to Mary, who is told that she will be the mother of Jesus Christ. According to the BBC: “More importantly, since it occurs 9 months before the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day, the Annunciation marks the actual incarnation of Jesus Christ - the moment that Jesus was conceived and that the Son of God became the son of the Virgin.The festival has been celebrated since the 5th century AD. The festival celebrates two things: 1) God's action in entering the human world as Jesus in order to save humanity; and 2) Humanity's willing acceptance of God's action in Mary's freely given acceptance of the task of being the Mother of God [Source: June 16, 2009 BBC |::|]

“The story of the Annunciation has produced three important liturgical texts, the Ave Maria, the Angelus, and the Magnificat. 1) The angel's greeting to Mary, which is traditionally translated as "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee," (in Latin Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum) is the opening of the Ave Maria, and a part of the Rosary prayers. 2) The Angelus consists of three Ave Marias, together with some additional material. It is said three times a day in the Roman Catholic Church. 3) The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) is the poem with which Mary responds to the Annunciation and celebrates the power of God. |::|

According to the BBC: “Some feminist theologians find the story of the Assumption portrays women as unacceptably submissive and as colluding with the idea that "women's only claim to fame is the capacity to have babies." They interpret Mary's behaviour as demonstrating passive subordination to male power. “Simone de Beauvoir wrote: “For the first time in human history the mother kneels before her son: she freely accepts her inferiority. This is the supreme masculine victory, consummated in the cult of the Virgin.” — Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, 1952 |::|

“Other writers have a different interpretation. They don't see Mary as powerless before God, but instead as a woman who makes a free choice to accept God's task for her - a task she could have refused. Mary's acceptance of the role of servant is not, they teach, demeaning, and they point out that Jesus also regarded himself as a servant. And taking up the example of the disciples, they see Mary, through her act of faith, exercising her right to believe what she wants and to cooperate with God in his plan of salvation - a plan that he cannot carry out without her. |::|

“Other writers suggest that the story of the Annunciation emphasises the status of women, since in the Incarnation God enlists the help of a woman to create a child of vast importance, and gives men no part to play in this important work. |And in the Magnificat itself, Mary becomes the herald of Salvation, and takes Christianity into the spheres of politics and justice as the first spokesperson for the marginalised people who were the focus of Jesus, and are now the focus of Christians and the Church.” |::|

Bible Story of the Annunciation


The Annunciation

The story is the Annunciation is told in Luke's Gospel, 1: 26-38: “In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you." [Source: Luke 1:26-38, NIV, International Bible Society]

“Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

“"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God." "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.

Corpus Christi

According to the BBC: “The festival of Corpus Christi celebrates the Eucharist as the body of Christ. The name 'Corpus Christi' is Latin for 'the body of Christ'. This jubilant festival is celebrated by Roman Catholics and other Christians to proclaim the truth of the transubstantiation of bread and wine into the actual body of Christ during Mass. In some countries in the world, Catholic churches still celebrate the festival, not only with a Mass, but also with a procession that carries the consecrated wafer through the streets as a public statement that the sacrifice of Christ was for the salvation of the whole world. |::|

“Corpus Christi falls between late May and the middle of June, on the first Thursday after Trinity Sunday (60 days after Easter). In some countries the festival is celebrated on the Sunday after Trinity Sunday. In the Church of England this feast is also kept on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday and known as the Day of Thanksgiving for the Institution of Holy Communion (Corpus Christi). |::|


Corpus Christ statue of Santa Ana carried in Cuzco, Peru

“It's worth noting that Christians already mark the Last Supper, when Christ instituted the Eucharist, on Maundy Thursday (the day before Good Friday). Because Maundy Thursday falls during the solemn period of Holy Week, it was thought necessary to have a separate festival of the Eucharist that would allow the celebration not to be muted by sadness. |::|

Corpus Christi Celebration

According to the BBC: “The main feature of Corpus Christi celebrations is the triumphant liturgical procession in which the sacred host (the wafer that has been consecrated during the Mass) is carried out of the Church "for the Christian faithful to make public profession of faith and worship of the Most Blessed Sacrament". The practice is no longer common in the UK, where traditional processions started to wane in the 1970s after the Second Vatican Council. Attempts have been made to revive the tradition in some UK towns and villages in recent years. [Source: June 23, 2009 BBC |::|]

“During his papacy, Pope John Paul II led an annual Corpus Christi procession from St Peter's Square in the Vatican to the streets of Rome. Many traditional Catholics are keen for such processions to be promoted everywhere in the world in the light of the late Pope's example. Since, for Catholics, the host contains the real presence of Christ, it is treated as Christ in human form would be treated, with reverence, ceremony and adoration.The host is displayed on a 'monstrance' and protected from the sun by a canopy. |::|

“The procession moves through local streets, either to another church, or back to the church where it began. The Church states that ...the devout participation of the faithful in the eucharistic procession on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is a grace from the Lord which yearly fills with joy those who take part in it. — Redemptionis Sacramentum 143 |::|

“The structure of the procession is often designed to demonstrate the hierarchy of heaven in that the sacred host is followed in procession by various Church organisations carrying the banners of their patron saints. Churches may prepare for the festival in the days before by various smaller-scale ceremonies such as the Adoration of the Sacrament, and services which explore the 'eucharistic dimension' of various elements of parish work. |::|

Corpus Christi Liturgy


Corpus Christi procession

“Corpus Christi is marked by a service originally devised by Thomas Aquinas. It includes five great hymns, including Panis Angelicus (part of a longer hymn called Sacris Solemniis, 'At this our solemn feast'):
Panis angelicus
Fit panis hominum
Dat panis coelicus
Figuris terminum
O res mirabilis
Manducat Dominum
Pauper, pauper
Servus et humilis |::|

“Thomas Aquinas, Sacris Solemniis Juncta Sint Gaudia (Matins hymn for Corpus Christi), stanza 6 Thus Angels' Bread is made
the Bread of humankind today:
the Living Bread from heaven
with imaginings does away:
O wondrous gift indeed!
the poor and lowly may
upon their Lord and Master feed— Aquinas's English translation

and Pange lingua ('Sing, my tongue'):
Pange, lingua, gloriosi
Corporis mysterium,
Sanguinisque pretiosi,
quem in mundi pretium
fructus ventris generosi
Rex effudit Gentium. — Thomas Aquinas, Pange Lingua (hymn for Vespers on the Feast of Copus Christi), stanza 1


Corpus Christi in Belarus

Sing, my tongue,
The mystery of the glorious body,
And of the precious Blood,
Shed to save the world,
By the King of the nations,
The fruit of a noble womb. — Literal English translation

Pange lingua includes the Tantum Ergo:
Tantum ergo Sacramentum
Veneremur cernui:
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui:
Praestet fides supplementum
Sensuum defectui.

Thomas Aquinas, Pange Lingua (hymn for Vespers on the Feast of Copus Christi), stanza 5
Down in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail,
Lo! o'er ancient forms departing
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith for all defects supplying,
Where the feeble senses fail. — Aquinas's English translation

Aquinas also wrote a powerful prayer for the festival, that encompasses many aspects of the doctrine of the Eucharist: O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament left us a memorial of your Passion: grant, we implore you, that we may so venerate the sacred mysteries of your body and blood, as always to be conscious of the fruit of your redemption |::|

History of Corpus Christi

According to the BBC: “The festival was inspired by the religious experience of St Juliana (1193-1258), a Belgian nun, who dreamed repeatedly of the Church under a full moon with a black spot. According to legend, the dream was interpreted to her in a vision by Christ. The moon, she said, was the Church's calendar of festivals and the black spot was the lack of a festival to celebrate the holiest element of the Church - the Eucharist. Juliana shared this with her local bishop, who in 1246 issued a decree for such a festival to be celebrated in his territory. [Source: June 23, 2009 BBC |::|]


Running of the Bulls held during Corpus Christi

“The festival was instituted throughout the Church by Pope Urban IV in 1264. Before that there had been no universal festival to mark the sacrament of the Eucharist. Corpus Christi was made an obligatory feast for Roman Catholics by Pope Clement V in 1311 at the Council of Vienne. Corpus Christi was celebrated in England from 1318 onwards. |::|

“In 1551, the Council of Trent described the festival as a 'triumph over heresy'. They meant by this that when Christians celebrated the festival they affirmed their belief in the doctrine of transubstantiation, and thus the victory of the Church over those heretics who denied that the consecrated wafer became the real body of Christ during the Mass. |::|

“From the Middle Ages onwards, special Corpus Christi plays were staged to mark the occasion. The festival took an additional meaning in Spain, since it was always attended by the secular rulers of the area. The procession in Madrid was joined by the King and/or Queen, as well as senior nobles. This symbolised the unity of the sacred and secular powers, and linked both in victory over outsiders. |::|

“The Spanish Corpus Christi festival explicitly linked the state's political and military victories with divine triumphs; divine will and royal will were inextricably intertwined. Because the "defence" of Catholic Christianity legitimised offensive or "conquest" activity, the triumph of the Corpus Christi was understood as the triumph of those who celebrated Corpus Christi. |::|

“Many Spanish celebrations of this feast featured choreographed performances that were militaristic in nature. Dancers often appeared as combatants: angels and demons, Samson and the Philistines, and Christians and Moors are just a few of the warring factions presented in Spanish Corpus Christi festivals. By extension, the community of Christians participating in local ritual triumphs enlisted in this global war against non-papists.” |::|

Corpus Christi and Imperialism


Corpus Christi in Lowicz, Poland

“Carolyn Dean makes a further interesting point about the Spanish celebration of Corpus Christi as acting out Spain's colonial successes: She said: “Early in the sixteenth century Queen Isabela had the monstrance that was used in the Corpus Christi procession in Toledo crafted from the first gold to reach Spain from the Indies, also a site of conquest. 15 American gold — again, the "first gold that came from the Indies" — was also formed into a cross displayed in processions in Seville.” Thus, the conquest of the so-called New World was integrated into a known pattern of historic confrontations with non-Christian peoples. [Source: Carolyn Dean, Inka Bodies and the Body of Christ: Corpus Christi in Colonial Cuzco, Peru, 1999] |::|

“Although Native Americans were not represented in human form as subjugated to the Body of Christ in early Spanish Corpus Christi celebrations, the wealth of their land was transformed into its supports. We might well read a metonymic "transubstantiation" of the bodies of American natives, not yet well known, into the gold which, when fashioned into monstrances and crosses, summoned their subjected and doubly converted presence in Spanish Corpus Christi festivals. |::|

“The festival has a particular resonance for Spain and Portugal, and countries in Latin America. In Seville the festival was known as 'the Thursday that shines greater than the sun'. In such countries the festival is popular and elaborate. The triumphal nature of the celebration is acted out by treating the sacred host almost as if it were a military hero returning in victory from the wars - the host may be carried on a cart (representing a chariot) through crowds and beneath triumphal arches erected for the event. Historically, the festival was accompanied by music, dancing and fireworks. There are Corpus Christi colleges at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and a major city of that name in Texas.” |::|

Pentecost

Pentecost is the festival when Christians celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third part of the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that is the way Christians understand God. The symbols of Pentecost are those of the Holy Spirit and include flames, wind, the breath of God and a dove. |::|

According to the BBC: “ It is celebrated on the Sunday 50 days after Easter (the name comes from the Greek pentekoste, "fiftieth"). It is also called Whitsun, but does not necessarily coincide with the Whitsun Bank Holiday in the UK. Pentecost is regarded as the birthday of the Christian church, and the start of the church's mission to the world. [Source: June 23, 2009 BBC |::|]


Pentecost

“Pentecost is a happy festival. Ministers in church often wear robes with red in the design as a symbol of the flames in which the Holy Spirit came to earth. Hymns sung at Pentecost take the Holy Spirit as their theme, and include: Come down O Love Divine
Come Holy Ghost our souls inspire
Breathe on me breath of God
O Breath of Life, come sweeping through us
There's a spirit in the air
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me |::|

“The first Pentecost: Pentecost comes from a Jewish harvest festival called Shavuot. The apostles were celebrating this festival when the Holy Spirit descended on them. It sounded like a very strong wind, and it looked like tongues of fire. The apostles then found themselves speaking in foreign languages, inspired by the Holy Spirit. People passing by at first thought that they must be drunk, but the apostle Peter told the crowd that the apostles were full of the Holy Spirit. |::|

“Pentecostal Christianity: Pentecost is a special day for any Christian, but it is emphasised particularly by Pentecostal churches. Pentecostal Christians believe in the direct experience of the Holy Spirit by believers during all of their services. |::|

“Pentecostalism: A profile of Pentecostal Christianity, its history and increasing popularity, and Pentecostalist worshippers' customs of speaking in tongues, prayer cloths, healing by laying on of hands and rarely serpent handling. According to research published in December 2006, Pentecostals are the fastest-growing group of Christians in the UK. The research was based on an analysis of the English Church Census, carried out by the charity Christian Research and was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. [Source: June 23, 2009 BBC |::|]

Whitsuntide (Pentecost) in the 4th Century

Egeria wrote in the A.D. 380s: “Whitsunday: Morning Station: XLIII But on the fiftieth day, that is, the Lord's Day, when the people have a very great deal to go through, everything that is customary is done from the first cockcrow onwards; vigil is kept in the Anastasis, and the bishop reads the passage from the Gospel that is always read on the Lord's Day, namely, the account of the Lord's resurrection, and afterwards everything customary is done in the Anastasis, just as throughout the whole year. 2. But when morning is come, all the people proceed to the great church, that is, to the martyrium, and all things usual are done there; the priests preach and then the bishop, and all things that are prescribed are done, the oblation being made, as is customary on the Lord's Day, only the same dismissal in the martyrium is hastened, in order that it may be made before the third hour. And when the dismissal has been made at the martyrium, all the people, to a man, escort the bishop with hymns to Sion, [so that] they are in Sion when the third hour is fully come. [Source: “Egeria's Description of the Liturgical Year in Jerusalem” based on the translation reproduced in Louis Duchesme's Christian Worship (London, 1923), published online by Michael Fraser, Department of Theology, University of Durham. June 1994, users.ox.ac.uk ]

“3. And on their arrival there the passage from the Acts of the Apostles is read where the Spirit came down so that all tongues [were heard and all men] understood the things that were being spoken, and the dismissal takes place afterwards in due course. For the priests read there from the Acts of the Apostles concerning the selfsame thing, because that is the place in Sion — there is another church there now — where once, after the Lord's Passion, the multitude was gathered together with the Apostles, and where this was done, as we have said above. Afterwards the dismissal takes place in due course, and the oblation is made there. Then, that the people may be dismissed, the archdeacon raises his voice, and says: " Let us all be ready to-day in Eleona, in the Imbomon, directly after the sixth hour."

Station at the Mount of Olives in the 4th Century


Christ on the Mount of Olives

Egeria wrote in the A.D. 380s: “4. So all the people return, each to his house, to rest themselves, and immediately after breakfast they ascend the Mount of Olives, that is, to Eleona, each as he can, so that there is no Christian left in the city who does not go. [Source: “Egeria's Description of the Liturgical Year in Jerusalem” based on the translation reproduced in Louis Duchesme's Christian Worship (London, 1923), published online by Michael Fraser, Department of Theology, University of Durham. June 1994, users.ox.ac.uk ]

“5. When, therefore, they have gone up the Mount of Olives, that is, to Eleona, they first enter the Imbomon, that is, the place whence the Lord ascended into heaven, and the bishops and the priests take their seat there, and likewise all the people. Lessons are read there with hymns interspersed, antiphons too are said suitable to the day and the place, also the prayers which are interspersed have likewise similar references. The passage from the Gospel is also read where it speaks of the Lord's Ascension, also that from the Acts of the Apostles which tells of the Ascension of the Lord into heaven after His Resurrection. “6. And when this is over, the catechumens and then the faithful are blessed, and they come down thence, it being already the ninth hour, and go with hymns to that church which is in Eleona, wherein is the cave where the Lord was wont to sit and teach His Apostles. And as it is already past the tenth hour when they arrive, lucernare takes place there; prayer is made, and the catechumens and likewise the faithful are blessed.

Night Procession in the 4th Century

Egeria wrote in the A.D. 380s: “And then all the people to a man descend thence with the bishop, saying hymns and antiphons suitable to that day, and so come very slowly to the martyrium. 7. It is already night when they reach the gate of the city, and about two hundred church candles are provided for the use of the people. And as it is a good distance from the gate to the great church, that is, the martyrium, they arrive about the second hour of the night, for they go the whole way very slowly lest the people should be weary from being afoot. And when the great gates are opened, which face towards the market-place, all the people enter the martyrium with hymns and with the bishop. And when they have entered the church, hymns are said, prayer is made, the catechumens and also the faithful are blessed; after which they go again with hymns to the Anastasis. [Source: “Egeria's Description of the Liturgical Year in Jerusalem” based on the translation reproduced in Louis Duchesme's Christian Worship (London, 1923), published online by Michael Fraser, Department of Theology, University of Durham. June 1994, users.ox.ac.uk ]

“8. Where also on their arrival hymns and antiphons are said, prayer is made, the catechumens and also the faithful are blessed; this is likewise done at the Cross. Lastly, all the Christian people to a man escort the bishop with hymns to Sion.

“9. When they are come there, suitable lessons are read, psalms and antiphons are said, prayer is made, the catechumens and the faithful are blessed, and the dismissal takes place. And after the dismissal all approach the bishop's hand, and then every one returns to his house about midnight.

“Thus very great fatigue is endured on that day, for vigil is kept at the Anastasis from the first cockcrow, and there is no pause from that time onward throughout the whole day, but the whole celebration (of the Feast) lasts so long that it is midnight when every one returns home after the dismissal has taken place at Sion.

Resumption of the Ordinary Services in the 4th Century

Egeria wrote in the A.D. 380s: “XLIV Now, from the day after the fiftieth day all fast as is customary throughout the whole year, each one as he is able, except on the Sabbath and on the Lord's Day, which are never kept as fasts in this place. On the ensuing days everything is done as during the whole year, that is, vigil is kept in the Anastasis from the first cockcrow. [Source: “Egeria's Description of the Liturgical Year in Jerusalem” based on the translation reproduced in Louis Duchesme's Christian Worship (London, 1923), published online by Michael Fraser, Department of Theology, University of Durham. June 1994, users.ox.ac.uk ] “2. And if it be the Lord's Day, at the earliest cockcrow the bishop first reads in the Anastasis, as is customary, the passage from the Gospel concerning the Resurrection, which is always read on the Lord's Day, and then afterwards hymns and antiphons are said in the Anastasis until daylight. But if it be not the Lord's Day, only hymns and antiphons are said in like manner in the Anastasis from the first cockcrow until daylight.

“3. All the apotactitae, and of the people those who are able, attend; the clergy go by turns, daily. The clergy go there at first cockcrow, but the bishop always as it begins to dawn, that the morning dismissal may be made with all the clergy present except on the Lord's Day, when (the bishop) has to go at the first cockcrow, that he may read the Gospel in the Anastasis. Afterwards everything is done as usual in the Anastasis until the sixth hour, and at the ninth, as well as at lucernare, according to the custom of the whole year. But on the fourth and sixth weekdays, the ninth hour is kept in Sion a

Image Sources: Wikimedia, Commons

Text Sources: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Christian Origins sourcebooks.fordham.edu “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “ Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); King James Version of the Bible, gutenberg.org; New International Version (NIV) of The Bible, biblegateway.com; “Egeria's Description of the Liturgical Year in Jerusalem” users.ox.ac.uk ; Complete Works of Josephus at Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL), translated by William Whiston, ccel.org , Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org, Frontline, PBS, “Encyclopedia of the World Cultures” edited by David Levinson (G.K. Hall & Company, New York, 1994); National Geographic, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.


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