Solemnity

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A solemnity is a feast day of the highest rank in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Rite, celebrating a mystery of faith such as the Trinity, an event in the life of Jesus, his mother Mary, or another important saint. The observance begins with the vigil on the evening before the actual date of the feast. Unlike feast days of the rank of feast (other than feasts of the Lord) or those of the rank of memorial, solemnities replace the celebration of Sundays outside of Advent, Lent and Easter (those in Ordinary Time).[1]

The word comes from Latin sollemnitas, derived from sollus (whole) and annus (year), indicating an annual celebration.[2]

Ranking[edit]

The solemnities of Nativity of the Lord, the Epiphany, the Ascension, and Pentecost are outranked only by the Paschal Triduum.

Other solemnities inscribed in the General Roman Calendar give way also to the following celebrations:

The Paschal Triduum
Sundays of Advent, Lent, and Easter
Ash Wednesday
Weekdays of Holy Week up to and including Thursday
Days within the Octave of Easter

Solemnities inscribed in particular calendars yield not only to these, but also to the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed.[1]

With the exceptions noted in the table below regarding the solemnities of Saint Joseph and the Annunciation of the Lord, a solemnity that falls on the same day as a celebration of higher rank is transferred to the next day not occupied by a solemnity, a Sunday or a feast.[3]

Among solemnities inscribed in the General Roman Calendar, those of the Lord have precedence over those of the Blessed Virgin and these latter over solemnities of other saints. Thus if, for instance, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus coincides with that of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist or that of Saints Peter and Paul, it is these that are transferred to the next free day.

Among solemnities inscribed in particular calendars (proper solemnities) the order of precedence is:

The solemnity of the principal patron of the place, city or state
The solemnity of the dedication or anniversary of the dedication of one's own church
The solemnity of the title of one's own church (the mystery or saint to which it is dedicated)
The solemnity of either the title or the founder of a religious institute

List and dates[edit]

The solemnities inscribed in the General Roman Calendar and which are therefore observed throughout the Latin Church are indicated in the following list.

Date Solemnity Notes about date
1 January Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God Octave of Christmas, Circumcision of the Lord, New Year's Day
6 January Epiphany of the Lord Where not a holy day of obligation, transferred to the Sunday between 2 January and 8 January, inclusive
19 March Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary If the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, where observed as a holy day of obligation, coincides with Palm Sunday, it is, by exception to the general rule, anticipated to Saturday 18 March; where not observed as a holy day of obligation, the episcopal conference may transfer it to a date outside of Lent.[4]
25 March Annunciation of the Lord If the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord falls on any day of Holy Week, it is always transferred to the Monday after the Second Sunday of Easter (30 March to 9 April),[3] rather than, in accordance with the general rule, to the next day not occupied by a celebration with at least the rank of feast
(22 March to 25 April) Resurrection of the Lord (Easter) Concludes the Paschal Triduum that commemorates also the last supper, passion, death, burial and resurrection of Christ. See Computus for date computation. Begins Octave of Easter, eight consecutive days celebrated as one continuous solemnity, ending 29 March to 2 May). See also Resurrection of Jesus.
Thursday after the Sixth Sunday of Easter (40th day of Eastertide - 30 April to 3 June) Ascension of the Lord If not a holy day of obligation, transferred to replace the Seventh Sunday of Easter (3 May to 6 June)
50th day of Eastertide (10 May to 13 June) Pentecost (Whitsunday); always on a Sunday
Sunday after Pentecost (17 May to 20 June) Trinity Sunday
Thursday after Trinity Sunday (21 May to 24 June) Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ "Corpus Christi"; in some dioceses, celebrated on the following Sunday (24 May to 27 June).
Friday (8 days after Corpus Christi Thursday, 5 days after Corpus Christi Sunday) (29 May to 2 July) Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
24 June Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
29 June Saints Peter and Paul
15 August Assumption of Mary
1 November All Saints
Last Sunday before Advent (20–26 November) Our Lord Jesus Christ the King of the Universe Replaces 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time
8 December Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
25 December Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) everywhere a holy day of obligation; see also Nativity of Jesus

Proper solemnities[edit]

There are also solemnities not inscribed in the General Roman Calendar, which are observed in particular places, regions, churches or religious institutes. The optional memorial of Saint Patrick on 17 March is a solemnity in Ireland, the memorial of Saint Josemaría Escrivá on 26 June is a solemnity within the prelature of Opus Dei, and the optional memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on 16 July is a solemnity for the Carmelites.

A partial list of proper solemnities follows:

Date Solemnity Country or religious order
1 March Saint David Wales
17 March Saint Patrick Ireland (holy day of obligation) and Australia
8 May Our Lady of Luján (Nuestra Señora de Luján) Argentina
23 April Saint George England
24 May Mary Help of Christians Australia
24 May Transfer of remains of Saint Dominic Dominican Order (where 8 August is not a solemnity)
26 June Saint Josemaría Escrivá prelature of Opus Dei
5 July Saints Cyril and Methodius Slovakia, Czech Republic
11 July Saint Benedict of Nursia Order of Saint Benedict
16 July Our Lady of Mount Carmel Carmelites, Discalced Carmelites, and Chile
20 July Saint Elijah the Prophet Carmelites (not discalced)
20 July Saint Andrew Kim Taegon the Priest and Martyr South Korea
25 July Saint James, son of Zebedee, the Apostle (Santiago el Mayor) Spain
8 August Saint Dominic Dominican Order (where 24 May is not a solemnity)
11 August Saint Clare of Assisi Poor Clares and some other Franciscans
28 August Saint Augustine of Hippo Augustinians
4 September (?) Our Lady of Consolation Augustinians
15 September Our Lady of Sorrows Slovakia
28 September Saint Wenceslaus Czech Republic
4 October Saint Francis of Assisi Franciscan
12 October Our Lady of Aparecida Brazil
15 October Teresa of Ávila Discalced Carmelites
19 November Our Lady of Providence Puerto Rico
30 November Saint Andrew the Apostle Scotland
14 December Saint John of the Cross Discalced Carmelites

Observance[edit]

The Creed is recited at Mass, and there are two scriptural readings, not one, before the Gospel.

Some but not all solemnities are also holy days of obligation, on which, as on Sundays, Catholics are required to attend Mass and to avoid work and business that hinder divine worship or suitable relaxation of mind and body.[5] All holy days of obligation have the rank of solemnity at least at local level, though not necessarily holding that rank in the General Roman Calendar. With the exception of the solemnities of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Annunciation of the Lord and the Birth of John the Baptist, all the solemnities inscribed in the General Roman Calendar are mentioned as holy days of obligation in canon 1246 of the Code of Canon Law, but are not necessarily all observed in a particular country.

When a solemnity falls on a Friday, the obligation to abstain from meat or some other food as determined by the episcopal conference does not apply.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, 59
  2. ^ Lewis and Short, sollemnis
  3. ^ a b Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, 60
  4. ^ Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, 56
  5. ^ Code of Canon Law, canon 1247
  6. ^ Code of Canon Law, canon 1251

External links[edit]