The General Roman Calendar is the liturgical calendar that indicates the dates of celebrations of saints and mysteries of the Lord (Jesus Christ) in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, wherever this liturgical rite is in use. These celebrations are a fixed annual date; or occur on a particular day of the week (examples are the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in January and the Feast of Christ the King in November); or relate to the date of Easter (examples are the celebrations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary). National and diocesan calendars, including that of the diocese of Rome itself as well as the calendars of religious institutes and even of continents, add other saints and mysteries or transfer the celebration of a particular saint or mystery from the date assigned in the General Calendar to another date.

These liturgical calendars also indicate the degree or rank of each celebration: Memorial (which can be merely optional), Feast, or Solemnity. Among other differences, the Gloria is said or sung at the Mass of a Feast but not at that of a Memorial, and the Creed is added on Solemnities.

The last general revision of the General Roman Calendar was in 1969 and was authorized by the motu proprio Mysterii Paschalis of Paul VI. The motu proprio and the decree of promulgation were included in the book Calendarium Romanum, published in the same year by Libreria Editrice Vaticana.[1] This contained also the official document Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, and the list of celebrations of the General Roman Calendar. Both these documents are also printed (in their present revised form) in the Roman Missal, after the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.[2][3] The 1969 book also provided a detailed unofficial commentary on that year's revision of the calendar.

The contents of the General Roman Calendar and the names in English of the celebrations included in it are here indicated in the official English version of the Roman Missal.

Selection of saints included

The General Roman Calendar assigns celebrations of saints to only about half the days of the year and contains only a fraction of the saints listed in the 776-page volume Roman Martyrology, which itself is not an exhaustive list of all the saints legitimately venerated in the Catholic Church. The Martyrology assigns several saints to each day of the year and gives a very brief description of each saint or group of saints.

While canonization involves the addition of the saint's name to the Roman Martyrology, it does not necessarily involve the insertion of the saint's name also into the General Roman Calendar, which mentions only a very limited selection of canonized saints. There is a common misconception that certain saints, (e.g., Christopher) were "unsainted" in 1969 or that veneration of them was "suppressed". In fact, Christopher is recognized as a saint of the Catholic Church, being listed as a martyr in the Roman Martyrology under 25 July.[4] In 1969, Paul VI issued the motu proprio Mysterii Paschalis. In it, he recognized that, while the written Acts of Saint Christopher are merely legendary, attestations to the veneration of the martyr date from ancient times. His change in the calendar of saints included "leaving the memorial of Saint Christopher to local calendars" because of the relatively late date of its insertion into the Roman calendar.[5]

Many sources give calendars that mention one or more saints for each day of the year, usually selected from those listed in the Roman Martyrology. One example is "Saints by Day". They mention the saints of the General Roman Calendar, but they also give names of saints not included in the General Roman Calendar, especially on a day to which the General Roman Calendar assigns no celebration whatever of a saint.

The liturgical year

In the liturgical books, the document General Roman Calendar (which lists not only fixed celebrations but also some moveable ones) is printed immediately after the document Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar,[2][3] which states that "throughout the course of the year the Church unfolds the entire mystery of Christ and observes the birthdays of the Saints". The birth of a saint to heaven is as a rule celebrated on a fixed day of the year (although sometimes they may be moved either to or from a Sunday), but the mysteries of Christ are often celebrated on dates that always vary from year to year. The Catholic Church's year combines two cycles of liturgical celebrations. One has been called the Proper of Time or Temporale, associated with the moveable date of Easter and the fixed date of Christmas. The other is associated with fixed calendar dates and has been called the Proper of Saints or Sanctorale.[6][7][8][9] The General Roman Calendar includes celebrations that belong to the Proper of Time or Temporale and is not limited to those that make up the Proper of Saints or Sanctorale. An instance where two observances occur on the same date is called an occurrence.[10]

The document on the liturgical year and the calendar includes among "liturgical days":

  1. Sundays, to only four of which solemnities or feasts are permanently assigned for celebration, namely, the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and the solemnities of the Holy Trinity and of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
  2. Solemnities, Feasts and Memorials
  3. Weekdays

Under the title The Cycle of the Year the same document arranges under seven headings the church's celebration of "the whole mystery of Christ, from the Incarnation to Pentecost Day and the days of waiting for the Advent of the Lord":

  1. The Paschal Triduum, which begins with the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Maundy Thursday, includes Good Friday and Holy Saturday, has the Easter Vigil as its centre, and concludes with Vespers on Easter Sunday.
  2. Easter Time, the fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday. The first eight days form the Octave of Easter. The solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated on the fortieth day or, if not observed as a Holyday of Obligation, on the seventh Sunday of Easter. The last nine days before Pentecost "prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete".
  3. Lent, the forty days from Ash Wednesday to Maundy Thursday (up to but not including the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper). Holy Week itself begins with what is called Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion.
  4. Christmas Time, the period from First Vespers of Christmas (evening of 24 December) to the Sunday after Epiphany or after 6 January. It includes the Octave of Christmas, which is composed of the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (on the Sunday within the Octave or, if there is no Sunday, on 30 December), the Feasts of Stephen (26 December), John, Apostle and Evangelist (27 December), the Holy Innocents (28 December), days within the Octave (29–31 December), and the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God (1 January, the Octave Day). It also includes the Solemnity of the Epiphany and the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
  5. Advent, lasting from First Vespers of the Sunday that falls on or nearest to 30 November to before First Vespers of Christmas.
  6. Ordinary Time, which runs from the Monday after the Sunday that follows 6 January to the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, resumes on the Monday after Pentecost Sunday, and concludes before First Vespers of the First Sunday of Advent.
  7. Rogation and Ember days on dates to be decided by the episcopal conference.

Transfer of celebrations

Some celebrations listed in the General Roman Calendar are transferred to another date:

For the pastoral advantage of the people, it is permissible to observe on the Sundays in Ordinary Time those celebrations that fall during the week and have special appeal to the devotion of the faithful, provided the celebrations take precedence over these Sundays in the Table of Liturgical Days.[11]

Solemnities that fall on certain Sundays or on days within Holy Week or the Octave of Easter are transferred to the next day that is free for them, and special rules govern the transfer of the Solemnities of Joseph and of the Annunciation of the Lord.














Particular calendars

The General Calendar is printed, for instance, in the Roman Missal[19] and the Liturgy of the Hours.[20] These are up to date when printed, but additional feasts may be added later. For that reason, if those celebrating the liturgy have not inserted into the books a note about the changes, they must consult the current annual publication, known as the "Ordo", for their country or religious congregation. These annual publications, like those that, disregarding the feasts that are obligatory in the actual church where the liturgy is celebrated, list only celebrations included in the General Calendar,[21] are useful only for the current year, since they omit celebrations impeded because of falling on a Sunday or during periods such as Holy Week and the Octave of Easter.

The feast days of saints celebrated in one country are not necessarily celebrated everywhere. For example, a diocese or a country may celebrate the feast day of a saint of special importance there. These differences can give rise to complicated situations. Three examples follow: (1) Saint Patrick is a Solemnity in Ireland, Australia, and the Archdiocese of Boston, a Feast in England, New Zealand, Nigeria, and Scotland, an optional Memorial in the General Calendar, but not celebrated at all in Japan, where a different local celebration with the rank of Feast on 17 March has replaced Patrick without assigning his observance to any other day. In many places, as shown in this article, additional saints are added as alternate optional memorials on 17 March, giving rise to the possibility of Patrick being celebrated in a particular parish in one year and the other optional memorial in a different parish or in another year. In Wales it has the General Calendar rank of Optional Memorial, except in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham where it is a Feast. (2) Our Lady of Guadalupe is an Optional Memorial in the General Calendar, but a Feast in Mexico, the United States of America, and several other countries. (3) St. Elizabeth Ann Seton does not appear in the General Calendar at all, but is an Obligatory Memorial in the United States. Likewise, a particular religious institute may celebrate its founder or members of the institute, even if that saint is not listed on the universal calendar or is included in it only with a lower rank. Here St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is also an example, observed as a Memorial by the Vincentian Family even outside the United States. The General Roman Calendar contains only those celebrations that are intended to be observed in the Roman Rite in every country of the world.

This distinction is made in application of the decision of the Second Vatican Council: "Lest the feasts of the saints should take precedence over the feasts which commemorate the very mysteries of salvation, many of them should be left to be celebrated by a particular Church or nation or family of religious; only those should be extended to the universal Church which commemorate saints who are truly of universal importance."[22]

Institutional and societal calendars

Main article: Institutional and societal calendars of the Roman Rite

National calendars

Main article: National calendars of the Roman Rite

Personal jurisdiction calendars

Main article: Personal jurisdiction calendars of the Roman Rite

Diocesan and parish calendars

The calendar for a diocese is typically based on a national calendar, with a few additions. For instance, the anniversary of the dedication of the cathedral is celebrated as a Solemnity in the cathedral church and as a Feast in all the other churches of the diocese. The feast day of the principal patron saint of the diocese is celebrated as a Feast throughout the diocese.[23]

The calendar of a parish extends the calendar of its diocese with further celebrations, including the anniversary of the dedication of the parish church and the feast day of the principal patron saint of the church, both of which are ranked as Solemnities.

See also


  1. ^ Catholic Church (1969). Calendarium Romanum (1969).
  2. ^ a b The Roman Missal (Liturgy Training Publications ISBN 978-1-56854-991-0)
  3. ^ a b "Missale Romanum 2002". Scribd.
  4. ^ Martyrologium Romanum (Typis Vaticanis, 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)
  5. ^ "Memoria S. Christophori, anno circiter 1550 in Calendario romano ascripta, Calendariis particularibus relinquitur: quamvis Acta S. Christophori fabulosa sint, antiqua inveniuntur monumenta eius venerationis; attamen cultus huius Sancti non pertinet ad traditionem romanam" – Calendarium Romanum (Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis 1969), p. 131.
  6. ^ "Celebrating the Liturgy's Books". Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  7. ^ "Proper of Saints | Christianity". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  8. ^ "Definition of SANCTORALE". Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  9. ^ "Dictionary : PROPER OF THE SAINTS". Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  10. ^ Cabrol, Fernand (1913). "Occurrence" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  11. ^ "Catholic News, Commentary, Information, Resources, and the Liturgical Year".
  12. ^ a b c "DECREE on the Inscription of the Celebrations of Saint Gregory of Narek, Abbot and Doctor of the Church, Saint John De Avila, Priest and Doctor of the Church and Saint Hildegard of Bingen, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, in the General Roman Calendar (25 January 2021)". Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  13. ^ "Calendario 2022.pdf". Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  14. ^ Notification "Per Decretum die"
  15. ^ "Decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 3 June 2016" (PDF).
  16. ^ "DECREE on the Celebration of Saints Martha, Mary and Lazarus in the General Roman Calendar (26 January 2021)". Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  17. ^ "DECREE on the inscription of the celebration of Saint Faustina Kowalska, virgin, in the General Roman Calendar (18 May 2020)". Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  18. ^ "DECREE on the celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto to be inscribed in the General Roman Calendar". Holy See Press Office. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  19. ^ Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia 2002, Libreria Editrice Vaticana
  20. ^ Liturgia Horarum iuxta ritum Romanum, editio typica altera 2000, Libreria Editrice Vaticana
  21. ^ An example is Ordo Missae Celebrandae et Divini Officii persolvendi secundum calendarium Romanum generale pro anno liturgico 2006 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana).
  22. ^ "Sacrosanctum concilium". Archived from the original on 21 February 2008.
  23. ^ General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, Table of Liturgical Days according to their order of precedence, 4 and 8.