This article lists the feast days of the General Roman Calendar as they were at the end of 1954. It is essentially the same calendar established by Pope Pius X (1903–1914) following his liturgical reforms, but it also incorporates changes that were made by Pope Pius XI (1922–1939), such as the institution of the Feast of Christ the King (assigned to the last Sunday in October), and the changes made by Pope Pius XII (1939–1958) prior to 1955, chief among them the imposition of the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary upon the universal Church (August 22, on the existing octave day of the Assumption) in 1944, the inscription of Pius X into the General Calendar (September 3) following his 1954 canonization, and the institution of the Feast of the Queenship of Mary (May 31) in October 1954.
The changes that the latter Pope made in 1955 are indicated in General Roman Calendar of Pope Pius XII. They included: a revision of the Church's traditional ranking of liturgical days; the institution of the feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1 as a Double of the I Class, requiring the transfer of Ss. Philip and James to May 11; the suppression of the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, which for just over a century had been celebrated on the second Wednesday after the Octave of Easter. A total of fifteen Octaves—all those except Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas—were also suppressed in the reform of 1955, as were most vigils (specifically, the vigils of all apostles save for that of Ss. Peter and Paul, and the vigils of the Immaculate Conception, Epiphany, and All Saints).
Five years later, Pope John XXIII made a further revision with the motu proprio Rubricarum instructum of July 23, 1960. This revision, the General Roman Calendar of 1960, was incorporated in the Roman Missal of 1962, which was issued as implementation of this motu proprio The 1960 calendar is thus the calendar approved by Pope Benedict XVI with his July 7, 2007 document Summorum Pontificum for use as an extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.
The General Roman Calendar was again revised in 1969, in connection with the revision of the Roman Missal, and later. For its current state, see General Roman Calendar.
For most of the celebrations here listed, the Mass is found in the Roman Missal of the time in the section called the "Proper of the Saints", but for those occurring from 24 December to 13 January it is found in the "Proper of the Season", as these days do not move with respect to the seasons of the Church year. The Offices of these feasts are likewise arranged in the Breviary.
While the General Calendar of 1954 is generally not authorized for liturgical use by traditional groups in communion with the Holy See, some sedevacantists continue to use it, as well as Old Roman Catholics, as their members consider it to be the last calendar untainted by the revisions that began in 1955. Indults have been granted, however, to certain communities in full communion with Rome, such as some apostolates of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest and the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter.
The ranking of feast days that had grown from an original division between doubles and simples and that by the time of the Tridentine Calendar included semidoubles, with Pope Clement VIII adding in 1604 to the distinction between first and second class doubles the new rank of greater double, was in until 1955, when Pope Pius XII abolished the rank of semidouble.
The rank of feast days determines which Mass is said when two feast days occur on the one day, as well as when a feast day falls on Sundays or certain other privileged days. Feast days were classified as Simple, Semidouble, or Double, with feast days of the Double Rite further divided into Double of the I Class, Double of the II Class, Greater Double or Major Double, and Double, in order of descending rank. On ferias and many feast days of simple rank, the celebrant was permitted to substitute a Mass of his own choice such as a votive Mass, or a Mass for the Dead.
What the original meaning of the term "double" may have been is not entirely certain. Some think that the greater festivals were thus styled because the antiphons before and after the psalms were "doubled", i.e. twice repeated entire on these days. Others, with more probability, point to the fact that before the ninth century in certain places, for example at Rome, it was customary on the greater feast days to recite two sets of Matins, the one of the feria or week-day, the other of the festival. Hence such days were known as "doubles".
The Catholic Encyclopedia of the early years of the twentieth century shows the incremental crowding of the calendar (which had increased further by 1954) in the following table based on the official revisions of the Roman Breviary in 1568, 1602, 1631, 1882 and on the situation in 1907.
|Pope||Date||Doubles, I Class||Doubles, II Class||Greater Doubles||Doubles||Semidoubles||Total|
In 1907, when, in accordance with the rules in force since the time of Pope Pius V, feast days of any form of double, if impeded by falling on the same day with a feast day of higher class, were transferred to another day, this classification of feast days was of great practical importance for deciding which feast day to celebrate on any particular day. Pope Pius X simplified matters considerably in his 1911 reform of the Roman Breviary. In the case of occurrence the lower-ranking feast day could become a commemoration within the celebration of the higher-ranking one. Further retouches were made by Pope Pius XII in 1955, Pope John XXIII in 1960, and Pope Paul VI in 1969.
Sundays were divided into greater and lesser Sundays, with the greater Sundays being further divided into two classes. The Greater Sundays of the I class were the I Sunday of Advent, the four Sundays of Lent, Passion Sunday, Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday, Low Sunday, and Pentecost. No feast day whatsoever could be celebrated on these days, although they admitted commemorations except on Easter and Pentecost. Greater Sundays of the II class permitted the celebration of Doubles of the I Class only, and consisted of the other three Sundays in Advent and the three pre-Lenten Sundays. All other Sundays (II to V after Easter and the Sundays after Epiphany and Pentecost, except for those that might occur during an Octave, which followed the rules for the Octave), were lesser Sundays or Sundays per annum ("through the year"), and only the celebration of Doubles of the I or II Class, or a feast of the Lord, took precedence over them. The Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity was a special case, due to the fixed date of Christmas and the high rank of the feast days following it. If December 29, 30, or 31 were a Sunday, the Mass assigned to it was celebrated on that day; otherwise, it was celebrated on December 30.
Before the reform of Pope Pius X in 1911, ordinary Doubles took precedence over most of the Semidouble Sundays, resulting in many of the Sunday Masses rarely being said. While retaining the Semidouble rite for Sundays, the reform permitted only the most important feast days, Doubles of the I or II class, to be celebrated on Sunday. When a feast of the rank of double of the I or II class fell on a Sunday, the Mass would be that of the feast, with a commemoration of the occurring Sunday; the Gospel of the omitted Sunday Mass would be read at the end of Mass instead of the usual Gospel "In principio erat Verbum" of St. John. When a feast of a rank lower than that occurred with a Sunday, the feast would be commemorated in the Sunday Mass by including a commemoration of the feast, and its Gospel would be read at the end of Mass, provided it was a "proper" Gospel, i.e. one not taken from the Common.
Following the reform of Pope Pius X, only three feasts were assigned to a Sunday: the feast days of the Holy Name, the Holy Family, and the Most Holy Trinity. A fourth, Christ the King, was added in 1925.
Ferias also were classified into three categories:
Ember Days are four separate sets of three days within the same week — specifically, the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday — roughly equidistant in the circuit of the year, that were formerly set aside for fasting and prayer. These days set apart for special prayer and fasting were considered especially suitable for the ordination of clergy. The Ember Days are known in Latin as quatuor tempora (the "four seasons"), or jejunia quatuor temporum ("fasts of the four seasons"). They occur in the weeks between the third and fourth Sundays of Advent, between the first and second Sundays of Lent, between Pentecost and Trinity Sunday, and beginning the first Wednesday after the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14), which is between the liturgical third and fourth Sundays of September.
Rogation Days are, in the calendar of the Western Church, four days traditionally set apart for solemn processions to invoke God's mercy. They are April 25, the Major Rogation (or Greater Litanies), coinciding with St. Mark's Day (but transferred to the following Tuesday if they fell on Easter); and the three days preceding Ascension Thursday, the Minor Rogations (or Lesser Litanies). These are indicated below in the main body of the calendar and in the Movable Feasts section.
In the Tridentine Calendar the vigils of Christmas, the Epiphany, and Pentecost were called "major vigils"; the rest were "minor" or "common" vigils In early times, every feast day had a vigil, but the increase in the number of feast days and abuses connected with the evening and night service of which the vigils originally consisted, led to their diminishment. Nevertheless, the Roman Rite kept many more vigils than other Latin liturgical rites such as the Ambrosian Rite and the Mozarabic Rite. If a Vigil fell on a Sunday, it was transferred to the previous Saturday, although the Vigil of Christmas took precedence over the IV Sunday of Advent.
Prior to the suppression of some vigils by Pope Pius XII in 1955, there were three classes of Vigils. The Vigils of Christmas and Pentecost were of the I class, and took precedence over any feast day. The Vigil of Epiphany was of the II class, and permitted only Doubles of the I or II classes, or any feast of the Lord. All other vigils were "common" and took precedence only over ferias and Simple feast days, but were anticipated on Saturday if they fell on Sunday. Most feasts of the Apostles had Vigils; the exceptions being those that fell in Eastertide, when Vigils were not permitted. The Vigil of St. Matthias was unique, in that it was normally commemorated on February 23, the feast day of St. Peter Damian, but in leap year, was kept on February 24, the traditional leap day of the Roman calendar.
The Tridentine Calendar had many octaves, without any indication in the calendar itself of distinction of rank between them, apart from the fact that the Octave Day (the final day of the octave) was ranked higher than the days within the octave. Several octaves overlapped, so that, for instance, on 29 December the prayer of the saint of the day, Saint Thomas Becket, was followed by the prayers of Christmas, of Saint Stephen, of Saint John the Evangelist and of the Holy Innocents. The situation remained such until the reform of Pope Pius X.
To cut down on the monotony of repeating the same prayers in Mass and Office every day for eight days, Pope Pius X classified the octaves as "privileged", "common" or "simple"
The privileged octaves were of three "ranks". The first rank belonged to the octaves of Easter and Pentecost (no feast day could be celebrated in these octaves or even, until Vespers on Tuesday, be commemorated), the second to those of Epiphany and Corpus Christi (the Octave Day ranked as a Greater Double, the days within the octave as Semidoubles, giving way only to Doubles of the I Class, and on the Octave day itself only to a Double of the I class that was celebrated in the entire Church), the third rank to those of Christmas, the Ascension, and the Sacred Heart (these gave way to any feast day above the level of Simple).
The common octaves were those of the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Saints Peter and Paul, and All Saints, as well as, locally, the principal patron saint of a church, cathedral, order, town, diocese, province, or nation. These too gave way to any feast day above the level of Simple; the difference between these and the third privileged rank was that ferial psalms were said during common octaves, while the psalms from the feast day were used during privileged octaves.
The simple octaves were those of Saint Stephen, Saint John the Evangelist, the Holy Innocents, Saint Lawrence, the Nativity of Mary and, locally, secondary patrons. These were all Doubles of the II class, their Octave day was a Simple and, in contrast to the situation before Pope Pius X, their Mass was not repeated nor a Commemoration made, except on the Octave day, as simple Octaves had no days within the Octave.
In Pope Pius XII's reform, only the octaves of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost were kept. The days within the Easter and Pentecost octaves were raised to double rite, had precedence over all feast days, and did not admit commemorations.
Sunday between the Circumcision and Epiphany [or January 2, when no such Sunday occurs]: The most holy Name of Jesus, Double of the II Class.
Sunday within the Octave of the Epiphany: The Most Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Greater Double.
In leap year the month of February is of 29 days, and the Feast of St. Matthias is celebrated on the 25th day and the Feast of St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows on the 28th day of February, and twice is said Sexto Kalendas, that is on the 24th day and 25th day; and the dominical letter, which was taken up in the month of January, is changed to the preceding; that, if in January, the dominical letter was A, it is changed to the preceding, which is g, etc.; and the letter f is kept twice, on the 24th and 25th.
Friday after Passion Sunday: Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Greater Double, Com. of the Feria.
Wednesday within the second week after the Octave of Easter: Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Confessor, and Patron of the Universal Church, Double of the I Class with a common Octave (from 1871 to 1954)
Last Sunday in October: The Feast of our Lord Jesus Christ the King, Double of the I Class, Com. of the Sunday.
Although not listed on the general Calendar, a commemoration of St. Anastasia Martyr is made at the second Mass on Christmas Day.
The moveable feasts are those connected with the Easter cycle, and Easter is the date relative to which their position is ultimately determined. The date of Easter is determined relative to the lunar calendar as used by the Hebrews. The rule has since the Middle Ages been phrased as "Easter is observed on the Sunday after the first full moon on or after the day of the vernal equinox." However, this does not reflect the actual ecclesiastical rules precisely. One reason for this is that the full moon involved (called the Paschal full moon) is not an astronomical full moon, but an ecclesiastical moon. Another difference is that the astronomical vernal equinox is a natural astronomical phenomenon, which can fall on 20 or 21 March, while the ecclesiastical vernal equinox is a fixed March 21 (on the Gregorian Calendar). Easter is determined from tables which determine Easter based on the ecclesiastical rules described above, which do not always coincide with the astronomical full moon. The moveable feasts are given below:
Septuagesima Sunday (9th Sunday before Easter)
Sexagesima Sunday (8th Sunday before Easter)
Quinquagesima Sunday (7th Sunday before Easter)
Ash Wednesday (Wednesday after Quinquagesima Sunday)
Passion Sunday (Sunday 2 weeks before Easter)
Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary (Friday after 2nd Sunday before Easter)
Palm Sunday (Sunday before Easter)
Holy Thursday (Thursday before Easter)
Good Friday (Friday before Easter)
Holy Saturday (Saturday before Easter)
Easter Sunday, the Solemnity of Solemnities, the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Low Sunday (Sunday after Easter)
The Solemnity of St. Joseph, spouse of the Virgin Mary, confessor, and patron of the Universal Church (Wednesday after the 2nd Sunday after Easter)
The Octave of St. Joseph, spouse of the Virgin Mary, confessor and patron of the Universal Church (Wednesday after the 3rd Sunday after Easter)
The Lesser Litanies at St. Mary Major (Monday after the 5th Sunday after Easter)
The Lesser Litanies at St. John Lateran (Tuesday after the 5th Sunday after Easter)
The Vigil of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Lesser Litanies at St. Peter's (Wednesday after the 5th Sunday after Easter)
The Ascension (Thursday after the 5th Sunday after Easter)
The Octave of the Ascension (Thursday after the 6th Sunday after Easter)
The Vigil of Pentecost (Saturday after the 6th Sunday after Easter)
Pentecost (7th Sunday after Easter)
Holy Trinity and the Octave of Pentecost (8th Sunday after Easter)
Corpus Christi (Thursday after the 8th Sunday after Easter)
Octave of Corpus Christi (Thursday after the 9th Sunday after Easter)
Sacred Heart of Jesus (Friday after the 9th Sunday after Easter)
Octave of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Friday after the 10th Sunday after Easter)
The 1954 calendar assigned special celebrations also to the days within these Octaves, as to the days within the Octaves of fixed feasts.
The pre-1962 Roman Missal also listed a number of celebrations in the section headed "Mass for Some Places". These celebrations were:
The Holy House of Loreto (10 December)
The Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (18 December)
The Betrothal of the Virgin Mary with Saint Joseph (23 January)
Saint Ildephonsus (23 January)
The Flight into Egypt (17 February)
Saint Margaret of Cortona (26 February)
The Prayer of Christ (Tuesday after Septuagesima)
Commemoration of the Passion of Christ (Tuesday after Sexagesima)
The Sacred Crown of Thorns (Friday after Ash Wednesday)
The Sacred Lance and Nails (Friday after the First Sunday in Lent)
The Holy Shroud (Friday after the Second Sunday in Lent)
The Five Holy Wounds (Friday after the Third Sunday in Lent)
The Precious Blood (Friday after the Fourth Sunday in Lent)
Saint Catherine of Genoa (22 March)
Saint Benedict Joseph Labre (16 April)
Our Lady of Good Counsel (26 April)
Saint Isidore the Farmer (15 May)
Saint John Nepomucene (16 May)
Saint Rita of Cascia (22 May)
Saint John Baptist de Rossi (23 May)
Our Lady Help of Christians (24 May)
Saint Ferdinand III (30 May)
Saint Joan of Arc (30 May)
Our Lady Queen of All Saints and Mother of Fair Love (31 May)
Our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces (31 May)
Our Lady Queen of the Apostles (Saturday after the Ascension)
The Eucharistic Heart of Jesus (Thursday the Sacred Heart)
The Immaculate Heart of Mary (Saturday after the Octave of the Sacred Heart of Jesus)
Our Lady Mother of Grace (9 June)
Saint John Francis Regis (16 June)
Our Lady of Prompt Succor (27 June)
All Holy Popes (3 July)
Saint Lawrence of Brindisi (7 July)
Saint Veronica Giuliani (9 July)
Humility of the Blessed Virgin Mary (17 July)
Our Lady Mother of Mercy (Saturday after the 4th Sunday of July)
Saint Emygdius (9 August)
Saint Philomena (11 August)
Our Lady Refuge of Sinners (13 August)
Saint John Berchmans (13 August)
Saint Roch (16 August)
Empress Helena (18 August)
Our Lady of Consolation (Saturday after the Feast of St. Augustine)
Our Lady Help of the Sick (Saturday after the last Sunday in August)
Saint Rose of Viterbo (4 September)
Saint Peter Claver (9 September)
Saint Gregory the Illuminator (1 October)
Purity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (16 October)
Feast of the Holy Redeemer (23 October)
The Sacred Relics (5 November)
Saint Stanislaus Kostka (13 November)
Our Lady Mother of Divine Providence (Saturday after the 3rd Sunday in November)
St. Leonard of Port Maurice (26 November)
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal (27 November)