Laetare Sunday
Observed byWestern Christianity
Liturgical colorRose
ObservancesChurch services; feasts/parties
DateFourth Sunday of Lent (21 days before Easter Sunday)
2023 dateMarch 19
2024 dateMarch 10
2025 dateMarch 30
2026 dateMarch 15
The incipit for the Gregorian chant introit from which Laetare Sunday gets its name
Rose chasuble (Sunday Gaudete and Laetare), formerly Speyer Cathedral, now Stiftskirche Neustadt/Weinstraße

Laetare Sunday (Church Latin: [leˈ]; Classical Latin: [lae̯ˈtaːre]; English: /lˈtɛəri/) is the fourth Sunday in the season of Lent, in the Western Christian liturgical calendar. Traditionally, this Sunday has been a day of celebration within the austere period of Lent. This Sunday gets its name from the first few words (incipit) of the traditional Latin entrance verse (Introit) for the Mass of the day. "Laetare Jerusalem" ("Rejoice, O Jerusalem") is Latin from Isaiah 66:10.


The term "Laetare Sunday" is used by most Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican churches.[1] The Latin laetare is an imperative: "rejoice!"

The full Introit reads:[2][3]

Laetare Jerusalem et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam; gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis, ut exsultetis et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae. Psalm: Laetatus sum in his quae dicta sunt mihi: in domum Domini ibimus.

Rejoice ye with Jerusalem; and be ye glad for her, all ye that delight in her: exult and sing for joy with her, all ye that in sadness mourn for her; that ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations. Psalm: I was glad when they said unto me, We will go into the house of the Lord.

Alternative names

This Sunday is currently also known as Mothering Sunday,[4] Refreshment Sunday, mid-Lent Sunday (in French mi-carême) and Rose Sunday (either because the golden rose sent by Popes to Catholic sovereigns used to be blessed at this time, or because the use of rose-colored rather than violet vestments was permitted on this day).[5]

Historically, the day was also known as "the Sunday of the Five Loaves," from the story of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Before the adoption of the modern "common lectionaries", this narrative was the traditional Gospel reading for this Sunday in Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, and Old Catholic churches.[6]

The station church at Rome for this day was Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, one of the seven chief basilicas; the Golden Rose, sent by Popes to Catholic sovereigns, used to be blessed at this time and for this reason the day was sometimes called Dominica de Rosa.[7]


The Anglican Bishop of Willesden (London), wearing rose-pink vestments on Laetare Sunday, accompanied by three of his priests, also in rose-pink stoles, at North Acton parish church

On Mothering Sunday, Christians have historically visited their mother church—the church in which they received the sacrament of baptism.[8][9]

In Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and Old Catholic churches flowers may appear on the high altar and the organ may be played as a solo instrument. Priests are given the option to wear rose-colored vestments at Mass held on this day in place of the violet vestments normally worn during Lent.[10] The term "rose" is used to describe this lighter shade of the color violet in the Roman Rite.[11]

The Sunday is considered a day of relaxation from normal Lenten rigours; a day of hope with Easter at last within sight. Traditionally, weddings (otherwise banned during Lent) could be performed on this day,[12] and servants were released from service for the day to visit their mother church, the place in which they received the sacrament of baptism (hence 'Mothering Sunday').

Laetare Sunday is the date on which the recipient of University of Notre Dame's Laetare Medal is announced.[13]


Laetare Sunday is exactly 21 days before Easter Sunday, a moveable feast based on the cycles of the moon. The date can be any between 1 March and 4 April inclusive; occurrence in April is considered to be uncommon; the last occurrence was on 3 April 2011 and the next will be on 4 April 2038, after which it will not occur again until 1 April 2057 – occurrences in April are printed in the below list in bold type. The earliest occurrence of Laetare Sunday in the twenty-first century was on 2 March 2008,[14] and the latest will be on 4 April 2038.

Laetare Sunday occurs on these dates:

Laetare Sunday and other named days and day ranges around Lent and Easter in Western Christianity, with the fasting days of Lent numbered

See also


  1. ^ "What is Laetare Sunday?". Epiphany Lutheran Church. 22 March 2020. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  2. ^ Higdon, David Leon (1972). "The Wife of Bath and Refreshment Sunday". Papers on Language and Literature. 8 (2): 199–201.
  3. ^ Burgess, Francis (1921). The English Gradual, part 2. London: Plainchant Publications Committee.
  4. ^ Dunning, Andrew (26 March 2017). "The medieval origins of Mothering Sunday". Medieval manuscripts blog. The British Library.
  5. ^ "Laetare Sunday". Encyclopedia Britannica.
  6. ^ Smith, G. Penswick (1921). The Revival of Mothering Sunday. New York: Macmillan.
  7. ^ Michael Phelps, Du Fay's Hymn Cycle and Papal Liturgy during the Pontificate of Eugene IV. Musica Disciplina 54 (2009), pp. 75-117
  8. ^ Diller, Harriett (1990). Celebrations That Matter: A Year-Round Guide to Making Holidays Meaningful. Augsburg. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-8066-2498-3. In England, Mothering Sunday is a day to honor both your mother church and your own mother. In the past, young people working away from home visited their mothers and the churches where they were baptized on Mothering Sunday.
  9. ^ Pearson, Sharon Ely; Szoke, Robyn (2009). The Prayer Book Guide to Christian Education, Third Edition. Church Publishing. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-8192-2337-1. Mothering Sunday—In England children away from home at school or work were permitted to go home to visit their mothers and/or to visit their cathedral or mother church on this fourth Sunday of Lent. Today, many cathedrals and "mother" churches invite all who had been baptized there to return "home" to worship.
  10. ^ The traditional use of rose-pink vestments on this day by Anglican clergy is suggested in the liturgical colour sequence notes of Common Worship of which an on-line version may be found here (see near bottom of page).
  11. ^ "Homiletic Directory". Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. 2015. Third Sunday of Advent, Fourth Sunday of Lent.
  12. ^ See for example, Laetare Sunday extract
  13. ^ Dame, Marketing Communications: Web | University of Notre. "About". The Laetare Medal. Retrieved 2021-02-01.
  14. ^ "Fourth Sunday of Lent - March 02, 2008 - Liturgical Calendar".
Sundays of the Easter cycle Preceded byThird Sunday of Lent Fourth Sunday of Lent March 10, 2024 Succeeded byFifth Sunday of Lent