General Roman Calendar  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The General Roman Calendar indicates the days of the year to which are assigned the liturgical celebrations of saints and of the mysteries of the Lord that are to be observed wherever the Roman Rite is used. National and diocesan liturgical calendars, as well as those of religious orders and even of continents, add other saints or transfer the celebration of a particular saint from the date assigned in the General Calendar to another date.

These liturgical calendars also indicate the degree or rank of each celebration: Optional Memorial, Obligatory Memorial, 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 General Calendar assigns celebrations of saints to only about half the days of the year, and contains relatively very few of the saints recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, whose official list of saints is the 776-page volume Roman Martyrology (which does not claim to contain the names of all the saints legitimately venerated). The Martyrology assigns several saints to each day of the year and gives a very brief description of each saint or group of saints.

Canonization does not necessarily involve insertion of the saint's name into the General Roman Calendar, which mentions only a very limited selection of canonized saints.

Many sources give calendars that mention one or more saints for each day of the year. One example is Saints by Day. These will usually mention the saints of the General Roman Calendar, but they will also give names of saints not included in the General Roman Calendar, especially on a day, known as a feria, to which the General Roman Calendar assigns no celebration whatever of a saint.

"Feria" is a Latin word that, in ecclesiastical usage, means "weekday"; more precisely, it refers in the calendar to days on which no saint is celebrated. "Ferial" is an adjective formed from "feria" and is used in connection with a noun, as in the phrase "ferial Mass".

The General Calendar is printed, for instance, in the successive editions of the Roman Missal and the Liturgy of the Hours. These are up to date when printed, but additional feasts may be added later. For instance, the celebration of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) on 23 September does not appear in the latest editions of these two books. 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. Such annual publications indicate only celebrations included in the General Calendar and not impeded, in the year in question, by celebrations such as those of Holy Week or Sundays, and that must therefore be supplemented with information about local celebrations.


General Roman Calendar

As already stated, the 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 (e.g. St. Patrick in Ireland, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in the United States). Likewise, a particular religious order may celebrate its founder or past members of the order, even if that saint is not listed on the universal calendar or is included in it only with a lower rank. 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 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."

There is a rather common misconception that, for instance, Saint Christopher was "unsainted" in 1969 or that veneration of him was "suppressed". In fact, Saint Christopher is recognized as a saint of the Catholic Church, being listed as a martyr in the Roman Martyrology under 25 July. The change in 1969 - done with explicit recognition that, while the written Acts of Saint Christopher are merely legendary, attestations to veneration of the martyr date from ancient times - consisted of "leaving the memorial of Saint Christopher to local calendars" because of the relatively late date of its insertion into the Roman calendar.

Variations from the following list of celebrations should be indicated not here but, below, under the heading "National Calendars".

Moveable (General Calendar)

Epiphany is celebrated on the Sunday after 1 January, the Ascension of the Lord on the Seventh Sunday of Easter, and the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) on the Sunday after Holy Trinity in countries where the Episcopal Conference, with the prior approval of the Apostolic See, has decided that they are not treated as Holy Days of Obligation.

"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" (General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, 58).

January (General Calendar)

Note: The feast of the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated on the Sunday after 6 January. But whenever Epiphany falls on 7 or 8 January (only in countries where it is not a Holy Day of Obligation), the feast of the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated on the following Monday.

February (General Calendar)

March (General Calendar)

April (General Calendar)

May (General Calendar)

June (General Calendar)

July (General Calendar)

August (General Calendar)

September (General Calendar)

October (General Calendar)

November (General Calendar)

December (General Calendar)

National Calendars

Only variations from the General Roman Calendar for celebrations according to the Roman Rite are given here. Eastern Rite Catholic Churches have completely different liturgical calendars, as have Latin Rite Catholics that use the Ambrosian and Mozarabic Rites.






According to the English national calendar:



According to the national calendar of Ireland:



New Zealand



United States

According to the national calendar of the United States:


According to the national calendar of Wales:

Local calendars

The calendar for a diocese is typically based on a national calendar, such as those listed above, with a few additions. For instance, the anniversary of the dedication of the cathedral of the diocese is celebrated as a feast throughout the diocese, as is the Patron saint of the diocese.

The calendar of a parish is based on the calendar of its diocese, but in addition to the celebrations in the diocesan calendar, there are the anniversary of the dedication of the parish church and the celebration of the Patron saint of the church, which are celebrated as Solemnities.

Other calendars

Each institute of consecrated life (Roman Catholic religious order, secular institute etc.) also has its own calendar, with variations from the General Calendar.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "General Roman Calendar" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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