A Solemnity of the Roman Catholic Church is a principal holy day in the liturgical calendar, usually commemorating an event in the life of Jesus, his mother Mary, or other important saints. The observance begins with the vigil on the evening before the actual date of the feast.
The word is taken from the Latin sollemnitas, a term of uncertain origin but possibly derived from sollus (whole) and annus (year), indicating a celebration occurring at yearly intervals.
Solemnities of the General Roman Calendar These solemnities are observed throughout the entire Roman Catholic Church. In addition, there are some which are observed in particular places, regions, or in particular religious orders. For instance, when a parish or other church celebrates the feast or memorial of its titular saint or when it celebrates the anniversary of its dedication, it is treated as a solemnity. The feast of Saint Patrick on 17 March is a solemnity in Ireland, and the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on 16 July is a solemnity for the Carmelites.
Some solemnities are also Holy Days of Obligation, on which Catholics are required to attend Mass; some are not. Moreover, the canon law of the Catholic Church requires that on Holy Days of Obligation Catholics are to avoid "work" and "affairs" that "hinder the worship to be rendered to God" or interfere with "suitable relaxation of mind and body" just as is required on Sundays.
If a solemnity falls on a Sunday, the Mass is celebrated with the readings and prayers appropriate to the particular feast, rather than to the particular Sunday. The Creed is recited at Mass, and there are two scriptural readings and a responsoral psalm before the Gospel. When a solemnity falls on a Friday, the obligation to abstain from meat or do penance is lifted. No solemnity except the Resurrection of the Lord on Easter Sunday can fall during Holy Week or during the Octave of Easter; the Church transfers any otherwise scheduled solemnity to another available date.
- Universalis An excellent liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church including the liturgy of the hours and the mass readings.
- "Solemnity" article from The Catholic Encyclopedia (1912)
- http://www.usccb.org/liturgy/current/2008cal.pdf Liturgical calendar for the year 2008 in the United States of America
solemnity in German: Hochfest
solemnity in Spanish: Solemnidad
solemnity in French: Solennité
solemnity in Latin: Sollemnitas
solemnity in Dutch: Hoogfeest
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