Holy day of obligation

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In the Catholic Church, holy days of obligation or holidays of obligation,[1] less commonly called feasts of precept, are the days on which, as canon 1247 of the Code of Canon Law states:

On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass.

Moreover they are to abstain from those works and affairs which hinder the worship to be rendered to God, the joy proper to the Lord's day, or the suitable relaxation of mind and body.

Eastern Catholic Churches[edit]

The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches lays down the following norms for Eastern Catholic Churches:

It is for the authority competent to establish the particular law of a sui iuris Church to constitute, transfer or suppress feast days and days of penance for that sui iuris Church, after, however, seeking the views of other sui iuris Churches and observing canon 40 §1.[2]

Holy days of obligation common to all the Eastern Churches are, apart from Sundays, the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension, the Dormition of Holy Mary the Mother of God, and the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, except for a particular law of a sui iuris Church, approved by the Apostolic See, which suppresses some holy days of obligation or transfers them to a Sunday.[3]

The Christian faithful are bound by the obligation to participate on Sundays and feast days in the Divine Liturgy or, according to the prescriptions or legitimate customs of their own sui iuris Church, in the celebration of the divine praises.[4]

Latin Catholic Church[edit]

The holy days of obligation for Latin Catholics are indicated in canon 1246 of the Code of Canon Law:

§1. Sunday, on which by apostolic tradition the paschal mystery is celebrated, must be observed in the universal Church as the primordial holy day of obligation. The following days must also be observed: the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension, the Body and Blood of Christ, Holy Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, Saint Joseph, Saint Peter and Saint Paul the Apostles, and All Saints.

§2. With the prior approval of the Apostolic See, however, the conference of bishops can suppress some of the holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday.

Placed in the order of the civil calendar, the ten days (apart from Sundays) that this canon mentions are:

The number of holy days of obligation was once much greater. With the motu proprio Supremi disciplinae of 2 July 1911, Pope Pius X reduced the number of such non-Sunday holy days from 36 to 8 (the above 10 minus the feasts of the Body and Blood of Christ and Saint Joseph).[5] The present list was established in 1917.[6]

In many countries the bishops had obtained, even before the time of Pope Pius X, the Holy See's approval to diminish the number of non-Sunday holy days of obligation, making it far less than 36. Today too, Episcopal Conferences have availed themselves of the authority granted them in law to reduce the number below the ten mentioned above.

Non-Sunday holy days of obligation all have the rank of solemnity. Accordingly, if in Ordinary Time one of them falls on a Sunday, the Sunday celebration gives way to it; but the Sundays of Advent, Lent and Eastertide take precedence over all solemnities, which are then transferred to another day.[7]

Working holy days[edit]

While episcopal conferences may suppress holy days of obligation or transfer them to Sunday, they often maintain as holy days of obligation some days that are not public holidays. For most people, such days are normal working days, and are therefore not bound by the obligation "to abstain from those works and affairs which hinder the worship to be rendered to God, the joy proper to the Lord's day, or the suitable relaxation of mind and body". However, they remain bound by the obligation to participate in Mass. For these days, referred to as "working holy days", churches may have a special timetable, with Mass available outside the normal working hours and on the previous evening.[8]

In Ireland the only holy days of obligation that are also public holidays are Christmas and Saint Patrick's Day, so that it has five working holy days. Similarly, Slovakia has only three holy days of obligation that are also public holidays: Christmas, Epiphany and All Saints', leaving it with six working holy days. In the Netherlands, the bishops conference decreed that, with effect from 1 January 1991, the feasts of the Assumption and All Saints, each of which it had previously decided to celebrate on the following Sunday, were to be of obligation as regards Mass, but not for abstaining from work.[9]

Latin-Rite observance by country[edit]

In Vatican City, but not in the rest of the Diocese of Rome, Sundays and all ten days listed in canon 1246 are observed as holy days of obligation. This is also the case in the Swiss canton of Ticino, but perhaps nowhere else.

Some countries have as holy days of obligation feasts that are not among those listed in canon 1246. Ireland has Saint Patrick's Day.[10] Germany has St. Stephen on the "Second Christmas Day" (26 December), Easter Monday and Pentecost Monday (Whit Monday).[11]

In countries where they are not holy days of obligation, three of the ten feast days listed above are assigned to a Sunday as their proper day:[12]

If they are thus assigned to a Sunday, they are not included in the following national lists of holy days of obligation, since in every country all Sundays are holy days of obligation.


Australia and New Zealand[edit]

Belgium and France[edit]


Czech republic[14][edit]

In Czech republic, holy days of obligation are, by Czech Bishops' Conference, reduced to only two days, which are also public holidays in the Czech Republic:

Since the other holy days of obligation mentioned in the Code of Canon Law are not public holidays, the Czech Bishops' Conference does not make attendance at Mass obligatory for Catholics, but only recommends it, as it does also on the feast days of Saints Cyril and Methodius (5 July) and Saint Wenceslas (28 September). Attendance at Mass is of course obligatory on all Sundays.

England and Wales[edit]

(See Liturgy Office)


(See Feiertagsregelung)

In addition, some Bundesländer have one or more of the following holy days of obligation:

The solemnities of Saint Joseph, Saints Peter and Paul and the Immaculate Conception of Mary are observed nowhere in Germany as holy days of obligation. Only those days that are also public holidays are holy days of obligation; thus the list of holy days of obligation varies not only between dioceses but also between districts of the same diocese, depending on which Bundesland the district is in. Attendance at the liturgical service (which is not Mass) on Good Friday, a public holiday, is also generally observed, although it is not a holy day of obligation.

Austria, Switzerland and German-speaking areas in neighbouring countries have similar rules.


Instead of being transferred to the following Sunday, the Ascension of Our Lord, though not a holy day of obligation in Greece, is kept on the Thursday of the sixth week of Easter, in order to celebrate it on the same day as the Orthodox Church of Greece.

Hong Kong[15][edit]



[citation needed]


(See "Working holy days", above)


Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei[edit]


(See "Working holy days", above)





All the holy days of obligation listed in the Code of Canon Law except the Solemnity of Saint Joseph are maintained in Slovakia, although only Epiphany, All Saints' Day and Christmas are also public holidays. See "Working holy days", above.

Additionally, the Slovak Bishops' Conference recommends Mass attendance on the following solemnities, because of their nationwide importance:

South Korea[edit]


(See Calendario Litúrgico Pastoral)

Sri Lanka[edit]

United States[edit]

(See United States norm complementary to canon 1246)

Note 1: However, when 1 January (Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God), 15 August (Feast of the Assumption), or 1 November (Solemnity of All Saints) falls on a Saturday or a Monday, the precept to attend Mass on that date is abrogated.

Note 2: In Hawaii, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and Christmas are the only Holy Days of Obligation, as decreed by the Bishop of Honolulu in 1992, pursuant to an indult from the Holy See and as approved by the national episcopal conference.[17]

Note 3: In years when 8 December falls on Sunday, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is normally transferred to 9 December, as it is outranked by the Second Sunday of Advent. The United States bishops dispense from the obligation to attend Mass on the day of the transferred celebration.[18] In celebrations of the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, the First-Class Feast of the Immaculate Conception outranks Sundays of Advent and so remains on 8 December.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In Scotland and Ireland and elsewhere
  2. ^ canon 880 §2(translation corrected to correspond to the original Latin). Canon 40 §1, referred to here, says: "Hierarchs who preside over sui iuris Churches and other hierarchs are to attend very zealously to the faithful protection and exact observance of their own rite; they are not to admit changes in it except by reason of its organic progress, keeping in mind, however, mutual goodwill and the unity of Christians."
  3. ^ canon 880 §3
  4. ^ canon 881 §1
  5. ^ Supremi disciplinæ in Catholic Encyclopedia
  6. ^ Codex Iuris Canonici canon 1247 (1917).
  7. ^ General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar § 5.
  8. ^ For instance, Ballyroan Parish, Dublin, Churches and Religious Institutions in or near Old Louisville, United States, Churches in Krynica, Poland
  9. ^ Analecta Aartsbisdom Utrecht, jaargang 63, november/december 1990, p. 294-295
  10. ^ Liturgical Calendar
  11. ^ Feiertagsregelung
  12. ^ General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, 7
  13. ^ a b Celebrating the Season of Christmas, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2002
  14. ^ http://www.katyd.cz/clanky/ostatni/slaveni-je-jeden-z-projevu-krestanskeho-zivota.html
  15. ^ A Catholic Should Know -- Diocese of Hong Kong
  16. ^ Liturgical Calendar for Ireland 2012 (Veritas 2011 ISBN 978-1-84730-333-2), p. 10
  17. ^ Liturgical Calendar for the Dioceses of the United States of America 2014
  18. ^ Edward McNamara, "Feast of the Immaculate Conception"

External links[edit]