After six weeks of prayer, alms-giving and fasting the season of Lent concludes with Holy Week. A week in which we tell the ‘greatest story ever’. A week in which we remember again and learn anew the story of our salvation.
A Summary of Facts
Why do Catholics wave palms on Palm Sunday, wash each other’s feet on Holy Thursday; or kiss the cross on Good Friday? Explore the signs, symbols and rituals of this last week of Lent we spend preparing for Easter.
The Way of the Cross
One of the great traditions of the Church is participation in Good Friday processions of the cross. This reflects the ancient tradition of the Jerusalem communities that walked in the footsteps of Jesus proclaiming the Gospel. praying and remembering. Search your local area to find out where and when things are happening.
Reflecting on Holy Week
More facts about Holy Week
- Palm Sunday marks the start of Jesus’ journey from life to death to new life: The Paschal Mystery which is why its alternative name is Passion Sunday.
- Palms blessed on Palm Sunday are respected as holy objects. They can be found placed behind a crucifix or holy picture in many Catholic homes.
- In parts of Europe blessed palms are burnt when a crisis such as a storm threatens.
- The ashes distributed on Ash Wednesday are traditional from palms from the previous year being burnt.
- Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are spiritual preparation days for the Triduum. Traditionally a time for reconciliation.
- During the Middle Ages Christians came to consider that they were unworthy of receiving communion. Reception of communion became so rare that at the Council of Lateran (1215) the Church mandated that it be received at least once a year on Easter Sunday. This became known as the Easter duty. The time frame was extended to the period between the first Sunday of Lent and Trinity Sunday.
- The official and oldest name for Holy Thursday is Thursday of the Lord’s Supper.
- Another old name for Holy Thursday was Pure or Clean Thursday reflective of the two liturgical rituals of reconciliation and the stripping of the altar.
- The term Maundy Thursday reflected the solemn ritual of the washing of the feet. It is a distortion of the Latin work for commandment –
- The Washing of the Feet by the presider of the Holy Thursday Mass has been present in local liturgies since the fifth century.
- Good Friday throughout the years has been one of quiet, sadness and mourning for\f the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Mass is never celebrated on Good Friday.
- Although incorporated into the formal liturgy in of the Church in the 8th Century, veneration of the cross was part of Good Friday traditions in Jerusalem from late in the 4th
- Hot cross buns started life in early Christian tradition as flat, unleavened imitations of the Passover bread.