More from Aleteia

Not Prepared to Donate?

Here are 5 ways you can still help Aleteia:

  1. Pray for our team and the success of our mission
  2. Talk about Aleteia in your parish
  3. Share Aleteia content with friends and family
  4. Turn off your ad blockers when you visit
  5. Subscribe to our free newsletter and read us daily
Thank you!
Team Aleteia



What is a holy day of obligation? When are they?


Though holy days are a characteristic of the universal Church, local custom can bring about changes to the list.

Throughout the liturgical year there are various feast days that do not fall on Sunday, but which the Church asks the faithful to celebrate with attendance at Mass.

These days are called holy days of obligation and the Church equates the importance of these days to a Sunday.

A precept of the Church explains, “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.”

One of the chief reasons behind these holy days is to highlight a specific aspect of the life of Christ or to give honor to the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the communion of saints.

These days are for the spiritual benefit of Christ’s flock and are opportunities to receive grace.

Holy days of obligation are currently governed by the local bishops’ conferences and can vary from country to country. For example, December 12 (feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe) is a holy day of obligation in Mexico (Our Lady of Guadalupe is also the patron of the country). Meanwhile, Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, is a day of obligation in the United States (and Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is the patron of the US).

In 1991 the USCCB issued new norms regarding holy days of obligation and listed the following:

January 1, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter, the Solemnity of the Ascension

August 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

November 1, the Solemnity of All Saints

December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

December 25, the Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Whenever January 1, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, or August 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption, or November 1, the Solemnity of All Saints, falls on a Saturday or on a Monday, the precept to attend Mass is abrogated.

Since the proclamation of these norms, the Solemnity of the Ascension has been transferred to a Sunday in most dioceses in the United States.

These days can be changed or added to according to local custom. For example, in Malta the Church celebrates the Shipwreck of St. Paul in Malta on February 1o as a holy day of obligation and Ireland celebrates (not surprisingly) the feast of St. Patrick as a holy day.

Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.
Aleteia offers you this space to comment on articles. This space should always reflect Aleteia values.
[See Comment Policy]
Readers like you contribute to Aleteia's Mission.

Since our inception in 2012, Aleteia’s readership has grown rapidly worldwide. Our team is committed to a mission of providing articles that enrich, inspire and inform a Catholic life. That's why we want our articles to be freely accessible to everyone, but we need your help to do that. Quality journalism has a cost (more than selling ads on Aleteia can cover). That's why readers like you make a major difference by donating as little as $3 a month.