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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. The Church always celebrates each solemnity every year.


Solemnities of the Liturgical Year

The following solemnities are observed by the entire Catholic Church. Holidays of obligation of the Worldwide Church are given in bold letters; they are however often dispensed from by the several episcopal conferences, which is explicitly dealt with in the article. Note that holidays of obligation, when transferred to a Sunday, are of course technically still of obligation, on the Sunday to wit; the expression used in the "notes about date" box is meant to put the things in short terms.

Special Solemnities

There are also special solemnities, 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.[1] The feast of Saint Patrick on 17 March is a solemnity in Ireland, the feast of Saint Josemaría Escrivá on 26 June is a solemnity within the prelature of Opus Dei, 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.[2] The Worldwide Church knows of no holidays of obligation below the rank of sollemnity, though there are some observed in Germany.

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