Days of the liturgical year


What’s the difference in Solemnities, memorials, and feast days? What what is BVM? Is that a special day of the week too?



They are different ranks. Solemnity is the highest, followed by feast, mandatory memorial and optional memorial. BVM is an optional Saturday memorial every week for the Blessed Virgin Mary. Hope that helps!


Solemnities, feasts and memorials are ways in which the Church recognises and celebrates important events in the life of Christ, important celebrations associated with the Blessed Virgin mary (BVM) as well as important saints in the life of the whole Church as well as the Church in a particular area. The difference is the order of importance - solemnities first, then feasts, followed by memorials. Basically, it’s a way of working out which observances or celebrations should be celebrated when - especially when two occur on the same day.

So, for example, the Feast of St Matthias the Apostle is normally celebrated on 14 May. However, in some places the Solemnity of the Ascension falls on that date (since it’s 40 days after Easter). As the Ascension is a solemnity it outranks the Feast of St Matthias. Sunday, being an important celebration, gives way only to solemnities or feasts of the Lord (e.g. Ascension, Transfiguration) except during Lent, Easter and Advent.Solemnities always have a vigil associated with them which is observed the evening before. A vigil is only observed for feasts when the feast falls on a Sunday.

When no other celebrations occur in the calendar, a memorial of the BVM can be celebrated on a Saturday during the day.

For a much fuller explanation of the Church’s calendar and the liturgical year see:


I don’t think the optional Saturday memorial for the Blessed Virgin is allowed every week but only some weeks. I could be wrong but my Ordo is out in the car and it’s like -493 degrees outside so I’m not going out to get it in order to check. :snowing:



It’s allowed on Saturdays of Ordinary Time on which there is no other memorial, feast or solemnity.


Modern Catholic Dictionary:

SOLEMNITY. The highest liturgical rank of a feast in the ecclesiastical calendar. Besides the movable feasts such as Easter and Pentecost, fourteen solemnities are celebrated in the universal Church, namely: Motherhood of God (January 1), Epiphany (January 6), St. Joseph (March 19), Annunciation (March 25), Trinity Sunday (first after Pentecost), Corpus Christi (Thursday after Trinity Sunday), Sacred Heart (Friday after the second Sunday after Pentecost), St. John the Baptist (June 24), Sts. Peter and Paul (June 29), Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (August 15), All Saints (November 1), Christ the King (Last Sunday of the ecclesiastical year), Immaculate Conception (December 8), and Christmas (December 25). (Etym. Latin sollemnis, stated, established, appointed.)

MEMORIAL. Religious commemorations, especially the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Unlike other memorials, however, the Mass is no ordinary commemoration. It does recall the mysteries of Christ’s life and particularly his Crucifixion. The Mass, however, “is no more empty commemoration of the passion and death of Jesus Christ, but a true and proper act of sacrifice, whereby the High Priest by an unbloody immolation offers Himself a most acceptable victim to the eternal Father, as He died upon the cross” (Pope Pius XII, Mediator Dei, 68). (Etym. Latin memorialis, belonging to memory, from memoria, memory.)

FEAST. Days set apart by the Church for giving special honor to God, the Savior, angels, saints, and sacred mysteries and events. Some are fixed festivals, such as Christmas and the Immaculate Conception; others are movable, occurring earlier or later in different years. Festivals are now divided, since the Second Vatican Council, into solemnity (solemnitas), feast (festum), and memorial (memoria) in descending order of dignity. Memorials are further classified as prescribed or optional. Below these are ferial, or week, days with no special ritual rank. And in a class by themselves are the Sundays of the year, and the various liturgical seasons, such as Advent and Lent. All of these represent what is called “sacred times,” whose religious purpose is to keep the faithful mindful throughout the year of the cardinal mysteries and persons of Christianity.


I really enjoyed reading this post as it has helped me tremendously too to understand the differences between them all.

Let yourselves be taken over by the light of Christ and spread that light wherever you go - BLESSED POPE JOHN PAUL II


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