Feast Days

How does the Vatican decide which day a Saint receives for his or her feast day? Is it the saint's birthday, day of death or some other date?

Usually the day of death, which is the day of entry into Eternal Life.

There are exceptions -- two important saints died on the same day, or a feast is moved for some other consideration.

St. Lucy's feast is celebrated because it was the shortest day of the year, and Lucy is related to light, when the days begin to lengthen. (After the Gregorian Reform of the calendar Dec 21st became the shortest day, but before that it was closer to the 13th).

There are other exceptions by tradition: e.g. we celebrate the BIRTH of John the Baptist.

NYCatholic is right. It's usually the day of death, but there are no hard and fast rules. The Church reserves the right to transfer the day to whichever date seems most appropriate and/or convenient. :)

Feast days usually commemorate some significant event in the Christian life of a Saint.

And as has been mentioned, the date the the saint enters into eternal life, particularly if the Saint was a martyr, is often the most significant date for that Saint.

But there can obviously be good reasons for the Church to assign some other date.

[quote="newyorkcatholic, post:2, topic:182018"]

There are other exceptions by tradition: e.g. we celebrate the BIRTH of John the Baptist.

[/quote]

In fact we celebrate both, his birth on June 24 and his beheading (EF)/martyrdom (OF) on August 29.

[quote="newyorkcatholic, post:2, topic:182018"]
. . .
There are other exceptions by tradition: e.g. we celebrate the BIRTH of John the Baptist.

[/quote]

We celebrate three birthdays - Jesus, Mary and John the Baptist. According to popular belief these three were born without Original Sin.

While Mary and Jesus were conceived free of sin, John was not. However, a case can be made that he was freed of Original Sin when Mary greeted Elizabeth and John leapt in Elizabeth's womb.

[quote="tborrego, post:1, topic:182018"]
How does the Vatican decide which day a Saint receives for his or her feast day? Is it the saint's birthday, day of death or some other date?

[/quote]

There are 3 main criteria:

1) the day of death, or day closest to day of death e.g. the next day

2) if the day of death falls in March-April, which is usually the period where Lent falls, for significant saints, another special day might be chosen such as the dedication of a church in their honour, transfer of their relics, or a notable event in their lives. A famous example is St. Gregory the Great whose is celebrated on September 3, the anniversary of his consecration, instead of March 12, when he died.

3) if the saint has a widespread or significant devotion among the Eastern Churches, then that date may be selected, or a date close to it. An example was a couple of days ago for St. Basil - he is observed in the Byzantine calendar on January 1, and since that day is occupied by Mary, Mother of God, he is celebrated on January 2.

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