How could the first Pentecost have been on a Sunday?

I read in a catechism:

“The Church commands us to keep the Sunday holy instead of the Sabbath because on Sunday Christ rose from the dead, and on Sunday he sent the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles.”

How is that possible? Pentecost means “fifty”, referring to the fiftieth day after the Passover. Our Pentecost is on a Sunday because our Easter is on Sunday. That is because the Church ruled that Easter should be the Sunday after the Passover would have been celebrated that year in the Old Law.

But we know from the Gospels that Christ was most certainly not crucified on a Sunday, since he rose on the third day, which was a Sunday. So wouldn’t the Pentecost that year have to have been late in the week?

“a Catechism” can mis-speak …

…and it is not “the Catechism” so I would suggest instead to look to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Just curious, but which catechism was this? :slight_smile:

I counted the calendar days from Easter (27-Mar) to Pentecost (15-May) and it works out to be 50 days if you count Easter & Pentecost as days. The Ascension is 40 days after Easter and Pentecost always falls 10 days after that according to my missal’s table of movable feasts.

The Baltimore Catechism.

The church calendar approves a plenary hall of indulgence.

No, Pentecost does not refer to fifty days after Passover, it refers to fifty days after the Sabbath day after Passover.

Leviticus 23
15 From that day, the next after the sabbath, when the sheaf of first-fruits was offered, you will count seven full weeks; 16 and on the day after the end of the seventh week, that is, on the fiftieth day, you will offer the Lord a sacrifice out of your new harvesting.

The day after the Sabbath is Sunday (in this case Easter Sunday) and 50 days after that is Pentecost Sunday.

I am not sure what the problem is.

Hi, Alexander!
…the Church does not command us to keep Sunday holy instead of the Sabbath. Sabbath, does not mean “Saturday” (Roman origin: planet Saturn), it means “rest” day–a day of rest and worship. The Church transferred the Sabbath obligation to Sunday because it is the Lord’s Day:

And on the first day of the week, when we were assembled to break bread, Paul discoursed with them, being to depart on the morrow: and he continued his speech until midnight. (Acts 20:7)

This is one of the changes that took place as the Church emerged, that is Christianity adopted the first day of the week, Sunday, as their Sabbath because Christ Rose on Sunday.

Are you asserting that Christians should join their local synagogues to celebrate Jewish Sabbath (sundown Friday thru Saturday) and Shavout (–the Feast of Weeks) and remove the New Testament from the Bible?

Maran atha!


The person who responded that it’s the Baltimore Catechism is correct.

Meanwhile, I thought I was onto something interesting, and I was, but I did a quick online search just afterwords and it’s been answered by many clever people and it’s quite fascinating.

The whole thing revolves around an interesting question of how to interpret the Old Law with regard to Leviticus 23 and the system for counting the days from the Passover until the Pentecost. (Again, this is the Pentecost of the Old Law)

The distinction between the approaches of the Sadducees and the Pharisees also figures in the discussion, but it seems that everyone would have put the Pentecost on a Sunday that year, regardless.

It’s all very interesting but next time I’ll do a little research before posting…

No, not at all! My question was more of an intellectual one about whether the Pentecost - just on that first year - would have actually fallen on a Sunday. Of course, I can see from your post that you know that the Pentecost is one of the Christian festivals that is directly prefigured in the Old Testament.

I was confused because I knew that the Pentecost (or Shavuot in Hebrew, as you pointed out) is celebrated on varying days of the week, depending on the year, in Judaism. But it did not occur to me when I was first posting the question, that the Bible actually says to start the count of the fifty days from the day after the Sabbath. Hence the reason for my confusion.

Is this true? Easter, by the Roman Rite, is not set based on the Old Law, but set celestially:

The first Sunday following the full moon after the Spring equinox, with adjustment if a full moon and Equinox are on the same Sunday.

Hi, Alexander!
I too was confused since you introduced the Sabbath (an argument against Sunday as the day of Rest) and then expanded with the Pentecost being maneuvered into Sunday…

God Bless!

Maran atha!


Yes, but there has to be a reason based on Sacred Tradition and the Scriptures, right?

The Catholic Encyclopedia goes into great detail on this in the entry for “Easter Controversy”. It mentions some of the rulings of the First Nicene Council including:

that this Sunday must follow the fourteenth day of the paschal moon;
that that moon was to be accounted the paschal moon whose fourteenth day followed the spring equinox;

So it seems that the calendar system of the Old Testament plays a certain role in the Computus Paschalis as well as the obvious fact that Christ is the Paschal Lamb of the New Covenant.

In fact, the article mentions the concerns of the Council that the Jewish method for calculating the Passover can end up putting two Passover festivals between one spring equinox and the next! So it seems the Church is actually taking care to preserve the Old Testament calculus!

Yeah, sorry, that one’s on me, I bolded the section of the quote that I wanted to focus on, but wanted to include a little more for context…

I actually find it rather strange that some people want to mix the festivals and regulations of the Old Covenant with Christianity. At the very least that would mean having to excise St. Paul’s epistles from the good book…

Why would it seem odd? Catholics are about as Jewish as one can get! And, the most devout of Jews were among the greatest of Christians…including Jesus, himself.

I think the saying goes: “Caught between a rock and a hard place…”

Hi, Alexander!
I concur with you–I think that part of the problem with the mixed blessings is that they do not fully subscribe to what they claim or they simply think that it is quite reasonable to fill their plates from as many sources as they please, rejecting that which seems inconvenient or contrary to their prescribed theology.

Yes, our origins are unequivocally rooted in Judaism; yet, we, Christians, must not embrace the Old Covenant but the New Covenant–interestingly enough, though, even the Jews have allowed the lapse of much of the Old Covenant while simultaneously rejecting the New Covenant.

Maran atha!


…sorry to disagree, but I doubt that many Jews would support your statement–Christ is loathed by the religious Jews; it’s been my experience that they hold the New Testament in high disdain and some have even accused the Church of willfully subverting Sacred Writings.

…still, I think that the argument put forth is the fact that some “Christians” appear to reject Sunday as the Christian Sabbath (again, from my experience, some even question, on technical grounds, the reverence of Christmas)…

Maran atha!


Two observations: there is no such thing as a “plenary hall of indulgence”. Non Catholics are reading and trying to learn, don’t confuse them by making stuff up.

  1. A plenary indulgence has nothing whatsoever to do with the topic. Do you know what an indulgence is?

Peace and God bless

Before we left this thread close, I thought we should clear something up to avoid confusing any Catholics who are trying to study and better learn their faith.

The same Baltimore Catechism that I quoted at the start of this thread (and I think you’ll find this in the CCC as well) quite emphatically states that Sunday is the Lord’s Day, NOT the literal Sabbath. The Church classifies the keeping of Holy Days of obligation under that Commandment but the Sabbath itself is not literally observed. You’ll notice that in the Latin countries they keep the word Sabato (or similar) for Saturday.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit