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The Forty Days Preceding Easter

This season holds the same position, with regard to Easter, as Advent does, with regard to Christmas. It is the oldest of all the liturgical seasons. Besides being the preparation for the central feast of the whole year, Lent commemorates our Lord’s forty days’ fast in the desert and  the expression of the Church’s desire to join her divine Master in his penance for the sins of mankind.

The name ‘ Lent ‘ is derived from an old Saxon word meaning ‘ Spring ‘—it is the spring-fast.


The last two weeks of Lent are known as Passion Week and Holy Week, or the Great Week. During these two weeks the Church follows closely in the footsteps of our saviour during the last scenes of his mortal life, and on the last three days of Holy Week, she even reproduces in a kind of sacred drama, the very acts of his Passion, death, and burial. The veiling of the crucifix and statue in all churches, on the Saturday before Passion Sunday is a survival of the medieval custom of the “Lenten veil”—a curtain hung between the chancel and the nave as a sign of the Church’s mourning for our Lord. The words of the Gospel on Passion Sunday: "but Jesus hid himself and went out of the Temple" may also have influenced this usage. But the Lenten-veil was hung up at the beginning of Lent and not only during Passion-Week.