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Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

The Vigil of the Nativity of Our Lord

The traditional definition of a “vigil” is not the early celebration of a feast day, but rather a full day of penance and preparation for a feast. The liturgy of Christmas Eve is traditionally marked by violet vestments, the absence of a Gloria, and other penitential practices, like fasting and abstinence under the old regulations, unless the Vigil occurs on a Sunday. Like all vigils, and like the entire season of Advent, the attitude is one of both penance and hope, full of joyful anticipation and spiritual preparation for the glorious feast to come.

Though they are not mentioned in the liturgy, today is also the feast of holy Adam and Eve, for ancient tradition affirms that after their expulsion from Eden, our forefather and his wife did unceasing penance for their Original Sin, with Adam living to nine hundred and thirty years old, and their souls attained heaven with the rest of the just at Our Lord’s Ascension. The Eastern Church honors Adam, Eve, and all the Holy Forefathers of Christ on the second Sunday before Christmas.


Traditional Roman Martyrology for December 24th

THE vigil of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

At Antioch, during the persecution of Decius, the birthday of forty holy virgins, who suffered martyrdom by various kinds of torments.

At Spoleto, the holy priest Gregory. In the time of the emperors Diocletian and Maximian, he was first beaten with rough clubs, and then after being exposed on the gridiron and imprisoned, was struck on the knees with iron carding instruments, burned on the sides with firebrands, and finally beheaded.

At Tripoli, the holy martyrs Lucian, Metrobius, Paulus, Zenobius, Theotimus, and Drusus.

At Nicomedia, during the persecution of Diocletian, St. Euthymius, martyr, who sent many before him to martyrdom, and being pierced with a sword, followed them to share their crown.

At Bordeaux, St. Delphinus, a bishop, who was renowned for holiness, in the time of Theodosius.

In Poland, St. John Cantius, secular priest and confessor, celebrated for his learning, his zeal in propagating the faith, and for his virtues and miracles. His feast is kept on the 20th of October.

At Rome, the birthday of the holy virgin Tharsilla, aunt of pope St. Gregory, who writes of her that at the hour of her death she saw Jesus coming to her.

At Treves, St. Irmina, virgin, daughter of king Dagobert.

℣. And elsewhere many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.

℟. Thanks be to God.

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