Saturday, 16 February 2013

Lent celebrants carrying out a street procession during Holy Week. The violet color is often associated with penance and detachment. Similar Christian penitential practice is seen in other Catholic countries, sometimes associated with mortification of the flesh. Granada, Nicaragua. Lent (Latin:Quadragesima) is a solemn observance in the liturgical year of many Christian denominations, lasting for a
period of approximately six
weeks leading up to Easter Sunday. In the general Latin-rite and most Western denominations Lent is taken to run from Ash Wednesday to Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday) morning or to Easter Eve. The traditional purpose of Lent
is the preparation of the
believer—through prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving, and self-denial. Its institutional purpose is heightened in the
annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the death and resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events of the the
Bible when Jesus is crucified on Good Friday, which then culminates in the celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. During Lent, many of the faithful
commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence. The Stations of the Cross, a devotional commemoration of Christ's carrying the Cross and of his execution, are often observed. Many Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches devoid their altars of flowers, while crucifixes, religious statues, and other
elaborate religious paraphernalia
are often veiled in violet fabrics
in solemn observance of this
event. In certain pious Catholic countries, the consumption of meat is traditionally yet varyingly[1] self-abstained by the faithful, while grand religious
processions and cultural customs
are observed, and the faithful
attempt to visit seven churches during Holy Week in honor of
Jesus Christ heading to Mount Calvary. Lent is traditionally described as
lasting for forty days, in
commemoration of the forty days which, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent fasting in the desert before the beginning of
his public ministry, where he endured temptation by the Devil. [2][3] However, different Christian denominations calculate the forty days of Lent
differently. In most Western
traditions the Sundays are not
counted as part of Lent; thus
the period from Ash Wednesday
until Easter consists of 40 days when the Sundays are excluded.
However in the Roman Catholic Church Lent is now taken to end on Holy Thursday rather than
Easter Eve, and hence lasts 38
days excluding Sundays, or 44
days in total. This event, along with its pious
customs are observed by Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Anglicans. [4] [5][6] Duration Typical Western Lent in March/ April 2011, with days labelled. Precise dates vary each year, and start/end days vary by denomination. The last three
weeks are duplicated at the bottom to show Passiontide, the Holy Week, and the Easter Triduum. See Great Lent for Lent in Eastern Christianity. Most followers of Western Christianity observe Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday, and concluding on Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday)[3][7] or on Easter Eve.[8] The six Sundays in this period are often not
regarded as being part of the
observance (being termed
Sundays in, rather than of, Lent)
, because each one represents a
"mini-Easter," a celebration of Jesus' victory over sin and death.[2] One notable exception is the Archdiocese of Milan, which follows the Ambrosian Rite and observes Lent starting on the
Sunday six weeks before Easter,
a move liturgically approved by Pope Gregory the Great.[9][10] Since the Second Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic Church has
redefined Good Friday into Holy Saturday as the first two days of the Easter Triduum rather than the last two days of Lent,
but Lenten observances are
maintained until the Easter Vigil. In those churches which follow
the Rite of Constantinople (e.g. Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics), the forty days of Lent are counted differently;
also, the date of Easter is
calculated differently in the East
than in the West (see Computus). The fast begins on Clean Monday, and Sundays are included in the count; thus,
counting uninterruptedly from
Clean Monday, Great Lent ends
on the fortieth consecutive day,
which is the Friday before Palm
Sunday. The days of Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday and Holy Week are considered a distinct period of fasting. For more
detailed information about the Eastern Christian practice of Lent, see the article Great Lent. Among Oriental Orthodox Catholics, there are various local
traditions regarding Lent. The Coptic, Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Churches observe eight weeks of Lent,
which, with both Saturdays and
Sundays exempt, has forty days of fasting.[9] The first seven days of the fast are considered
by some to be an optional time of preparation.[citation needed] Others attribute these seven
days to the fast of Holofernes who asked the Syrian Christians
to fast for him after they
requested his assistance to repel
the invading pagan Persians. Joyous Saturday and the week preceding it are counted
separately from the forty day
fast in accordance with the Apostolic Constitutions giving an extra eight days.

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