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Good Friday Coincides with Annunciation

Good Friday Annunciation

This year Good Friday fell on 25 March, the Feast of the Annunciation. This coinciding happened in 1910, 1921, and 1932, during the twentieth century, and 2005 and this year, 2016, this century. The next time it happens will be 2157.

Don’t forget that there is the early-church/Jewish theory that important events happened on the same date: the incarnation (Annunciation) and the crucifixion happened on the same date.

Western practice now is to transfer the Annunciation to the Second Week of Easter. Roman Catholics transfer it to “the Monday after the Second Sunday of Easter” (this year 4 April):

As to the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, whenever it falls on any day of Holy Week, it shall always be transferred to the Monday after the Second Sunday of Easter. Other celebrations are omitted in that year. (RC Table of Liturgical Days according to their order of precedence​ 60)

The “Transitus of Saint Benedict” (his passing from this world to the next March 21) also occurred in Holy Week. So some do not follow the above rule of “other celebrations are omitted in that year”:

Both the Transitus of Saint Benedict (21 March) and the Annunciation (25 March) are delayed until after the Octave of Easter when their celebrations may take place. The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord is celebrated Monday, 4 April 2016, and the Passing of Saint Benedict is celebrated Tuesday, 5 April 2016.

The Episcopal Church moves The Annunciation to “any open day within the week” following “Easter Week” (BCP page 17):

4 April — anniversary of the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. but because Easter fell so early this year, many places today observe the Annunciation of Our Lord (transferred) but we won’t do that until tomorrow because today we celebrate a patronal feast, the Transitus of Our Holy Father Benedict.

If you want to explore some of the possible changes that have happened in the West with regard to the coinciding of Good Friday and the Annunciation this post and its comments may be helpful.

While in the West the feast of the Annunciation is transfered – that is not the case in Eastern Orthodoxy:

Annunciation is never transferred, but always celebrated on its calendar date. How this is done varies by tradition. The Byzantine rite has all sorts of rules for just about every day with which Annunciation could coincide and how to deal with it: if you’re a geek like I am, it makes for interesting reading. In my tradition, Annunciation trumps just about any day in Lent, which means that the Office and Liturgy of Annunciation replace the Office (and Liturgy, if not an aliturgical day) of the day. During Holy Week, it generally supplants the Office of the day up to and including the Sixth Hour, but the Ninth Hour of the day may be taken from the Holy Week services (with no prostrations, since the Liturgy has been celebrated), followed by the Vespers of the next day.

A few years back, when, for those of us exclusively on the Gregorian calendar, Annunciation coincided with Good Friday, it was as I described, except that the order went like this:

Thursday, 24 March: in the evening, Vespers and Compline (festal).
Friday, 25 March: Midnight, Matins, Third and Sixth Hours (festal), Liturgy (festal); after breakfast, Matins of Good Friday and the rest of the Holy Week services with no prostrations (which directive was largely ignored by the people, for whom the prostrations are a necessary element).

Annunciation is known by the term “Suboro” in Syrian Orthodox Church. It is to be noted that the feast of Annunciation is very important among Syrian and Indian Orthodox Churches. It is so important that, both Churches celebrate Divine Liturgy even if Annunciations happens to occur or holy or good Friday. Divine Liturgy or holy ‘Qurbono’ is otherwise not celebrated on Good Friday since the altar is stripped of all altar vessels and covered in black on Good Friday depicting sorrow on the death of Jesus Christ.

And if you are into “weird stuff”:

A single thorn held to have been taken from Christ’s crown of thorns that traditionally ‘bleeds’ each time that Good Friday falls on March 25, has done so again this year.(Read more here).

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10 Responses to Good Friday Coincides with Annunciation

  1. “Western practice now.” Except…!

    For the record (and you’ve patiently endured me on this point before, Bosco!), the Book of Common Prayer (the real one, 1662) does not transfer feasts either. And so far as I can tell, that was the universal practice, in East and West, at least into the eleventh century.

    We’ve all, with the BCP’s approach to concurrences with endless online repostings of John Donne’s beautiful reflection on the concurrence of Good Friday and the Annunciation, “Tamely, frail body, abstain today…”

    The Eastern typica governing how one handles such concurrences are indeed crazily difficult (putting the Sarum “pie” in the shade), but also immensely rich. The BCP provided only limited scope for combinations of propers — really only possible when (in the 1662 and 1871 Office lectionaries) there was only an Old Testament lesson provided for many holy days, so that an OT from one could be read alongside the NT lesson from the other (or the NT lesson appointed for that date in the calendar in the in-course readings), and both collects could be used.

    (This was, by the way, an issue addressed at the “Trullan Council” of 692, canon 52, where the Annunciation was to be treated as a feast even when it fell in Lent. Not that that disputed council gets us very far!)

    As for the weird stuff… Did the bleeding thorn know when to switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar? I see that the first recorded instance of the miracle was 1633. That was after Rome had made the switch of calendars, but *before* England had done so. So clearly it must be a false, superstitious, abused relic, because, as everyone knows, God is an Englishman. 😉

    • Jesse – all I can say is that I am delighted that your Lenten fast from this website is now broken. Χριστὸς ἀνέστη!

  2. The Society for Propagation of a Fixed Pascha Date (SPFPD) thanks you for adding to the arguments for fixing the date for Pascha.

    “Let daylight in between Annunciation and Good Friday or Any Other Important Day” is our motto.

    Yours,
    Cardinal Ordinal (SPFPD)

  3. Your sympathy please for Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a saint worth commemorating.

    Not only was he martyred on 9th April 1945, within sight of the end of the Second World War – the ecclesiastical bureaucrats with their crazy rules on transference ensure that in most years he doesn’t get a commemoration at all, because some other event falls across his day.

    • Thanks, James. Yes, and someone whose insights we haven’t yet plumbed enough. Easter Season Blessings.

  4. I had participated in this beautiful concurrence at the monastery of Chevetogne in 2005. Unfortunately, this year, they choose to drop it. But I had fortunately the opportunity to participate therein with another Byzantine-rite community.

    The celebration of the Mass for this concurrence in the Byzantine rite is the following. Vesperal Mass, having 10 stichera (antiphons), whereof 6 of Annunciation and 4 of Good Friday. «Glory to the Father…», and improperia of the Good Friday; «Now and always…», with the dogmatic of the Annunciation. Entrance with the gospel-book. As introit, the hymn «Phos hilaron». Five OT readings: three of the Annunciation, two of Good Friday, with the graduals. Epistle of the Annunciation (but which also speaks about the crucifixion). Alleluia with versicles of the Annunciation. The Gospel-reading has the title «according to Luke», but begins with the Annunciation, followed (with no pause) by the Good Friday mash-up (Matthew + additions of the four others). Anaphora of J. Chrysostom. After the communion, troparion of both feasts. At compline are performed the ceremonies which would have otherwise taken place at vespers since the 12th century (planting of the cross, and veneration of the epitaph); therefore on this concurrence, these ceremonies find their antique place as before the 12th century. The liturgical color is blue, as for Lady Day.

    Our first plans were to do it with our parish community (but we had no priest this year). We would have done it in the Latin rite so: the Mass of the catechumens of the Good Friday, until the veneration of the cross; then the Mass of the Annunciation from the beginning, with preface of Xmas.

    However, we have prayed the first evensong and mattins, thus: psalms of Good Friday with their antiphons, but at the canticle (Magn./Ben.) antiphon of Annunciation. OT readings of Annunciation, and NT of Good Friday. Benedicite at mattins, and both collects, first of Annunciation, and second of Good Friday.

    • Thanks so much, George, for this clear outline so that we can imagine how this fits together. Easter Season Blessings.

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