I've been a Catholic my whole life and this Lent is the first time I've ever heard the term Passiontide. I was just wondering though, because it doesn't seem to fit the same trend as the other mini-seasons, why does it start the last two weeks in Lent and isn't simply synonymous with Holy Week?

And if Palm Sunday is Passion Sunday, why would Passiontide start before it?

2 Answers 2


And if Palm Sunday is Passion Sunday, why would Passiontide start before it?

It wasn't historically. The identification of Palm Sunday with Passion Sunday in Catholic practice only really dates to 1969 with the revised liturgy. Previously, Passion Sunday was Sunday before Palm Sunday (now known as the 5th Sunday of Lent).

Passion Sunday marked the start of the 2 week Passiontide where the emphasis shifted liturgically from the mercy and salvation of God (Psalm 90 being a recurring text) to the coming Passion itself (Psalm 21 being the recurring text). Concurrent with this, statues and icons were veiled and the "Gloria Patria" was removed from some places in the liturgy.

  • hmm, I went to TLM this sunday, it didn't seem terribly passiony
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Mar 20 at 14:38
  • 1
    @PeterTurner The Gospel is from John 8 "Abraham saw my day and was glad" ("my day" = the Passion) plus "Before Abraham was, I am" and the Jews took up stones, which shows the some of the start of the events leading to the passion.
    – eques
    Commented Mar 20 at 16:33

Why is Passiontide before Palm Sunday when Christmastide and Eastertide are after their feasts?

A complete understanding of some terms needs to be addressed here, as well as a liturgical understanding as to what Passiontide really entails. Passiontide is a term found in liturgical books of the Extraordinary Form and not the New Mass of Pope St. Paul VI.

Here is a diagram for considering the differences between the two Rites within the Roman Rite.

Christmas to Candlemas: When is the Real End of the Christmas Season?

According to Old Rite, Christmastide (119) closes with the Baptism of the Lord. Yet the Christmas season end with the second vespers of the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (February 2nd).

Thus Christmastide is a small duration of time within the actual season of Christmas. Christmastide is followed by Epiphanytide (also found during the Christmas Season.

You make the comment that Christmastide follows after the Feast of Christmas, but Passiontide starts prior to Passion Sunday. Unfortunately Advent is not yet known as ”Adventide”!

Advent is a four-week season of preparation for Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Christ and Passiontide is a two week intense preparation for Easter.

Not so passiony you think?

Passion Sunday starts with Passion Sunday (Old Rite). Palm Sunday is the start of Holy Week in the Old Rite.

Passiontide is prior to Passion Sunday because the Church wants us to prepare more intensely to the Divine Sufferings of Our Lord.

Notice that the statues in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass are completely covered. This happens on Passion Sunday in the New Rite.

Let us hear what Dom Guéranger has to say about Passiontide:

The most ancient sacramentaries and antiphonaries of the several Churches attest, by the prayers, the lessons, and the whole liturgy of these two weeks, that the Passion of our Lord is now the one sole thought of the Christian world. During Passion-week, a saint’s feast, if it occur, will be kept; but Passion Sunday admits no feast, however solemn it may be; and even on those which are kept during the days intervening between Passion and Palm Sunday, there is always made a commemoration of the Passion, and the holy images are not allowed to be uncovered.

We cannot give any historical details upon the first of these two weeks; its ceremonies and rites have always been the same as those of the four preceding ones. [It would be out of place to enter here on a discussion with regard to the name Mediana under which title we find Passion Sunday mentioned both in ancient liturgies and in Canon Law.] We, therefore, refer the reader to the following chapter, in which we treat of the mysteries peculiar to Passiontide. The second week, on the contrary, furnishes us with abundant historical details; for there is no portion of the liturgical year which has interested the Christian world so much as this, or which has given rise to such fervent manifestations of piety.

Another characteristic of the two weeks, upon which we are now entering, is that of giving more abundant alms, and of greater fervour in the exercise of works of mercy. St. John Chrysostom assures us that such was the practice of his times; he passes an encomium on the faithful, many of whom redoubled, at this period, their charities to the poor, which they did out of this motive: that they might, in some slight measure, imitate the divine generosity, which is now so unreservedly pouring out its graces on sinners.

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