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As we know, Good Friday falls on March 25 (2016) this year. In Catholic and Orthodox Churches, March 25 is also the Feast of the Annunciation.

A priest friend of mine, told me there was once a popular belief in the Middle Ages that the Annunciation coincided with Passion of Our Lord.

Can anyone point out to any other sources that support such a popular belief did in fact exist?

I have found two sources that seem to support this idea.
The 2nd-century writer Irenaeus of Lyon regarded the conception of Jesus as 25 March coinciding with the Passion.

The second piece to support this idea comes from the Liturgical Calendar of the Sarum Rite.One can see on page 3 that Annunciation and Good Friday are on March 25th. The Sarum Rite is a variation of the Roman Liturgy in use in England, up to 1559.

Addendum: The Roman Martyrology commemorates the Feast of St Dismas on the 25th of March! St Dismas is the traditional name given to the Good Thief, who died on the cross next to Jesus at Golgotha.

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The Golden Legend, by Archbishop Jacobus de Voraigne of Genoa, published between 1260 and 1275, and printed many times (once printing was invented), was a medieval best seller. It included the lives of many saints and much other information. It states that the Annunciation and the Crucifixion, and several other events, happened on March 25th. The popularity of this book would be sufficient to account for the popularity of this belief in the later Middle Ages. There may, of course, have been other sources too.

This passage is translated:

This blessed Annunciation happened the twentyfifth day of the month of March, on which day happened also, as well tofore as after, these things that hereafter be named. On that same day Adam, the first man, was created and fell into original sin by inobedience, and was put out of paradise terrestrial. After, the angel showed the conception of our Lord to the glorious Virgin Mary. Also that same day of the month Cain slew Abel his brother. Also Melchisedech made offering to God of bread and wine in the presence of Abraham. Also on the same day Abraham offered Isaac his son. That same day S. John Baptist was beheaded, and S. Peter was that day delivered out of prison, and S. James the more, that day beheaded of Herod. And our Lord Jesu Christ was on that day crucified, wherefore that is a day of great reverence.

So, according to this legend, the Creation of Adam, the Fall of Adam, the murder of Abel, Melchisedech's offering of bread and wine, Abraham's near sacrifice of Isaac, the Annunciation to Mary and Conception of Christ, the decapitation of John the Baptist, the Crucifixion of Christ, James' killing and Peter's escape all occurred on March 25th.

The matching dates for Annunciation and Crucifixion are referred to , around 400, by Augustine in Book 4, Chapter 5, of his work on the Trinity:

For He is believed to have been conceived on the 25th of March, upon which day also He suffered; so the womb of the Virgin, in which He was conceived, where no one of mortals was begotten, corresponds to the new grave in which He was buried, wherein was never man laid, neither before nor since.

This is likely the source for the dates in the Golden Legend.

It is said that there was a tradition that great prophets were conceived and died on the same day. Moses announced on what appears to be his last day :

"I am an hundred and twenty years old this day". Deuteronomy 31 2. This is known as the integral age concept, which however does not seem well corroborated.

With regard to the Sarum calendar, this article states that the inclusion in liturgical calendars of several historical dates was very common in the middle ages. The most common listing is for the Resurrection, which if listed is always on March 27th. This is further corroboration of the popular belief that the Crucifixion and the Annunciation took place on the same day, and that this belief was recognised in church calendars.

March 27th was listed as the historical date that the Resurrection occurred. It had no effect on the date of the Easter celebration.

Some additional support may possibly be inferred from the old Scottish Quarter Day on May 15th which was known as Whitsunday. May 15th is exactly 7 weeks after March 27th. The usual meaning of Whitsunday is Whit Sunday (known in some countries as Pentecost), as mentioned here, but for various purposes in Scottish law (e.g. moving house) was formerly regarded as fixed. If the Resurrection occurred on March 27, the Descent of the Holy Ghost, which is the event marked at Whitsun, would have been May 15th.

  • If a celebration on 27 March is "unlikely", why is it listed as a Principal Double? – Andrew Leach Feb 26 '16 at 13:15
  • @AndrewLeach Good point. I confess I had failed to spot that. Baffled. Page xi lists 8 principal doubles, one of which is Easter. I've always heard Easter since at least the 7th century was always a Sunday in England. 27 March was Easter Sunday in 1524. Perhaps it is not from 1526 despite what the intro says. Since the calendar seems intended to be perpetual no moveable feast should be mentioned, and no other one is.. Very curious, could it be a misprint? Could Easter be observed on a Tuesday? Have you any explanation or theory? – davidlol Feb 26 '16 at 14:19
  • No, other than there may be a corollary in Corpus Christi and Maundy Thursday. And Good Friday and Holy Cross Day. Certainly the Council of Whitby fixed Easter Day as a Sunday. – Andrew Leach Feb 26 '16 at 14:23
  • On page 1 of the intro to the linked to 1911 translation, there is reference to an 1861 reprint of a Sarum Missal, from which the translation from Latin to English was made. This reprint ,it says, was from a 1526 edition. A footnote says "with the exception of the calendar which for some unknown reason was printed from the 1497 edition", It goes on to say that the 1911 book contains the 1526 calendar. Maybe the unknown reason the 1861 reprint did not replicate the 1526 calendar has to do with this Resurrection of Our Lord on March 27th.. – davidlol Feb 26 '16 at 14:57
  • I think the popularity of the Golden Legend sufficient to explain the popular belief. Whether the Sarum Missal 1526 calendar attests to anything significant or not, the existence of a festival in addition to Easter, perhaps local, does not really alter that; but would be interesting to know. – davidlol Feb 26 '16 at 15:02
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First of all, it should be noted with respect to the Kalendar of the Sarum Rite that you refer to, that page 3 shows a reprint of the Kalendar from 1526, when both the Annunciation and Good Friday are on March 25, but as seen some pages back in the introduction, specifically on page xi, in the Sarum Use Easter was a movable feast, as can be seen from the fact that some feasts (e.g., Christmas) have an appended date, while Easter, Ascension, and Whitsunday (Pentecost) do not, as they were movable feasts. So while it sometimes happened in the Sarum use, just as it does today, that there was co-incidence between Good Friday and the Annunciation on March 25, this was occasional, and did not happen every year.

Second, among those Christians who follow the Eastern Rite, there is a disagreement on the calendar. Some of the Orthodox follow the Julian Calendar, which at present runs 12 days ahead of the calendar currently used by most of the world. This means that liturgically, for these churches, Christmas falls on what they liturgically call December 25, but which on the current revised calendar, is designated January 6 of the following year. So in that system, too, the Annunciation and Good Friday can fall on the same day, but they do not this year, for the Orthodox. March 25 for the Orthodox will occur on what the secular calendar denotes as April 6, while Holy Friday will occur on (secular) April 29, or according to their liturgical calendar, April 17, and Easter on (secular) May 1, or according to their liturgical calendar, April 19.

I also read some years ago of a similar pious beliefs in various places and various times, that were the Calendars traced back far enough, that the extrapolated date of both the Annunciation (in it's extpraolated year) and the Passion, in it's separate appointed year would have been March 25. I would note, though, that at the time I realized that the writer recording this was writing as if there had been no correction between the Gregorian and Julian Calendars. And since there is little certainty exactly what year Jesus was born, and what year he died, it is difficult to know for certain whether this belief can be supported, or not.

  • During the whole of the Middle Ages (476-1517), both the Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches followed the Julian Calendar. Thus the celebration of Easter was on the same date universally. The Gregorian Calendar did not come into effect until 1582. – Ken Graham Mar 4 '16 at 18:17
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Birkat Hachama “Blessing of the Sun”

The Birkat Hachama is mentioned in the Jewish Talmud a tradition that relates the return of the Sun to it’s Starting point, where it began on the forth day.

It is difficult to associate this date with March 25 as Prior to the influence of the Grecko Roman era, the term March meant nothing. What did mean something was the date of Passover, which coincides traditionally with not March 25, but the New creation of Birkat hachama.

This is the springtime when in Nature New Life is created. The Ancient Jews associated this time with the Creation of the world, in fact, Like the apostle Paul, the early Church used this date to associate events in Gods plan of salvation, to express new life and new creations.

In John 3:10 Jesus spoke of being born anew, a new creation, and when Nicode’mus did not understand

Jesus answered him, “are you a teacher of Israel and yet do not understand this”

From the vary first Paragraph of Genesis, god show how he creates, he does so with “Water and Spirit” and traditionally this was done around the time of Passover.

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.

Believing as the Jews did, that the earth was created With water and Spirit, we see a certain elegance and beauty that God would create not only the New Creation of Genesis, but that Of Israel coming with Water and spirit out of Eqypt, then again, with the virgin Mary when God, created himself at the annunciation. Finally, at the calibration of the Passover, Christ on the Cross, making a new Creation with waters of Baptism and the Holy Spirit.

These Ideas are not Catholic Dogma and any Christian is free to deny any of it. I find them to be reasonable ideas that do not in any way take away from Gods Work. There is also a element of beauty to the idea, which we should not focus on apart from those teachings that are clear, but surely, we can appreciate the beauty of these ideas even if they spawn from Jewish and Christian Traditions.

I for one tend to believe that the second coming of Jesus Christ will mostly likely occur at the time of Passover, it seems fitting and there would be a type of Passover happening. This would of course not be a Secret Rapture such ideas go against the teachings of the Church.

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