We see the Church having had great influence on many aspects of the development of human kind, including education, culinary habits etc. The very division of history by the term Before Christ and Anno Domini is a typical example. But one wonders why efforts were not taken in adapting those names and terminologies which had roots in the pagan culture. For instance, in ancient times the days of the week were named after the planets of Hellenistic astrology, in the order: Sun, Moon, Mars (Ares), Mercury (Hermes), Jupiter (Zeus), Venus (Aphrodite) and Saturn (Cronos). The sun and the planets continue to enjoy a semi-god status in many cultures to this day. My question therefore is: Did the Catholic Church make a conscious effort in re-naming the seven days of the week?
Did the Catholic Church make a conscious effort in re-naming the seven days of the week?
The short answer is no as she had her own historical way of doing so though the liturgy. Nevertheless, St. Martin of Braga may have tried to.
I would like to point out just a few points of interest to help bare this out.
In many languages, the names given to the seven days of the week are derived from the names of the classical planets. The seven-day week was adopted in early Christianity from the Hebrew calendar, and gradually replaced the Roman nundinal cycle as the new religion spread. Sunday remained the first day of the week, being considered the Lord's Day, the day the sun was created, while the Jewish sabbath remained the seventh.
The ancient Hebrew people simply numbered the days of the week except for Saturday which was known as the Sabbath.
In Hebrew, the days of the week are simply numbered, except for the 7th, which is the Sabbath (Shabbat, שַׁבָּת ). - The Days of the Week
As for the Greco-Roman tradition:
Between the 1st and 3rd centuries the Roman Empire gradually replaced the eight-day Roman nundinal cycle with the seven-day week. Our earliest evidence for this new system is a Pompeiian graffito referring to the 6th February (viii idus Februarius) of the year AD 60 as dies solis ("Sunday") - Names of the days of the week
This is important! It should be noted that some Liturgical books in the Catholic Church still use a numbered system for the days of the week. This was standard usage until the 1970’s.
In the Judeo-Christian or Abrahamic tradition, the first day of the week is Sunday. Biblical Sabbath (corresponding to Saturday), when God rested from six-day Creation, made the day following Sabbath the first day of the week (corresponding to Sunday). Seventh-day Sabbaths were sanctified for celebration and rest. After the week was adopted in early Christianity, Sunday remained the first day of the week, but also gradually displaced Saturday as the day of celebration and rest, being considered the Lord's Day.
Saint Martin of Dumio (c. 520–580), Archbishop of Braga, decided not to call days by pagan gods and to use ecclesiastic terminology to designate them. While the custom of numbering the days of the week was mostly prevalent in the Eastern Church, Portuguese and Galician, due to Martin's influence, are the only Romance languages in which the names of the days come from numbers rather than planetary names. - Days numbered from Sunday (Wikipedia)
As for the Roman Rite itself:
In the Roman Rite liturgy, the term feria is used in Latin to denote days of the week other than Sunday and Saturday. Some use the term even in English, but the official translation of the Roman Missal uses "weekday" instead. Various reasons are given for the Latin terminology. The sixth lesson for December 31 in the pre-1969 Roman Breviary says that Pope Sylvester I ordered the continuance of the already existing custom "that the clergy, daily abstaining from earthly cares, would be free to serve God alone". Others believe that the Church simply Christianized a Jewish practice. The Jews frequently counted the days from their Sabbath, and so we find in the Gospels such expressions as una Sabbati and prima Sabbati, the first from the Sabbath. - Feria (Wikipedia).
Days of the week comparisons:
English: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday Saturday
Latin: diēs Sōlis, diēs Lūnae, diēs Mārtis, diēs Mercuriī, diēs Iovis, dies Veneris,diēs Sāturnī
Ecclesiastical Latin: Dominica, feria secunda, feria tertia, feria quarta, feria quinta, feria sexta, sabbatum
St. Martin of Braga (520–580) in his teachings objected to the astrological custom of naming the days of the week after gods (planets). Due to his influence Portuguese and Galician (which, at the time, were one single language), alone among the Romance languages, assumed names for the days from numbers and Catholic liturgy, rather than from pagan deities. Galician has largely returned to the earlier nomenclature. This is closely in line with the Ecclesiastical Latin nomenclature of the days of the week!