Today is the 13th day of the calendar month falling on a Friday. Many cultures consider the combination as something evil. The superstition seems to relate to various things, like the story of Jesus' last supper and crucifixion in which there were 13 individuals present in the Upper Room on the 13th of Nisan Maundy Thursday, the night before his death on Good Friday (Courtesy: Wikipedia).

Surely the Catholic Church is aware that many of her followers are victims of the superstition. One gets to hear priests speaking against superstitions like the one involving Friday the 13th. One also gets to read about them.

My question is: Has the Catholic Church officially denounced the superstition involving Friday the 13th?

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    "Surely the Catholic Church is aware that many of her followers are victims of the superstition" Really? I am a 60 year old cradle Catholic and have never once met anybody who took Friday the 13th seriously. It seems to be taken more seriously by Hollywood than practicing Catholics. Jan 13, 2023 at 16:26
  • From a doctrinal perspective @KenGraham is right. Historically, according to some accounts, Friday the 13th is is a bad omen because of the Roman Catholic Church. Friday, October 13, 1307 was the year the Knights Templar for forcibly disbanded under Philip IV of France and Pope Clement V. Clement issued a Papal bull ordering the arrest of 600 knights who were subsequently tortured. history.com/news/… Jan 13, 2023 at 23:04
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    @BruceVanHorn: only that in most countries where Catholicism is prevalent, the superstition is about Tuesday the 13th. Growing up in South America, the superstition is nowhere as serious nor widespread as it is in the US. Jan 14, 2023 at 13:51

2 Answers 2


Has the Catholic Church officially denounced the superstition involving Friday the 13th?

Superstition in all its forms has been condemned since the foundation of the Christendom.

To denounce such a superstitious nonsense about Friday the 13th is not admitting that at one time the Church actually supported such nonsense. That is pure conjecture on the part of some individuals and not Catholicism.

Superstition of any description is a transgression of the First Commandment: "I am the Lord thy God, - thou shalt not have strange gods before me. Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath . . . thou shalt not adore them nor serve them" (Exodus 20:2-5). It is also against the positive law of the Church, which visits the worst kinds of superstitions with severe punishments, and against the natural law inasmuch as it runs counter to the dictates of reason in the matter of man's relations to God. Such objective sinfulness is inherent in all superstitious practices from idolatry down to the vainest of vain observances, of course in very different degrees of gravity. With regard to the subjective guilt attaching to them it must be borne in mind that no sin is mortal unless committed with full knowledge of its grievous wickedness and with full deliberation and consent. Of these essential factors the first is often wanting entirely, and the second is only imperfectly present. The numerous cases in which the event seemed to justify the superstitious practice, and the universality of such incongruous beliefs and performances, though they may not always induce inculpable ignorance, may possibly obscure the knowledge and weaken the will to a point incompatible with mortal sin. As a matter of fact, many superstitions of our own day have been acts of genuine piety at other times, and may be so still in the hearts of simple folk.

The number and variety of superstitions appear from the following list of those most in vogue at different periods of history:

  • astrology, the reading of the future and of man's destiny from the stars;

  • aeromancy, divinations by means of the air and winds;

  • amulets, things worn as a remedy or preservative against evils or mischief, such as diseases or witchcraft;

  • chiromancy, or palmistry, divination by the lines of the hand;

  • capnomancy, by the ascent or motion of smoke; catroptomancy, by mirrors; alomancy, by salt;

  • cartomancy, by playing cards; anthropomancy, by inspection of human viscera; belomancy, by the shuffling of arrows (Ezekiel 21:21);

  • geomancy, by points, lines or figures traced on the ground;

  • hydromancy, by water;

  • idolatry, the worship of idols;

  • Sabianism, the worship of the sun, moon, and stars;

  • Zoolatry, Anthropolatry, and Fetishism, the worship of animals, man, and things without sense;

  • Devil-worship;

  • the worship of abstract notions personified, e.g. Victory, Peace, Fame, Concord, which had temples and a priesthood for the performance of their cult;

  • necromancy, the evocation of the dead, as old as history and perpetuated in contemporary Spiritism;

  • oneiromancy, the interpretation of dreams; philtres, potions, or charms intended to excite love;

  • omens or prognostics of future events;

  • witchcraft and magic in all their ramifications;

  • lucky and unlucky days, numbers, persons, things, actions;

  • the evil eye, spells, incantations, ordeals, etc.


The Catholic Church has never permitted such superstitious nonsense. Yes, Catholicism condemns such superstitions, but such a condemnation is generally implied as a whole of all forms of superstition. This does not imply, in any way, that at one time the Church permitted it be practiced by the faithful.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say about superstition:


2110 The first commandment forbids honoring gods other than the one Lord who has revealed himself to his people. It proscribes superstition and irreligion. Superstition in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion; irreligion is the vice contrary by defect to the virtue of religion.


2111 Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition.

PS. According to the ancient traditional Rite of the Tridentine Mass, today is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Every January the 13th, regardless if it is a Friday or not!

There is also a monastic tradition in some monasteries which when making a new monastic community, send 13 monks to the new foundation (12 monks and 1 superior in honour of the 12 apostles and Our Lord).

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    Didn't Joseph have his dreams interpreted - correctly - by one of his jailers? Jan 13, 2023 at 17:07
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    @Araucaria-Nothereanymore Joseph actually did the interpreting, as did Daniel. It doesn't look like there have been many questions about dreams, only really this one... so if you wish to ask about how dream interpretation fits into Catholicism or Christianity, it might be a worthwhile question? That said, dates, numbers, shapes, etc have big meaning in spots Biblically, but it still could be superstition to give them undue focus? But it's all tangential to this answer either way! Jan 14, 2023 at 8:58
  • (Joseph also did some of his own dreaming, but he was the interpreter. Either way, I thought of Joseph when I read the answer as well!) Jan 14, 2023 at 9:05
  • So Noah’s raven being a bird of “ill omen” is a rational idea? Jan 14, 2023 at 19:40

The Church's attitude towards superstition has been described in detail in Ken Graham's answer.

As an aside, the premise of the question is flawed:

Surely the Catholic Church is aware that many of her followers are victims of the superstition

In many, if not most, countries where Catholicism is widespread the superstition is about Tuesday the 13th. And the superstitions around the number 13 do not get even remotely close to the things one sees in the US. For instance in South America buildings do have a 13th floor, buses and planes do have a 13th row of seats, sport players do use the number 13 in their jerseys and race drivers in their cars.

Growing up in South America, what I saw was that the superstitions around 13 were no more significant than many other silly superstitions, like not walking below ladders, black cats, breaking mirrors, readheads, or passing the salt.

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    I rather think avoiding walking under ladders has a supremely practical reason, especially if someone is at the top working. That said, I suppose many superstitions arise from extending a practical reason or even a coincidence. Jan 15, 2023 at 10:37

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