An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Pre-Lenten Season

The observance of a period of a few weeks in preparation for Lent. Septuagesima Sunday was the first Sunday of the Pre-Lenten season. It was the third Sunday before Lent and the ninth Sunday before Easter. The name literally indicated seventy days before Easter. This was inaccurate since this Sunday fell sixty-four days before Easter. The second Sunday of the Pre-Lenten season was Sexagesima Sunday. It was the second Sunday before Lent and the eighth Sunday before Easter. Its name indicated sixty days before Easter, although it was fifty-seven days before Easter. Septuagesima Sunday and Sexagesima Sunday may have been reckoned from Quinquagesima Sunday, which was exactly fifty days before Easter. It was the last Sunday before Lent and the seventh Sunday before Easter. Similarly, the forty-day season of Lent and the first Sunday of Lent have been known as Quadragesima.

Observance of the Pre-Lenten season dates from fifth- or sixth-century Roman practice. The Sundays of the Pre-Lenten season last appeared in the 1928 BCP of the Episcopal Church. The themes of Epiphany are now emphasized by the Episcopal calendar of the church year and BCP lectionaries, from the Feast of the Epiphany until the season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.