Is Epiphany a Holy Day of Obligation?

Epiphany Celebrations Near Jericho
Epiphany celebrations near Jericho. Ilia Yefimovich/Stringer/Getty Images

The Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church (Canon 1246) lists ten Holy Days of Obligation, including Epiphany (January 6). However, the canon also notes that "With the prior approval of the Apostolic See, . . . the conference of bishops can suppress some of the holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday." Is Epiphany a Holy Day of Obligation, and must Catholics go to Mass on January 6?

In most parts of the world, including the United States, the celebration of Epiphany has been transferred to the Sunday that falls between January 2 and January 8 (inclusive). Greece, Ireland, Italy, and Poland continue to observe Epiphany on January 6, as do some dioceses in Germany.

In those countries where the celebration has been transferred to Sunday, Epiphany remains a Holy Day of Obligation (as Ascension does when it is transferred to the Sunday following Ascension Thursday), but you fulfill your obligation by attending Mass on that Sunday.

Because attendance at Mass on a holy day is obligatory (under pain of mortal sin), if you have any doubts about when your country or diocese celebrates Epiphany, you should check with your parish priest or diocesan office.

To find out which day Epiphany falls on in the current year, see When Is Epiphany?

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