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3032A brief history of Lent

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  • Mathew Morrell
    Jan 27, 2005
      Written by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. for the Marian Catechist in 1989

      It seems certain that a Lenten season preceding Easter goes back to
      the time of the Apostles. The length of time varied. But by the
      Council of Nicea (325 A.D.), which was the first general council of
      the Church, Lent is to be observed for forty days.

      The number forty has a long biblical history: The forty days' fasts
      of Moses, Elijah and especially Our Lord in the desert.

      During the early days of the Church, the observance of fast was very
      strict. One meal was allowed per day and, even in that meal, meat
      and fish were forbidden. By the fifteenth century, the one meal was
      taken at noon.

      Gradually an extra collation was allowed in the evening.
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