Mothering Sunday

by | Mar 2, 2008 | Laetare Sunday, Liturgical Year, Mothering | 2 comments

Today is Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday during Lent, also known as Rose Sunday, and Mothering Sunday. As with other Sundays the name, Laetare, comes from the first words of the Introit, “Laetare Jeruselem” or “Rejoice O Jerusalem!” It is a day that we take a break from the otherwise penitential season of Lent, just like on Gaudete Sunday during Advent. We are reminded that our salvation is at hand, Christ will soon rise from the dead to free us from the slavery of sin, and this austere season of penance will soon be over!! It is also a good day to renew our dedication to this holy season, especially if our Lent hasn’t been going quite as we had hoped.

At Mass, the priest may wear rose colored vestments. This custom originated since, as a symbol of joy and hope in the middle of this somber Season, popes used to carry a golden rose in their right hand when returning from the celebration of Mass on this day. In fact, back in 1051, Pope Leo IX called this custom an “ancient institution.” Afterwards, the pope would often give the rose to a church, shrine, city, or distinguished person as a token of esteem and paternal affection. It was from this tradition that today is sometimes called “Rose Sunday.

The other name for today is Mothering Sunday. It is called this partly because of the focus of the Mass on Jerusalem which is the mother church of Christendom, and is symbolic of the Church, our mother. Many customs have developed around this theme including: visiting your cathedral as the mother church of your diocese, visiting your own parish church where you were baptized or confirmed in (as your own mother church), or even visiting your actual mother and do something nice for her. It is actually very much like a Catholic Mother’s Day!!

I read on Catholic Culture that Mothering Sunday “became a feast day for the mothers of families. All the children who were away from home went back on that day to visit their mothers, taking with them “a present of money, a trinket, or some nice eatable, and they are all anxious not to fail in this custom.” The “nice eatable” was often a mothering cake. Exactly what this was made of seems uncertain, but at any rate it was highly ornamented and adorned.”

My boys were very excited about this, and since they are not quite old enough to make their own “nice eatable” for mom, I let them pick one out at the store this weekend instead. I think they did a very nice job too!

I hope you all have a very



  1. Anonymous

    This was very informative Jessica, Thank you! I am always seeking to learn more about our traditions. I do ok, but this I missed! I will have to start this in our family next year…can’t wait!
    Thanks for sharing your God given gift of wisdom!
    Your little ones are so sweet for picking this for mom!


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