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The Ratification of the Book of Common Prayer (1789)

By the Bishops, the Clergy, and the Laity of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, in Convention, this Sixteenth Day of October, in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-Nine.
This Convention having, in their present session, set forth A Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, do hereby establish the said Book: And they declare it to be the Liturgy of this Church: And require that it be received as such by all the members of the same: And this Book shall be in use from and after the First Day of October, in the Year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety.

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It is a most invaluable part of that blessed "liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free," that in his worship different forms and usages may without offense be allowed, provided the substance of the Faith be kept entire; and that, in every Church, what cannot be clearly determined to belong to Doctrine must be referred to Discipline; and therefore, by common consent and authority, may be altered, abridged, enlarged, amended, or otherwise disposed of, as may seem most convenient for the edification of the people, "according to the various exigency of times and occasions."

The Church of England, to which the Protestant Episcopal Church in these States is indebted, under God, for her first foundation and a long continuance of nursing care and protection, hath, in the Preface of her Book of Common Prayer, laid it down as a rule, that "The particular Forms of Divine Worship, and the Rites and Ceremonies appointed to be used therein, being things in their own nature indifferent, and alterable, and so acknowledged; it is but reasonable that upon weighty and important considerations, according to the various exigency of times and occasions, such changes and alterations should be made therein, as to those that are in place of Authority should, from time to time, seem either necessary or expedient."

The same Church hath not only in her Preface, but likewise in her Articles and Homilies, declared tho necessity and expediency of occasional alterations and amendments in her Forms of Public Worship; and we find accordingly, that, seeking to keep the happy mean between too much stiffness in refusing, and too much easiness in admitting variations in

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things once advisedly established, she hath, in the reign of several Princes, since the first compiling of her Liturgy in the time of Edward the Sixth, upon just and weighty considerations her thereunto moving, yielded to make such alterations in some particulars, as in their respective times were thought convenient; yet so as that the main body and essential parts of the same (as well in the chiefest materials, as in the frame and order thereof) have still been continued firm and unshaken.

Her general aim in these different reviews and alterations hath been, as she further declares in her said Preface, to do that which, according to her best understanding, might most tend to the preservation of peace and unity in the Church; the procuring of reverence, and the exciting of piety and devotion in the worship of God; and, finally, the cutting off occasion, from them that seek occasion, of cavil or quarrel against her Liturgy. And although, according to her judgment, there be not any thing in it contrary to the Word of God, or to sound doctrine, or which a godly man may not with a good conscience use and submit unto, or which is not fairly defensible, if allowed such just and favourable construction as in common equity ought to be allowed to all human writings; yet upon the principles already laid down, it cannot but be supposed that further alterations would be found expedient. Accordingly, a Commission for a review was issued in the year 1689: but this great and good work miscarried at that time; and the Civil Authority has not since thought proper to revive it by any new Commission.

But when in the course of Divine Providence, these American States became independent with respect to civil government, their ecclesiastical independence was necessarily included; and the different religious denominations of Christians in these States were left at full and equal liberty to model and organize their respective Churches, and forms of worship, and discipline, in such manner as they might judge most convenient for their future prosperity; consistently with the constitution and laws of their country.

The attention of this Church was in the first place drawn to those alterations in the Liturgy which became necessary in the prayers for our Civil Rulers, in consequence of the Revolution. And the principal care herein was to make them conformable to what ought to be the proper end of all such prayers, namely, that "Rulers may have grace, wisdom,


and understanding to execute justice, and to maintain truth;" and that the people "may lead quiet and peaceable lives, in all godliness and honesty."

But while these alterations were in review before the Convention, they could not but, with gratitude to God, embrace the happy occasion which was offered to them (uninfluenced and unrestrained by any worldly authority whatsoever) to take a further review of the Public Service, and to establish such other alterations and amendments therein as might be deemed expedient.

It seems unnecessary to enumerate all the different alterations and amendments. They will appear, and it is to be hoped, the reasons of them also, upon a comparison of this with the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England. In which it will also appear that this Church is far from intending to depart from the Church of England in any essential point of doctrine, discipline, or worship; or further than local circumstances require.

And now, this important work being brought to a conclusion, it is hoped the whole will be received and examined by every true member of our Church, and every sincere Christian, with a meek, candid, and charitable frame of mind; without prejudice or prepossessions; seriously considering what Christianity is, and what the truths of the Gospel are; and earnestly beseeching Almighty God to accompany with his blessing every endeavour for promulgating them to mankind in the clearest, plainest, most affecting and majestic manner, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord and Saviour.

Philadelphia, October, 1789

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Concerning the Service of the Church

The Holy Eucharist, the principal act of Christian worship on the Lord's Day and other major Feasts, and Daily Morning and Evening Prayer, as set forth in this Book, are the regular services appointed for public worship in the Church.

In addition to these services and the other rites contained in this Book, other forms set forth by authority within this Church may be used. Also, subject to the direction of the bishop, special devotions taken from this Book, or from Holy Scripture, may be used when the needs of the congregation so require.

For special days of thanksgiving, appointed by civil or Church authority, and for other special occasions for which no service or prayer has been provided in this Book, the bishop may set forth such forms as are fitting to the occasion.

In all services, the entire Christian assembly participates in such a way that the members of each order within the Church, lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons, fulfill the functions proper to their respective orders, as set forth in the rubrical directions for each service.

The leader of worship in a Christian assembly is normally a bishop or priest. Deacons by virtue of their order do not exercise a presiding function; but, like lay persons, may officiate in the Liturgy of the Word, whether in the form provided in the Daily Office, or (when a bishop or priest is not present) in the form appointed at the Eucharist. Under exceptional circumstances, when the services of a priest cannot be obtained, the bishop may, at discretion, authorize a deacon to preside

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at other rites also, subject to the limitations described in the directions for each service.

In any of the Proper Liturgies for Special Days, and in other services contained within this Book celebrated in the context of a Rite One service, the contemporary idiom may be conformed to traditional language.

Hymns referred to in the rubrics of this Book are understood as those authorized by this Church. The words of anthems are to be from Holy Scripture, or from this Book, or from texts congruent with them. On occasion, and as appropriate, instrumental music may be substituted for a hymn or anthem.

Where rubrics indicate that a part of a service is to be "said," it must be understood to include "or sung," and vice versa.

When it is desired to use music composed for them, previously authorized liturgical texts may be used in place of the corresponding texts in this Book.

Scriptural citations in this Book, except for the Psalms, follow the numeration of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible.

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The Calendar of the Church Year

The Church Year consists of two cycles of feasts and holy days: one is dependent upon the movable date of the Sunday of the Resurrection or Easter Day; the other, upon the fixed date of December 25, the Feast of our Lord's Nativity or Christmas Day.

Easter Day is always the first Sunday after the full moon that falls on or after March 21. It cannot occur before March 22 or after April 25. The sequence of all Sundays of the Church Year depends upon the date of Easter Day. But the Sundays of Advent are always the four Sundays before Christmas Day, whether it occurs on a Sunday or a weekday. The date of Easter also determines the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday, and the feast of the Ascension on a Thursday forty days after Easter Day.

1. Principal Feasts

The Principal Feasts observed in this Church are the following:

These feasts take precedence of any other day or observance. All Saints' Day may always be observed on the Sunday following November 1, in addition to its observance on the fixed date.

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2. Sundays

All Sundays of the year are feasts of our Lord Jesus Christ. In addition to the dated days listed above, only the following feasts, appointed on fixed days, take precedence of a Sunday:

The feast of the Dedication of a Church, and the feast of its patron or title, may be observed on, or be transferred to, a Sunday, except in the seasons of Advent, Lent, and Easter.

All other Feasts of our Lord, and all other Major Feasts appointed on fixed days in the Calendar, when they occur on a Sunday, are normally transferred to the first convenient open day within the week. When desired, however, the Collect, Preface, and one or more of the Lessons appointed for the Feast may be substituted for those of the Sunday, but not from the Last Sunday after Pentecost through the First Sunday after the Epiphany, or from the Last Sunday after the Epiphany through Trinity Sunday.

With the express permission of the bishop, and for urgent and sufficient reason, some other special occasion may be observed on a Sunday.

3. Holy Days

The following Holy Days are regularly observed throughout the year. Unless otherwise ordered in the preceding rules concerning Sundays, they have precedence over all other days of commemoration or of special observance:

Other Feasts of Our Lord

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Other Major Feasts


Feasts appointed of fixed days in the Calendar are not observed on the days of Holy Week or of Easter Week. Major Feasts falling in these weeks are transferred to the week following the Second Sunday of Easter, in the order of their occurrence.

Feasts appointed on fixed days in the Calendar do not take precedence of Ash Wednesday.

Feasts of our Lord and other Major Feasts appointed on fixed days, which fall upon or are transferred to a weekday, may be observed on any open day within the week. This provision does not apply to Christmas Day, the Epiphany, and All Saints' Day.

4. Days of Special Devotion

The following days are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial:

Ash Wednesday and the other weekdays of Lent and of Holy Week, except the feast of the Annunciation.

Good Friday and all other Fridays of the year, in commemoration of the Lord's crucifixion, except for Fridays in the Christmas and Easter seasons, and any Feasts of our Lord which occur on a Friday.

5. Days of Optional Observance

Subject to the rules of precedence governing Principal Feasts, Sundays,

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and Holy Days, the following may be observed with the Collects, Psalms, and Lessons duly authorized by this Church:

Commemorations listed in the Calendar
Other Commemorations, using the Common of Saints
The Ember Days, traditionally observed on the Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays after the First Sunday in Lent, the Day of Pentecost, Holy Cross Day, and December 13.
The Rogation Days, traditionally observed on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Ascension Day
Various Occasions

Provided, that there is no celebration of the Eucharist for any such occasion on Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday; and provided further, that none of the Propers appointed for Various Occasions is used as a substitute for, or as an addition to, the Proper appointed for the Principal Feasts.

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 1A :The Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ
 6f :The Epiphany of Our Lord Jesus Christ
 10c :William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1645
 13f :Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers, 367
 17c :Antony, Abbot in Egypt, 356
 18d :The Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle
 19e :Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester, 1095
 20f :Fabian, Bishop and Martyr of Rome, 250
 21g :Agnes, Martyr at Rome, 304
 22A :Vincent, Deacon of Saragossa, and Martyr, 304
 23b :Phillips Brooks, Bishop of Massachusetts, 1893
 25d :The Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle
 26e :Timothy and Titus, Companions of Saint Paul
 27f :John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, 407
 28g :Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Friar, 1274

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 2e :The Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple
 3f :Anskar, Archbishop of Hamburg, Missionary to Denmark and Sweden, 865
 4g :Cornelius the Centurion
 5A :The Martyrs of Japan, 1597
 13b :Absalom Jones, Priest, 1818
 14c :Cyril, Monk, and Methodius, Bishop, Missionaries to the Slavs, 869, 885
 15d :Thomas Bray, Priest and Missionary, 1730
 23e :Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr of Smyrna, 156
 24f :Saint Matthias the Apostle
 27b :George Herbert, Priest, 1633

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 1d :David, Bishop of Menevia, Wales, c. 544
 2e :Chad, Bishop of Lichfield, 672
 3f :John and Charles Wesley, Priests, 1791, 1788
 7c :Perpetua and Her Companions, Martyrs at Carthage, 202
 9e :Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, c. 394
 12A :Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome, 604
 17f :Patrick, Bishop and Missionary of Ireland, 461
 18g :Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, 386
 19A :Saint Joseph
 20b :Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne, 687
 21c :Thomas Ken, Bishop of Bath and Wells, 1711
1422d :James De Koven, Priest, 1879
323e :Gregory the Illuminator, Bishop and Missionary of Armenia, 332
1125g :The Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the Blessed Virgin Mary
1927b :Charles Henry Brent, Bishop of the Philippines, and of Western New York, 1929
 29d :John Keble, Priest, 1866
531f :John Donne, Priest, 1631

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 1g :Frederick Denison Maurice, Priest, 1872
132A :James Lloyd Breck, Priest, 1876
23b :Richard, Bishop of Chichester, 1253
78g :William Augustus Muhlenberg, Priest, 1877
 9A: William Law, Priest, 1761
411c :George Augustus Selwyn, Bishop of New Zealand, and of Lichfield, 1878
 19d :Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Martyr, 1012
 21f :Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1109
 25c :Saint Mark the Evangelist
 29g :Catherine of Siena, 1380

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 1b :Saint Philip and Saint James, Apostles
 2c :Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, 373
 4e :Monnica, Mother of Augustine of Hippo, 387
 8b :Dame Julian of Norwich, c. 1417
 9c :Gregory of Nazianzus, Bishop of Constantinople, 389
 19f :Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, 988
 20g :Alcuin, Deacon, and Abbot of Tours, 804
 24d :Jackson Kemper, First Missionary Bishop in the United States, 1870
 25e :Bede, the Venerable, Priest, and Monk of Jarrow, 735
 26f :Augustine, First Archbishop of Canterbury, 605
 31d :The Visitation of the Virgin Mary
 The First Book of Common Prayer, 1549, is appropriately observed on a weekday following the Day of Pentecost.

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 1e :Justin, Martyr at Rome, c. 167
 2f :The Martyrs of Lyons, 177
 3g :The Martyrs of Uganda, 1886
 5b :Boniface, Archbishop of Mainz, Missionary to Germany, and Martyr, 754
 9f :Columba, Abbot of Iona, 597
 10g :Ephrem of Edessa, Syria, Deacon, 373
 11A :Saint Barnabas the Apostle
 14d :Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea, 379
 16f :Joseph Butler, Bishop of Durham, 1752
 18A :Bernard Mizeki, Catechist and Martyr in Rhodesia, 1896
 22e :Alban, First Martyr of Britain, c. 304
 24g :The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
 28d :Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, c. 202
 29e :Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles

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 4c :Independence Day
 11c :Benedict of Nursia, Abbot of Monte Casino, c. 540
 17b :William White, Bishop of Pennsylvania, 1836
 22g :Saint Mary Magdalene
 24b :Thomas a Kempis, Priest, 1471
 25c :Saint James the Apostle
 26d :The Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
 27e :William Reed Huntington, Priest, 1909
 29g :Mary and Martha of Bethany
 30A :William Wilberforce, 1833
 31b :Joseph of Arimathaea

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 6A:The Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ
 7b :John Mason Neale, Priest, 1866
 8c :Dominic, Priest and Friar, 1221
 10e :Lawrence, Deacon, and Martyr at Rome, 258
 11f :Clare, Abbess at Assisi, 1253
 13A:Jeremy Taylor, Bishop of Down, Connor, and Dromore, 1667
 15c :Saint Mary the Virgin, Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ
 18f :William Porcher DuBose, Priest, 1918
 20A :Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, 1153
 24e :Saint Bartholomew the Apostle
 25f :Louis, King of France, 1270
 28b :Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, 430
 31e :Aidan, Bishop of Lindisfarne, 651

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 2g :The Martyrs of New Guinea, 1942
 12c :John Henry Hobart, Bishop of New York, 1830
 13d :Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr of Carthage, 258
 14e :Holy Cross Day
 16g :Ninian, Bishop in Galloway, c. 430
 18b :Edward Bouverie Pusey, Priest, 1882
 19c :Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury, 690
 20d :John Coleridge Patteson, Bishop of Melanesia, and his Companions, Martyrs, 1971
 21e :Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
 25b :Sergius, Abbot of Holy Trinity, Moscow, 1392
 26c :Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, 1626
 29f :Saint Michael and All Angels
 30g :Jerome, Priest, and Monk of Bethlehem, 420

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 1A :Remigius, Bishop of Rheims, c. 530
 4d :Francis of Assisi, Friar, 1226
 6f :William Tyndale, Priest, 1536
 9b :Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln
 15A :Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky, Bishop of Shanghai, 1906
 16b :Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, Bishops, 1555, and Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1556
 17c :Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, and Martyr, c. 115
 18d :Saint Luke the Evangelist
 19e :Henry Martyn, Priest and Missionary to India and Persia, 1812
 23b :Saint James of Jerusalem, Brother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and Martyr, c. 62
 26e :Alfred the Great, King of the West Saxons, 899
 28g :Saint Simon and Saint Jude, Apostles
 29A :James Hannington, Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa, and his Companions, Martyrs, 1885

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 1d :All Saints
 2e :Commemoration of All Faithful Departed
 3f :Richard Hooker, Priest, 1600
 7c :Willibrord, Archbishop of Utrecht, Missionary to Frisia, 739
 10f :Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome, 461
 11g :Martin, Bishop of Tours, 397
 12A :Charles Simeon, Priest, 1836
 14c :Consecration of Samuel Seabury, First American Bishop, 1784
 16e :Margaret, Queen of Scotland, 1093
 17f :Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, 1200
 18g :Hilda, Abbess of Whitby, 680
 19A :Elizabeth, Princess of Hungary, 1231
 23e :Clement, Bishop of Rome, c. 100
 30e :Saint Andrew the Apostle

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 1f :Nicholas Ferrar, Deacon, 1637
 2g :Channing Moore Williams, Missionary Bishop in China and Japan, 1910
 4b :John of Damascus, Priest, c. 760
 5c :Clement of Alexandria, Priest, c. 210
 6d :Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, c. 342
 7e :Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, 397
 21e :Saint Thomas the Apostle
 25b :The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ
 26c :Saint Stephen, Deacon and Martyr
 27d :Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist
 28e :The Holy Innocents

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The Titles of the Seasons
Sundays and Major Holy Days
observed in this Church throughout the Year

Advent Season
The First Sunday of Advent
The Second Sunday of Advent
The Third Sunday of Advent
The Fourth Sunday of Advent

Christmas Season
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ: Christmas Day, December 25
The First Sunday after Christmas Day
The Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, January 1
The Second Sunday after Christmas Day

Epiphany Season
The Epiphany, or the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, January 6
The First Sunday after the Epiphany: The Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ
The Second Sunday through the Eighth Sunday after the Epiphany
The Last Sunday after the Epiphany

Lenten Season
The First Day of Lent, or Ash Wednesday
The First Sunday in Lent
The Second Sunday in Lent
The Third Sunday in Lent
The Fourth Sunday in Lent
The Fifth Sunday in Lent

Holy Week
The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday
Monday in Holy Week

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Tuesday in Holy Week
Wednesday in Holy Week
Maundy Thursday
Good Friday
Holy Saturday

Easter Season
Easter Eve
The Sunday of the Resurrection, or Easter Day
Monday in Easter Week
Tuesday in Easter Week
Wednesday in Easter Week
Thursday in Easter Week
Friday in Easter Week
Saturday in Easter Week
The Second Sunday of Easter
The Third Sunday of Easter
The Fourth Sunday of Easter
The Fifth Sunday of Easter
The Sixth Sunday of Easter
Ascension Day
The Seventh Sunday of Easter: The Sunday after Ascension Day
The Day of Pentecost: Whitsunday

The Season After Pentecost
The First Sunday after Pentecost: Trinity Sunday
The Second Sunday through the Twenty-Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
The Last Sunday after Pentecost

Holy Days
Saint Andrew the Apostle, November 30
Saint Thomas the Apostle, December 21
Saint Stephen, Deacon and Martyr, December 26
Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist, December 27
The Holy Innocents, December 28
The Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle, January 18

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The Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle, January 25
The Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple, also called the Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin, February 2
Saint Matthias the Apostle, February 24
Saint Joseph, March 19
The Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the Blessed Virgin Mary, March 25
Saint Mark the Evangelist, April 25
Saint Philip and Saint James, Apostles, May 1
The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, May 31
Saint Barnabas the Apostle, June 11
The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, June 24
Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles, June 29
Saint Mary Magdalene, July 22
Saint James the Apostle, July 25
The Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ, August 6
Saint Mary the Virgin, Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, August 15
Saint Bartholomew the Apostle, August 24
Holy Cross Day, September 14
Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, September 21
Saint Michael and All Angels, September 29
Saint Luke the Evangelist, October 18
Saint James of Jerusalem, Brother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and Martyr, October 23
Saint Simon and Saint Jude, Apostles, October 28
All Saints' Day, November 1

National Days
Independence Day, July 4
Thanksgiving Day

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Table of Contents

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