Quasimodo

St. Augustine wrote, of the Sunday following Easter, that it is the ‘compendium of God’s mercy’ and of the Octave of Easter itself that it is ‘the days of mercy and pardon’. Today, the Sunday after Easter is known as Divine Mercy Sunday.

An Octave is an 8 day Feast, currently associated only with Christmas and Easter, during which each day is a Feast in the same manner as the day on which it starts. (If you don’t know this already, then you just missed a week long Feast.) The 8 days of the Octave of Easter used to be called in albis, because the newly baptized were wearing white garments (albs.) The Sunday after Easter came to be known as Sunday in albis (or Domenica in albis) because it was the end of the Octave of Easter, and the day the newly Baptized took off their white baptismal garments.

The Sunday after Easter also used to be known as Quasimodo Sunday. The name comes not from the character in The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, but from the Latin words of the Entrance Antiphon for that Sunday. (Laetare Sunday in Lent, and Gaudete Sunday in Advent – during which the clergy famously don rose colored vestments – are also named from the Latin words in the Entrance Antiphon.)

The Entrance Antiphon for Divine Mercy Sunday is “Like newborn infants, you must long for the pure, spiritual milk, that in him you may grow to salvation, alleluia. “ It speaks to the great mercy the Lord has had, and continues to have, upon us. We are continually newborn, in every moment we cooperate with God’s grace, through the salvific actions of Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Trinity.
In Latin, the entrance antiphon begins, Quasi modo géniti infántes; or, “as in the mode (manner) of newly born infants.”

In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, since we brought that subject up, the character Quasimodo is abandoned due to his monstrous deformities, and left where orphans were normally left, on the orphans bed at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.

He’s found by one of the head clergy at the Cathedral on the Sunday after Easter, Quasimodo Sunday, and is simply named after that day. Hence Quasimodo enters into the public lexicon, and a character in popular culture is born. He is, not coincidentally, found to be a character of great depth and mercy in his own right – despite the unjust actions against him.

In the newer Roman Missal of 1969 the name of the Sunday was changed to the Second Sunday after Easter. And in the year 2000 the name was brought to its current form, Divine Mercy Sunday.

While this is no doubt far more information than anyone wanted to know, we need to know our Catholic history – even older generations are unaware of some of the origins and histories of sacred practices. May the days of mercy and grace take abode your hearts, and your lives continue in divine transformation, through His divine mercy.

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