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What is Easter Vigil?

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Easter Vigil, also called the Great Vigil of Easter or the Paschal Vigil, is a service held in traditional Christian churches as the first official celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus.

Many Christians observe Easter Sunday a little differently than Catholics do.  For lots of churches, the peak celebration is Easter Sunday, maybe even a service at sunrise.

The Great Vigil of Easter, when observed, is the first service of Easter. It is celebrated at a convenient time between sunset on Holy Saturday and sunrise on Easter Morning. Easter Vigil

The Easter Vigil liturgy is the most beautiful liturgy in the Roman Catholic Church. This walks through the Easter Vigil, and includes the words to the Exsultet.

Although celebrated Holy Saturday evening, it is the dramatic Easter vigil liturgy that marks the beginning of Easter. We are awaiting our master’s return with our lamps full and burning, so that he will find us awake and seat us at his table (cf. Luke 12:35ff). All Catholics should try to attend this beautiful service. The vigil is divided into four parts:


  1. Service of Light,
  2. Liturgy of the Word,
  3. Liturgy of Baptism, and
  4. Liturgy of the Eucharist.

We have been preparing for Easter through forty days of Lent, culminating in the Easter Triduum:  Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Vigil of Easter on Saturday night.  All that waiting and preparation peaks when we gather on Saturday night for a solemn vigil.

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