ember days

Also known as

  • Quater Tenses
  • Quatertemper (dutch)
  • Quatember (deutsch)
  • Kvatember (danish)


  • probably a corruption of Latin: quatuor tempora, English, quarter tense, four times; possibly Anglo-Saxon, yimbren, circuit


A Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, set apart by the Church during each of the seasons as days of special prayer, fast, and abstinence. The Embertides of June, September, and December were first introduced, and that of March about the 6th century. They were probably occasioned by the agricultural feasts of ancient Rome. Pope Gelasius I permitted ordinations at all the Embertides. Pope Gregory VII definitely arranged the Embertides for the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after Ash Wednesday, Pentecost, feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (14 September), and feast of Saint Lucy (13 December).

Additional Information


Ember Days were instituted

1) to consecrate by penance each of the four seasons of the year;

2) to pray to God for the preservation of the fruits of the earth, and to give Him thanks for those already received;

3) to beg of God worthy pastors for the Church, and to implore His blessing on those who are promoted to Holy Orders.

We beseech Thee, O Lord, mercifully to regard the devotion of Thy people, that mortifying their bodies by fasting, their minds may be refreshed by good works. Through Christ our Lord.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and never forget all He hath done for thee.

Receive, O Lord, we beseech Thee, the offerings of our homage, and mercifully sanctify Thy own gifts.

Bless and preserve, O Lord, the fruits of the earth. Enable us, by Thy grace, so to enjoy these and all other temporal blessings, that we may not lose those which are eternal.

Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst institute in Thy Church a sacred hierarchy, to be perpetuated without interruption to the end of the world, by the Sacrament of Holy Orders, hear the prayers which we humbly offer up to Thee, for those who are to be ordained at this time, that, strengthened by Thy grace and directed by Thy Spirit, they may please Thee to Whom they engage themselves, and by word and example, contribute to the salvation of souls, redeemed by Thy blood. Who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen. – from Prayer Book for Religious, by Father Francis Xavier Lasance

MLA Citation

  • “ember days“. CatholicSaints.Info. 29 May 2021. Web. 28 October 2021. <>