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Pentecost - Duccio di Buoninsegna (1308) Tempera on wood
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Siena

Spiritus Dómini replévit orbem terrárum, et hoc quod continet ómnia sciéntiam habet vocis, Alleluia.

The Spirit of the Lord fills the whole world, and holds all things together and knows every word spoken by man, Alleluia.

(Wisdom 1:7 - Entrance Antiphon for Mass for Pentecost. )

Catechism & Reflection of Blessed Pope John XXIII - Mass Readings - Hymns - The Seven Gifts & Twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit

Family Celebration of Pentecost page - Pentecost Prayer page -- Novena to the Holy Spirit Brochure -- Links to June 4, 2006 Pentecost Page on the Vatican Website -- Pentecost, Regina Caeli Message, May 23, 2010 Links to the Vatican


The Church celebrates Pentecost (so called because it is fifty days after Easter Day) as the day on which the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles, gathered in an upper room with Mary, mother of Jesus, "as a mighty, rushing wind," fulfilling Jesus' promise when He "breathed on them," as recorded in John's Gospel (Chapter 20).

This event, which marks the beginning of the Church, is recorded in the book of Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 2. The 14th-century Siennese painting by Duccio (above) illustrates the moment when the Bible says the Spirit descended upon the gathering of Christians in the form of tongues of fire. The liturgical color for Pentecost is red, a reminder of the flames that "rested on them." Another symbol for the Holy Spirit is the dove, usually emitting golden rays of light.

The Holy Spirit gave the apostles gifts of grace through which they would undertake the evangelical mission of the Church. On the day of Pentecost, the apostles were given the miraculous "gift of tongues" -- so that everyone from every country understood the Christians' inspired message of salvation as if they were hearing it in their own languages. Thousands were converted by the preaching of Peter and the other apostles.

Called Whitsunday (white Sunday) in England, for the white garments worn by confirmands (candidates for Confirmation), Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks, originated as a Jewish festival fifty days (seven weeks) after Passover.

The Solemnity of Pentecost ends the Easter season. After Pentecost, the Easter candle is kept in the baptistery or near the baptismal font, and is lighted only for a baptism. For centuries, the Sundays of the Catholic Church year between Pentecost and Advent were numbered as "after Pentecost". Since the Second Vatican Council, this period is called "Ordinary Time" (the first period of Ordinary Time is that between the Epiphany and Lent). Three solemnities are celebrated in the weeks immediately following Pentecost: Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi (The Body and Blood of Christ), and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

from the Catechism of the Catholic Church

731. On the day of Pentecost when the seven weeks of Easter had come to an end, Christ's Passover is fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, manifested, given, and communicated as a Divine Person: of His fullness, Christ, the Lord, pours out the Spirit in abundance.

The Church was made manifest to the world on the day of Pentecost by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Spirit ushers in a new era in the "dispensation of the mystery" -- the Age of the Church, during which Christ manifests, makes present, and communicates His work of salvation through the Liturgy of His Church, "until He comes." In this age of the Church Christ now lives and acts in and with His Church, in a new way appropriate to this new age. He acts through the Sacraments in what the common Tradition of the East and the West calls "the sacramental economy"; this is the communication (or "dispensation") of the fruits of Christ's Paschal mystery in the celebration of the Church's "sacramental" Liturgy.

See Catechism Chapter 3, "I believe in the Holy Spirit" (§§683- 747)

Reflection of Pope John XXIII on Pentecost

At the Feast of Pentecost I take the sacred Book in my hands and turn eagerly to the first page of the Old Testament, and then to the first page of the New. The first page of the Old Testament describes the creation of the world, saying that "the Spirit of God was moving on the waters." This refers to the whole universe, the seas and land masses, the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms: a triple realm, a manifold order; and it refers also to the governments of men, of races, peoples and tribes, inspired and moved by energies common to all mankind, and to the history of humanity slowly evolving through the centuries according to a Divine plan.

All nature, then, belongs to the temporal order, but always in the sight of God and subject to His power.

And now we turn to the first page of the Gospel, the New Testament, which begins with the sound of an angel's voice: "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God... You will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus."

With this announcement to Mary there begins the epic of Redemption, which has Christ for its all-radiant Sun, the source of divine life and sanctifying grace.

The Hymns of Pentecost

Veni Sancte Spiritus - Veni Creator Spiritus

Come, Holy Spirit - Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest

The Latin hymn Veni Sancte Spiritus (Come, Holy Spirit) is the "Sequence" (the hymn before the Gospel) for Pentecost Sunday. The words of this hymn are attributed to Pope Innocent III (c. 1160-1216). Either the original Latin chant or the English version may be sung before the Gospel on Pentecost.

The even more ancient hymn Veni Creator Spiritus (Come Holy Ghost, Creator blest) is frequently sung on Pentecost. The verses are ascribed to Rabanus Maurus (776-856), and were set to a chant tune. These Latin verses have been translated into English verse in various versions, including the familiar hymn "Come Holy Ghost, Creator Blest", a 19th-century rendering by Edward Caswall (1814-1878), who also did a translation of the Veni Sancte Spiritus. ("Ghost" is another English word for "Spirit", stemming from the German "geist", while "spirit" is from the Latin.)

When a Latin hymn is translated, it is usually done in metrical form so that it can be set to music; thus although the translations are not literal (or word-for-word), and the rhythm may not be precisely the same, the translator aims to maintain both the essential meaning and poetic verse-form of the original.

The text of both Pentecost hymns, in Latin and English, appears below. (Note: The Adoremus Hymnal gives the Edward Caswall translation and Samuel Webbe tune for Veni Sancte Spiritus (p 444); and the Veni Creator Spiritus in both Latin and English versions (pp 441, 442-443).

Veni Creator Spiritus

Veni, Creator Spiritus,
Mentes tuorum visita;
Implesuperna graatia
Quae tu creasti pectora.

Qui diceris Paraclitus,
Donum Dei altissimi,
Fons vivus, ignis caritas,
Et spiritalis unctio.

Tu septiformis munere,
Dextræ Dei tu digitus,
Tu rite promissum Patris,
Sermone ditans guttura.

Accende lumen sensibus,
Infunde amorum cordibus,
Infirma nostri corporis
Virtute firmans perpeti.

Hostem repellas longius,
Pacemque dones protinus;
Ductore sic te prævio,
Vitemus omne noxium.

Per te sciamus da Patrem,
Noscamus atque Filium,
Te utriusque Spiritum
Credamus omni tempore.

Deo Patri sit gloria,
Et Filio, quia mortuis,
Surrexit ac Paraclito,
In sæculorum sæcula. Amen

Attributed to Romanus Mauros

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator Blest

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
Vouchsafe within our souls to rest;
Come with Thy grace and heavenly aid
And fill the souls which Thou hast made.

O Comforter, to Thee we cry,
To Thee, the Gift of God Most High,
The font of life, and fire of love,
And sweet anointing from above.

The sevenfold gifts of grace are Thine,
O finger of the hand Divine,
True promise of the Father, Thou,
Who dost the tongue with speech endow.

Thy light to every thought impart
And shed Thy love in every heart;
The weakness of our mortal state
With deathless might invigorate.

Drive far away our wily Foe,
And Thine abiding peace bestow;
If Thou be our protecting Guide,
No evil can our steps betide.

Through Thee may we the Father learn,
And know the Son, and Thee discern,
Who art of both; and thus adore
In perfect faith forevermore.

Praise we the Father and the Son
And Holy Spirit, Three in One;
And may the Son on us bestow
The gifts that from the Spirit flow. Amen

Translation: Edward Caswall

Veni Sancte Spiritus

Veni, Sancte Spiritus,
et emítte caélitus
lucis tuae rádium.

Veni, pater páuperum,
veni, dator múnerum,
veni, lumen córdium.

Consolator óptime,
dulcis hospes animae.
dulce refrigerium.

In labóre réquies,
in aestu tempéries,
in fletu solácium.

O lux beatíssima,
reple cordis íntima
tuórum fidélium.

Sine tuo númine,
nihil est in hómine,
nihil est innoxium.

Lava quod est sórdidum,
riga quod est áridum,
sana quod est sáucium.

Flecte quod est rígidum,
fove quod est frigidum,
rege quod est devium.

Da tuis fidélibus,
in te confidéntibus,
sacrum septenárium.

Da virtútis méritum
da salútis éxitum,
da perénne gáudium.
Amen. Alleluia

- Attributed to Pope Leo III

Come, Holy Spirit

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from Thy celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!

Come Father of the poor!
Come source of all our store!
Come within our bosoms shine!

Thou, of comforters the best;
Thou, the soul's most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;

In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat,
Solace in the midst of woe.

O most blessed Light divine
Shine within these hearts of Thine.
And our inmost being fill!

Where you are not, man has naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour Thy dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sev'nfold gift descend;

Give them virtue's sure reward;
Give them Thy salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end.
Amen. Alleluia

Scripture readings for Pentecost


Almighty ever-living God,
who willed the Paschal Mystery
to be encompassed as a sign in fifty days,
grant that from our of the scattered nations
the confusion of many tongues
may be gathered by heavenly grace
into one great confession of your name.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.


Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that the splendor of your glory
may shine forth upon us
and that, by the light may confirm the hearts
of those born again by your grace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.

First Reading:
Genesis 11:1-9

Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly." And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

Exodus 19:3-8a, 16-20b

And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel."

So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the Lord had commanded him. And all the people answered together and said, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do." And Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord.

On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God; and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. And Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and the smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. And the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

Ezekiel 37:1-14

The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; it was full of bones. And He led me round among them; and behold, there were very many upon the valley; and lo, they were very dry. And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord God, thou knowest." Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord."

So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And as I looked, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live." So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great host.

Then He said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.' Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you home into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done it, says the Lord."

Joel 3:1-5

The word of the Lord that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel: Hear this, you aged men, give ear, all inhabitants of the land! Has such a thing happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers? Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten. Awake, you drunkards, and weep; and wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the sweet wine, for it is cut off from your mouth.

Second Reading:
Romans 8:22-27

We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And He who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Gospel Reading:
John 7:37-39

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, "If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'" Now this He said about the Spirit, which those who believed in Him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Pentecost Day

O God, who by the mystery of today's great feast
sanctify your whole Church in every people and nation,
pour out, we pray, the gifts of the Holy Spirit
across the face of the earth
and, with the divine grace that was at work
when the Gospel was first proclaimed,
fill now once more the hearts of believers.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.

First Reading:

Acts 2: 1-11 [Year A,B,C]
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. And they were amazed and wondered, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God."

Second Reading:
I Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13 [Year A,B,C]

No one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit.


Galatians 5:16-25 [Year B]

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

Romans 8:8-17 [Year C]

Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him. But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through His Spirit which dwells in you.

So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh — for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit Himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.

Gospel Reading:
John 20:19-23 [Year A,B,C]

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." When He had said this,
He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."


John 15:26-27;16:12-15[Year B]

But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning.

"I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that He will take what is mine and declare it to you.

John 14:15-16, 23b-26 [Year C]

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever.

"If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me. "These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

(Readings from Revised Standard Version - Catholic edition)

Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Wisdom - Understanding - Counsel
Fortitude - Knowledge - Piety
Fear of the Lord

"There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. " (Isaiah 11:1-3)

The moral life of Christians is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. These are permanent dispositions which make man docile in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit (CCC §1830)


The Twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit

Charity - Joy - Peace - Patience - Kindness - Goodness
Generosity - Gentleness - Faithfulness - Modesty - Self-control - Chastity


The Catechism tells us that "the fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory" (§1832)

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