Rogation Days

Liturgy We Live by Dr. Gil Haas

Page 18 of our BCP identifies the Rogation Days (from Latin rogatio - “asking”) as the three days before Ascension Day. Close to Ascension Day in the fifth century, three days of fasting and prayer successfully prevented a disaster which threatened Vienne, France. This seasonal practice spread, but it was not immediately adopted by the church since it was thought that fasting was incompatible with Easter joy. When rogation days were added to the churchʼs calendar, fasting was omitted. In England, the days became associated with a blessing of the fields in hopes of a bountiful harvest. On this day, the vicar “beat the bounds” of the parish with willow rods, processing around the fields reciting psalms and the litany. Before well-drawn maps, this action established clearly the boundaries of each parish. Although this custom dates back to the 9th century, it was abolished by Elizabeth I. However, in recent times the practice has been revived. The BCP (pp. 208-9), lists three propers for Rogation Days entitled “fruitful seasons”, “commerce and industry”, and “stewardship of creation”. Lectionaries for these propers are listed on page 930. Our Book of Occasional Services contains material for a Rogation procession.