CNA Staff, Apr 3, 2021 / 13:37 pm America/Denver (CNA).
The Easter Vigil, which takes place Holy Saturday night, “is the greatest and most noble of all solemnities and it is to be unique in every single Church,” the rubrics of the Missale Romanum proclaim.
The word vigil, which means "staying up all night," takes on a special meaning for the night before Easter because it recalls the holy women who came to the tomb the early hours of Sunday morning.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene and another Mary arrive at the tomb at dawn to finish embalming Jesus, but his body isn’t there. An angel tells them, “I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He’s not here. He has risen. Tell his disciples to go to Galilee and they will see him there." (Mt 28:6-7)
The vigil by its very nature takes place no sooner than nightfall Holy Saturday night and must end before daybreak Easter morning.
The vigil begins with the kindling of a “blazing fire” at a suitable place outside the church to gather the faithful around its warmth and beauty and to dispel the darkness of the night.