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The word triduum means "three days" in Latin. In the language of the Roman Catholic Church a triduum is a three-day period of prayer and worship during which worshipers give thanks to God for help received, ask for God's favor and assistance, honor religious festivals, or commemorate important events. The most important regularly occurring triduum of the year precedes and includes Easter Sunday and is known as the Easter, or Holy, Triduum. During these three days, which begin on the evening of Maundy Thursday and last through evening on Easter Sunday, numerous church services and devotional exercises focus worshipers' attention on Jesus' death and resurrection (see also Easter Vigil; Epitaphios; Good Friday; Holy Saturday; Holy Sepulchre; Maundy Thursday; Passion Play; Royal Hours; Stations of the Cross; Sunrise Service; Tenebrae; Three Hours; Veneration of the Cross).

The Easter Triduum was once known as "the still days." This nickname can be traced back to eighth-century England. One religious writer of the time attributes the name to the notion that Jesus lay "still" in the grave between his death and resurrection. In medieval times this name might also call to mind the fact that all commerce came to a halt during the Triduum, as people devoted these three days to worship, prayer, and celebration. As far back as the eighth century Roman Catholic custom called for the silencing or "stilling" of bells at the start of the Easter Triduum. The harsh cracks of wooden clappers replaced the ringing church bells that usually announced the beginning and end of religious services. Inquisitive children who wondered what had happened to the church bells were sometimes told that they had flown away to Rome to visit the pope. Church bells boomed out again during the late-night Easter Vigil service on Holy Saturday, when the prohibition on bell ringing was lifted.

Further Reading

Monti, James. The Week of Salvation. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Publications, 1993. Mulhern, P. "Triduum." In New Catholic Encyclopedia. Volume 14. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967. Niemann, Paul J. The Lent, Triduum, and Easter Answer Book. San Jose, CA: Resource Publications, 1998.
References in periodicals archive ?
With this gift, he instituted a mysterious oneness in time between the Easter Triduum and the Church's life through the centuries.
They discussed the parallels between the themes of the Easter Triduum and marriage/family life.
Reconciled on Holy Thursday, only then could they join the assembly for the Easter Triduum.
Mahony's celebration of the Mass of the Lord's Supper marked the end of the Lenten season and the start of the Easter Triduum - the three days leading up to Easter.
The reform of the Easter triduum that began with Plus XII and continued with the liturgical changes during and after Vatican II was, among other things, an attempt to redress the balance.