The Triduum (TRID -doo-um), meaning “three days” in Latin, is celebrated from the evening of Holy Thursday until Easter morning and is a time when we recall the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. It is an opportunity to reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice and to pray as a church community during the Holy Thursday, Good Friday services, and Saturday Easter Vigil (or Sunday Easter Mass).
The special Mass of our Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, Veneration of the Cross and Stations on Good Friday lead us to the Easter Vigil with the lighting of the candles representing the coming of the Light into the World and the resurrection of Christ.
Christians have been commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus since Apostolic times, because His death and resurrection are at the heart of Christian salvation. By the second century, Christians celebrated the Great Easter Vigil, an event which began the night of Holy Saturday, continuing until dawn on Easter morning. During this vigil, Christians commemorated salvation history, awaited the return of Jesus, and celebrated the resurrection of Jesus at dawn on Easter Sunday. It was at the vigil that catechumens, after a three year period of catechesis, were baptized and received first communion. The Easter Vigil was the most important day of the liturgical year. Eventually Christians expanded this celebration to a three-day commemoration of Jesus' passion, death, and resurrection, with the Easter Vigil being the high point of the three day commemoration.