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LENT (lenten, lente, from A. S. lencten, spring ; comp, Du. lente, Germ. lens), the ecclesiastical season known in the early Greek Church as reo-o-apalcoo-Tii (afterwards as urlo-r-cia), and in the Latin Church, from at least the 4th century, as Quaclragesima.1 Tremens, in a passage which, though not free from difficulties, is yet clear enough in its general scope («pnd Euseb., 11. E., v. 24), mentions that the custom of keeping a fast before Easter Sunday was quite old even in his day, but that no uniformity of observance had up to that time been established, some thinking they ought to fast for one day, others fcr two days, and others having further peculiarities. In Tertullian's day the Good Friday fast at all events was " communis ct quasi publica jejunii religio" (De Oral., c. 18), and elsewhere (De Jejitn. 2) he indicates his opinion that Christians ought to commemorate by a religious fast all the time during which "the bridegroom was taken away from them." This period of fasting was gradually extended, but still without uniformity of praxis. The diversity of usage covered by a common name is referred to by Socrates (11. E., v. 22) as a source of perplexity to him. He tells us that in Rome the custom was to fast three continuous weeks before Easter, Saturdays and Sundays not being included ; that in Elyria, Greece, and Alexandria the period of abstinence called rea-o-apaKoo-nj extended over six weeks ; and that in some other places, which he does not specify, the custom was to begin the fast seven weeks before Easter, but actually to observe it at intervals only for three periods of five days each, and nevertheless still to call it Tco-o-apaKco-r. Cassianus (Coll. 21, 5) calls attention to the fact that a fast of seven weeks, when Saturdays and Sundays, except Holy Saturday, are excluded as they ought to be, means a fast of thirty-six days in all, i.e., a tithe of the year, - an idea which seems to have found wide acceptance. Leo I. (Seim. 44) alludes to the fast of forty days as having apostolic authority, but the number does not seem to have been taken quite literally. In one of the homilies (In Evang., xvi.) of Gregory the Great, the precise number is fixed as by Cassianus at thirty-six, but this figure is obtained by reckoning from the sixth Sunday before Easter and deducting Sundays only. In the Corpus Juris Canonici this passage is reproduced, but with an important change which must have been made before the end of the 8th century ; it is to the effect that, in order to make up the sacred number of forty days dedicated to fasting by our Lord, it is necessary to take in as fasts the four days preceding Quadragesima Sunday. As regards the manner of observing Lent, various degrees of strictness have prevailed in the church. Perfect abstinence from all food every fasting day until evening is in theory at least required, and it has also been considered desirable that public worship with sermon should be attended daily, with frequent communion, especially on Saturday and Sunday ; public amusements, especially stage plays, are prohibited, and the celebration of religious festivals, as also of birthdays and marriages, is held to be unsuitable ; and increased diligence in almsgiving and deeds of charity is enjoined.