The Wednesday Fast

The text below is taken from the Synaxarion as published on OrthCuban (here). It’s interesting to note that the observance of the Wednesday fast which is still kept in the Orthodox tradition was shared not only with Catholics but Protestants as well. Ken Collins on his website here notes: Anglicans and Protestants also observed these fasts. In the 18th century, a man could not be ordained a Methodist minister if he did not fast on Wednesdays and Fridays, with the reasoning that a person who could not rule his own belly could certainly not rule the church.


The more accurate and exacting of the commentators on the four Gospels, say that two women anointed the Lord, one long before his Passion, and one a few days before. One of these women was a harlot, and the other was a chaste, virtuous woman. On this day, the Church commemorates this act of piety and righteousness which proceeded from the harlot, contrasting it with treachery of Judas and his Betrayal of Christ. Both these acts occurred on Wednesday, two days before the Mosaic Passover, as it appears from the course of the account of St. Matthew the Evangelist.The above mentioned harlot anointed the head and feet of Jesus with oil, and wiped them with the hair of her head. The precious ointment was worth three hundred dinars, or about fifteen pieces of Venetian gold. When the Disciples saw this, they stumbled, especially Judas, the money-lover, and were angry because of the wasting of such an amount of costly ointment. Jesus rebuked them, lest the woman be embarrassed. Judas was angry, and went to the high priests where they were gathered in the house of Caiphas, taking counsel against Jesus, and he agreed with them to deliver the Master for thirty pieces of silver. Because of this, the fast of Wednesday was instituted from the days of the apostolic age itself.

Wherefore, O Christ God, anointed with the holy oil, deliver us from all suffering, and have mercy upon us. Amen.

2 thoughts on “The Wednesday Fast

  1. In the 18th century, a man could not be ordained a Methodist minister if he did not fast on Wednesdays and Fridays

    I like that!

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