What is Month's Mind?
Friday, 3 July 2020
Month’s Mind is a Requiem Mass (also known as Mass For The Dead), that was historically performed by Roman Catholics. Although it is not as widely celebrated as it once was, a handful of parishes continue to keep up the tradition, particularly across the UK and Ireland.
Month’s Mind is held roughly a month after a person’s death, hence the name. It is used as a way to continue to remember and celebrate the deceased. The most common way Month’s Mind is performed is a Mass for the family and close friends of the deceased, including prayers and hymns. Following the Mass, the friends and family share a meal together to have a final toast for the deceased; In Medieval England and later, this would often be a full banquet-style feast.
The History of Month’s Mind
As mentioned before, the ceremony was performed by Roman Catholics. The first known use of the term “Month’s Mind” was back in the 15th Century, in Medieval England. However, it eventually became widely celebrated by Catholics across the globe.
Back then it wasn’t uncommon for people to leave instructions for their Months Mind in their will. It is recorded that a man called Thomas Windsor, who died in 1479, requested that “there be a hundred children within the age of sixteen years, to say for my soul”, plus 20 priests paid to sing specific songs he requested, along with various other demands. Sadly, whether these requests were met or not was never recorded.
As with the vast majority of Mass’, sermons were also performed. The first printed sermon we can find that was we know was performed at a Month’s Mind Mass was delivered by John Fisher, the bishop of Rochester at the time. This was for the King of England, Henry VII - father to the infamous Henry VIII - a month after his death on April 21st, 1509.
Overall Month’s Mind is a lovely method to continue to celebrate the life of those who have been lost. It’s an excellent way to allow those who are grieving to say a final goodbye, offering further closure at a time when emotions can be less raw than they would have been at the funeral.
If you like the idea behind Month’s Mind but you don’t attend church, or your parish no longer holds Month’s Mind, you can still keep up this tradition in your own way. Gather friends and family a month after the loved one’s funeral, share a meal and memories, and your own prayers if you wish to do so.