Christ Episcopal Church of Pottstown, PA          
Simnel Cake/Laetere Sunday
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Simnel Cake - Laetere Sunday - 4th Sunday in Lent

   The Simnel cake is an Anglican tradition from the Middle Ages, eaten on the 4th (Laetere) Sunday of Lent as a relaxation from the Lenten fast. The origin of the name is obscure, possibly from semila, Latin for fine flour. One tradition however, has it named after Lambert Simnel, 10 year old pretender to the throne of Henry VII, who was pardoned and put to work in Henry’s kitchen where he invented the cake. In Victorian England, it became the tradition for by servants to take one home to their family for the Laetere holiday.

   Laetere (Latin for “gladden/rejoice”,) is the first word of the Introit for the day – “Laetere, Jerusalem…” Laetere Sunday has several other names. In England, it is known as “Mothering Sunday,” from the tradition of attending the “mother” church of the diocese (the cathedral - not a reference to the servants’ mothers or the Virgin Mary.) It’s also “Refreshment Sunday” for the relaxation from the rules of Lent, and “Sunday of the Five Loaves” from the traditional gospel reading. Another Medieval name is “Rose Sunday” for the blessing of golden roses sent from the Pope to Christian queens. (Rose color for vestments is used as an emotional lift at the half-way point of Lent and Advent (Laetere and Gaudete Sundays) and is unrelated to the golden roses or to the Blessed Virgin.) The confusion of terms (e.g. multiple meanings of “rose” and “mother” is common in liturgics.

   The cake is a sort of light pound/fruit cake, colored yellow with saffron and covered with marzipan (almond paste) or almond flavored icing. It traditionally has eleven marzipan balls around the edges representing the eleven true Apostles (no Judas), and may be decorated with candied flowers. Our cake bears a modest resemblance to the original recipe.

   Laetere, Jerusalem…Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation.



PO 252, 316 E. High St Pottstown, PA 19464   Phone: 610-323-2895     Powered by My Church Websites
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