Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.
A watch or vigil. The term was originally applied to the all-night vigil in Anglo-Saxon times before certain major holidays. By the sixteenth century it was used of the holiday itself, and of the fair held to honor a local saint. In some countries, e.g., Ireland, a wake is the watch over the body of the deceased before burial. And more commonly a wake is the period, one or two days before the funeral, when mourners may visit the body of the deceased and offer their condolences to the bereaved. The Church now provides for a liturgical service, if so desired, during the wake. It is called Vigil for the Deceased.