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Feast of the Transfiguration: Meaning, Celebration, Prayers

Feast of the Transfiguration: Meaning, Celebration, Prayers

The Christian feast of the Transfiguration takes place on August 6 in the Catholic liturgical calendar and celebrates a major event in Jesus' earthly life: the revelation of his divine nature, as a son of God. This episode is recounted in the New Testament, and manifests the faith that inhabits Christians: the hope of the resurrection, following Christ!


In this article, discover the meaning and celebration of the liturgical feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus!

What is the Transfiguration of Jesus?

The Transfiguration of Jesus, a revelation of His divine nature

Etymologically, the term transfiguration comes from the Latin translation of the Greek term metamorphosis, meaning changing form. It thus refers to a change in body appearance. 

The Transfiguration of Jesus is thus the moment when Christ revealed His divine nature to his disciples: He appeared transfigured and then manifested to His disciples His glory as a beloved son of the Father!

The Transfiguration in the Bible

The episode of the Transfiguration is recounted in three Gospels of the New Testament: that of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. All three recount that, Jesus having gone to the mountain with three of his disciples—Peter, James and John—he suddenly found himself transfigured. His body began to radiate, and his clothes became brilliantly white: “His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.” (Mark 9:3). At his side stood Elijah and Moses, who bore witness to the Law and the prophets.

Saint Luke gives us the rest of the events: “While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” (Luke 9:34-35)

The Christian meaning of the Transfiguration 

The event of the Transfiguration of Christ is a prefiguration for Christians of the bodily state they will also have after the resurrection of the dead. The glorious body of Jesus, wearing a garment of brilliant whiteness, announces the great mystery of the resurrection, in which everyone is invited to participate. It is about the faith expressed in the Creed.

The account of the Transfiguration also announces our status as children of God, the “wonderful adoption that makes all believers sons of God in his Son Jesus, and the clarity with which the entire body of the Church will one day shine.” (Catholic Liturgy)

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord: Origins, Celebration and Liturgy

The Transfiguration of the Lord: a very old feast

A very ancient Eastern feast, the Transfiguration was fixed on August 6 as early as the 7th century. The churches of the East celebrated this biblical event very early, but it was only from the fifteenth century that it became a universal festival, after the victory of Belgrade in 1456, which stopped the Turkish advance.

The feast of the Transfiguration is, alongside the baptism of Jesus and the Epiphany, a theophany, a manifestation of Christ as a son of God. It is celebrated today by both the Church of the West and the Church of the East.

Celebration and Liturgy of August 6

The readings of the Mass of the Transfiguration give us several texts to meditate on:

  • In the first reading, we read the prophet Daniel, announcing the royalty of Christ: “He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:14)
  • In the second reading, Saint Peter, witness of the Transfiguration of Jesus, gives us his testimony and invites us to faith: “We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain [...] you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:16-19)
  • Finally, the Gospel of the Transfiguration of the Lord invites us to live this event with the disciples.

Meditation and Prayer on the Day of the Transfiguration

The Transfiguration, hope of the Church!

Here is a short excerpt from a meditation by Pope Leo the Great (395-461), testifying to the deep hope of the Church, called to the same transformation as Christ during his Transfiguration:

“Christ planned no less to found the hope of the Church, by making the whole body of Christ discover what transformation would be granted to it […] The Lord Himself had said on this subject, when He spoke of the majesty of His coming: then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. And the apostle Saint Paul also testifies: I believe that there is no common measure between the sufferings of the present time and the glory that the Lord will soon repeat in us. And again: You died with Christ, and your life remains hidden with him in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you too will appear with him in full glory!”

Prayer on the Day of the Transfiguration of the Lord

“Glory to You, O Christ, who makes us see Your light! By your transfiguration, you revive our faith and our hope. We are waiting for that day when you will transform our poor bodies, in the image of your glorious Body, that day when we will dwell in your Light. Blessed be You, Lord, to illuminate our whole life, By this hope, You already make us citizens of heaven. You give us to anticipate the life of the world to come. You make us feel your beauty. You open our eyes to your kingdom present among us, and we contemplate your glory. Make us live, as if we saw the invisible. May our faith touch your heart and hasten the coming of your reign over us, make your eternal Glory shine. Amen.”

Pray with Hozana on the day of the Transfiguration!

The feast of the Transfiguration reminds us that we Christians too are called to be transfigured, in the image of Christ! It is an invitation for everyone to go, like the apostles, to the mountain, place of God's presence, and to respond to his call: “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him” (Luke 9:7)

So, to answer the Father's call, to follow Christ, to reveal Himself to you, follow Hozana's prayer offering:

Association Hozana - 8 rue du Palais de Justice, 69005 Lyon

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