ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Bishop David Malloy, of the Diocese of Rockford, issued a special dispensation allowing Catholic congregants to eat meat on St. Patrick’s Day, which falls on a Friday during Lent this year.

Under Catholic canon, practitioners ages 14 and older are forbidden to eat meat on Fridays during Lent.

However, since the St. Patrick’s Day holiday falls on March 17th, both a Friday and during the observation of Lent, Bishop Malloy’s dispensation exempts “the faithful who reside in the Diocese of Rockford, as well as anyone actually present in the Diocese of Rockford, from the observance of the law of abstinence on Friday, March 17, 2023.”

Lent is a 40-day season of prayer and fasting that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday, the day before Good Friday, which leads into the Easter weekend.

Lent is meant to remember the last 40 days in the life of Jesus Christ.

The tradition of “fish Fridays” was started to allow Catholics to abstain from eating the meat of warm-blooded animals during Lent and uphold their act of penance.