25 March: Feast of The Thief “who stole heaven” – St Dismas

Titian_Christ_Good_Thief_Dismas_smToday is Lady Day, the Feast of the Annunciation, the instant of the Incarnation.

However, 25 March is also the Feast of the Good Thief, St. Dismas!

Fulton Sheen famously quipped of this thief-saint that he “stole heaven”.  A good thief indeed!

Many saints have their feast days assigned to the day when they were born into heaven (read: died).  There is a tradition that that first Good Friday was on the same day as the Annunciation, 25 March.   That doesn’t seem right to me, but it’s a good story.

Luke 23:39-43:

And one of those robbers who were hanged, [Gesmas] blasphemed him, saying: If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other [Dismas] answering, rebuked him, saying: Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art condemned under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done no evil. And he said to Jesus: Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom. And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise.

It makes the heart ache, to read these words addressed to that penitent sinner.  Would that they were address to each one of us.

But wait!  They can be.

Holy Church has the Lord’s own authority to forgive sins, to loose and to bind! It is exercised by His bishops and priests!


It might be a challenge in this time of coronovirus pandemic, but perhaps you can get informed about the opportunities in your area.

There is, by the way, a legend that, during the Holy Family’s flight from Herod to Egypt, they ran into Dismas, who was exercising his trade of thievery.

Dismas was going to rob them, but seeing the Infant Jesus, he instead gave them shelter in his lair and let them go on their way without harming them.  Dismas would continue to be a nefarious ne’er-do-well.  His intellect still darkened by sin on Calvary kept him from recognizing Christ’s Mother.

This is another proof that sin makes you stupid.

Finally, Fathers, mark on your calendar that in the back of your traditional Missale Romanum there is a Mass formulary for the 2nd Sunday of October  in honor of the Good Thief for use in prisons and in houses of reform of mores and of the discipline of amendment.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. teomatteo says:

    and in Italy its ‘Dante Day’. ( i think, as per Dr Royal)

  2. JonPatrick says:

    Back when I did prison ministry I used to remind the inmates that the first soul to enter Heaven was that of Dismas a common criminal. So there is hope for any of us if we repent as he did.

  3. Philmont237 says:

    Today is also the day the Frodo destroyed the One Ring. Tolkien specifically chose 25 March for this event because of the tradition of this being the date of Good Friday.

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  5. truthfinder says:

    I believe there was an old belief (possibly Jewish?), that the closer you died to the date of your conception the closer to being ‘perfect’. Therefore, it would make sense why Christ’s death would also be associated with the day of His conception.

  6. GregB says:

    Raymond Arroyo recently released an illustrated book “The Thief Who Stole Heaven” about the legend talked about in the article. On the whole being crucified and having your legs broken is a pretty extreme way to steal heaven.

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