The Latin name for the fast, Quadragesima (whence Ital.
Equivalent reQaapa?coo-n) (now superseded by the term p roTEta " the fast"), are derived from the Sunday which was the fortieth day before Easter, as Quinquagesima and Sexagesima are the fiftieth and sixtieth, Quadragesima being until the 7th century the capul jejunii or first day of the fast.
Of the Lenten fast or Quadragesima, the first mention is in the fifth canon of the council of Nicaea (325), and from this time it is frequently referred to, but chiefly as a season of preparation for baptism, of absolution of penitents or of retreat and recollection.
In the East, where after the example of the Church of Antioch the Quadragesima fast had been kept distinct from that of Holy Week, the whole fast came to last for seven weeks, both Saturdays and Sundays (except Holy Saturday) being, however, excluded.
30); but the inconsistency of this period with the name Quadragesima, and with the forty days' fast of Christ, came to be noted, and early in the 7th century four days were added, by what pope is unknown, Lent in the West beginning henceforth on Ash Wednesday.
But the very passage which proves the early origin of " quadragesima," conclusively shows how uncertain it was in its character, and how unlike the Catholic " Lent."