Lent (Anglo-Saxon - spring), a season of fasting and prayer extending over the forty weekdays which precede Easter. The early Christians observed a fast which lasted from the afternoon of Good Friday to the morning of Easter Day, and was hence known as Quadragesima, its duration being about 40 hours. Gradually other days were added, the number of which varied considerably in different churches, as also did the degree of severity with which the fast was kept. It was not till the pontificate of Gregory the Great that its length became fixed at forty days. The name "Quadragesimal Fast" probably contributed to this result, as well as the fact that this was the length of Our Lord's sojourn in the wilderness and of the period of probation imposed on Moses, Elijah, and others in the Old Testament. The Church of England now countenances considerable laxity in the observation of this fast.