The Origin of the Holy Hour
“May the ardent and sweet strength
of Your love, I beg you O Lord,
so absorb my mind as to withdraw it
from all that is under heaven,
so that I may die for love of
Your love, as you have deigned to die for love of my love”
for love of my love”
(Absorrbeat, Saint Francis: FF: 277,1-2)
Brief historical notes
The origin of the Holy Hour dates back to the revelations of Paray-le-Monial (France) and originates from the very Heart of our Lord.
In 1674 Jesus appeared to a “little woman”, Saint Margaret Alacoque (1647-1690), while she was having adoration praying. That was not the first time Christ had appeared to her showing her his Heart. On that occasion, Jesus asked that she spend a “Holy Hour” meditating on his sufferings every Thursday and Friday night, from eleven to midnight. During that hour she was let share in the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The spreading of this devotional practice in the catholic world remained strictly associated with the popularity of the Worship of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ in the XVIII and XIX centuries. The Holy Hour is based on three main standards collected from the memoires of Saint Margaret Mary: the remedial prayer, the union with suffering Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, the gestures of self-humiliation.
The first centenary of the establishment of the Holy Hour was celebrated in Paray Le Monial in the month of May in 1930. On the invitation of the Archconfraternity of the Holy Hour, the whole catholic world gathered to celebrate the Holy Hour.
Custodian Father Aurelio Marotta decided that this devotional practice should be celebrated during the night in the Garden of Gethsemane, the place where Jesus suffered the pain of the Holy Hour. Three years later, on 6 April 1933, the Thursday preceding the Holy Week, in front of the Stone of Agony in the Basilica of Gethsemane, Custodian Father Nazareno Jacopozzi, canonically erected the Confraternity of the Holy Hour, which was affiliated with the one of Paray Le Monial.
The Confraternity soon had numerous members all over the world, reaching 21,500 members in just one year, which rose to 92,482 in three years. The members were required to practice the Holy Hour in the afternoon or during night hours every Thursday. This practice earned them plenary indulgences. Also the sung Mass celebrated by the Franciscan friars at the Gethsemane every Thursday was for the soul of the members of the confraternity.
- Terra Santa, L’Ora Santa al Getsemani, 1933, 103.