Holy Hour at Santa Cruz Church, Manila, Philippines

Holy Hour (Latin: hora sancta) is the Roman Catholic devotional tradition of spending an hour in Eucharistic adoration in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.[1] A plenary indulgence is granted for this practice.[2] The practice is also observed in some Lutheran churches and some Anglican churches.[3]


The inspiration for the Holy Hour is Matthew 26:40.[4][5] In the Gospel of Matthew, during the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion, Jesus spoke to his disciples, saying "My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me." (Matthew 26:38) Returning to the disciples after prayer, he found them asleep and in Matthew 26:40 he asked Peter: "So, could you men not keep watch with me for an hour?".[5] He did not ask for an hour of activity, but for an hour of companionship.[6]

In 1673 Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque stated that she had a vision of Jesus in which she was instructed to spend an hour every Thursday night to meditate on the sufferings of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. This practice later became widespread among Roman Catholics.[7][8][9]

In 1829, the Archconfraternity of the Holy Hour was established by Père Robert Debrosse at Paray-le-Monial, Burgundy, France.[10] In 1911 it received the right of aggregation for the entire world.[11] A similar society called "The Holy Perpetual Hour of Gethsemani" was formed in Toulouse in 1885 and was canonically erected in 1907. In 1909 it received indulgences from Pope Pius X.[12][13]

Holy Thursday

On Holy Thursday, the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church provides for the transfer of the Blessed Sacrament in a procession to a side altar or a sacrament chapel after the Mass of the Lord's Supper.[14] When the procession reaches the place of repose, the priest places the ciborium in the tabernacle and incenses the Blessed Sacrament, while the Tantum ergo or another eucharistic chant is sung. After a time of silent adoration, the procession genuflects and returns to the sacristy while the faithful continue the adoration.

This Holy Hour, during which the faithful remain in silent adoration for "a suitable length of time", is to last at least until midnight, but be without any solemnity after the dawn of Good Friday.[15]

The Holy Hour on Maundy Thursday commemorates the prayer and vigil of Jesus on the Mount of Olives, when he asked his Father to spare him his suffering in view of his approaching death, as well as the admonition to his disciples "Watch, and pray, that ye enter not into temptation" (Matthew 26).

Slang meaning

In the Irish Free State and Republic of Ireland, the "holy hour" (Irish: uair bheannaithe) was the term applied to the closing of public houses between 2.30 and 3.30 p.m. on Monday to Saturday in the cities of Dublin and Cork.[16][17][18] It was introduced by Minister for Justice Kevin O'Higgins in the 1920s to curb afternoon drinking by workers.[19] The law only applied to the cities of Dublin and Cork and was removed in 1988; however, public houses throughout the country remained closed from 2 pm to 4 pm on Sundays until 2000.[20][21][22][23] Pubs often merely locked the doors, allowing those in the pubs to continue drinking during the holy hour.[24][25][26][27][28]

See also


  1. ^ "Eucharistic Devotion", USCCB
  2. ^ Apostolic Penitentiary. Manual of Indulgences: Norms and Grants. 2006. Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. p. 48.
  3. ^ Saint Augustine's Prayer Book: A Book of Devotion for members of the Episcopal Church. Sowers Printing Co. 1967. pp. 328–361.
  4. ^ Matthew 26:40
  5. ^ a b Peter Stravinskas, 1998, Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Encyclopedia, OSV Press ISBN 0-87973-669-0 page 498
  6. ^ Sheen, Fulton J., "The Hour That Makes My Day", Treasure in Clay: The Autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen, (1980, Doubleday & Co.)
  7. ^ Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 0-87973-910-X page 240
  8. ^ The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality by Gordon S. Wakefield 1983 ISBN 0-664-22170-X page 347
  9. ^ Doll, Sister Mary Bernard. "St. Margaret Mary Alacoque." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 19 December 2019 Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  10. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Paray-Le-Monial". www.newadvent.org.
  11. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis, III, 157.
  12. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis, I, 483.
  13. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Sodality". www.newadvent.org.
  14. ^ Missale Romanum, Feria V in Cena Domini, 39-40
  15. ^ Roman Missal, The Transfer of the most Blessed Sacrament, no. 39-43
  16. ^ Kelleher, Terry (June 30, 1972). The essential Dublin. Gill and Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-7171-0584-7 – via Google Books.
  17. ^ Ionnrachtaigh, Seosamh Mac (June 2, 2015). Impreasin na Gaeilge I – Z: (Fuaim na Gaeilge). AuthorHouse. ISBN 9781496984203 – via Google Books.
  18. ^ "Over 55, Hotel Offers, Discounts, Senior Specials and Offers, Midweek Breaks, Weekend Breaks, Golden Hotel Breaks, Senior". www.goldenireland.ie.
  19. ^ "Calling Time On Holy Hour". RTÉ Archives.
  20. ^ "Díosbóireachtaí Párlaiminte: Tuairisc Oifigiúil". Cahill & Company, Limited. June 30, 1988 – via Google Books.
  21. ^ Healy, Mel (March 25, 2016). "Good Friday, the holy hour and the bona fides".
  22. ^ Dunne, Declan (May 8, 2015). Mulligan's: Grand Old Pub of Poolbeg Street. Mercier Press Ltd. ISBN 9781781173497 – via Google Books.
  23. ^ Donohoe, Miriam. "Longer pub opening hours come into operation today". The Irish Times.
  24. ^ "A pub in Galway is bringing back the (in)famous 'Holy Hour lock-in' this coming Easter Sunday". JOE.ie.
  25. ^ "Calling time on the holy hour". independent. 16 June 1999.
  26. ^ "Irish pubs for dummies- a lesson in decorum". IrishCentral.com. June 2, 2011.
  27. ^ Dolan, T. P. (June 30, 2004). A Dictionary of Hiberno-English: The Irish Use of English. Gill & Macmillan Ltd. ISBN 9780717135356 – via Google Books.
  28. ^ Kearns, Kevin C. (August 1, 1996). Dublin Pub Life and Lore – An Oral History of Dublin's Traditional Irish Pubs: The Recollections of Dublin's Publicans, Barmen and 'Regulars'. Gill & Macmillan Ltd. ISBN 9780717164714 – via Google Books.