The Forty Hours Eucharistic Devotion holds a special place in the spiritual life of the Diocese of Harrisburg and is an opportunity to gather as a community before the Blessed Sacrament and to pray before the Lord in solemn adoration. It gives us time to deepen our appreciation of the importance of the mystery of the Eucharist in our lives.
Gather as a community before the Blessed Sacrament
The exact origin of the Forty Hours Devotion is not completely known. The first clear attestation for its celebration comes from Milan in 1527. In its inception it was celebrated as reparation for the sins of the community and was motivated to offer prayers to God for protection during the crisis of war. The practice of celebrating Forty Hours Devotion spread rapidly from this point. “Forty: is a significant number. Noah was on the ark for forty days. The Israelites spent forty years in the desert. Jesus fasted for forty days, and it could be said that Jesus lay in the tomb for approximately forty hours from Good Friday to Easter Sunday.
In Rome, this period of forty hours of Solemn Exposition of the Eucharist was scheduled so that the forty hours devotion in each church formed a continuous time of adoration from church to church. Saint John Neumann was profoundly influenced by this devotion while growing up in Bavaria and strongly promoted it in the United States.