Forty Hours Devotion originated in Italy during the 1500’s and was often practiced during times of great public danger. During the Middle Ages, people did not receive Communion frequently so this devotion was a way for them to be connected to Jesus in the Eucharist. The period of forty hours is believed to have been chosen because that was how long Christ remained in the tomb, while his disciples waited and prayed.
St. John Neumann introduced the practice in 1853, a time of strong anti-Catholic sentiment in the Philadelphia region. He also wrote a booklet for the devotions and obtained special indulgences for participants. In 1866, the Plenary Council of Baltimore approved Forty Hours for all dioceses in the United States.
Assumption’s 2017 annual Forty Hours Devotion provided many opportunities for parishioners to connect to Jesus. It began on Sunday, October 8th with Exposition after 11 AM Mass and concluded on Tuesday, October 10th with a candlelight procession and Benediction at the Good Shepherd Garden. Fittingly, the theme of guest homilist Father Harold McKale’s preaching was “The Most Blessed Sacrament: Banquet, Sacrifice, and Future Glory.”