St Gemma Holy Hour Booklet


In her Autobiography and Diary we read that Gemma made a Holy Hour every Thursday night, in honor of our Lord’s Passion and sufferings in the Garden. She made this Holy Hour faithfully each week until her death. Concerning this Holy Hour, Gemma writes in her Autobiography:
“Every Thursday (night) I continued to make the Holy Hour, but it sometimes happened that it would last even till 2:00am because Jesus was with me; and nearly always He would make me share in that sorrow which He felt in the Garden at the sight of so many of my sins and those of the whole world. A sorrow which can well be compared to the agony of death.”

In her Diary, concerning the Holy Hour she writes- (Thursday July 19, 1900) "This evening at last, after six days of absence of Jesus, since it was Thursday, I began my hour of prayer, thinking of Jesus on the Cross. Then it hap­pened. I found myself with Him suffering and I felt a great desire to suffer and asked Jesus to give me this grace. He granted it; He approached me, took from His head the crown of thorns and placed it upon mine, and then went aside. I looked at Him silently for I was think­ing; Perhaps He did not love me any more, because He had not pressed the crown down hard upon my head as He had done at other times. Jesus understood and pressed it upon my temples. They were painful but happy moments. I then spent an hour with Jesus. I should have liked to continue with Him thus all night, but Jesus loves obedience very much; He Himself always submits to obedience, so when the hour was up He left me. Generally Jesus took the crown off when He was leaving; this time, however, He left it until about four o'clock the following afternoon."

This Holy Hour that Gemma practised was taken from the manual of devotions entitled "Let us Pray" by Blessed Elena Guerra, foundress of the Oblate Sisters of the Holy Spirit in Lucca (also known as the Sisters of Saint Zita (Zitine Sisters). It was also published under the title "An hour of prayer with Jesus agonizing in Gethsemane". Gemma had been a student in the school that was founded by Blessed Elena, and Bl. Elena was at one time one of Gemma's teachers, and because of their association at school and also since they both lived in Lucca all their lives, St Gemma and Bl. Elena knew each other very well. And what is a miraculous sign of God's holy Providence and love for His servants, both Gemma and Elena DIED ON THE SAME DATE- APRIL 11- (Gemma in 1903 and Elena in 1914) AND WHAT IS EVEN MORE MIRACULOUS AND PROVIDENTIAL IS THAT BOTH GEMMA AND ELENA DIED NOT ONLY ON APRIL 11TH, BUT BOTH DIED ON A YEAR WHERE HOLY SATURDAY FELL ON THE DATE OF APRIL 11TH -EXACTLY 11 ELEVEN YEARS APART AND ON THE FEAST OF HOLY SATURDAY! -Fot those interested, there is more about the miraculous and Providential timing of the deaths of St Gemma and Bl. Elena here.

But, going back to the Holy Hour booklet written by Blessed Elena, Gemma was obligated to leave Bl. Elena's school due to a grave illness, which eventually brought her to the point of death in early 1899. It was during this time that she was visited a few days before her miraculous cure by one of the Sisters of St Zita, Sister Giulia Sestina, who, to help the poor girl in her great sufferings, encouraged her to make this Holy Hour and she gave her the prayer book containing the Holy Hour. It was during this exercise of devotion in honor of Our Lord's Agony in Gethsemane that Gemma received the most marvelous graces, as we read in her Autobiography and Diary. About Gemma and the Holy Hour, her spiritual director Venerable Father Germanus C.P. writes-
"She resolved to practice this devotion even while confined to bed....Gemma looked on it as a treasure, and at upon first receiving it promised Jesus that if she recovered her health, she would recite the Holy Hour every Thursday night."

By the Providence of God, she made the Holy Hour for the first time on Holy Thursday, March 30, 1899, and to prepare well for it she first made a general Confession of her whole life. This shows us the idea and importance she had of the Holy Hour.The object of this pious exercise consists in making a full hour's prayer having for its meditation the agony of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane; and it can be done at anytime, but most especially it is suited for Thursday evenings.

Padre Pio himself requests the Holy Hour as practised by St Gemma
On May 2, 1912, Padre Pio wrote the following to Padre Benedetto: “I ask a favor of you. I would like to read the small book entitled "The Letters and Ecstasies of the Servant of God Gemma Galgani"; and also the other one of the same servant of God entitled "The Holy Hour". I am sure that she, finding my desire right, will obtain them for me. I send my regards and ask for your blessing.
Your Fra Pio.”

For those interested, "The Holy Hour As Practised By Saint Gemma Galgani" booklet can be  purchased for $7.99 through the St Gemma Store here.

Also, the Holy Hour can be read in its entirety on this website here.

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