Forty Hours at St. Mary Major

One of my favorite traditional practices is Forty Hours Devotion, in Italian Quarantore

As younger priests come up in the ranks and take over parishes, I think we may see a revival of Forty Hours in many places.

In Rome, at the Liberian Basilica, St. Mary Major, Forty Hours will begin on 9 June.  The schedule is below.

A friend passed this along.  This is a translation of the press release from the Basilica advertising their Forty Hours.

A half a millennium ago, the Church was in dire straits. Rent by internal division, She was pressed from all sides. Many of the major superpowers had turned away from Rome while others, though offering words of support, actively worked to the detriment of the Church.
Decimated by this age of change, the remaining faithful turned to prayer and a new devotion was born: the Forty Hours. This practice of uninterrupted prayer before the Blessed Sacrament recalls the forty hours Christ’s body lay in the tomb, the darkest hours of Christianity when traitors, hypocrites and murderers seemed to have won the day, while His few followers gathered for a period of intense prayer and vigil.
While it most likely originated in Milan, it was brought by St. Philip Neri to the church of Trinità dei Pellegrini in Rome, and the Quarantore soon spread throughout the Eternal City. [This is now, of course, the FSSP parish in Rome officially designated at the personal parish for those who desire the traditional forms.]
Today, in a world experiencing similar turmoil, the Patriarchal Basilica of St. Mary Major has taken the lead in reviving this devotion. For the fifth year running, starting Tuesday June 9, the Basilica will host Forty Hours of continuous prayer both day and night before the Blessed Sacrament in preparation for the feast of Corpus Christi.
The Quarantore will begin at 9:00am on June 9th, when Bernard Cardinal Law, the Archpriest of the Basilica, will celebrate the Mass of Exposition. At the end of the Mass, the entire diplomatic corps to the Holy See has been invited to pray to together for one hour before the Blessed Sacrament for world peace. On June 11, at the end of the Forty Hours, there will be a solemn benediction at 11:30.
That same evening the Holy Father will celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi at St. John Lateran and then lead the procession with the Blessed Sacrament to the basilica of St. Mary Major where he will impart a solemn blessing on the steps of the church.
All are invited to join in prayer at the Basilica including religious movements, confraternities, associations, colleges and all groups ecclesiastical or lay.
Just as she did over four hundred years ago, the Church desires peace. But no amount of diplomatic visits, formal treaties or flowery rhetoric will achieve this noble goal with out the intervention and aid of the Prince of Peace.
The program of events is as follows:
June 9
9:00am Mass of Exposition celebrated by Archpriest
10:00 -11:00 Reserved hour of adoration for the Diplomatic Core ( all are welcome) Rosary (Joyous Mysteries)
12:00 Hour of Sext
15:00 Rosary (Sorrowful Mysteries)
17:00 Vespers (in Italian)
June 10
6:00am Rosary (Joyful Mysteries)
7:30 Office of Readings
8:30 Lauds
11:00 Rosary (Luminous Mysteries)
12:30 Hour of Sext
15:00 Rosary (Sorrowful Mysteries)
17:00 Vespers (in Italian)
June 11
6:00am Rosary (Joyful Mysteries)
7:30 Office of Readings
8:30 Lauds
11:00 Hour of Sext
11:30 Solemn Benediction

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Michael O'Connor says:

    I just recently returned from Rome. Santa Maria Maggiore would be a wonderful place for the 40 Hours listed above. I also attended the EF Mass for Pentecost at SS Trinita del Pellegrini. Exquisite. A beautiful Mass with a superb small choir singing chant and polyphony. I didn\’t recognize the setting, but they sang it in very good Renaissance style one to a part. I do wish more people had attended the Mass, but the church takes some effort to locate by the casual visitor to Rome. Worth it, IMO.

  2. Magdalene says:

    In a former parish, after requesting it for a couple of years, we were able to have a 40 hours for two years. Hundreds of people participated! Then we got a new pastor and no more 40 hours.

    I am in a new parish. I have suggested a 40 hours to our pastor and to his assistant. No go for now. Devotions are not looked upon with favor, even for Our Lord :(.

    Will keep praying.

  3. LCB says:


    As a small comment, you may find it helpful to present a written plan for the 40 hours devotion, with a detailed schedule showing exactly what/when/where the priests would be ‘needed.’

    I know about 5 priests who were initially very cold to 40 hours devotions, until someone explained to them (usually with a written plan at my behest…), “No Father, this isn’t a massive project that will get dropped in your lap with you having to stay up all night in a Church because not enough people come, with you also needing to plan and execute a many multitude of things.”

    If Fr. knows that someone else is taking charge (but with him having final review over everything), and that he is only needed to undertake priestly functions at times X, Y and Z, he would likely be far more receptive to it (maybe not this year… but you will have set the stage, etc).

    Most parish priests are simply terribly overworked.

  4. Dove says:

    Why are the luminous mysteries celebrated and the glorious mysteries are not?

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