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Archconfraternity of Holy Agony

An association for giving special honour to the mental sufferings of Christ during His Agony in the Garden of Gethsemani

Holy Agony, ARCHCONFRATERNITY OF, an association for giving special honor to the mental sufferings of Christ during His Agony in the Garden of Gethsemani. Its object is to obtain through the merits of these sufferings: (I) peace for the Church, preservation of the Faith, and the cessation of scourges; (2) the grace of a happy death for hardened sinners who are about to die, and in general spiritual aid for those in their death agony. It was founded as a confraternity in 1862, at Valfleury, France, by Antoine Nicolle (1817-90), a priest of the Congregation of the Mission (Lazarist). At its beginning, Pius IX enriched it with indulgences. In 1865 it was authorized to affiliate other confraternities in the Diocese of Lyons. In 1873 it was made an archconfraternity for all France, and its headquarters installed at the mother-house of the Lazarists, 95 Rue de Sevres, Paris. After twice adding to its indulgences, Pope Leo XIII, in 1894, permitted its extension through the world. To join the confraternity all that is required is to have one’s name inscribed upon the register, which may be done by applying to the promoters of this devotion, or to the director. The practices are the daily recitation of a short prayer found on the certificate of admission usually given to members, or the recitation of an Our Father and Hail Mary instead, for the intentions of the association. Members are also recommended to offer their actions each Friday, or some other day of the week, to hear Mass once a week, and to offer a Holy Communion once a year for the intentions of the society. None of these practices is obligatory. The members should be especially zealous in seeing that those in danger of death have the assistance of a priest and other aids to die well.

The head of the archconfraternity is the superior general of the Congregation of the Mission, who puts the details of the work in the hands of a sub-director of the same congregation. The medal of the archconfraternity bears on one side a representation of the Agony of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemani, on the reverse, Our Lady of the Seven Dolors. The chief festival is that of the Prayer of Christ, which occurs on Tuesday of Septuagesima week. The society has spread all over the world and has been erected, chiefly but not exclusively, in the churches and chapels of the Lazarists and the Daughters of Charity. While the chapel of the mother-house of the Lazarists in Paris is the seat of the archconfraternity, and the monthly meetings and the novena preparatory for the feast of the Prayer of Christ are held there, in another part of Paris a chapel of the Holy Agony has been built in gratitude for the favors received by the association, and as a testimonial of reparation and love at the end of the nineteenth century. The “Bulletin of the Holy Agony” is published every other month in Paris; a quarterly edition in English appears at Emmitsburg, Md. All the details of the association can be found in the “Manual of the Archconfraternity” published at Paris, 95 Rue de Sevres. The director for England and Scotland resides at St. Vincent’s, Mill Hill, London; for Ireland at St. Peter’s, Dublin; and for the United States at St. Vincent’s House, Emmitsburg, Maryland.


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