Roman Catholic devotions
- For devotions in the Eastern Catholic Churches, refer to the articles on the individual Churches or the corresponding Orthodox Churches.
Roman Catholic devotions are "external practices of piety" which are not part of the official liturgy of the Catholic Church but are part of the popular spiritual practices of Catholics. Catholic devotions do not become part of liturgical worship, even if they are performed within a Catholic church, in a group, in the presence of a priest. The Congregation for Divine Worship at the Vatican publishes a Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy.
Devotion to saints, with the Virgin Mary as the most prominent example, is a key characteristic of Roman Catholicism. Catholic devotions have various forms, ranging from formalized, multi-day prayers such as Novenas  to activities which do not involve any prayers, such as Eucharistic adoration outside Mass, the wearing of scapulars, the veneration of the saints, and even horticultural practices such as maintaining a Mary garden.
Common examples of Catholic devotions include the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Holy Face of Jesus, the various scapulars, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Seven Sorrows of Mary, Novenas to various saints, pilgrimages and devotions to the Blessed Sacrament, and the veneration of saintly images such as among Santeros, etc.
Context and background
Prayers to Jesus
While the Catholic Church considers the liturgy as central to the life and mission of the Church and encourages Catholics to participate in it as often as possible, it also acknowledges the objective nature of the liturgy and also encourages the cultivation of pious acts and personal devotions; the constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, item 12 stating: "The spiritual life, however, is not limited solely to participation in the liturgy".
Building on the Gospel of Matthew 6:6, which encourages private prayer, the Church thus encourages an "interior life" of prayer and devotion and the development of a personal relationship with God, as well as with the Blessed Virgin Mary, the angels and the saints. The constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, item 13 states:
Popular devotions of the Christian people are to be highly commended, provided they accord with the laws and norms of the Church, above all when they are ordered by the Apostolic See.
Catholics worship one God within the Holy Trinity. The three level hierarchy of latria, hyperdulia and dulia (which were discussed by both Saints Augustine and Thomas Aquinas) determines the appropriate type of worship and veneration for different situations. The term latria (from the Greek λατρεία, latreia) is used for worship, adoration and reverence directed only to the Holy Trinity.Dulia is the kind of honor given to the communion of saints, with the exception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is honored with hyperdulia. Thus hyperdulia is below latria and above dulia.
Several factors shape the effects of devotional practice, e.g. a strong emotional appeal, a simplicity of form which puts them within the reach of all, the association with many others engaged in the same practices and their derivation from the example of others considered to lead a holy life.
Since the Middle Ages, popes have encouraged devotions such as Eucharistic Adoration outside of Mass, the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross. However, the position of the Church with respect to the primacy of liturgy over specific devotions has always been maintained. On the other hand, pious devotions have influenced some important parts of the Catholic calendar such as the feast of Corpus Christi which arose after petitions by those following the devotion; or various Marian feasts that gradually appeared with the growth of devotions.
In the Catholic tradition a wide range of devotions have been practiced, from the Holy Trinity to specific saints ranging from Saint Joseph to Saint Francis Xavier. Catholic devotions can form the basis of major community events e.g. the statue of our Our Lady of Zapopan attracts over one million pilgrims on October 12 each year as the statue travels through the streets moving from one Cathedral to another.
However, various unapproved, yet at times prevalent acts such as the promotion of chain letters that contain prayers or the belief that the use of a statue of Saint Joseph can speed up the sale of a house have been discouraged as non-pious, superstitious and against Catholic values. In general, acts and beliefs that aim at the manipulation of divine power for specific gainful purposes are always condemned as contrary to Catholic devotional practices.
Devotions to the Holy Trinity
Devotions to Jesus
Several widespread devotions in the Catholic tradition relate directly to Jesus Christ. Official Catholic teachings consider Eucharistic adoration an important practice which "stimulates the faithful to an awareness of the marvelous presence of Christ and is an invitation to spiritual communion with Him." In many cases Eucharistic adoration is performed by each person for an uninterrupted hour known as the Holy Hour. The inspiration for the Holy Hour is Matthew 26:40 when in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion, Jesus asks Peter: "So, could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?".
Some devotions have the form of Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ for the sufferings and insults that Jesus endured during His Passion or for the sin of blasphemy, e.g. the Golden Arrow Prayer. Devotions involving the Sacred Heart of Jesus first appeared in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, but most current devotions are attributed to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647–1690). In the Roman Catholic tradition, the Sacred Heart has been closely associated with Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ.
The devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus dates back to Sister Marie of St. Peter in 1843 who reported visions of Jesus and Mary in which she was urged to spread the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, in reparation for the many insults Jesus suffered in His Passion. This resulted in The Golden Arrow Holy Face Devotion (Prayer). The Devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus was first approved by Pope Leo XIII in 1885. Sister Maria Pierina de Micheli further promoted the devotion based on the image from Secondo Pia's photograph of the Shroud of Turin. In 1958, Pope Pius XII approved of the devotion and the Holy Face medal and confirmed the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus as Shrove Tuesday (the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday) for all Roman Catholics.
Other devotions include the Divine Mercy based on the visions of Saint Faustina Kowalska, known as the "Apostle of Mercy", and First Friday devotions which are related to devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. and the Chaplet of the Five Wounds.
|A series of articles on|
|Dogmas and doctrines|
|Expressions of devotion|
|Key Marian apparitions|
A wide range of Marian devotions are practiced by Roman Catholics and the Catechism of the Catholic Church item 971 states: "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship." In 1993 Pope John Paul II encouraged priests to foster devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Some beliefs about Marian devotions have been asserted by the saints and theologians, but have not been dogmatically approved by the Church. An example is the belief that Marian devotions are a sign of predestination, supported by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Saint Bonaventure, and Saint Alphonsus Ligouri as well as R. Garrigou-Lagrange.
Since Mary is of all creatures the one most conformed to Jesus Christ, it follows that among all devotions that which most consecrates and conforms a soul to our Lord is devotion to Mary, his Holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to her the more will it be consecrated to Jesus Christ.
Roman Catholic teachings and traditions includes specific devotions as Acts of Reparation to the Virgin Mary for insults that she suffers. The Raccolta Catholic prayer book (approved by a Decree of 1854, and published by the Holy See in 1898) includes a number of such prayers.
Devotions to the Immaculate Heart of Mary date back to St. Bernard and in the 17th century Saint Jean Eudes obtained the approbation and the first book on the devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. However, the 1830 reported vision of Saint Catherine Labouré which introduced the Miraculous Medal depicting the thorn-crowned Heart of Jesus and the pierced Heart of Mary had a significant impact on the devotion. Pope Pius XII consecrated the human race to the Immaculate Heart on December 8, 1942.
Other doctrine-based devotions include the Immaculate Conception which was declared a dogma in 1854. In the 20th century Saint Maximillian Kolbe encouraged consecration to the Immaculata, partly relying on the 1858 messages of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Among the many Roman Catholic prayers and devotions, Rosary devotions and spirituality are among the most prominent, and most often recited prayers. The rosary is widely emphasized in Roman Catholic teachings, e.g. Saint Louis de Montfort's widely read book The Secret of the Rosary discusses the religious and mystical views on the rosary from multiple perspectives.
Although the Scapular may have initially started as a Christocentric devotion, by the end of the Middle Ages it had taken on a distinct Marian tone, to the extent that the Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages called it "one of the main Marian devotions of Christendom".
Rosary and scapular devotions have been supported, encouraged and linked by a number of Catholic figures such as popes, saints and cardinals and specific promises and indulgences have been associated with them. The Rosary and the devotional scapular continue to be encouraged together as key Marian devotions in the 21st century.
A number of devotions involve Marian Apparitions, e.g. major and approved apparitions such as Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Fatima or Our Lady of Akita as well as a multitude of regional devotions across the continents from Our Lady of Good Health in India to Our Lady of Licheń in Poland.
Devotions to saints
"It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ."
Devotions to saints may involve specific prayers, or acts such as the naming of schools or children after them. Some devotions seek the intercession of saints, submitting specific petitions to them.
Devotions to Saint Joseph include the Novena to Saint Joseph and the Prayer to Saint Joseph, as well as the Cord of St. Joseph. Saint Joseph's Medal is a sacramental introduced in 1971 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Saint Joseph being declared the patron of the universal church. Saint Joseph's scapular was approved by Pope Leo XIII in 1893. A number of local devotions and customs to Saint Joseph exist around the world, e.g. Alpine regions, Josephstragen (German for carrying Saint Joseph) takes place on the 9 days before Christmas. A statute of Saint Joseph is carried between 9 homes, and on the first day one boy prays to him, on the second day two boys pray, until 9 boys pray the 9th day. The statue is then placed near a manger in the town church on Christmas Eve.
Devotions to Saint Michael involve specific prayers and novenas to him, hymns such as Te Splendor as well as the Scapular of St. Michael the Archangel and the Chaplet of Saint Michael. The Prayer to Saint Michael is also a popular prayer, composed by Pope Leo XIII.
Devotions to Saint George are also widely practiced by Catholics, given that he is one of the most popular saints in Christianity. These devotions and churches built in his honor date to the 6th century.
Other devotional practices
A wide range of other devotional practices can be found among Catholics. An example is the use of a Home Altar. This practice dates back to the early Christians who used to pray in their homes even before churches were built for public worship. In a Home Altar, a cross usually hangs on the wall, and images of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin and saints may be displayed, along with a copy of the Bible or other devotional literature.
Catholic devotional practices are so wide ranging at the local level that that Catholics in one part of the world may be totally unaware of the local devotional practices in another corner of the world. For instance, devotions to, and the retablos depicting Santa Eduviges (Hedwig of Poland) in Mexico are virtually unknown to other Catholics, and she remains relatively unknown outside Poland. In fact, despite having Spanish influences at their origin, many of the devotions practiced in Mexico are now quite distinct from those practiced in Spain.
- Catholic encyclopedia on Popular Devotions
- Catholic cults and devotions by Michael P. Carroll 1989 ISBN 0-7735-0693-4 page 7 
- Catholic encyclopedia on Liturgical chant
- Vatican web site: Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy December 2001.
- Catholic Customs and Traditions: by Greg Dues 1993 ISBN 0-89622-515-1 page 106
- Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 0-87973-910-X page 341
- Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 0-87973-910-X page 11
- Rev Neil J. Roy, in Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices by Ann Ball, 2003 ISBN 0-87973-910-X pages 1-16
- Vatican web site Sacrosanctum Concilium
- Summa Theologiae: Volume 41, Virtues of Justice in the Human Community by Thomas Aquinas and T. C. O'Brien 2006 ISBN 0-521-02949-X pages 40-45
- Summa Theologica, Volume 3 by Thomas Aquinas 2007 ISBN 1-60206-558-6 page1633
- A Dictionary of the Bible: Volume III by James Hastings 2004 ISBN 1-4102-1726-4 page 291
- Catholic beliefs and traditions by John F. O'Grady 2002 ISBN 0-8091-4047-0 page 145
- Catholic Encyclopedia
- Vatican Directory of Devotions item 11.
- Images of power: iconography, culture and state in Latin America by William Rowe ISBN 1-57181-533-3 page 271
- Fodor's Mexico 1996 ISBN 0-679-03249-5 page 242
- Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 0-87973-910-X page 392
- Anniversaries and holidays by Bernard Trawicky, Ruth Wilhelme Gregory 2000 ISBN 0-8389-0695-8 page 225
- Story of Fatima http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-104.html
- Peter Stravinskas, 1998, Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Encyclopedia, OSV Press ISBN 0-87973-669-0 page 409
- Sacred Congregation of Rites, INSTRUCTION ON EUCHARISTIC WORSHIP item 60
- The Raccolta by Joseph P. Christopher 2003 ISBN 0-9706526-6-6 pages 107-108
- Peter Stravinskas, 1998, Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Encyclopedia, OSV Press ISBN 0-87973-669-0 page 498
- Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 0-87973-910-X
- Catholic Encyclopedia http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07163a.htm
- Miserentissimus Redemptor Encyclical of Pope Pius XI http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_08051928_miserentissimus-redemptor_en.html
- Catholic Tradition http://www.catholictradition.org/Christ/golden-arrow.htm
- Relics by Joan Carroll Cruz (Sep 1984) OSV Press, ISBN 0879737018 page 57
- Vatican website Pope Benedict XVI Angelus Address 30 May 2010
- "Holy Face nun beatified, remembered by Pope Benedict XVI". Catholic News Agency. May 30, 2010.
- Joan Carroll Cruz, OCDS. Saintly Men of Modern Times. (2003) ISBN 1-931709-77-7
- Holy Face Devotion http://www.holyfacedevotion.com/timeline.htm
- Alan Butler and Paul Burns, 2005, Butler's Lives of the Saints, Burns and Oats ISBN 0-86012-383-9 page 251
- Peter Stravinskas, 1998, OSV's Catholic Encyclopedia, OSV Press ISBN 0-87973-669-0 page 428
- Roman Catholic worship: Trent to today by James F. White 2003 ISBN 0-8146-6194-7 page 35
- Catechism at the Vatican website
- Priests Must Foster Devotion to Mary at the Vatican website
- The Blessed Virgin Mary in England by Brother Anthony Josemaria 2008 ISBN 0-595-50074-9 pages pages 401-403
- Life of Blessed John Gabriel Perboyre, Priest of the Congregation of the Mission by M. Antoine Fiat ISBN 1-115-29333-8page 56
- Saint Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary, 1868, ISBN 0-7648-0664-5 page 139
- McNally, Terrence, What Every Catholic Should Know about Mary ISBN 1-4415-1051-6 pages 144-147
- Vatican web site: Rosarium Virginis Mariae
- Catholic Encyclopedia http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12620a.htm
- Joseph P. Christopher et al., 2003 The Raccolta St Athanasius Press ISBN 978-0-9706526-6-9
- Roman Catholic worship: Trent to today by James F. White 2003 ISBN 0-8146-6194-7 page 34
- From Trent to Vatican II: historical and theological investigations by Raymond F. Bulman, Frederick J. Parrella 2006 ISBN 0-19-517807-6 page 182
- Praying with the saints by Woodeene Koenig-Bricker 2001 ISBN 0-8294-1755-9 page 134
- Saints and feasts of the liturgical year by Joseph N. Tylenda 2003 ISBN 0-87840-399-X page 118
- Peter Stravinskas, 2002, Catholic Dictionary, OSV Press ISBN 978-0-87973-390-2 page 485
- Mary's Immaculate Heart by John F. Murphy 2007 ISBN 1-4067-3409-8 pages 59-60
- Heart of the Redeemer by Timothy Terrance O'Donnell, 1992 ISBN 0-89870-396-4 page 272
- Arthur Calkins, The Theology of the Alliance of the Two Hearts, Missio Immaculatae (English Edition) Year III, N° 4 (May to December 2007). 
- The Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary: Hope for the World by Michael O'Carroll, 2007, Queenship Publishing ISBN 1-882972-98-8
- Sacred Heart of Jesus by Stephen J. Binz 2006 ISBN 1-58595-597-3 page 97
- Mary's Immaculate Heart by John F. Murphy 2007 ISBN 1-4067-3409-8 pages 59-60
- Roman Catholic worship: Trent to today by James F. White 2003 ISBN 0-8146-6194-7 page 34
- "Agenzia Fides - Congregazione per l'Evangelizzazione dei Popoli". Fides.org. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
- Miravalle, Mark Introduction to Mary 1993, ISBN 978-1-882972-06-7, pages 156-163
- The Catholic Church: the first 2,000 years by Martha Rasmussen 2003 ISBN 0-89870-969-5 page 261
- Encyclopedia of Catholicism by Frank K. Flinn, J. Gordon Melton 2007 ISBN 0-8160-5455-X pages 409-410
- Saint Louis de Montfort "Secret of the Rosary" ISBN 978-0-89555-056-9
- Andre Vauchez, 2001, Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages, Fitzroy Dearborn Press ISBN 978-1-57958-282-1 page 1314
- Vatican website for Pope Paul VI's Apostolic Constitution Indulgentiarum Doctrina 
- Thomas Petrisko, 2000, Inside Heaven and Hell, St. Andrews Press ISBN 978-1-891903-23-6 page 105
- Pope John Paul II, 1996, Gift And Mystery, Doubleday Books ISBN 978-0-385-40966-7 page 28
- Zenit News 2008 Cardinal Urges Devotion to Rosary and Scapular
- Thomas W. Petrisk, 1998, The Fatima Prophecies, St. Andrews Press, ISBN 978-1-891903-30-4 page 345
- Lucia Santos, 1976, Fatima in Lucia's Own Words, Ravengate Press ISBN 0-911218-10-6
- Eli Lederhendler, 2006 Jews, Catholics, and the Burden of History Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-530491-8 page 98
- Catholic Encyclopedia
- EWTN on the History of the Brown Scapular 
- Henry Charles Lea, 2002, A History of Auricular Confession and Indulgences in the Latin Church, Adamant Media Corp. ISBN 1-4021-6108-5 page 498
- Mark Forster, 2001, Catholic Revival in the Age of the Baroque Cambridge Univ Press ISBN 0-521-78044-6 page 145
- The Hindu Newspaper
- Vatican website: John Paul II at Lichen
- Moved by Mary: The Power of Pilgrimage in the Modern World by Anna-Karina Hermkens, Willy Jansen 2009 ISBN 0-7546-6789-8 page 217
- Notitiae, bulletin of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 2002, pages 194-195
- Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 0-87973-910-X pages 504-505
- Vatican website: Catechism of the Church, item 957
- Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 0-87973-910-X pages 576-577
- Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 0-87973-910-X page 275
- Ann Ball, 2003, Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices OSV Press ISBN 0-87973-910-X page 520
- Raccolta Manual of Indulgences Published by St Athanasius Press, 2003 ISBN 0-9706526-6-6 page 340
- Christian Roy, 2005, Traditional Festivals ISBN 978-1-57607-089-5 page 408
- Frank Trombley Hellenic religion and Christianization Published by BRILL, 1994 ISBN 90-04-09691-4 page 345
- A Catholic Book of Hours and Other Devotions by William G. Storey 2007 ISBN 0-8294-2584-5 pages xiii to xi
- Art and faith in Mexico by Charles Muir Lovell 2001 ISBN 0-8263-2324-3 pages 43-44
- Eternal Word Television Network, Global Catholic Network (EWTN), Faith Devotionals.
- "Popular Devotions". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.