The Holy Family


Feast Day: the Sunday within the Octave of the Epiphany, January 7 through January 13


Since the three holiest persons the world has ever beheld, Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, his Immaculate Mother, Mary, and His foster father, Saint Joseph, dwelt together for many years in a humble home of Nazareth, it is natural that Catholic should venerate them not only as individuals, but also as a family. The cult of the Holy Family, however, did not manifest itself to any extent in the Church until the 17th century. At that time this devotion became popular throughout Europe and was introduced into Canada through the zeal of F. de M. Laval , first V. p. of Quebec. This period witnessed the establishment in France of a religious congregation of women known as daughters of the Holy Family at the present day there is several religious congregations both of brothers and of sisters under the patronage of the Holy Family. In 1861, Father Francoz, a Jesuit, founded at Lyons an association of Christian families consecrated to the Holy Family. Pope Leo the XIII, in his Apostolic letter " NEMINEM fugit" (June 14, 1892), afflicted to this society all the similar organizations throughout the world and enriched it with many privilege and indulgences. The Card.- Vicar of Rome is the protector of this association. The Archconfraternity of the Holy Family differs from the proceeding association in that it is composed, not of families as such, but of individuals. It owes its origin tot he zeal of a Belgian military officer of the 19th century, Henri Belletable. Perceiving the havoc that was being wrought among the working classes by socialism, Belletable established at Liege, 1844 a confraternity of working men under the patronage of the Holy Family. Its first spiritual director was the Redemptorist, Fr. Victor Dechamps, later cardinal and Abp. of Malines. In 1847, the organization was approved by Pope Pius IX, who elevated the confraternity of Liege to the dignity of an archconfraternity, with the right to affiliate to itself other confraternities throughout the world, and to communicate to them its spiritual privileges. The confraternity is now extensively spread through Europe and America and had a membership odf several hundred thousand . It is no longer limited to working-men; any Catholic, man or woman, child  or adult , may join the association. It is , to a great extent, under the direction of the Redemptorist Fathers, the rector of the Redemptorist community at Liege being its  chief director. One of the most celebrated confraternities is that in in the Redemptorist Church at Limerick, Ireland, which counts more than 6,000 men as practical members. By decree of the Congregation of Rites. October 26, 1921, a feast of the Holy Family was instituted for the Universal Church, to be celebrated on the Sunday within the Octave of the Epiphany.- The New catholic Encyclopedia, 1929

Prayers and Hymns in Honor of the

 Holy Family


Prayer in Honor of the Holy Family

O gente felix hospita (O House of Nazareth the Blest)

O Lux beata caelitum (O Highest Hope of Mortals)

Sacra iam splendent (A Thousand Lights Their Glory Shed)

Prayer in Honor of the Holy Family

LORD Jesus Christ, who, being made subject to Mary and Joseph, didst consecrate domestic life by Thine ineffable virtues; grant that we, with the assistance of both, may be taught by the example of Thy Holy Family and may attain to its everlasting fellowship. Who livest and reignest forever. Amen.


From the Raccolta # 276

An Indulgence of 5 years, A plenary indulgence once a month on the usual conditions for the daily recitation of this prayer

O gente felix hospita
O House of Nazareth the Blest

Written by Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903). This hymn was is used for Lauds on the Feast of the Holy Family.

O GENTE felix hospita,
augusta sedes Nazarae,
quae fovit alma Ecclesiae
et protulit primordia.
O HOUSE of Nazareth the blest,
fair hostess of the Lord,
the Church was nurtured at thy breast
and shared thy scanty hoard.
Sol, qui pererrat aureo
terras iacentes lumine,
nil gratius per saecula
haec vidit aede, aut sanctius.
In all the spreading lands of earth
the wandering sun may see
no dearer spot, no ampler worth
than erst was found in thee!
Ad hanc frequentes convolant
caelestis aulae nuntii,
virtus hoc sacrarium
visunt, revisunt, excolunt.
We know thy humble tenement
was heaven's hermitage:
Celestial heralds came and went
in endless embassage.
Quae mente, Iesu, qua manu,
optata patris perficit!
Quo Virgo gestit gaudio
materna obire munera!
There, whatsoever Ioseph asks
Christ hastens to fulfill;
while Mary loves the household tasks
that wait her joyous will.
Adest amoris particeps
curaeque Ioseph coniugi,
quos mille iungit nexibus
virtutis auctor gratia.
There, Joseph toileth at her side
her joys and griefs to share,
with thousand ties knit to his bride,
of love and work and prayer.
Hi diligentes invicem
in Iesu amorem confluunt,
utrique Iesu mutuae
dat caritatis praemia.
Yet how their bosoms constant burn
and deeper ardors prove
in love of Christ, whose eyes return
tokens of mutual love.
Sic fiat, ut nos caritas
iungat perenni foedere,
pacemque alens domesticam
amara vitae temperet!
O then, in all the homes of earth,
be Love the bond of life:
May it enthrone at every hearth
the peace that husheth strife.
Iesu, tuis oboediens
qui factus es parentibus,
cum Patre summo ac Spiritu
semper sibi sit gloria.
All praise to Thee, O Jesus,
who parents dost obey;
Praise to the sovereign Father
and Paraclete for aye.

From the Roman Breviary. Translation by Rt. Rev. Msgr. Hugh Thomas Henry (1862-1946).

O Lux beata caelitum
O Highest Hope of Mortals

Written by Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903). This hymn is used for Vespers on the Feast of the Holy Family.
O LUX beata caelitum
et summa spes mortalium
Iesu, o cui domestica
arrisit orto caritas:
O HIGHEST Hope of mortals,
blest Light of Saints above,
O Jesu, on whose boyhood
home smiled with kindly love;
Maria, dives gratia,
o sola quae casto potes
fovere Iesum pectore,
cum lacte donans oscula:
And thou whose bosom nursed Him,
O Mary, highly graced,
whose breast gave milk to Jesus,
whose arms thy God embraced.
Tuque ex vetustis partibus
delecte custos Virginis,
dulci patris quem nomine
divina Proles invocat:
And thou of all men chosen
to guard the Virgin's fame,
to whom God's Son refused not
a Father's gracious name.
De stirpe Iesse nobili
nati in salutem gentium,
audite nos, qui supplices
vestras ad aras sistimus.
Born for nation's healing,
of Jesse's lineage high,
behold the supplicants kneeling,
o hear the sinner's cry!
Dum sol redux ad vesperum
rebus nitorem detrahit,
nos hic manentes intimo
ex corde vota fundimus.
The sun returned to evening,
dusks all the twilight air:
we, lingering here before you,
pour out our heartfelt prayer.
Qua vestra sedes floruit
virtutis omnis gratia,
hanc detur in domesticis
referre posse moribus.
Your home was as a garden
made glad with fairest flowers;
may life thus blossom sweetly
in every home of ours.
Iesu, tuis oboediens
qui factus es parentibus,
cum Patre summo ac Spiritu
semper tibi sit gloria.
All praise to Thee, O Jesus,
who parents dost obey;
praise to the sovereign Father
and Paraclete for aye.

From the Breviary and Liturgia Horarum. Translation from the Marquis of Bute's Breviary.

Sacra iam splendent
A Thousand Lights Their Glory Shed

Written by Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903). This hymn is used for the Office of the Readings on the Feast of the Holy Family.

SACRA iam splendent decorata lychnis
templa, iam sertis redimitur ara,
et pio fumant redolentque acerrae
thuris honore.
A THOUSAND lights their glory shed
on shrines and altars garlanded:
while swinging censers dusk the air
with perfumed prayer.
Num iuvet Summo Geniti Parente
regios ortus celebrare cantu?
num domus David, decora et vetustae
nomina gentis?
And shall we sing the ancestry
of Jesus, Son of God most High?
Or the heroic names retrace
of David's race?
Gratius nobis memorare parvum
Nazarae tectum, tenuemque cultum
gratius Iesu tacitam referre
carmine vitam.
Sweeter is lowly Nazareth,
where Jesus drew His childish breath-
sweeter the singing that endears
His hidden years.
Nili ab extremis peregrinus oris,
angeli ductu, propere remigrat
multa perpessus Puer, et paterno
limine sospes.
An Angel leads the pilgrim band
from Egypt to their native land,
where Jesus clings to Joseph's arm,
secure from harm.
Arte, qua Ioseph, humili excolendus
abdito Iesus iuvenescit aevo,
seque fabrilis socium laboris
adiicit ultro.
And the Child grew in wisdom's ken
and years and grace with God and men;
and in His father's humble art
took share and part.
Irriget sudor mea membra, dixit,
antequam sparso madeant cruore:
haec quoque humano generi expiando
poena luatur.
"With toil," saith He, "my limbs are wet,
prefiguring the bloody sweat:"
Ah, how He bears our chastisement
with sweet content!
Assidet Nato pia Mater almo,
assidet Sponso bona nupta, felix
si potest curas relevare fessis
munere amico.
At Joseph's bench, at Jesus' side,
the Mother sits, the Virgin-Bride:
Happy, if she may cheer their hearts
with loving arts.
O neque expertes opere et laboris,
nec mali ignari, miseros iuvate,
quos reluctantes per acuta rerum
urget egestas.
O Blessed Three! who felt the sting
of want and toil and suffering,
pity the needy and the obscure
lot of the poor.
Demite his fastus, quibus ampla splendet
faustitas, mentem date rebus aquam:
quotquot implorant columen, benigno
cernite vultu.
Banish the pride of life from all
whom ample wealth and joys befall:
Be every heart with love repaid
that seeks your aid.
Sit tibi, Iesu, decus atque virtus,
sancta qui vitae documenta praebes,
quique cum summo Genitore et almo
flamine regnas.
Glory to Thee, O Iesu dear,
model of holy living hear!
Who reign'st, with Sire and Holy Ghost
oe'er heaven's host.

From the Roman Breviary. Translation by Rt. Rev. Msgr. Hugh Thomas Henry (1862-1946).