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Agony in the Garden

File:Christ in Gethsemane.jpg
Jesus praying to God the Father in Gethsemane, Heinrich Hofmann, 1890.

The Agony in the Garden refers to the events in the life of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament, between the Farewell Discourse at the conclusion of the Last Supper and Jesus' arrest.[1]

Scriptural depiction

File:El Greco 019.jpg
Agony in the Garden by El Greco

According to all four Gospels, immediately after the Last Supper, Jesus took a walk to pray. Each Gospel offers a slightly different account with regards to narrative details. Matthew and Mark identify this place of prayer as Gethsemane. Jesus was accompanied by the Apostles Peter, John and James, whom he asked to stay awake and pray. He moved "a stone's throw away" from them, where He felt overwhelming sadness and anguish, and said "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it." Then, a little while later, He said, "If this cup cannot pass by, but I must drink it, your will be done!" (Matthew 26:42). He said this prayer three times, checking on the three apostles between each prayer and finding them asleep. He commented: "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak". An angel came from heaven to strengthen him. During his agony as he prayed, "his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down upon the ground".(Luke 22:44).


File:Agony in the Garden.jpg
Jesus praying in the garden after the Last Supper, while the disciples sleep, by Andrea Mantegna c. 1460

In Roman Catholic tradition the Agony in the Garden is the first Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary and the First Station of the Scriptural Way of The Cross. Catholic tradition includes specific prayers and devotions as acts of reparation for the sufferings of Jesus during His Agony and Passion. These Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ do not involve a petition for a living or dead beneficiary, but aim to repair the sins against Jesus. Some such prayers are provided in the Raccolta Catholic prayer book (approved by a Decree of 1854, and published by the Holy See in 1898) which also includes prayers as Acts of Reparation to the Virgin Mary.[2][3][4][5]

In his encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor on reparations, Pope Pius XI called Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ a duty for Catholics and referred to them as "some sort of compensation to be rendered for the injury" with respect to the sufferings of Jesus.[6]

Catholic tradition holds that the sweating of blood was literal and not figurative.[7]

Holy Hour

In the Catholic tradition, Matthew 26:40 is the basis of the Holy Hour devotion for Eucharistic adoration.[8] In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus spoke to his disciples, saying "My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me." (Matthew 26:38) Returning to the disciples after prayer, he found them asleep and in Matthew 26:40 he asked Peter:

"So, could you men not keep watch with me for an hour?".[8]

The tradition of the Holy Hour devotion goes back to 1673 when Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque stated that she had a vision of Jesus in which she was instructed to spend an hour every Thursday night to meditate on the sufferings of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.[9][10][11]

Artistic depictions

File:The Agony in the Garden William Blake.jpg
William Blake's The Agony in the Garden completed in 1799-1800. The painting is Tempera on tinned iron and 27cm x 38cm. The tempera blackens when exposed to sunlight for long periods of time (hence the shadowed image). Currently the painting is held by the Tate[12]

There are a number of different depictions in art of the Agony in the Garden, here are a few:

See also


  1. ^ Bible Exposition Commentary, Vol. 1: New Testament by Warren W. Wiersbe 1992 ISBN 1-56476-030-8 pages 268-269
  2. ^ 12px Slater, Thomas (1911). "Reparation". Catholic Encyclopedia 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 
  3. ^ 12px Delany, Francis Xavier (1911). "Raccolta". Catholic Encyclopedia 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 
  4. ^ Joseph P. Christopher et al., 2003 The Raccolta St Athanasius Press ISBN 978-0-9706526-6-9
  5. ^ Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 0-87973-910-X
  6. ^ Miserentissimus Redemptor Encyclical of Pope Pius XI
  7. ^ 12px Gillis, James Martin (1907). "Agony of Christ". Catholic Encyclopedia 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 
  8. ^ a b Peter Stravinskas, 1998, Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Encyclopedia, OSV Press ISBN 0-87973-669-0 page 498
  9. ^ Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 0-87973-910-X page 240
  10. ^ The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality by Gordon S. Wakefield 1983 ISBN 0-664-22170-X page 347
  11. ^ 12px Doll, Sister Mary Bernard (1910). "St. Margaret Mary Alacoque". Catholic Encyclopedia 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 
  12. ^ The Agony in the Garden c.1799-1800. Tate Britain, London. Retrieved 14 September 2013.