Agony in the Garden

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Christ in Gethsemane, Heinrich Hofmann, 1886

The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane was an episode in the life of Jesus which appears in the four canonical gospels, between the Farewell Discourse at the conclusion of the Last Supper and Jesus' arrest.[1]

Gospel narratives[edit]

According to all four canonical Gospels, immediately after the Last Supper, Jesus took a walk to pray. Each Gospel offers a slightly different account regarding narrative details. The gospels of Matthew and Mark identify this place of prayer as Gethsemane. Jesus was accompanied by three 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; in Latin Vulgate: fiat voluntas tua). He said this prayer thrice, 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).

At the conclusion of the narrative, Jesus accepts that the hour has come for him to be betrayed.[2]


Agony in the Garden, Jesus prays in the garden after the Last Supper while the disciples sleep and Judas leads the mob, 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 (second station in the Philippine version). 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.[3][4][5][6]

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.[7]

Catholic tradition holds that Jesus' sweating of blood was literal and not figurative.[8]

Holy Hour[edit]

In the Catholic tradition, Matthew 26:40 is the basis of the Holy Hour devotion for Eucharistic adoration.[9] In the Gospel of Matthew: "Then He said to them, 'My soul is very sorrowful even to death; remain here, and watch with Me.'" (Matthew 26:38) Coming to the disciples, He found them sleeping and, in Matthew 26:40, asked Peter:

"So, could you not watch with Me one hour?"[9]

The tradition of the Holy Hour devotion dates 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 suffering of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.[6][10][11]

Artistic depictions[edit]

Jesus on the Mount of Olives

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

Medical conjectures[edit]

A medical interpretative hypothesis of hematidrosis has been advanced in the scientific literature, according to which the great mental anguish that Jesus suffered to the point that his sweat became blood is described only by Luke the Evangelist because he was a physician.[12]

See also[edit]

External Links[edit]


  1. ^ Wiersbe, Warren W. (1992). Bible Exposition Commentary, Vol. 1: New Testament. Chariot Victor Publishing. pp. 268–269. ISBN 978-1-56476-030-2.
  2. ^ Matthew 26:46; Mark 14:41; cf. John 18:4: "Knowing all that was going to happen to Him"
  3. ^ Slater, Thomas (1911). "Reparation" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  4. ^ Delany, Francis Xavier (1911). "Raccolta" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  5. ^ Christopher, Joseph P. (2003). The Raccolta. St. Athanasius Press. ISBN 978-0-9706526-6-9.
  6. ^ a b Ball, Ann (2003). Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices. Huntingdon, Indiana: OSV Press. ISBN 978-0-87973-910-2.
  7. ^ Pope Pius XI (8 May 1928). "Miserentissimus Redemptor".
  8. ^ Gillis, James Martin (1907). "Agony of Christ" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  9. ^ a b Stravinskas, Peter (1998). Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Encyclopedia. Huntingdon, Indiana: OSV Press. p. 498. ISBN 978-0-87973-669-9.
  10. ^ Wakefield, Gordon S. (1983). The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. p. 347. ISBN 978-0-664-22170-6.
  11. ^ Doll, Sister Mary Bernard (1910). "St. Margaret Mary Alacoque" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  12. ^ Edwards, William D.; Gabel, Wesley J.; Hosmer, Floyd E. (March 21, 1986). "On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ" (PDF). JAMA. 255 (11): 1455–1463. CiteSeerX doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370110077025. PMID 3512867.