Archconfraternity of the Holy Family

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The Archconfraternity of the Holy Family is a Roman Catholic archconfraternity, founded in 1844 in Belgium.


This archconfraternity owes its origin to Henri Belletable, an officer in the Engineers' Corps, Liege, Belgium. religion. He resolved to establish a society, which he would divide into companies of twelve in military fashion. The first reunion was held on the evening of Whit-Monday, 1844, in the room of a carpenter. When their numbers outgrew the room, the Redemptorists placed an oratory at their disposal, and Victor-Auguste-Isidor Deschamps, Belletable's director, took up the work.[1]

He brought it to the notice of Bishop von Bommel, who gave it his formal approval on 13 February 1845, erected it into a confraternity with the title of Holy Family, 7 April following, and remained its lifelong promoter. The statutes then drawn up were later presented to Pope Pius IX, who approved them by Briefs dated 20 and 23 April 1847, raised the society to the rank of an archconfraternity, enriched it with indulgences, and made the rector of the Redemptorists' Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Liege, its director.[1]

The development spread from Belgium to the Netherlands, and finally throughout the Catholic Church. Pope Leo XIII, when he established his own association of the Holy Family and suppressed all other associations of the same title, wished this archconfraternity to continue its work.[1]

Popular culture[edit]

In his Pulitzer Prize winning memoir Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt writes of his experience in the Confraternity in Limerick, Ireland, as a schoolboy.



 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Archconfraternity of the Holy Family". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton. The entry cites:

    • Lejeune, L'Archiconfrerie de la Sainte Famille, son histoire et ses fruits (Tournai, 1894);
    • Vie du Capitaine Belletable (Tournai, 1898);
    • Manual of the Archconfraternity of the Holy Family (5th ed., Limerick);
    • History of the Limerick Holy Family (Limerick, 1893)