Today in Catholic History – Pope Sixtus V and the Holy Name of Jesus

On 2 July 1587, in order to increase devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, Pope Sixtus V granted an indulgence of fifty days to any who would greet one another with the words “Praise be to Jesus Christ” and the answer “Forever. Amen”. In Latin, this would be “Laudetur Jesus Christus” “In saecula. Amen“. In German, this would be “Gelobt sei Jesus Christus” “In Ewigkeit“. The indulgence also served to strengthen Catholic spirituality as part of the Catholic Counter-Reformation.

In 1728, Pope Benedict XIII would increase the indulgence to one hundred days. While this was again designed to increase the devotion of the Holy Name of Jesus, the greeting would also become commonly among Catholics in German speaking Europe not only as the regular method of greeting but also of identifying Protestants. For Protestant Germans, to use the greeting would mean recognizing the authority of the pope; on the other hand, to refuse to use the greeting ran the risk of being denounced to the local authorities. Indeed, the recorded responses of Protestant Germans to being greeted with the words Geolobt sei Jesus Christus ran the gamut from strict silence to the extremely vulgar.

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