Skip to main content

Holy Spirit, Devotion to


In the Christian Era has its roots in the Old Testament, although among the Hebrews the Spirit (ruah, breath, wind) was regarded more as a manifestation of the divine presence and activity than as a divine person. The operations of the Spirit (1 Cor ch. 14) were not uncommon in the apostolic Church, but these provide no clear evidence of the recognition of the personal distinction of the Holy Spirit or of the tribute of a special devotion. By the mid-fourth century Catholic doctrine regarding the Holy Spirit was explained fully and clearly, but for long this resulted in no widespread popular devotion. Among the elite, however, devotion to the Holy Spirit, especially as Sanctifier, existed from early times. From the earliest Christian writers, both Greek and Latin, to the present, there is a rich and unbroken tradition of devotion to the Holy Spirit that is supported by Christian art and archeology, hymnology (e.g., veni sancte spiritus, veni cre ator spiritus), and liturgy. In the Middle Ages popular devotion to the Holy Spirit was given an impetus with the rise of confraternities dedicated to Him, notably those connected with the Hospitalers of the Holy Spirit (see p. brune, Histoire de l'ordre Hospitalier du Saint-Esprit, Paris 1892). In the 17th century there was a remarkable surge of popular devotion to the Holy Spirit (see Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique. Doctrine et histoire, ed. M. Viller et al. [Paris 1932] 5: 160410), and in recent times the encyclicals of Leo XIII (Provida Matris, 1895, and Divinum illud munus, 1897) and of Plus XII (Mystici Corporis, 1948) have been effectual in promoting devotion to the Holy Spirit among the faithful.

Bibliography: h. b. swete, The Holy Spirit in the New Testament (London 1909); The Holy Spirit in the Ancient Church (London 1912). h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclercq and h. i. marrou (Paris 190753) 5.1:525529. j. ruthcÉ, L'Élite et la dévotion au Saint-Esprit (Gembloux 1926). f. sÜhling, Die Taube als religiöses Symbol im Christlichen Altertum (Freiburg 1930). e. l. heston, The Spiritual Life and the Role of the Holy Ghost in the Sanctification of the Soul as Described in the Works of Didymus of Alexandria (St. Meinrad, Ind. 1938). p. galtier, Le Saint-Esprit en nous d'après les Pères grecs (Rome 1946). s. tromp, De Spiritu Sancto anima corporis, mystici, 2 v. (Rome 1932). a. gardeil, Le Saint-Esprit dans la vie chrétienne (4th ed. Paris 1950). t. maertens, Le Souffle et l'Esprit de Dieu (Paris 1955). j. isaac, La Révélation progressive des personnes divines (Paris 1960). g. lefebvre, L'Esprit de Dieu dans la sainte liturgie (Paris 1958). f. vandenbroucke, Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique. Doctrine et histoire, ed. m. viller et al. (Paris 1932) 4.2:131618.

[m. f. laughlin]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Holy Spirit, Devotion to." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . 25 Apr. 2019 <>.

"Holy Spirit, Devotion to." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . (April 25, 2019).

"Holy Spirit, Devotion to." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved April 25, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.