Why we genuflect during the Last Gospel

Ever wondered why we make a genuflection during the Credo, Last Gospel and Angelus when the words “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14) are being said?

The origin of this practice goes way back. In the 13th century, France was plagued by the heresy of the Cathars, often referred to the Albigensians. Amongst other things, the Cathars rejected the divinity of Jesus Christ and said He was only human. The saintly Louis IX, King of France, was so distraught over their false teachings that one day during Holy Mass at the royal chapel, he knelt in reparation during the words “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” at the last Gospel, since this phrase from the first chapter of St. John’s gospel is a radical testimony to the divinity of Our Lord, and thus a rejection of the Cathar heresy.

The genuflection of King St. Louis made such a profound impression upon all that attended, that soon the entire royal chapel and shortly afterwards the whole of France started making the genuflection. Finally the practice was instituted by the Holy See as an official part of the liturgy for the Universal Church.

Semper Excelsius is a website for the defense of the Catholic faith through instruction and informative articles. Its focus is on explaining the rich history and traditions of the holy Roman Catholic Church, while defending her teachings against false assumptions and doctrinal errors.

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