Enjoyed by Millions since 1935
The Ave Maria Hour first aired on April 26, 1935, on radio station WOR. It was presented by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement to help the humanitarian work of St. Christopher’s Inn, and during that first show, Servant of God Father Paul of Graymoor talked about the charity involved in caring for the men of the Inn. In 1937, it was estimated that nearly 1 million listeners were tuning in each week, which resulted in large pilgrimages coming to Graymoor.
The popular Ave Maria Hour continued until 1969, encouraging and entertaining listeners. It was heard on more than 350 stations as well as on the Armed Forces Radio Service. Recorded in a studio in New York City and on the grounds of Graymoor, these dramatizations of the lives of the saints, stories from the Gospel, and inspiring accounts of faith received many awards for religious radio programs sponsored by the American Exhibition of Educational Radio and Television programs of Ohio State University. It received the Golden Bell Award in 1959, presented by Ed Sullivan on live television.
The library of Ave Maria Hour broadcasts is extensive, with over 2,500 episodes on 12” and 16” vinyl records stored in the Friars’ climate-controlled Archive Center at Graymoor. In 2008, we began restoring and converting the recordings to a digital format, starting with the much-in- demand series The Life of Christ, which consisted of 44 shows.
These days, on Friday of each week, the Friars stream these professionally scripted and acted half-hour installments with an opening message from Fr. Bob Warren, SA, introducing this treasure of old-time radio dramas to a new generation of the faithful. Episodes that have already streamed can be accessed on the digital archives and subscribed to and downloaded on ITunes.