THE LITANY OF
THE SAINTS

Picture of the Holy Family of Saints courtesy of Wikipedia

The Litany of the saints is one of the oldest Catholic prayers still in use. It was prayed in earlier forms in the procession of St. Mamertus, the Bishop of Vienna, in the fifth century, and in St. Gregory the Great’s Litania Septiformis ("sevenfold procession") of the clergy and the faithful, which followed a terrible spate of floods and disease in Rome in 590. Its stature is such that it is one of only six litanies authorized for use in public services by the Holy See.

The Litany of the Saints is often recited or sung in a shorter form than the one given below (which is itself an abridged version!) on All Saints Day (naturally enough!). It is a moving appeal for help from many of our greatest saints, as well as for divine protection.

The Litany of the Saints is also often a special part of both the Easter Vigil (the mass in which those who have received instruction in our faith are baptized) and Ordination Masses for priests, deacons, and bishops, as well.

It can be prayed alone or in a group setting. (As in a church service, the group responds to a leader with the italicized words below. Each response in the Litany of the Saints is repeated after each line until a change appears.)

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us. (repeat after each line)
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God the Holy Ghost,
Holy Trinity, one God,
Holy Mary, pray for us (repeat after each line)
Holy Mother of God,
Holy Virgin of virgins,
St. Michael,
St. Gabriel,
St. Raphael,
All you holy angels and archangels,
All you holy orders of blessed spirits,
St. John the Baptist,
St. Joseph,
All you holy patriarchs and prophets,
St. Peter,
St. Paul,
St. Andrew,
St. James,
St. John,
St. Thomas,
St. James,
St. Philip,
St. Bartholomew,
St. Matthew,
St. Simon,
St. Thaddeus,
St. Matthias,
St. Barnabas,
St. Luke,
St. Mark,
All you holy apostles and evangelists,
All you holy disciples of our Lord,
All you holy innocents,
St. Stephen,
St. Lawrence,
St. Vincent,
SS. Fabian and Sebastian,
SS. John and Paul,
SS. Cosmas and Damian,
SS. Gervase and Protase,
All you holy Martyrs,
St. Sylvester,
St. Gregory,
St. Ambrose,
St. Augustine,
St. Jerome,
St. Martin,
St. Nicholas,
All you holy bishops and confessors,
All you holy doctors,
St. Anthony,
St. Benedict,
St. Bernard,
St. Dominic,
St. Francis,
All you holy priests and levites,
All you holy monks and hermits,
St. Mary Magdalen,
St. Agatha,
St. Lucy,
St. Agnes,
St. Cecilia,
St. Catherine,
St. Anastasia,
All you holy virgins and widows,
All you holy men and women, saints of God, intercede for us.
Be merciful, spare us, O Lord.
Be merciful, graciously hear us, O Lord.
From all evil, deliver us, O Lord. (repeat after each line)
From all sin,
From Thy wrath,
From a sudden and unprovided death,
From the deciets of the devil,
From anger, and hatred, and all ill-will,
From the spirit of fornication,
From lightning and tempest,
From the scourge of earthquakes,
From plague, famine and war,
From everlasting death,
By the mystery of Thy holy incarnation,
By Thy coming,
By Thy nativity,
By Thy baptism and holy fasting,
By Thy Cross and Passion,
By Thy Death and burial,
By Thy holy Resurrection,
By Thine admirable Ascension,
By the coming of the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete.
On the day of judgment.
We sinners, we beseech Thee, hear us (repeat after each line)
That Thou wouldst spare us,
That Thou wouldst pardon us,
That Thou wouldst bring us to true penance,
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to govern and preserve Thy Holy Church,
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to preserve our Apostolic Prelate, and all ecclesiastical orders in holy religion,
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to humble the enemies of holy Church,
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to give peace and true concord to Christian kings and princes,
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to grant peace and unity to all Christian peoples,
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to ring back to the unity of the Church all who have strayed away, and lead to the light of the Gospel all unbelievers,
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to confirm and preserve us in Thy holy service,
That Thou wouldst lift up our minds to heavenly desires,
That Thou wouldst render eternal blessings to all our benefactors,
That Thou wouldst deliver our souls, and the souls of our brethren, relatives, and benefactors from eternal damnation,
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to give and preserve the fruits of the earth,
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to grant eternal rest to all the faithful departed,
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe graciously to hear us, Son of God,
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Our Father, etc. (inaudibly)

V. And lead us not into temptation
R. But deliver us from evil.

The Litany of the Saints reminds us of a moving line about them from one of the Eucharistic prayers to God the Father said at Mass: “May their merits and prayers gain us Your constant help and protection.”

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