The Litany of Humility: What Is It and Where Did It Come From?

-

The Litany of Humility is a famous Catholic prayer to help with growing in humility. Where did this prayer come from and what can we learn from it?

The Litany of Humility

Here is the most famous version of the Litany of Humility:

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

Where Did the Litany of Humility Come From?

We do not know the true author of the prayer. The most popular form came from Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val y Zulueta, the Secretary of State under Pope St. Pius X. But, his version is not the original.

Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val (c. 1905)
Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val (c. 1905)

The earliest prayer comes from an 1867 book called The Fervent Adorer. The one who compiled the prayers only calls himself a “Roman Catholic Clergyman.” Cardinal del Val likely borrowed from this version of the prayer.

Humility is the greatest virtue to cultivate because it fights against the worst vice, pride. It does not mean thinking less of ourselves, it means thinking of ourselves less. In other words, we see reality as it is.

The Litany of Humility: What Is It and Where Did It Come From?
Trevor Jin
Trevor creates content for the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) in Denver, CO. Before that he served as a FOCUS missionary.