The Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a famous Marian prayer. Also known as the Litany of Loreto, the prayer asks Mary for her intercession.

Basilica del Santuario di Loreto by Rabanus Flavus (2012)
Basilica del Santuario di Loreto by Rabanus Flavus (2012)

The litany’s first recorded usage is at the Shrine of Our Lady of Loreto in Italy. The earliest known usage was in 1558 and Pope Sixtus V approved it for public recitation in 1587.

The Annunciation by El Greco (c.1590 - 1603)
The Annunciation by El Greco (c.1590 – 1603)

The litany calls Mary many different titles when asking for her intercession. At the time, many litanies were popular. But, the Vatican limited which ones the faithful could use for public worship. This helped fight heresies that began to appear in some.

What is a Litany?

The Directory on Popular Piety from the Vatican describes the litany’s structure:

“Litanies are to be found among the prayers to the Blessed Virgin recommended by the Magisterium. These consist in a long series of invocations of Our Lady, which follow in a uniform rhythm, thereby creating a stream of prayer characterized by insistent praise and supplication. The invocations, generally very short, have two parts: the first of praise (Virgo clemens), the other of supplication (Ora pro nobis).”1

Madonna of the Rose Bower by Stefan Lochner (c. 1448)
Madonna of the Rose Bower by Stefan Lochner (c. 1448)

Additions to the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The litany developed over time as Mary gained more official titles. Pope Pius VII added “Queen of All Saints” after returning from Napoleon’s imprisoning him. The Church added “Queen Conceived without Original Sin” in 1846. This was a few years before the Church declared the Immaculate Conception a dogma2. (Link)

More include:

  • “Queen of the Most Holy Rosary” in 1883
  • “Mother of Good Counsel” in 1903 by Pope Leo XIII
  • “Queen of Peace” by Benedict XV in 1917
  • “Queen assumed into Heaven” in 1950 by Pope Venerable Pius XII
  • “Mother of the Church” in 1980 by Pope St. John Paul II
  • “Queen of Families” in 1995 by Pope St. John Paul II

The Prayer

Lord, have mercy. Christ have mercy.

Lord have mercy. Christ hear us. Christ graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.

Holy Mother of God, pray for us.

Holy Virgin of Virgins, pray for us.

Mother of Christ, pray for us.

Mother of divine grace, pray for us.

Mother most pure, pray for us.

Mother most chaste, pray for us.

Mother inviolate, pray for us.

Mother undefiled, pray for us.

Mother most amiable, pray for us.

Mother most admirable, pray for us.

Mother of good Counsel, pray for us.

Mother of our Creator, pray for us.

Mother of our Savior, pray for us.

Virgin most prudent, pray for us.

Virgin most venerable, pray for us.

Virgin most renowned, pray for us.

Virgin most powerful, pray for us.

Virgin most merciful, pray for us.

Virgin most faithful, pray for us.

Mirror of justice, pray for us.

Seat of wisdom, pray for us.

Cause of our joy, pray for us.

Spiritual vessel, pray for us.

Vessel of honor, pray for us.

Singular vessel of devotion, pray for us.

Mystical rose, pray for us.

Tower of David, pray for us.

Tower of ivory, pray for us.

House of gold, pray for us.

Ark of the covenant, pray for us.

Gate of heaven, pray for us.

Morning star, pray for us.

Health of the sick, pray for us.

Refuge of sinners, pray for us.

Comforter of the afflicted, pray for us.

Help of Christians, pray for us.

Queen of Angels, pray for us.

Queen of Patriarchs, pray for us.

Queen of Prophets, pray for us.

Queen of Apostles, pray for us.

Queen of Martyrs, pray for us.

Queen of Confessors, pray for us.

Queen of Virgins, pray for us.

Queen of all Saints, pray for us.

Queen conceived without original sin, pray for us.

Queen assumed into heaven, pray for us.

Queen of the most holy Rosary, pray for us.

Queen of families, pray for us.

Queen of peace, pray for us.

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.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.

Let us pray.

Grant, we beseech thee,

O Lord God,

that we, your servants,

may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body;

and by the intercession of the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin,

may be delivered from present sorrow,

and obtain eternal joy.

Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

  1. Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy
  2. Rev. John F. Sullivan, The Externals of the Catholic Church, P.J. Kenedy & Sons (1918) pp. 273-79.