Home Forums All Things Catholic How do you feel about litanies?

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    When I was in Catholic grade school and even in CCD classes, we would often pray various litanies. I am curious to see if others have had much experiences with a litany.

    Personally, even though they were kind of repetitive, I enjoyed them for some reason, but I can’t quite put my finger on it right now.

    What do you think?


    Define what a litany is. I’m sure I’ve done one, but I just can’t recall.


    I am not sure if I can give a definition but I know one when I hear one. This is part of a novena I am praying during Lent.

    The Litany of the Saints
    For the Poor Souls
    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.
    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,*
    Holy Mother of God,
    Holy Virgin of Virgins,
    St. Michael,
    St. Gabriel,
    St. Raphael,
    All ye holy angels and archangels,
    All ye holy orders of blessed spirits,
    St. John the Baptist,
    St. Joseph,
    All ye holy Patriarchs and Prophets,
    St. Peter.
    *Pray for the faithful departed.
    St. Paul,*
    St. Andrew,
    St. John,
    All ye holy Apostles and Evangelists,
    All ye holy Disciples of our Lord,
    All ye holy Innocents,
    St. Stephen,
    St. Laurence,
    St. Vincent,
    All ye Holy Martyrs,
    St. Sylvester,
    St. Gregory,
    St. Augustine,
    All ye holy bishops and confessors,
    All ye holy doctors,
    St. Anthony,
    St. Benedict,
    St. Dominic,
    St. Francis,
    All ye holy priests and levites,
    All ye holy monks and hermits,
    St. Mary Magdalene,
    St. Agatha,
    St. Lucy,
    St. Agnes,
    St. Cecilia,
    St. Anastacia,
    All ye holy Virgins and Widows,
    All ye holy men and women, Saints of God.
    *Pray for the faithful departed.
    Christ, hear us,
    Christ, graciously hear us,
    Lord, have mercy on us,
    Christ, have mercy on us,
    Lord, have mercy on us,
    Pray for us, all ye saints of God.
    That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


    Yep, that is an example of a litany. As you can see, they are very repetitive, but I kind of liked them.

    I guess in a way it is kind of like a “prayer pep rally” where we call on others (Mary and the saints) to join in our prayer for a specific cause. <img decoding=” title=”Very Happy” />


    So, is the rosary considered a litany?




    I’ll cheat, a defination I found –

    “A prayer consisting of a series of invocations by the priest with responses from the congregation” (WordWeb)

    May be it is a little restrictive using the word “priest”, comments anyone.


    Welcome gerriatric. It seems we have a sudden and growing Australian contingent here. <img decoding=” title=”Very Happy” />

    Ok, so your definition sounds great, but if it [b:1kgiw3cc]is[/b:1kgiw3cc] restrictive to use the word “priest” in that definition, then why wouldn’t a group rosary count as a litany?


    Good survey Berrycat. Like many other forms of worship that used to be around, the litany seems to have gone into decline. It was commonly said after Benediction and the Rosary on the First Friday of the month at our Catholic schools. I guess that as kids we thought it monotonous but in later years on the occasions I have recited one of the litanies, I really wanted to and it became a meaningful prayer. God bless. Morna


    Thanks, Maureen! Yes, since we used to do them in grade school, I miss them sometimes.

    Jon, I am not fully sure, but I believe the rosary is not considered a litany because it is not a series of invocations to various saints or holy people, but only invokes Mary.

    Someone correct me if I am wrong. <img decoding=” title=”Smile” />


    You [b:1742pqeb]are[/b:1742pqeb] wrong. <img decoding=” title=”Wink” />

    It invokes God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit as well.


    yes, thank you I forgot to say that! <img decoding=” title=”Very Happy” /> Good thing I have you!

    I guess the real difference between a litany and the rosary is that a litany invokes many many many saints along with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, and the rosary does not invoke nearly as many saints as a litany. I don’ t know if there is a magic number or anything though were the line of distinction is.


    Well I was poking around through the older posts, from before I joined the board. I found this one.

    The Litany of the Saints is sung (or in the rare incident of a low mass recited) at the ordination of (Sub-deacons) deacons, priests and bishops. Each ordination is done within the context of the Mass. Prior to Vatican II and among some like the FSSP who use still the missal and rites used prior to Vatican II with the permission of Pope Benedict XVI (previously authorized by Pope John Paul) Minor Orders could be confirred outside of the Mass, although it was unusual.to do so outside of the Mass.

    In the Early Church, both the Latin Rite and still today in the Eastern Rites, Litanies are important parts of the Liturgy. From the few existing Liturgical Books and commentaries it seems that the Kyrie (Lord Have Mercy) in the Mass was originally a much longer litany.

    Litany comes from the greek meaning supplication, and was used in Pre-Chrisitan Liturgies in Judaism, and carried over into Catholic worship as was the singing of the psalms in an antiphonal form. While most litanies were probably chanted or sung during processions, which were much more common in the Early Church, they later developed a place outside of liturgical rites proper.

    Here are some more popular litanies….

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