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The Litany of Loreto

The Litany of Loreto is one of the most well-known litanies. Prayed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, it finds its origins in devotion to the house where Mary was born.

The Annunciation

The Litany of Loreto arose at the sanctuary of Loreto, which is situated near Ancona in Italy. It is believed that the house where the Blessed Virgin was born, and where the Angel Gabriel announced the Incarnation of the Word to her, is now situated there. According to pious tradition, the Holy House was transported by angels from the Holy Land to Italy in the late thirteenth century. Existing accounts of this event date from the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. The account of the translation of the Holy House has been accepted as worthy of belief by numerous Popes, and it was visited by saints including Francis Xavier, Francis Borgia, Charles Borromeo, and Francis de Sales. The house now stands inside a Basilica which was built around it.

The Litany of Loreto follows the usual form for litanies, beginning with Kyrie Eleison, and then invocations of the persons of the Holy Trinity. The Blessed Virgin is then addressed as Mother, Virgin, and Queen, as well as with a variety of titles, expressing her qualities and power of intercession. Most of the titles given to Our Lady in the Litany find an echo in the works of the Fathers of the early Church. There were many litanies in use in the sixteenth century, but they were gradually superseded by the Litany of Loreto, following approval by Pope Sixtus V in 1587.

The Feast of Our Lady of Loreto is celebrated in certain dioceses on 10 December, and in 1920 Pope Benedict XV declared Our Lady of Loreto the patroness of airmen. Over time invocations have been added to the Litany, with the most recent being “Queen of the family,” at the instigation of Pope John Paul II, and both he and Pope Benedict XVI have visited the shrine during their pontificates.

Litany of Loreto

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

God the Father of heaven, have mercy upon us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God the Holy Spirit,
Holy Trinity, one God,

Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God,
Holy Virgin of virgins,
Mother of Christ,
Mother of divine grace,
Mother most pure,
Mother most chaste,
Mother inviolate,
Mother undefiled,
Mother most amiable,
Mother most admirable,
Mother of good counsel,
Mother of our Creator,
Mother of our Saviour,
Virgin most prudent,
Virgin most venerable,
Virgin most renowned,
Virgin most powerful,
Virgin most merciful,
Virgin most faithful,
Mirror of justice,
Seat of wisdom,
Cause of our joy,
Spiritual vessel,
Vessel of honour,
Singular vessel of devotion,
Mystical rose,
Tower of David,
Tower of ivory,
House of gold,
Ark of the covenant,
Gate of heaven,
Morning star,
Health of the sick,
Refuge of sinners,
Comfort of the afflicted,
Help of Christians,
Queen of angels,
Queen of patriarchs,
Queen of prophets,
Queen of apostles,
Queen of martyrs,
Queen of confessors,
Queen of virgins,
Queen of all saints,
Queen conceived without original sin,
Queen assumed into heaven,
Queen of the most holy Rosary,
Queen of the family,
Queen of peace,

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world: Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world: Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world: Have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, unto us Thy servants, that we may rejoice in continual health of mind and body; and, by the glorious intercession of blessed Mary ever Virgin, may be delivered from present sadness, and enter into the joy of Thine eternal gladness. Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

The Litany of Loreto can be found in multiple CTS publications, including the Marian Prayer Book, a treasury of prayers to Mary which includes all the most familiar prayers, prayers from approved Marian Apparitions, Marian prayers from the Eastern Church, and Marian Hymns.

To discover more prayers and devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary, order your copy of Marian Prayer Book.