Listening to the names of the Saints contained in this litany,
we realize how easy it is to forget
how many have sacrificed their lives so that we can have
the word of Christ and have Jesus in our hearts.
We hear the names of Saints and Martyrs in everyday life
ignorant of the suffering they endured
and continue to endure
to spread the Good News.
(I began with the books Jesus Freaks and Extreme Devotion
to begin to understand ancient and modern day believers,
who sacrificed everything for Christ.)
A litany is a prayer of responsive petition
asking for God's aid.
The Litany of the Saints is one of the oldest of the litanies,
with forms of it appearing as early as the third century in the East.
The form prayed today was largely in place
by the time of Pope Gregory I (c. 540-604).
The saints included in a litany can vary according to
time, place, and patronage.
The prayer begins with a call for mercy from
God the Father,
God the Son, and
God the Holy Spirit.
(The manuscript illustrated here begins with this invocation;
the medieval Latin is heavily abbreviated.)
In addition to praying to God, the prayer continues
asking for the intercession of a series of Saints.
The ethereal, indeed, heavenly beauty of Gregorian chant
transports us out of this mundane world.
The image used for this post comes from a
Psalter, Germany, 12th century,
British Library, Harley MS 2890, f. 198v.
Lyrics with translation can be found on Litanies page: