May Litany of Mary of Nazareth

From the Litany of 1544

The earliest authorised form of prayer in the English language was the Litany of 1544. It was composed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, and followed the great tradition of the Church in providing a litany of prayer to be used at various times, and especially in times of national difficulty.

Cranmer’s litany of 1544 continued to be used, in a slightly modified version for centuries, and is still found from time to time in worship in Anglican churches. As time went on more liturgies were introduced, often for specific occasions. Some were written as hymns, to make singing easier.

Some of us may have come across, and prayed the traditional ‘Litany to the Blessed Virgin Mary’ which dates from the Middle Ages. To say it carries on a beautiful tradition begun centuries ago. However, some of the words used seem strange or even out of date to us today. Titles such as ‘mystical rose’ or ‘tower of ivory’ can be difficult to understand or explain.

Modern litanies are, of course, written. In 1987 Pax Christi, a Christian movement dedicated to justice and peace, issued what has now become a popular litany The Litany of Mary of Nazareth. It was written by two Benedictine nuns to express the needs and prayers of contemporary women and men.

This May, Mary’s Month, at St Chrysostom’s we will be using this litany, and words from it, as a focus for prayer and devotion. Each day a bidding from the Litany will be offered in our facebook page and people are invited to respond there with prayer requests arising in their thoughts from those words from the litany. In addition a variety of BAME women from among us will be contributing as blog post based on words of their choice from the Litany.

The Litany of Mary of Nazareth

Glory to you, God our Creator
Breathe into us new life, new meaning.

Glory to you, God our Saviour
Lead us in the way of peace and justice.

Glory to you, healing Spirit
Transform us to empower others.

Response to the following: Be our guide.

Mary, wellspring of peace
Model of strength
Model of gentleness
Model of trust
Model of courage
Model of patience
Model of risk


Model of openness
Model of perseverance

Response to the following: Pray for us.

Mother of the liberator
Mother of the homeless
Mother of the dying
Mother of the nonviolent
Mother of widowed mothers
Mother of unwed mothers
Mother of a political prisoner
Mother of the condemned
Mother of the executed criminal

Response to the following: Lead us to life.

Oppressed woman
Liberator of the oppressed
Marginalized woman
Comforter of the afflicted
Cause of our joy

Sign of contradiction
Breaker of bondage
Political refugee
Seeker of sanctuary
First disciple
Sharer in Christ’s passion
Seeker of God’s will
Witness to Christ’s resurrection

Response to the following: Empower us.

Woman of mercy
Woman of faith
Woman of contemplation
Woman of vision
Woman of wisdom and understanding
Woman of grace and truth
Woman, pregnant with hope
Woman, centred in God

Our Lady of welcome pray for us

Our Lady of hope, pray for us

Let us pray:

Mary, Queen of Peace, we entrust our lives to you. Shelter us from war, hatred and oppression. Teach us to live in peace, to educate ourselves for peace. Inspire us to act justly, to revere all God has made. Root peace firmly in our hearts and in our world. Amen.

About stchrysostoms

St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester, UK. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community rejoicing in our Anglo Catholic tradition, where people of many differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2364267899/
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