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Marian Prayers & Litanies

Ave Maria

The first part of the prayer can be found in the liturgies of St. James of Antioch and St. Mark of Alexandria (4th or 5th century). It is also recorded in the ritual of St. Severus (538 AD). It only came to the West by the 7th century (Rome). The great popularity of the phrase by the 11th century is due to the writings of St. Peter Damian (1007-1072) and Hermann of Tournai (d.c. 1147), two crusaders (...). Later, probably by Pope Urban IV around the year 1262, Jesus' name was inserted at the end of the two passages, as to be sure that no other interpretation would "turn up!" The second half of the prayer (Holy Mary..) can be traced back to the 15th century, where it is found in the writings of St. Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444 AD) and the Carthusians, the writings of the Servites and at some places in Germany.

The Text

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death. Amen.


The earliest genuine text of a Marian litany thus far known is in a twelfth-century codex in the Mainz Library. It originated at the highlight of women mysticism and the similarities with the ancient Mother hymns is striking. The original ones were very lengthly, so in the course of two centuries new invocations were composed, showing a better arrangement. A litany of this new form is that of a codex in the Library of St. Mark's, Venice, dating from the end of the thirteenth or the beginning of the fourteenth century. It is found in many manuscripts, proving that this text was especially well known and favourably received. Here is an example:

"Holy Mary, Mother and Spouse (...) of Christ, pray for me; Holy Mary, Mother inviolate; Holy Mary, Temple of the Holy Ghost; Holy Mary, Queen of Heaven; Holy Mary, Mistress of the Angels; Holy Mary, Star of Heaven; Holy Mary, Gate of Paradise; Holy Mary, Mother of True Counsel; Holy Mary, Gate of Celestial Life; Holy Mary, Our Advocate; Holy Mary, brightest Star of Heaven; Holy Mary, Fountain of True Wisdom; Holy Mary, unfailing Rose; Holy Mary, Beautly of Angels; Holy Mary, Flower of Patriarchs; Holy Mary, Desire of Prophets; Holy Mary, Treasure of Apostles; Holy Mary, Praise of Martyrs; Holy Mary, Glorification of Priests; Holy Mary, Immaculate Virgin; Holy Mary, Splendour of Virgins and Example of Chastity", etc.

Litany of The Blessed Virgin Mary
(Litany of Loreto)

Holy Mary, pray for us.*
Holy Mother of God,
Holy Virgin of virgins,
Mother of Christ,
Mother of the Church,
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 Savior,
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 honor,
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,
Comforter of the afflicted,
Help of Christians,
Queen of angels,
Queen of partiarchs,
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 families
Queen of peace.

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