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Catholic Dictionary




Believed to be the most ancient of the litanies used in the Church. Already prescribed by Pope Gregory the Great in 590 for a public procession of thanksgiving at the end of a plague that had devastated Rome. In a somewhat different form, it was mentioned by St. Basil in the fourth century. Called the Litany of the Saints because it is made up of petitions addressed to various saints of different classes, and to Mary, the Queen of the Saints. In its present form, after invoking forty-eight individual saints and thirteen groups of saints, the litany begs for deliverance from a dozen evils and makes some thirty intercessions, including "that you would deign to humble the enemies of Holy Church" and "grant peace and unity to all Christian people."