AN ANCIENT IRISH LITANY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN

Taken from Pietas Mariana Britannica – A History of English Devotion to the Most Blessed Virgin Marye Mother of God, by Edmund Waterton, F.S.A. Knight of the Order of Christ, of Rome. London : St. Joseph’s Catholic Library. 1879.

The Irish have a very ancient Litany of our Blessed Ladye, which is preserved in the Leabhar-Mor now deposited in the Royal Irish Academy. Professor O’Curry says that it differs in many ways from the Litany of our Ladye in other languages, clearly showing that although it may be an imitation, it is not a translation. It is much to be regretted that the learned Professor did not add in what languages, and where were to be found the Litanies of our Ladye, of which the Irish Litany might be an imitation.

Professor O’Curry believes this Litany to be as old at least as the middle of the eighth century. No earlier Litany of our Ladye seems to be known ; therefore to the Island of Saints is due the glory of having composed the first Litany of their Immaculate Queen. “The Litany of our Ladye,” says Cardinal Wiseman, “is not a studied prayer, intended to have logical connection of parts, but is a hymn of admiration and love, composed of a succession of epithets expressive of those feelings, the recital of which is broken into, after every phrase, by the people or chorus, begging the prayer of her to whom they are so worthily applied.” “It is a hymn, a song, of affectionate admiration, and, at the same time, of earnest entreaty.” The Cardinal then refers to St. Cyril of Alexandria, and says : “Hear him apostrophize the Blessed Mother of God in the following terms : Hail, Marye, Mother of God, Venerable Treasure of the entire Church, Inextinguishable Lamp, Crown of Virginity, Sceptre of True Doctrine, Indissoluble Temple, Abode of Him Who is Infinite, Mother and Virgin. . . . Thou through whom the Holy Trinity is glorified ; thou through whom the precious Cross is honoured ; thou through whom Heaven exults ; thou through whom angels and archangels rejoice ; thou through whom evil spirits are put to flight. . . . Thou from whom is the oil of gladness ; thou through whom, over the whole world, churches were planted ; thou through whom Prophets spoke ; thou through whom Apostles preached ; thou through whom the dead arise ; thou through whom kings reign, through the Blessed Trinity.” Now here,” continues the Cardinal, “is a Litany not unlike that of Loreto, and we have only to say pray for us after each of the salutations to have a very excellent one. This intercalation would surely not spoil, nor render less natural, or less beautiful, that address of the holy patriarch.” Hence it appears that whilst these and other homilies suggest the formation of a Litany of our Ladye, the Irish were the first who did form a Litany ; that is, a prayer to our Ladye in the shape of what is now understood by a Litany. This old Irish Litany of our Blessed Ladye has an indulgence of one hundred days granted to all who recite it by Pius the Ninth ; it consists of fifty-eight invocations…

The Litany in its entirety is Transcribed from The Ave Maria : A Journal Devoted to the Honor of the Blessed Virgin. 1879

From the “Cork Examiner.”

Dear Sir :—Presuming that many of the lay and clerical readers of your widely-extended and invaluable Catholic journal never saw in print or heard of the traditional existence of an ancient Gaelic Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I herewith subjoin an English translation of it, which, I hope, will prove of more than ordinary interest to them. It is supposed to be as old as the middle of the eighth century, and its composition is ascribed to one of that galaxy of stars which shone so resplendently in the intellectual firmament of Ireland at that time, when the sainted “Green Isle” held aloft the irradiating torch of science, and monopolized the intellectual supremacy of the world, insomuch that she received from the other less enlightened nations of Europe the significant appellation of “Insula Sanctorum et Doctorum,” the Island of Saints and Doctors. The translator, by whom it was rescued from oblivion, was the lamented Irish scholar and paleographer, Professor Eugene O’Curry. Pope Pius IX, the late illustrious Vicegerent of Christ upon earth, at the solicitation of Mgr. Woodlock, Rector of the Catholic University, attached special indulgences to the recitation of the prayer, with the necessary disposition, by those actually or temporarily residing in Ireland. The peculiar beauty of the subjoined version is that it conforms to the surpassingly metaphorical constitution of the ancient vernacular of our native land—a tongue which, like ivy to a ruin, is yet clinging to the topography of Ireland; although to the shame of the Irish people, be it observed, it is most strangely neglected by them.
Yours truly, Michael Noonen.
Minane Bridge.

ANCIENT PRAYER TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN.
(Translated from the Irish of the Eighth Century.)

O Great Mary,
Most Great of women,
Queen of the Angels,
Woman full of, and replete with the grace of the Holy Spirit,

Blessed and Most Blessed, 

Mother of Eternal Glory, 

Mother of the Heavenly and Earthly Church,

Mother of Love and Indulgence, 

Mother of the Golden Light, 

Honor of the Sky, 

Sign of Tranquillity, 

Gate of Heaven, 

Golden Casket,

Temple of the Divinity, 

Beauty of Virgins, 

Mistress of the Tribes, 

Fountain of the Parterres, 

Mother of the Orphans,

Breast of the Infants,

Solace of the Wretched, 

Star of the Sea,

Handmaid of God, 

Mother of the Redeemer, 

Resplendent like the Sun, 

Destruction of Eve’s Disgrace,

Regeneration of Life, 

Chief of the Virgins,

Inclosed Garden, 

Closely-locked Fountain, 

Mother of God, 

Perpetual Virgin, 

Holy Virgin, 

Prudent Virgin, 

Serene Virgin,
Chaste Virgin, 

Temple of the Living God, 

Royal Throne of the Eternal King,
Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit,
Virgin of the Roof of Jesus,
Cedar of Mount Lebanon,
Cypress of Mount Sion,
Crimson Rose of the Land of Jacob,
Blooming like the Olive Tree,
Glorious Son-bearer,
Light of Nazareth,
Glory of Jerusalem,
Beauty of the World,
Noblest Boon of the Christian Flock,
Queen of Life,
Ladder of Heaven :

Hear the petition of the poor; spurn not the wounds and groans of the miserable. Let the devotion of our sighs be carried through thee to the presence of the Creator, for we are not ourselves worthy of being heard, because of our evil deserts. O powerful Mistress of Heaven and Earth, dissolve our trespasses and our sins; destroy our wickedness and corruptions; raise the fallen, the debilitated and the fettered; loosen the condemned; repair, through thyself, the transgressions of our immoralities and of our vices; appease for us the Judge, by thy voice and thy supplications; allow us not to be carried off from these among the spoils of our enemies; allow not our souls to be condemned, but take us to thyself, forever, under thy protection. We beseech thee and pray thee further, O Holy Mary, through thy great supplication, from thy only Son, that is Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, that God may defend us from all straits and temptations, and obtain for us, from the God of Creation, that we may all receive from Him the forgiveness and remission of all our sins and trespasses, and that we may obtain from Him further, through thy supplication, the perpetual occupation of the Heavenly Kingdom through the eternity of life; in the presence of the Saints and of the world, which may we deserve and may we occupy, in sæcula sæculorum—Amen.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Celtic Miscellany

3 responses to “AN ANCIENT IRISH LITANY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN

  1. Brendan Francis Murphy

    Beautiful prayer to our Lady of Ireland

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s