When Pope Francis declared the Year of Saint Joseph, the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments introduced seven new invocations to the Litany of Saint Joseph. This was in response to Pope Francis’s desire, as stated in his Apostolic Letter Patris Corde, “to increase our love for this great saint, to encourage us to implore his intercession and to imitate his virtues and his zeal.” The new invocations are “drawn from the interventions of the Popes who have reflected on aspects of the figure of the Patron of the Universal Church.”
So, what is a litany?
In its most basic form, a litany is a series of petitions to God, Mary, or a particular saint. It comes from a root word meaning “supplication.” The earliest litany we have is Psalm 136, in which a series of praises each end with “for his mercy endures forever.”
Our style of litany seems to have developed in the fourth century in Antioch and eventually traveled west by way of Constantinople. In 590, Pope Gregory the Great asked the people of Rome to pray a litany to ward off an epidemic that was threatening the city. By the Middle Ages, there were litanies in honor of the Persons of the Trinity, the Precious Blood, the Blessed Virgin, and countless saints. The Litany of Saint Joseph was approved for public use by Pope Pius X in 1909.
In the next entries, we will look at the new invocations to Saint Joseph.
“We need only ask Saint Joseph for the grace of graces: our conversion,”—Pope Francis
Prayer: Traditional Litany of Saint Joseph
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. God our Father in heaven, have mercy on us. God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us. God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us. Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us. Holy Mary, pray for us. Saint Joseph, pray for us. Noble son of the House of David, pray for us. Light of patriarchs, pray for us. Husband of the Mother of God, pray for us. Guardian of the Virgin, pray for us. Foster father of the Son of God, pray for us. Faithful Guardian of Christ, pray for us. Head of the Holy Family, pray for us. Joseph, chaste and just, pray for us. Joseph, prudent and brave, pray for us. Joseph, obedient and loyal, pray for us. Pattern of patience, pray for us. Lover of poverty, pray for us. Model of workers, pray for us. Example to parents, pray for us. Guardian of virgins, pray for us. Pillar of family life, pray for us. Comfort of the troubled, pray for us. Hope of the sick, pray for us. Patron of the dying, pray for us. Terror of evil spirits, pray for us. Protector of the Church, pray for us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. God made him master of his household, And put him in charge of all that he owned.
Let us pray.
O God, who in your inexpressible providence were pleased to choose Saint Joseph as spouse of the most holy Mother of your Son, grant, we pray, that we, who revere him as our protector on earth, may be worthy of his heavenly intercession. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Image credit: Corinne SIMON/CIRIC