The Litany of Loretto is a form of prayer in which the most glorious titles are given to the Mother of God, and her intercession is unceasingly implored.
The litany of Loretto takes its origin and its name from the place of pilgrimage in Italy, Loretto, where the holy house of Nazareth now stands. In this litany first of all God is called upon for mercy, as in the Kyrie Eleison of the Mass. This is followed by the invocation of the most Holy Trinity. Then the Blessed Mother of God is invoked, and her intercession is besought. These invocations may be divided into six groups: (1), The first three invocations express her special prerogatives: her sanctity, her divine maternity, her immaculate virginity; (2), Then her perfections as a Mother are enumerated: Mother of Christ; (3), She is next extolled in virtue of her virginity: Virgin most prudent, etc.; (4), Her glories are then depicted under a number of figures and types: Mirror of justice, etc.; (5), Mary is next shown in her relation to the Church Militant: Health of the sick, etc.; (6), And finally in her relation to the Church triumphant: Queen of angels, etc. At the conclusion of the litany, confiding in the mediation of our Advocate, we appeal to her divine Son, beseeching Him to spare, to hear, to have mercy upon us. Several of the invocations have been added by the Holy See in the course of centuries; for instance, “Help of Christians” after the victory over the Turks; “Queen conceived without original sin,” after the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception; and recently, “Queen of the most holy Rosary,” on the introduction of the custom of reciting the Rosary in public during the month of October. An indulgence of three hundred days may be gained for each recital of this litany. The Salve Regina or “Hail, holy Queen,” as it is also called, was composed in 1009 by Blessed Herman, and in 1146 the illustrious St. Bernard added to it the sweet words: “clement, pious, sweet Virgin Mary.”
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