Sunday, 1 May 2016

An Irish Litany of Our Lady

This from pps. 63-65 of: The Ancient Irish Church, Was it Catholic Or Protestant? by James Gaffney, published in Dublin in 1863 by James Duffy & Co.

"In addition to the very interesting litany of Aengus which is described at length by O'Curry we have one still more dear to us, and equally ancient; it is the Litany of the Blessed Virgin which is preserved in the "Leabhar Mor" and deposited in the Royal Irish Academy. In reference to it O'Curry* says:- 'The third piece of this fifth class is a beautiful and ancient litany of the BVM differing in many ways from her litany in other languages and clearly showing that although it may be an imitation, it is not a translation. I believe it to be as old at least as the middle of the eighth century. It consists of fifty nine invocations beginning: O great Mary! O Mary greatest of all Marys! O greatest of women! O Queen of the Angels! etc., and it concludes with a beautiful and eloquent entreaty that she will lay the unworthy prayers, sighs and groans of the sinners before her own merciful Son, backed by her own all powerful advocacy for the forgiveness of their sins.'

"The Most Rev. Dr Cullen in his pastoral on the Immaculate Conception** supplies us with a more lengthened extract from this beautiful old Irish litany:- 'O great Mary! the greatest of womankind! O Queen of Angels! O Woman full and overflowing with the grace of the holy Spirit! O blessed and ever blessed Mother of Eternal Glory! Mother of the Church heavenly and earthly! Mother of love and forgiveness! Mother of golden effulgence! O honour of the sky! Sign of tranquillity! O door of heaven! O golden ark! O beauty of the virgins! Lady of the tribes! Fountain of the gardens! Cleansing of sins! O Mother of orphans! Breast of the infant! Consolation of the poor! Star of the Ocean! Mother of Christ! Comeliness as of the moon! Excellence as of the sun! O canceller of the reproach of Eve! O Renewer of life! Beauty of womankind! Head of the virgins! Enclosed garden! True fountain of greenness! Mother of God! O eternal virgin! O royal throne of the Deity! Sanctuary of the holy Spirit! Virgin of the stem of Jesse! Cedar of Lebanon! Cypress of Sion! Crimson rose of the land of Jacob! O effulgence of Nazareth! O glory of Jerusalem! O beauty of the world! O noblest in descent of the Christian flock! O Queen of life! O ladder of heaven! hear the prayer of the poor; spurn not the ulcers and moans of the wretched! Let our devotions and our aspirations be presented to the Creator by thee; for we ourselves are not worthy of being heard through our demerits" O powerful Lady of heaven and earth! cancel our crimes obliterate the stains of our wickedness. For mercy sake suffer us not to be carried away from thee as a prey by our enemies; suffer not our souls to be condemned and take us to thyself for ever under thy protection!'

"Upon these sentences his Grace remarks:- 'Such were the glowing strains in which the Church of Ireland in early times delighted to depict the glories of the Queen of Heaven How different is the language in which she is greeted by those who call themselves followers of the Reformation and who appear to take a pride in insulting the name of the Mother of God What a proof that they have nothing in common with the doctrine of the ancient Church of Ireland.'"

*MS of Irish Hist., p. 380
**Date of Pastoral 8th December, 1862