Thursday, May 3, 2007



The origins of the Litany of the Heart of Jesus as we know it, date back to the time of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. As far as we can ascertain from her extant writings, she did not compose a litany herself but was familiar with a series of invocations honoring the Heart of Jesus composed by Sister Joly of the Visitation Monastery at Moulins.

There was a third list of twenty-three invocations composed by Father Jean Croiset (spiritual director of St. Margaret Mary after St. Claude La Colombiere), and published in the second edition of his book on Devotion to the Heart of Jesus. With ten invocations added later, this third litany, like the other two, had thirty-three invocations each in honor of the thirty three years of the life of Our Lord on earth.

A person who gave great impetus to praying these litanies was the Servant of God Anna Maddalena de Remuzat of the Visitation Monastery at Marseilles. She had published a formula for a Litany of the Heart of Jesus, which consisted of 27 invocations culled from the litanies just mentioned. It came to be known as the Litany of Marseilles.

During the plague that broke out in Marseilles and ravaged the city in 1720, the Bishop ordered public prayers in honor of the Sacred Heart, including the Litany popularized by Anna Maddalena de Remuzat. The Bishop consecrated the city and the diocese to the Heart of Jesus, and when the plague suddenly and noticeably diminished and then ended completely, the Bishop declared that deliverance from the plague was due to a miracle of the Heart of Jesus.

For years after the palgue ceased, the people of Marseilles continued to pray this Litany but, according to the existing norms of the Chruch at that time, only in private. Marseilles became known as the City of the Sacred Heart.

To bring the private devotion of the people in harmony with liturgical norms, another Bishop of Marseilles petitioned the Holy See (in 1898) to give official approval to the Litany in use in Marseilles. A similar request, but with another form of the Litany, was made by the Bishop of Autun, the diocese in which Paray-le-Monial is located.

The Congregation of Rites was favorable to the requests and compared the two forms. Basically the first was the one accepted, with modifications and additions, so that the Litany would have thirty-three invocations. In this modified form, the Litany was approved by Pope Leo XIII on 27 June 1898 for the dioceses of Marseilles and Autun and for the Visitation Order.

Less than a year later, in response to numerous request received from other places, Leo XIII on 2 April 1899 approved the Litany for the universal Church. It is this officially approved version of the Litany of the Heart of Jesus that Pope John Paul II commented on in Angelus messages from 1985 to 1989.


The Litany of the Heart of Jesus follows the overall structure of litanies: in the beginning, first the threefold invocation: Lord, Have mercy; Christ, have mercy; Lord, have mercy; then an invocation to each of the Divine Persons. The Litany concludes with a threefold Lamb of God, then a verse and response, and a final prayer which is sometimes varied. The body of the Litany of the Heart of Jesus consists of thirty-three invocations with the response to each: Have mercy on us!

Various attempts have been made to discern a pattern in the arrangement of the thirty-three invocations of the Litany. Considering the origins of the Litany from various sources, one would find it difficult to say what the original plan was. But very briefly, without excluding other possible explanations, we may see the following divisions in the present order of the invocations.

The Litany may be divided into two major parts with further subdivisions. In the first part (1-16), the invocations begin with the Trinitarian aspects of the Heart of Jesus as related to God the Father and to the Holy Spirit (1-2), followed by references to the Divine Person of the Word (3-7) and to the Treasures of His Heart considered in itself (8-15). The last invocation (16) of this part expressed the Father's delight in His Son in the words the Gospels repeat at the baptism and transfiguration of Jesus.

The second part of the Litany (17-33) looks at the Treasures of the Heart of Jesus as turned toward us (17-21) and as source of pardon, salvation and all goodness (22-32). Everything the Heart of Jesus is can be summed up in the concluding invocation: delight of all the saints.



Leader: Lord, have mercy on us.
All: Christ have mercy on us.

Leader: Lord, have mercy on us. Christ hear us.

All: Christ, graciously hear us.

Leader: God, the Father of Heaven.

All: Have Mercy on us. *

God, the Son, Redeemer of the world, *
God, the Holy Spirit,
Holy Trinity, One God,
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father,
Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit
in the Womb of the Virgin Mary,

Heart of Jesus, substantially united to the Word of God,
Heart of Jesus, of Infinite Majesty,
Heart of Jesus, Holy Temple of God,
Heart of Jesus, Tabernacle of the Most High,
Heart of Jesus, House of God and gate of Heaven,
Heart of Jesus, burning furnace of Charity,
Heart of Jesus, abode of Justice and Love,
Heart of Jesus, full of Goodness and Love,
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues,
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise,
Heart of Jesus, King and Center of all Hearts,
Heart of Jesus, in Whom are all the treasures
of wisdom and knowledge,
Heart of Jesus, in Whom dwells the fullness of Divinity,
Heart of Jesus, in Whom the Father was well pleased,
Heart of Jesus, of Whose fullness we have all received,
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills,
Heart of Jesus, patient and most merciful,
Heart of Jesus, enriching all who invoke Thee,
Heart of Jesus, fountain of life and holiness,
Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our sins,
Heart of Jesus, loaded down with reproaches,
Heart of Jesus, bruised for our offenses,
Heart of Jesus, obedient to death,
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance,
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation,
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection,
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation,
Heart of Jesus, Victim for sin,
Heart of Jesus, Salvation of those who trust in Thee,
Heart of Jesus, Hope of those who die in You,
Heart of Jesus, Delight of all the Saints.

Leader: Lamb of God, Who takes away
the sins of the world,
All: Spare us, O Lord.

Leader: Lamb of God, Who takes away
the sins of the world,
All: Graciously hear us, O Lord.

Leader: Lamb of God, Who takes away
the sins of the world,
All: Have mercy on us.

Leader: Jesus meek and humble of Heart.
All: Make our hearts like Yours.

Leader: Let us pray: O Almighty and Eternal God,
look upon the Heart of Your Dearly Beloved Son,
and upon the praise and satisfaction He offers You
in the name of sinners and for those who seek
Your Mercy, be appeased, and grant us pardon
in the name of the same Jesus Christ,
Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You,
in the unity of the Holy Spriit,
world without end.

All: Amen.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, We believe in Your Love for us.