The Litany of the Saints is a powerful and ancient form of Catholic prayer. We hear it at Easter and All Saints Day, and during Ordination Masses for new priests. It can be sung in a church or prayed silently in solitary prayer. It calls on the holy men and women in Heaven to aid those of us on Earth.
How to Write a Personal Litany of Saints
In my own prayer life, I keep a running list of Saints to whom I have a particular devotion—my own personal litany.
The featured cast has transformed many times over the years, while a few remain the same. I’ve prayed the litany before bed, in the Adoration chapel, or silently in my head when I’m upset or anxious and need to recenter myself on God.
While the length of the litany and the names included change, the simplicity and repetitiveness of a litany that speaks directly to my heart has been a rock and a comfort in my prayer life.
Here’s how I form my personal litany of Saints.
I always have an apparition or title associated with Mary in my litany.
When I was in college and had a particular attachment to Carmelite spirituality, Our Lady of Mount Carmel topped my list. Now, one of Mary’s titles speaks to me—Mary, Cause of Our Joy—so I include that as my appeal to the Blessed Mother.
The Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary (also called the Litany of Loreto) includes many invocations to Mary that could be brought into your personal litany.
Angels and Archangels
Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael are powerful intercessors, and one of them almost always shows up in my litany. The traditional litany of the Saints usually includes all three, as well as an appeal to all the angels.
You might also include your guardian angel, especially if the Guardian Angel prayer is a regular part of your prayer life already.
My Confirmation Saint (Saint Thomas More) has had a place in my personal litany for as long as I’ve performed the practice. It keeps the memory of the full completion of my Baptism alive and present and allows me to regularly call on one of the most significant intercessors of my life.
Are you named after a particular Saint, or do you share part of your name with a Saint? Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne is another old standby in my personal litany because of my middle name.
Does your birthday or Baptism day fall on a Saint’s feast day? These, too, can be great intercessors to add to your litany.
Your Parish Patron
To keep my personal litany rooted in the community of the Church, I often include the patron Saint of my parish in the list.
It also reminds me to pray for my parish community and for all priests.
Patron Saint of Your School or Profession
So much of both the joy and frustration of our everyday lives comes from our jobs, and it can help tremendously to entrust our daily activities to the Saints. There is a patron Saint for almost every career or state of life imaginable, and adding one to a personal litany serves as a reminder to pray for your coworkers, your kids, your customers, or your teachers.
For you stay-at-home moms, Saint Monica is a powerhouse of a patron. If you find yourself looking for a new job, Saint Cajetan can help. Those who work in healthcare might turn to Saint Agatha or Saint Luke.
If you’re a student, there are many patrons to choose from. When I was teaching and in graduate school and needed all the spiritual help I could get, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Benedict, Saint Ambrose, and Saint John Bosco showed up in my litany regularly.
However you spend your days, there’s a Saint to help.
Saint of the Year
On All Saints Day each year, I have a practice of choosing a patron Saint for the upcoming year (Jen Fulwiler’s Saint Name Generator can help with this).
Including this Saint in the litany helps me get to know them and build a devotion.
Saints for Special Intentions
Of all the Saints in the litany, these last few change most often. If I’m praying for someone in a special way, their patron—or a patron I pick for them if they don’t have one—is added.
If there is a need in my own life that I’ve been taking to prayer often, the patron Saint for the situation ends up in the litany. Assign an intercessor to whatever is happening in your life and the world around you, and ask for the help of those Saints constantly.
My Home Team
I like to think of having a personal litany of Saints as adding players to my home team. It reminds me to call on them, and makes me feel like I have a set of awesome friends who are cheering for me and interceding for me in Heaven.
Who is on your heavenly home team? What Saints would show up in your personal litany?
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Abigail Saffert lives and works in rural Minnesota. Her Catholic Studies background, her M.A. in English, and the unnecessary amount of library cards crammed into her purse testify to her lifelong love of reading and writing. She appreciates that there’s a patron Saint for coffee houses because she thinks it justifies the amount of coffee she drinks in a day. You can find pictures of that coffee, among other things, by following her on Instagram.