A Celtic Litany to Our Lady
In anticipation of the Bishops official dedication of Motherwell’s Carfin Grotto in this it’s centenary year Scotland's National Shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes as Scotland’s National Marian Shrine on the 25th September, I thought it time to spread word about a beautiful pre 8th Century Celtic Litany to Our Blessed Mother. A litany of love prayed by the Catholic faithful of this land for at least 800 years before the Litany of Loreto was penned! Also included is a prayer of petition to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for the re-conversion of Scotland going back to the reformation. In a side note, in case you haven’t seen this already: a New Eucharistic Miracle In Mexico is currently being investigated as it appears that Jesus is indeed showing us the reality of His beating Sacred Heart present in the Eucharist!
It is worth highlighting that the day of the official dedication of Carfin Grotto as our National Marian Shrine by the Bishops will also be the last day in which the visiting relics of St Bernadette (primary patron of the Grotto) will be in Scotland. Her visit of mercy follows that of the grotto’s secondary patron St Therese of Lisieux who blessed Scotland with many spiritual and actual roses 3 years ago in 2019 when her relics toured the country. Carfin Grotto is the only location in Scotland to host St Bernadette’s visiting relics which will be available for veneration from (24th Sept to 1st Oct).
A short note about these 2 prayers themselves. The prayer to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus to have mercy on Scotland was kindly passed to me by a priest who had himself been given it by another priest who having made the discovery and being captured by it’s beauty and necessity for our times endeavoured to translate it himself from the Latin.
The Celtic Litany to Mother Mary was rescued from obscurity and translated from the original Gaelic in the 1800’s by Professor Eugene O'Curry from text preserved in an ancient copy of the Leabhar-Mòr. A subsequent article publicizing this was published in 1879 in a Marian Catholic Journal. We can be confident that this litany was weil kent baith sides o’ the Irish Sea and offered to Ouer Halie Mamaidh by ouer ain kinsfolk as the Celts of Scotland and Ireland were closely related sharing and praying the same Gaelic liturgy. Professor O’ Curry believed this litany to be the earliest to Our Lady in existence dating at least from the middle of the eighth century and the university rector even petitioned Pope Pius IX to attach special indulgences to it’s recitation which was kindly granted. Who would have thought that it is to our own Celtic people that the glory of having composed the first litany to Our Immaculate Queen must be given?! What an indication of the love and devotion our kith and kin had for her!.
A quote from the 1879 article states:
“The Litany of our Ladye,” says Cardinal Wiseman, “is not a studied prayer, intended to have logical connection of parts, but is a hymn of admiration and love….the recital of which is broken into, after every phrase, by the people or chorus, begging the prayer of her to whom they are so worthily applied.” “It is a hymn, a song, of affectionate admiration, and, at the same time, of earnest entreaty.” The Cardinal then refers to St. Cyril of Alexandria, and says of the holy patriarchs own salutations to our Blessed Mother given in an address that ‘we have only to say pray for us after each of the salutations to have a very excellent (…litany)’.
Wouldn’t it be wonderfully fitting for Catholics all across Scotland to travel to one of oldest sites of pilgrimage in our nation (as denoted by the towns name itself - Motherwell!) to offer her and her Son these lang lost prayers on the day of dedication itself? As mentioned in a previous article there is tragically no statue as yet in the grotto honouring her under any of her Scottish titles (not even Ouer Leddie Guid Aide o’ Mitherwell) in front of which to gather our petitions for our people. Although there are statues honouring her under many of the titles other nations bestowed upon her, wouldn’t it be fitting if one of the travelling statues of Our Lady of Aberdeen could be taken there on this day of all days to thank her for the grace and mercies shown to us here in Scotland?
I’ll leave you this with prayer and entreaty. If we honour her with and endeavour to spread and use our ancient devotions what wonders Our Lady will once again be seen to work for us, bringing countless souls to God. All under her uniquely Scottish Standard. Let us make the effort to gather together on this day to glorify her and her Son to ask their intercession and mercy for our people with the ancient prayers, devotions titles, tongues and instruments missing for 500 years below:
She may just give us a sign of her appreciation and show us that whilst we forgot about her, she never forgot or gave up on us but is just patiently waiting to be asked. You never know, she might also inspire those with the means to remedy the missing glory owed to her via Scots shrines to commission beautiful statues for the grotto based up the traditional images, statues and titles already in existence from each Scottish Diocese. For e.g. Our Lady of Good Aid window in Motherwell Cathedral, Our Lady of Good Success Aberdeen, Our Lady of Victories Dundee, Our Lady of the Isles etc.
If anyone is in any doubt of the miraculous powers of conversion wrought by her when a particular statue is made in love to glorify her then this article, which has just come into my in-box as I write, gives a beautiful witness. A witness that we in Scotland desperately need!
“Blow the trumpet through the land; cry aloud and say, ‘Assemble, and let us go into the fortified cities!
Note: A few of Holy Ma’s documented titles with dates:
Our Lady of Prestwic 1470
Our Lade Lycht of Prestwic 1497
Our Ladi Place of Grace (Prestwick 1470)
Our Lady Luge of Dunde (1536)
Our Lady Pietie (1542) Dunfermline (Pity)
The landis of our Lady of Grace in Kile (1497)
Anent Our Lady Land; Selkirk (1527–8)