Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Litany of the Saints & the Conclave

In less than an hour, the Cardinals will process from the Pauline chapel to the Sistine Chapel, praying the Litany of the Saints.  I love this litany, both aesthetically and theologically, and it is appropriate that it be prayed as a new leader for the Roman Catholic Church is chosen. First, in the very act of asking for the saints who have gone before us to pray, the Cardinals and the whole church recognize the need for divine grace in choosing the 'servant of the servants of God'.  Second, to name these saints and ask for their intercession is concretely to place the event of this Conclave 2013 in the entire history - its linear and eternal history - of the Catholic Church.  It is to recognize the communion that exists between the temporal community of the faithful and the eternal community of those in God's presence (the unity of the church militant and the church triumphant, to use the traditional language).

And in so doing, the church recognizes that choosing a new Bishop of Rome has a significance that both encompasses and transcends the here-and-now.

So, for those interested in following along and praying alongside the Cardinals, you can find the liturgy the Cardinals will use for the Litany of the Saints here.  An English translation can be found here.  You can stream the procession, and the entire Conclave here.  And if you can't watch the procession live, here's what it looked like back in 2005:

The Litany concludes with the Veni Creator Spiritus, a hymn of incredible beauty.  A friend of mine has written on this hymn here.

O God, eternal shepherd, who govern your flock with unfailing care,
grant in your boundless fatherly love a pastor for your Church
who will please you by his holiness and to us show watchful care.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Update - March 27, 2013

Below is the video of the procession into the Sistine chapel from earlier this month:

Prayer for the election of a new pope from the USCCB website


  1. Greg,

    I am in total support of your effort to eliminate the "wave" at sporting events! I enjoy your blog and would love to use the Baptism letter in our program.

    Deacon Mark Bennett - St. Peter's - Plattsburgh,NY

    1. Thanks for your comment. Yes, feel free to use my baptismal letter.