A Prayer for All Saints’ Day

Naomi the llama at Jonah House.

The Jonah House Catholic Worker community lives in inner-city Baltimore on the property of a 150-year old Irish Catholic cemetery. The llamas and goats keep the weeds trimmed back. The Catholic Workers in residence honor the dead — and tend to the living.

I’ve always wanted to spend All Saints’ Day on retreat at this location, practicing a walking meditation in the circuit through the old cemetery, amid the pawpaw trees, looking through the fence at the Section 8 housing that borders one edge and the tire reclamation center that rides the other side. I want to walk and remember the dead. I want to rejoice with them. I want to linger in their presence. I want to meet them in holy communion.

A few years ago, I spent a quiet day at Jonah House–healing the soul. Below is a litany that I used. It’s also especially suited to Ember Days in November, All Saints’ Day or Reformation Day, or Day of the Dead memorial at the end of October.

Liturgical Notes. This litany works best when read responsively. It can be divided in to multiple parts. Each part can begin with the leader saying, “We call to mind the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us in faith…” and concluding the section with the “Grant us…” triplet.

This is not an exhaustive list. It’s made to be adapted. It contains some saints recognized by the church and many holy men and women of God who have served the cause of the gospel or the spirit of liberation through the ages. Not all of them are Christian, though all are Christ-like. We encourage each community to add the names of those known locally who have inspired us to live a Godly life in the service of others.

Many of the names listed here will not be familiar to the congregation. We invite you to use the month of November to tell the stories of those who are part of our Great Cloud of Witnesses, including remembering those who have died who personally have influenced us. This litany can also easily be set to a plain chant or other simple musical refrain. Find an easily printable version here.—Rose Marie Berger

All Saints Day: A Litany of the Great Cloud of Witnesses

by Rose Marie Berger

We call to mind the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us in faith…

Our parents of earth and life, Adam and Eve…Pray for us.
Mothers Sarah and Hagar, and Father Abraham…Pray for us.
Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob, Leah, and Rachel…Pray for us.
Puah and Shiprah…Pray for us.
Miriam, Moses, and Aaron…Pray for us.
Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz…Pray for us.
Daughters of Jeptha…Pray for us.
Daughters of Lot…Pray for us.
Dinah and Tamar…Pray for us.
Bathsheba, Uriah, and David…Pray for us.
Women of Midian…Pray for us.
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea and all Hebrew prophets…Pray for us.
Judith, Deborah, and Jael…Pray for us.

The Forerunner, John the Baptist…Pray for us.
Holy Mary, Mother of God…Pray for us.
Joseph, Elizabeth and Zachariah…Pray for us.
Mary of Magdala and Peter…Pray for us.
Andrew and James…Pray for us.
Mathew, Mark, and Luke…Pray for us.
John the Beloved Disciple…Pray for us.
Paul and Barnabas…Pray for us.
Anna, Dorcas, and Lydia…Pray for us.
Priscilla and Phoebe…Pray for us.
John the Revelator…Pray for us.
Stephen, the first martyr…Pray for us.
Perpetua and Felicity…Pray for us.

Amma Sarra, Amma Syncletica, Amma Theodora…Pray for us.
Abba Poemen, Abba Anthony, Abba Macarius…Pray for us.
Mary of Egypt and Elizabeth the Wonderworker…Pray for us.
Matrona of Perge and Theodora of Thessalonike…Pray for us.
Basil, Athanasius, Gregory, and John…Pray for us.
Gregory, Ambrose, Augustine, and Jerome…Pray for us.
Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Sienna, and Thérèse of Lisieux…Pray for us.
Isadore and Maria…Pray for us.
Benedict and Scholastica…Pray for us.
Cosmas and Damian…Pray for us.
Dominic and Diego, Clare and Francis…Pray for us.
John Calvin and John Knox…Pray for us.
Martin Luther and Menno Simons…Pray for us.
John and Charles Wesley and Sarah Gwynne…Pray for us.
All you holy men and women, saints of God…Pray for us.

Grant us your wisdom…Hear our prayer.
Grant us your patience…Hear our prayer.
Grant us your courage…Hear our prayer.

We call to mind the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us in faith…

Our Lady of Guadalupe and Juan Diego…Pray for us.
Juana Inés de la Cruz and Bartolome de las Casas…Pray for us.
Hannah More and William Wilberforce…Pray for us.
Fredrick Douglass and Harriet Tubman…Pray for us.
Ottobah Cugoano, Olaudah Equiano, and Ignatius Sancho…Pray for us.
Sojourner Truth and Joseph Cinquez…Pray for us.
Angela Grimke and Sarah Grimke…Pray for us.
Antoinette Brown and Olympia Brown…Pray for us.
Peter Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky…Pray for us.
Mohandas Gandhi and Khan Abdul Ghaffar …Pray for us.
Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin…Pray for us.
Tagashi Nagai and the Martyrs of Nagasaki and Hiroshima…Pray for us.
Agnes Le Thi Thanh and the Martyrs of Vietnam…Pray for us.
Mother Jones and the Martyrs of the Coal Mines…Pray for us.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Karl Barth, and Martin Neimoeller…Pray for us.
Maria Skobtsova and Ilya Fondaminsky…Pray for us.
Etty Hillesum, Franz Jaegerstaetter, and Victor Frankel…Pray for us.

Rosa Parks and Fannie Lou Hamer…Pray for us.
Abraham Joshua Heschel and Sylvia Straus…Pray for us.
Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King…Pray for us.
Caesar Chavez, Helen Fabela, and the Martyrs of the Fields…Pray for us.
Mahalia Jackson, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane…Pray for us.
Oscar Romero and the Martyrs of El Salvador…Pray for us.
Elizabeth O’Connor and Flannery O’Connor…Pray for us.
Evelyn Underhill, Caryll Houselander, and Henry Nouwen…Pray for us.
William Stringfellow and Anthony Townes…Pray for us.
Howard Thurman and Sue Bailey Thurman…Pray for us.
Denise Levertov and Jane Kenyon….Pray for us.
Penny Lernoux, Jean Sindab, and Ginny Earnest…Pray for us.
Dale Aukerman and Rosemarie Freeney Harding…Pray for us.
Philip Berrigan and Ladon Sheats…Pray for us.
Tom Fox and the Martyrs of Iraq…Pray for us.
Verna Dozier and Jeanie Wylie-Kellermann…Pray for us.

[Invite the congregation to call aloud the names of the dead they want to remember.]

All you holy men and women, saints of God…Pray for us.
Grant us your wisdom…Hear our prayer.
Grant us your patience…Hear our prayer.
Grant us your courage…Hear our prayer.
Amen.

Rose Marie Berger, author of Who Killed Donte Manning?, is an associate editor at Sojourners magazine, a Catholic peace activist, and poet. She blogs at www.rosemarieberger.com.

3 thoughts on “A Prayer for All Saints’ Day”

  1. Thank you, this is remarkable. I prayed and added, “Thank you” to each request for them to pray for us … as in “thank you for your sacrifice” but I guess it could also double as “thank you in advance for considering intercession.” Again, thank you for supplying this prayer, and list, I have a lot more reading/learning to do!!!!

  2. Thank you for sharing this beautiful litany. I shall pray it tomorrow morning as I remember the great cloud of witnesses in His presence. Peace and Love!

  3. Thank you for a litany that truly reflects so many prophets for the Kingdom of God. This made me cry. Inshallah.

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