A Litany of Women for the Church

Dear God, creator of women in your own image,
born of a woman in the midst of a world half women,
carried by women to mission fields around the globe,
made known by women to all the children of the earth,
give to the women of our time
the strength to persevere,
the courage to speak out,
the faith to believe in you beyond
all systems and institutions

so that your face on earth may be seen in all its beauty,
so that men and women become whole,
so that the church may be converted to your will
in everything and in all ways.

We call on the holy women
who went before us,
channels of your Word
in testaments old and new,
to intercede for us
so that we might be given the grace
to become what they have been
for the honor and glory of God.

Saint Esther, who pleaded against power
for the liberation of the people, pray for us.
Saint Judith, who routed the plans of men
and saved the community, pray for us.
Saint Deborah, laywoman and judge, who led
the people of God, pray for us.
Saint Elizabeth of Judea, who recognized the value
of another woman, pray for us.
Saint Mary Magdalene, minister of Jesus,
first evangelist of the Christ, pray for us.
Saint Scholastica, who taught her brother Benedict
to honor the spirit above the system, pray for us.
Saint Hildegard, who suffered interdict
for the doing of right, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, who put no law above the law of God, pray for us.
Saint Clare of Assisi, who confronted the pope
with the image of woman as equal, pray for us.
Saint Julian of Norwich, who proclaimed for all of us
the motherhood of God, pray for us.
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, who knew the call
to priesthood in herself, pray for us.
Saint Catherine of Siena, to whom the pope listened, pray for us.
Saint Teresa of Avila, who brought women’s gifts
to the reform of the church, pray for us.
Saint Edith Stein, who brought fearlessness to faith, pray for us.
Saint Elizabeth Seton, who broke down boundaries
between lay women and religious
by wedding motherhood and religious life, pray for us.
Saint Dorothy Day, who led the church
to a new sense of justice, pray for us.
* * *
Mary, mother of Jesus,
who heard the call of God and answered, pray for us.
Mary, mother of Jesus,
who drew strength from the woman Elizabeth, pray for us.
Mary, mother of Jesus,
who underwent hardship bearing Christ, pray for us.
Mary, mother of Jesus, who ministered at Cana, pray for us.
Mary, mother of Jesus, inspired at Pentecost, pray for us.
Mary, mother of Jesus, who turned the Spirit of God
into the body and blood of Christ, pray for us. Amen.

by Joan Chittister, OSB
Available at Monasteries of the Heart



    1. When someone writes it and submits it and the editor approves it.

      Relax. There is no problem with acknowledging men. Being pro-women doesn’t mean being anti-men. This isn’t a zero-sum gain. For Christians, the gain of one part of the Body is everyone’s gain.


  1. My daughter asked me on Mother’s Day why all the Marian hymns tend to describe her as meek and mild……

    My soul glorifies the Lord, *
    my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.
    He looks on his servant in her lowliness; *
    henceforth all ages will call me blessed.

    The Almighty works marvels for me. *
    Holy his name!
    His mercy is from age to age, *
    on those who fear him.

    He puts forth his arm in strength *
    and scatters the proud-hearted.
    He casts the mighty from their thrones *
    and raises the lowly.

    He fills the starving with good things, *
    sends the rich away empty.

    He protects Israel, his servant, *
    remembering his mercy,
    the mercy promised to our fathers, *
    to Abraham and his sons for ever.

    1. Had she been proud-hearted or mighty, she would have been scattered and cast down. If she saw herself as recipient of the graces extolled in her Magnificat, then she recognized herself as “lowly” and “starving”.

      Or do you mean something different by “meek” and “mild”? (Not playing “gotchya” here, just seeking clarification.)

    2. I always saw Mary exemplifying both, but like everything God does, he turns the understanding of the world upside down. We have this idea of a meek and mild woman toward he husband, but in the context I understand it in reference to God and serves as an example for all of us, it has nothing to do with being a woman. We know from the scriptures that Mary wasn’t passive, she was active, she was assertive at the wedding of Cana, she sought out her son during his ministry, she stood at the cross as he was dying, she was in the upper room on Pentecost.

      1. she was in the upper room on Pentecost

        I’m surprised to find some Scripture commentaries/interpretations online (and now I can’t find them…) that suggest that she was not present in the upper room at Pentecost, despite Acts 1:15-2:1 (and following) appearing to be written in the context of Acts 1:14.

        These commentaries, if I remember correctly, did this to exclude any possibility of her being involved in the preaching which followed the manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

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