The prayer dates back to the 8th century and confirms a longstanding devotion in Ireland to the Blessed Mother.
The Irish people are well known for their loving devotion of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is part of who they are. A discovery in the 19th century further confirmed the antiquity of this tradition.
In 1862 Eugene O’Curry, a professor from the Catholic University of Ireland (founded by Blessed John Henry Newman), saved from oblivion a litany to the Blessed Mother that dates back to the middle of the 8th century. The litany was even approved for private use by Pope Pius IX during that same year.
It is likely that this litany was used at the monastery of Clonsast around the year 725 and was later translated into Latin.
Here below is an English translation of the original Irish from the 8th century.
O GREAT Mary, [pray for us]Mary, greatest of Marys,Most great of women,Queen of the angels,Mistress of the heavens,Woman full and replete with the grace of the Holy Spirit, Blessed and most blessed, Mother of eternal glory, Mother of the heavenly and earthly Church,Mother of love and indulgence, Mother of the golden light, Honor of the sky, Harbinger of peace. Gate of heaven, Golden casket,Couch of love and mercy, Temple of the Divinity, Beauty of virgins, Mistress of the tribes, Fountain of the gardens, Cleansing of sins, Washing of souls, Mother of orphans, Breast of the infants, Refuge of the wretched, Star of the sea, Handmaid of God, Mother of Christ, Abode of the Godhead, Graceful as the dove, Serene like the moon, Resplendent like the sun, Destruction of Eve s disgrace, Regeneration of life, Perfection of women, Chief of the virgins, Garden enclosed, Fountain sealed, Mother of God,Perpetual Virgin,Holy Virgin, Prudent Virgin, Serene Virgin, Chaste Virgin, Temple of the Living God, Throne of the Eternal King, Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, Virgin of the root of Jesse, Cedar of Mount Lebanon, Cypress of Mount Sion, Crimson rose in the land of Jacob, Fruitful like the olive, Blooming like the palm, Glorious son-bearer, Light of Nazareth, Glory of Jerusalem, Beauty of the world, Noblest born of the Christian people, Queen of life, Ladder of Heaven,Hear the petition of the poor; spurn not the wounds and the groans of the miserable.Let our devotion and our sighs be carried through thee to the presence of the Creator, for we are not ourselves worthy of being heard because of our evil deserts.O powerful Mistress of heaven and earth, wipe out our trespasses and our sins.Destroy our wickedness and depravity. Raise the fallen, the debilitated, and the fettered. Loose the condemned. Repair through thyself the transgressions of our immorality and our vices. Bestow upon us through thyself the blossoms and ornaments of good actions and virtues. Appease for us the Judge by thy prayers and thy supplications. Allow us not, for mercy s sake, to be carried off from thee among the spoils of our enemies. Allow not our souls to be condemned, but take us to thyself for ever under thy protection.We, moreover, beseech and pray thee, holy Mary, to obtain, through thy potent supplication, before thy only Son, that is, Jesus Christ, the son of the living God, that God may defend us from all straits and temptations. Obtain also for us from the God of Creation the forgiveness and remission of all our sins and trespasses, and that we may receive from Him further, through thy intercession, the everlasting habitation of the heavenly kingdom, through all eternity, in the presence of the saints and the saintly virgins of the world; which may we deserve, may we enjoy, for ever and ever. Amen.