The Litany is a form of prayer consisting of a series of petitions to which the people make set responses. It is thought to have originated in Antioch during the 4th century but soon spread to Constantinople and Rome. Pope Gelasius (492-96) introduced a Litany into the Mass of which the ninefold Kyrie eleison* alone survives. Two hundred years later the pattern of Litany for the Western Church throughout the Middle Ages was established under Pope Sergius in The Litany of the Saints. Its second section contained Kyries, deprecations, and obsecrations, besides Invocations to the Saints. In this there are roots of the Litany as found in the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer.
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