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The Scriptural roots of the Litany of the Sacred Heart

The Litany’s thirty-three invocations parallel the thirty-three years of Our Lord’s earthly life.

Sacred Heart at the centre of a rose window, Santa Ifigênia Church, São Paulo, Brazil. (Image: Wilfredor/Wikipedia)

The Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is one of the most beautiful and moving prayers of the Church; it is traditionally prayed on the First Fridays of the month (in keeping with the devotion popularized by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque) and on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart (celebrated this year on June 24); of course, it can be prayed at any time, with great profit.

The Litany’s thirty-three invocations parallel the thirty-three years of Our Lord’s earthly life. Very often, those outside the full communion of the Church critique our prayer-life as unbiblical, largely because they have not taken the time to understand the depths of our prayers. At times, even Catholics fail to appreciate the scriptural roots of both our liturgy and our devotions.

Below the reader will find a scriptural source for each invocation. Finding that passage in Holy Scripture will enable one to meditate even more deeply on the profound mystery of Christ’s love.


Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father, have mercy on us.

Jn 5:18: This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but also called God his Father, making himself equal with God.

Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mother’s womb

Lk 1:35: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

Heart of Jesus, substantially united to the Word of God

Jn 1:1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty

Heb 1:8 [Ps 45:6-7]: But of the Son he says, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, the righteous scepter is the scepter of thy kingdom.”

Heart of Jesus, holy temple of God

Rev 21:22: And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.

Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High

Jn 1:14: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.

Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven

Gen 28:17: And he [Jacob] was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity

Ex 3:2: And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and lo, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.

Heb 12:29: . . . for our God is a consuming fire.

Heart of Jesus, vessel of justice and love

Rev 3:19: Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent.

Psalm 89:14: Righteousness and justice are the foundation of thy throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before thee.

Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love

Eph 3:19: . . . and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fulness of God.

Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues

Heb 1:8-9: But of the Son he says, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, the righteous scepter is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, thy God, has anointed thee with the oil of gladness beyond thy comrades.”

Ps 45:6-7: Your divine throne endures for ever and ever. Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity; you love righteousness and hate wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows.

Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise

Rev 5:13: And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, “To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!”

Heart of Jesus, King and center of all hearts

Eph 3: 16-17: . . . that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love. . . .

Heart of Jesus, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge

Col 2: 2-3: . . . that their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in love, to have all the riches of assured understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Heart of Jesus, in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead

Col 2:9: For in him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily. . .

Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father was well pleased

Lk 3:22: . . . and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove, and a voice came from heaven, “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased.”

Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received

Jn 1:16: And from his fulness have we all received, grace upon grace.

Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills

Mal 3:1: “Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming,” says the Lord of hosts.

Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy

Heb 4:16: Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Eph 2:4-5: But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.

Heart of Jesus, rich to all who call upon Thee

Rom 10:12-13: . . . the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him. For, “every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness

Jn 7:37-38: On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.”

Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our offenses

1 Jn 2:1, 2

My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Heart of Jesus, overwhelmed with reproaches

Rom 15:3 [Ps 69:9]

For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached thee fell on me.”

Heart of Jesus, bruised for our iniquities

Is 53:5

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.

Heart of Jesus, obedient even unto death

Ph 2:8: . . . he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.

Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance

Jn 19:34: But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.

Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation

Mt 11:28: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection

Jn 11:25: Jesus said to her [Martha], “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. . . .

Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation

Rom 5:10: For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

Eph 2:14: For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility. . . .

Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins

Heb 9:26: . . . for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in Thee

Col 1:27: To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in Thee

1 Cor 15:19, 22: If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied. . . For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

Heart of Jesus, delight of all saints

Rev 7:9-10: After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
– Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
– Graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
– Have mercy on us.

Jesus, meek and humble of Heart,
– Make our hearts like unto Thine.

Let us pray.

Almighty and eternal God, look upon the Heart of Thy most beloved Son and upon the praises and satisfaction which He offers Thee in the name of sinners; and to those who implore Thy mercy, in Thy great goodness, grant forgiveness in the name of the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who livest and reignest with Thee forever and ever. Amen.

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About Peter M.J. Stravinskas 266 Articles
Reverend Peter M.J. Stravinskas founded The Catholic Answer in 1987 and The Catholic Response in 2004, as well as the Priestly Society of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, a clerical association of the faithful, committed to Catholic education, liturgical renewal and the new evangelization. Father Stravinskas is also the President of the Catholic Education Foundation, an organization, which serves as a resource for heightening the Catholic identity of Catholic schools.


  1. Gen 49,26 would be a more appropriate Bible link to the “desire of the everlasting hills” because it is exactly the source of this expression.

  2. Thank your so very much for this meditation. In my Grandma’s old prayer book “desire of the everlasting hills” was translated into “desire of the creation since the beginning.”
    The Sacred Heart of Jesus is such a treasure. “Heart of Jesus in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead”; now remember that He feeds us with His Sacred Heart in the Eucharist. So many parishes do not even mention the First Fridays anymore. Now many of us honor the First Saturday but very few honor the First Friday to adore the Sacred Heart. The Litany of the Heart of Jesus contains so many secrets of God. No better way to dig deep into the core of our faith by adoring, thanking and meditating on the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, our GOD and Redeemer.

  3. Ignatius published a definitive, concise volume on the sacred heart by Christendom College’s president Timothy O’Donnell: “Heart of the Redeemer” is full of fact, theology of the devotion, historical and doctrinal roots documented by scripture, through Apostolic and Patristic Ages, to magisterial documents including VCII. Praised by Fr. John Hardon, Card. O’Connor, Abp. Chaput, Scott Hahn, Marcus Grodi; Forewords by Card. Muller and Rev. Giertych.

    Personally, I wish Dr. O’Donnell would have included a bit more about the relation of the Sacred Heart to the Divine Mercy devotion. Wasn’t there some ecclesial controversy there? The book does contain two pages relating the two from a purely factual basis.

    O’Donnell answered one question about which I’ve always wondered. How did the wound in the side of Jesus, depicted on his right, lead to blood and water pouring from his heart? O’Donnell explains; the wound was a type of Roman soldier ‘trademark’–intended to enter the right chest at such an angle and at such a depth so as to pierce the heart deep within the center-left chest.

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. The Scriptural roots of the Litany of the Sacred Heart – Via Nova Media
  2. Les racines scripturaires de la Litanie du Sacré-Cœur
  3. Les racines scripturaires de la Litanie du Sacré-Cœur

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