The litany of the Kreuzeskränzchen in Bonn – a witness for prayer life of women in 19th century non-ultramontane Catholicism

Berlis, Angela (June 2017). The litany of the Kreuzeskränzchen in Bonn – a witness for prayer life of women in 19th century non-ultramontane Catholicism (Unpublished). In: Pray without Ceasing: Perspectives from Spirituality Studies, Biannual International Conference of The Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality. Kappel CH. 28.-29. Juni 2017.

The focus of this paper is on a litany which several women wrote in 1855 and used in a ritual during the night from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday nearby Bonn (Germany). The litany is an extraordinary source witnessing to the prayer life and spirituality of this specific group of Catholic women (called "Kreuzeskränzchen") in Bonn who belonged to a circle of so-called “Güntherianer”, followers of the philosopher Anton Günther (1783-1863). Günther tried to reconcile faith and modernity, but his writings were put on the Index.
The litany resembles an All Saints Litany but with its 350 biddings (with responses) it is much longer than the average litany. These point to the specific traits of spirituality which were common to the group: a strong christological focus; many references to biblical texts and texts of the Church Fathers; and influence from the romantic reception of the Heliand-epic. The litany has to be considered as a genuine outcome of the womens’ prayer life and as a significant – hand written – witness of the spirituality of the group which has, until now, not been analysed.
This circle did not belong to 19th century ultramontane Catholicism but to a liberal stream of Catholicism. In this paper, the spiritual background of this group of women is examined; (specific parts of) the litany with respect to the spirituality of the group and significant differences to mainstream Roman Catholic spirituality of the time are examined. This analysis will be supported by passages from letters of members of this group in order to show how the litany is part of the prayer life of this group. This litany is not an official text, but it poses itself in the tradition of the litany and of praying in Catholicism. It demonstrates a private spirituality for which the women found a specific liturgical-ritual form of expression at a certain occasion.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


01 Faculty of Theology > Department of Old Catholic Theology [discontinued]

UniBE Contributor:

Berlis, Angela


200 Religion > 230 Christianity & Christian theology
200 Religion > 240 Christian practice & observance
200 Religion > 270 History of Christianity




Angela Berlis

Date Deposited:

17 May 2018 15:16

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:11


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