Sub Tuum Praesidium  

-We fly to thy patronage

I was a peasant girl before heaven
threw the moon under my feet.

I shook off olive dust for a crown
and gathered myself in golden light

because I was told the womb is
the window to the crucified curse.

Your ancestors trembled within
the milk shelter of my cloak,

singing despise not our petitions,
swinging incense and praying,

bless our soil and our swords.
And how could they know that

I do not look at them as I stand,
but only at you and how many

hundreds of generations before
you did I lift up to the ceiling?

How many generations after
you will we unfold our hands

and meet in a holy gaze renewed,
till mortal, still together?


Nora Kirkham


An ancient prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the oldest known version of which is found on an Egyptian papyrus from the 3rd century. This prayer is used in Litanies to the Blessed Mother and as a concluding prayer to Compline. A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful who recite it.

WE fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.

SUB tuum praesidium confugimus, Sancta Dei Genetrix. Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus1, sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo gloriosa et benedicta. Amen.