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Prayers at Graveside when Visiting a Cemetery

Woman Kneeling in Prayer in a Cemetery By French painter Théophile-Emmanuel Duverger (1821-1898). Creative Commons License.

Saint Basil the Great (379 CE), writes in his Third Kneeling Prayer at Pentecost: “O Christ our God… (who) on this all-perfect and saving Feast, art graciously pleased to accept propitiatory prayers for those who are imprisoned in hades, promising unto us who are held in bondage great hope of release from the vilenes that doth hinder us and did hinder them … send down Thy consolation… and establish their souls in the mansions of the Just; and graciously vouchsafe unto them peace and pardon; for not the dead shall praise thee, O Lord, neither shall they who are in Hell make bold to offer unto thee confession. But we who are living will bless thee, and will pray, and offer unto thee propitiatory prayers and sacrifices for their souls.”

“It is a holy and wholesome thing to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins.” (II Macab. 12, 46).

Prayer from the Roman Ritual when Visiting a Cemetery


✞ Make the Sign of the Cross: In the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen.
sprinkling a grave with Holy Water along with prayer

O God, the Creator and-Redeemer of all the faithful, hear our supplications and through Thy infinite love and mercy graciously grant to the soul of Thy servant departed the remission of all (his/her) sins, by which (he/she) may have deserved the severity of Thy justice and punishments in the world to come. Grant to (him/her) grace and mercy before Thy tribunal, and let her attain to everlasting rest and happiness through the infinite merits of Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

De Profundis (Psalm 129)

Out of the depths I have cried to thee, O Lord:
Lord, hear my voice. Let thy ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
If thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities: Lord, who shall stand it.
For with thee there is merciful forgiveness: and by reason of thy law, I have waited for thee, O Lord.
My soul hath relied on his word: My soul hath hoped in the Lord.
From the morning watch even until night, let Israel hope in the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy: and with him plentiful redemption.
And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

Eternal rest grant unto them

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. 
And let the perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. 
And may their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. 
Amen.

✠    ✠    ✠

Exactly how our prayers help the departed faithful is unknown to us; it is a mystery of God’s providential care for man that we dare not pry into. But that the prayers of the Church, Divine Liturgy, especially the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, help the departed, was never questioned by anyone for the first 1,500 years of Christian history!

Psalter Prayers in Latin and English
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