Building a Litter

St Timothy's was very pleased to host the Annual Meeting and Mass of the Society of Mary, American Region on April 28. While technically a week early for the traditional May Devotion, we celebrated a votive mass for Mary (propers from the American Missal for a Saturday votive in Eastertide) and processed with a litter and image of Our Lady to an outdoor chapel where we concluded with the Regina Caeli. Not exactly St Silas, Kentish Town, but it was an earnest celebration full of devotion and joy. 

In preparing for the celebration, I was planning on not having a procession of Our Lady for two reasons. First, we are not in an urban setting with a natural route for procession, and second, we do not have a litter. Furthermore, as familiar as I am with church goods catalogs, for the life of me, I cannot remember seeing a litter for sale. My conscience continue to nag, "you cannot have the national mass for the Society of Mary without a procession." Necessity is the mother of all invention, so we built one.

I have the pleasure of many creative, competent, and resourceful people in my parish, both on staff and among the laity. I gave my sexton the general idea and he came up with the follow design. The total cost for his materials was under $80. 



  • Sides - 5/8" x 3 1/4" Oak Casting - all joints were mitered cut; all connects were wood glued and brad nailed
  • Top and Bottom - 5mm Oak Laminat
  • Base for Our Lady - 3/4" x 2" Oak - screwed in from the bottom
  • Dowels - 1 /14" x 6'

I also needed an image of Our Lady that was "suitable for transport." I did not wish to move our image of Our Lady of Walsingham from our shrine. I was able to find a 21" image for around $100. I wish she were a little bit taller than 21", but that was the best I could do without paying exponentially more. She is easily and firmly secured by two pieces of wood laid across the base. You can flip the litter upside down and she wouldn't be startled. She is not permanently in the litter and can easily be removed to another place for devotion. The top of the litter is large enough for flowers and we used the same for an organic crown.  

In my opinion, this is the best part of catholic devotion. It was done by members of the parish and staff. It was a group effort. We had to think about what we were doing and what we wanted to accomplish. The end result was a litter for Our Lady constructed by the laity. It reminds me of Martin Travers making candlesticks and crucifixes from papier-mache. It is domestic devotion, which is the best kind.