Infants Who Die Without Baptism - Official Russian Prayer Service

Through miscarriages and other heartbreaking tragedies, many children die before it is possible to receive baptism. In this beautiful prayer service, Orthodox Christians entrust these precious children to God, that they may receive the gift of eternal life.

What happens to children who die in the womb? What happens to infants who die without baptism? Various groups have answered this question differently.

Protestant groups have provided mixed responses to the question, and the Roman Catholic Church officially teaches that unbaptized children who die are not permitted to enter heaven. Meanwhile, the Orthodox Church has official prayer services, trusting God to grant eternal life to these little ones.

For centuries, Orthodox Christians have trusted God to have mercy on young children. And recently, the Russian Orthodox Church has adopted a special prayer service which reflects this longstanding belief. As the old saying goes: Lex orandi, lex credendi. Our beliefs are both revealed and shaped by our prayers.

Through miscarriages and other heartbreaking tragedies, many children die before it is possible to receive baptism. In this beautiful prayer service, Orthodox Christians entrust these precious children to God, that they may receive the gift of eternal life.

In this service, a clear request is offered to God: 

That He will receive the departed infant [N.] graciously and free from judgment, and will grant him/her life everlasting

The Synodal Liturgical Commission of Russia prepared this Service For Departed Infants Who Did Not Receive the Grace of Holy Baptism. And on July 14, 2018, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church approved this service. The synod then sent the text to the Publishing House of the Moscow Patriarchate for publication in liturgical collections.

The text for this service was taken from similar services that had been approved by the Greek Orthodox Church (in 2001), the Orthodox Church in America (in 2015), and the Cypriot Orthodox Church (in February 2018). With the blessing of Patriarch Kirill, the Synodal Liturgical Commission considered these services, and prepared a service for unbaptized infants that had reposed.

The Russian text for this prayer service is available online, and an English translation of this service is provided below.


Service For Departed Infants Who Did Not Receive the Grace of Holy Baptism

P: Blessed is our God, always, now and ever and unto ages of ages.

R: Amen. O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere and fillest all things; Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life: Come and abide in us and cleanse us from every impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

O Most Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. O Lord, cleanse us from our sins. O Master, pardon our transgressions. O Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities, for Thy Name’s sake.

Lord. have mercy. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

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.

P: For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages.

R: Amen.

Great Litany

P: In peace let us pray to the Lord.

R: Lord, have mercy.

P: For the servants of God, [NN.], who have suffered the death of a child during pregnancy, and for their family and friends, that they may be comforted, let us pray to the Lord.

R: Lord, have mercy.

P: That the Lord God, from the goodness of His heart, will have mercy on His servants, and pardon their every sin, granting to them healing and comfort of soul and body, let us pray to the Lord.

R: Lord, have mercy.

P: That the Lord God will not turn away His face from His suffering servants, but will receive the prayers we now offer for them, let us pray to the Lord.

R: Lord, have mercy.

P: That He will heal every illness and grief by the visitation of the Holy Spirit, let us pray to the Lord.

R: Lord, have mercy.

P: That He will quickly deliver the handmaid of God [N.] from every pain and affliction, raising her from weakness and infirmity by the almighty word of God, let us pray to the Lord.

R: Lord, have mercy.

P: That the merciful Lord will hear the cries of His unworthy servants as He heard the cries of the Canaanite woman, and that He will heal and console His suffering servants, let us pray to the Lord.

R: Lord, have mercy.

P: That He will receive the departed infant [N.], graciously and free from judgment, and will grant him/her life everlasting, let us pray to the Lord.

R: Lord, have mercy.

P: For our deliverance from all affliction, wrath, danger, and necessity, let us pray to the Lord.

R: Lord, have mercy.

P: Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Thy grace.

R: Lord, have mercy.

P: Commemorating our most holy, most pure, most blessed and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and ever-Virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us commend ourselves and each other, and all our lives unto Christ our God.

R: To Thee, O Lord.

P: O Lord God, Thy power is unspeakable and Thy glory is incomprehensible, Thy mercy is immeasurable and Thy love for mankind is inexpressible. Look upon us, O Master, and impart the riches of Thy mercy and Thy compassion unto us and unto those who pray with us. For unto Thee are due all glory, honor, and worship: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages.

R: Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

P: Let us pray to the Lord.

R: Lord have mercy.

P: O Master, Lord Jesus Christ our God, the God of spirits and of all flesh, Who was born of the Holy Spirit and the Ever-Virgin Mary, born in a cave and laid in a manger for the salvation of the world, Thou calledst children to Thyself, saying, "Let the children come unto me, and do not forbid them, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."

Thou hast come healing every disease in people, and by Thy death Thou hast trampled down death, bestowing life upon the world. To Thee we pray and ask: Take care of Thy people and Thy inheritance, calming their sorrow for the untimely loss of their infant [N.], and grant them comfort. And though their infant had not received Holy Baptism, allow this by Thy Grace. 

For Thou art peace to our souls and our body, O Christ our God, and to Thee we send up glory, with Thy unoriginate Father, and Thy Most Holy, good and life-creating Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

R: Amen.

P: Wisdom. Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

R: More honorable than the cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim, who without corruption gavest birth to God the Word, O true Theotokos, we magnify thee.

P: Glory to Thee:

R: Glory, and now:

P: — Dismissal — May He who is Master of both the living and the dead, and who has Himself risen from the dead, Christ our true God, by the prayers of His Most Pure Mother, the saints, the glorious and all-laudable Apostles, our holy and God-bearing fathers and all the saints, by His own goodness offer us pardon and commit this reposed unbaptized infant into Abraham's bosom, for He is good and the Lover of mankind.