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Pope Leo and Saint Michael the Archangel

April 23, AD2013 13 Comments

\"Donald

In 1947 Father Domenico Pechenino related what he had witnessed over six decades before.

\”I do not remember the exact year. One morning the great Pope Leo XIII had celebrated a Mass and, as usual, was attending a Mass of thanksgiving. Suddenly, we saw him raise his head and stare at something above the celebrant\’s head. He was staring motionlessly, without batting an eye. His expression was one of horror and awe; the colour and look on his face changing rapidly. Something unusual and grave was happening in him.

\”Finally, as though coming to his senses, he lightly but firmly tapped his hand and rose to his feet. He headed for his private office. His retinue followed anxiously and solicitously, whispering: \’Holy Father, are you not feeling well? Do you need anything?\’ He answered: \’Nothing, nothing.\’ About half an hour later, he called for the Secretary of the Congregation of Rites and, handing him a sheet of paper, requested that it be printed and sent to all the ordinaries around the world. What was that paper? It was the prayer that we recite with the people at the end of every Mass. It is the plea to Mary and the passionate request to the Prince of the heavenly host, (St. Michael: Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle) beseeching God to send Satan back to hell.\”

Cardinal Giovanni Batista Nassalli Rocca di Corneiliano wrote in his Pastoral Letters on Lent\”the sentence \’The evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls\’ has a historical explanation that was many times repeated by his private secretary, Monsignor Rinaldo Angeli. Leo XIII truly saw, in a vision, demonic spirits who were congregating on the Eternal City (Rome). The prayer that he asked all the Church to recite was the fruit of that experience. He would recite that prayer with strong, powerful voice: we heard it many a time in the Vatican Basilica. Leo XIII also personally wrote an exorcism that is included in the Roman Ritual. He recommended that bishops and priests read these exorcisms often in their dioceses and parishes. He himself would recite them often throughout the day.\”

The Prayer written by the Pope is of course the famous prayer to Saint Michael:

Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio; contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium. Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur: tuque, Princeps militiae Caelestis, satanam aliosque spiritus malignos, qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo, divina virtute in infernum detrude. Amen.\"\"

This is the version I learned as a boy:

Saint Michael, the Archangel, defend us in the battle.  Be our protection against the malice and snares of the Devil.  We humbly beseech God to command him.  And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the powers of God, cast into Hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

In 1886 this prayer was added to the prayers that in 1884 Pope Leo had ordered to be said after every low Mass. In 1964, by Inter oecumenici, the Payer to Saint Michael, along with the other Leonine Prayers after low Masses, were suppressed. I have always thought that a great pity. Rest assured that Satan did not cease his activity in 1964, and Pope Leo sought to remind us of that activity and through the prayer to Saint Michael to help guard us against it. It is still a common prayer in my house. After the election last year in 2012, my Bishop, Bishop Daniel Jenky, ordered that the prayer to Saint Michael be said after every mass in the Peoria Diocese. I think it should become a common prayer on the lips of all Catholics in the days to come.

© 2013. Donald R. McClarey. All Rights Reserved.

About the Author:

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 30 years. Small town lawyer. President of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center. Easily amused as demonstrated by the fact that he blogs for amusement.

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  • Rob

    In our small Maine parish we say this prayer after every Mass.

    • MARION BOGLE

      Thank God for your Maine parish. It is done in some parishes here in north Florida too

  • MARION BOGLE

    Pleae, can someone strongly encourage that this prayer be said at the end of Mass as it used to be when I was a child and young adult? God knows we need it AT LEAST as much as we did when I was a girl.

    Why should easy things be so difficult to accomplish?
    MAYBE more people would stay til the end of Mass

    Sorry I got carried away with that last.

  • Maggie McConnell

    I say it every day and any time I see or hear more evidence of demonic successes–daily occurrences in America and this world. I also say prayers from the extraordinarily fine book: The Healing of Families by Yozefu Ssemakula. The prayer to St Michael is one he includes along with a remarkable prayer to refute and overturn the Masonic oaths. There have been at least three generations in my family of Masons and I was stunned at the vows my forebears had taken, to the detriment of their families and friends.

  • Faith

    Does anyone know the longer version? The one Pope Leo actually composed? It was quite different, and I believe it was recited after Mass until about the 1930s.

    I just found a link myself: http://www.traditioninaction.org/religious/b009rpMichael.htm

  • http://the-american-catholic.com/ Donald R. McClarey

    The short version was written first in 1886. The long version was written in 1890:

    O glorious Archangel St. Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, defend us in battle, and in the struggle which is ours against the principalities and Powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against spirits of evil in high places. Come to the aid of men, whom God created immortal, made in his own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil.

    Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in Heaven. But that cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan, who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with all his angels.

    Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of man has taken courage, Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the name of God and of his Christ, to seize upon, slay and cast into eternal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity.

    These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions.

    In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.

    Arise then, O invincible prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and bring them the victory.

    The Church venerates thee as protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious powers of this world and of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude.

    Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations.

  • gladys

    Tnx for sharing

    …to God be the glory

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  • Lora

    Beautiful post~Thank you! Saying this prayer after Mass is such a blessing!

  • nosidam

    Oh Yes. Several but not all parishes in my Arlington Diocese pray this prayer after all masses. If they do not and if I am there I say it anyway! I think the Pope ought to tell all parishes everywhere to do this!