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The Pope and the Archangel

 

 

 

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.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

8 Comments

  1. “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.”
    It was for Saint John Paul II to write the prayer: Totus Tuus. This prayer was written by the Holy Father to Mary Immaculate. Saint John Paul II was voicing the prayer of Mary Immaculate to God upon her being brought into existence.

    Totally yours,
    Immaculate Conception, Mary my Mother,
    Live in me, Act in me,
    Speak in me and through me,
    Think your thoughts in my mind,
    Love through my heart,
    Give me your dispositions and feelings,
    Teach, lead me and guide me to Jesus,
    Correct, enlighten and expand my thoughts and behavior,
    Possess my soul,
    Take over my entire personality and life, replace it with Yourself,
    Incline me to constant adoration,
    Pray in me and through me,
    Let me live in you and keep me in this union always.”
    O, Mary conceived without sin, pray for us.
    Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel, Saint Rafael pray for us.

  2. We’ve been saying the Prayer to St. Michael at our mission church for about 15 years. It started with an old fashioned Ice Cream Social on The Feast of St. Michael. The organizer (moi) asked the priest if we could recite it after Mass and the saint’s prayer was printed up and inserted in the Mass books.
    It was and is a powerful prayer. Pre-Vatican II the prayer was recited for the conversion of Russia. Many a prayer card has been sent to troops deployed in harms way.

  3. Rest assured that Satan did not cease his activity in 1964

    To the contrary, his activity has increased exponentially.

  4. One of the things I really like about my current parish is that we say the St. Michael prayer after each Mass (ordinary English Novus Ordo).

  5. We also pray it at our parish after daily masses only. On Sundays the people prefer to clap, for some odd reason. I believe the custom of praying to St. MIchael began here after 9/11. We were at Yellowstone during that week in 2001, and when we returned it was an established thing. Hooray!

  6. We were discussing angels at lunch today. So a friend pulled from his wallet a well worn prayer to St. Michael, It was the copy he had with him on his two tours in Afghanistan. He said St. Michael is the patron of paratroopers and in Afghanistan he used to join 82nd Airborne every Friday when they knelt as group and recited that prayer. The Sword of Saint Michael is on their some of their patches and pins.:

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