Online Edition – Vol. IX, No. 6: September 2003
Feast of Saint Michael and all Angels, September 29
A Prayer to Saint Michael
Saint Michael, Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host,
by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Oracion a Sancte Michael
Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto presidium. Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecemur: tuque, princeps militie celestis, Satanam aliusque spiritus malignos, qui ad perditiunem animorum pervagantur in mundo, divina virtute, In infernum detrude. Amen.
– Pope Leo XIII
Pope John Paul II urges revival of the Prayer to Saint Michael
The Prayer to the Archangel Michael was composed by Pope Leo XIII (d. 1903) after he had a vision of the battle between the “Woman clothed with the sun” and the great dragon who tried to devour her child at birth, in the Book of Revelation 12:1-4. In 1886, the pope decreed that this prayer be said at the end of “low” Mass (not “high”, or sung Masses) throughout the universal Church, along with the Salve Regina (Hail, Holy Queen); and the practice of the congregation praying these prayers at the end of Mass continued until about 1970. In 1994, during the International Year of the Family, Pope John Paul II asked all Catholics to pray this prayer daily. He warned that the fate of humanity was in great peril (in particular because of the United Nations Population Conference to be held in Cairo that year). Though he did not order that the prayer be said after Mass, he urged Catholics to pray together to overcome the forces of darkness and evil in the world.
In his Angelus message given in St. Peter’s Square, Sunday, April 24, 1994, the pope spoke of “the Woman clothed with the sun” in Pope Leo XIII’s vision. The Holy Father said that in our time “all the accumulated threats to life” are placed before woman, and we must “address the Woman clothed with the sun” to overcome these snares. In this message he encouraged the revival of the prayer to Saint Michael:
“May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle of which we are told in the Letter to the Ephesians: ‘Draw strength from the Lord and from His mighty power’ (Ephesians 6:10). It is this same battle to which The Book of Revelation [Apocalypse] refers, recalling before our eyes the image of Saint Michael the Archangel (cf. Revelation 12:7). Pope Leo XIII certainly had a very vivid vision of this scene when, at the end of the last century, he introduced a special prayer to Saint Michael throughout the Church. Even if this prayer is no longer recited at the end of every Mass, I ask everyone to remember it and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world”.
This Angelus (Regina Coeli) message in Italian is on the Vatican web site:
A Sermon of Pope Saint Gregory from the Third Nocturn of Matins of the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel
We speak of nine orders of Angels, because we know, by the testimony of Holy Scripture, that there are the following: Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Dominations, Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim. It must be realized that “Angel” is the name of their office, not of their nature. For the holy Spirits of the heavenly homeland are always Spirits, but they cannot always be called Angels; they are Angels only when they are announcing something. Those who announce less important things are called Angels, and those who announce the highest things are called Archangels. And so not any Angel but the Archangel Gabriel was sent to Mary; for this ministry, it was fitting to have the highest Angel, since he was to announce the greatest news of all. These Archangels are also given special names to describe their particular virtue. For Michael means “Who is like to God?” Gabriel means “Strength of God”, and Raphael “Medicine of God”.
Whenever something is to be done needing great power, Michael is sent forth so that from his action and his name we may understand that no one can do what God can do. Hence that old enemy who through pride desired to be like God is shown at the end of the world, left to his own strength and about to undergo the final punishment, as destined to fight with Michael the Archangel, as John says, “There was a battle with Michael the Archangel”. Similarly, Gabriel was sent to Mary; he who is called “Strength of God” came to announce Him who deigned to appear in humility to conquer the powers of the air. And Raphael is interpreted, as we said, “Medicine of God”, for when he touched the eyes of Tobias to do the work of healing, he dispelled the “night of his blindness”.