Feast of the Archangels

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May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle we are told about in the Letter to the Ephesians, “Draw strength from the Lord and from his mighty power” (Eph 6 10). The Book of Revelation refers to this same battle recalling before our eyes the image of St. Michael the Archangel (Rev. 12:7). Pope Leo XIII certainly had a very vivid recollection of this scene when, at the end of the last century, he introduced a special prayer to St Michael throughout the Church. “St Michael the Archangel defend us in battle, be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil.” Although today this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it, and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world. [Pope John Paul II, Regina Caeli, 24 April 1994]


(I originally posted this in 2010.  I think I will begin posting it on each September 29, the feast of the Archangels.)

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.

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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  1. A framed Prayer to St. Michael hangs on the wall in our home. I remember as a child it was prayed at the conclusion of Mass for the conversion of Russia.
    It is a powerful prayer. For the last 7 years it has been prayed in unison at our mission after daily Mass and after the 0730 Sun Mass.
    Why were the Leonine prayers suppressed in the 1960s and by whom?

  2. I love this feast day and I love the archangels. However, I thought there were more of them, maybe 5. What about Uriel? And isn’t there an unnamed archangel?

  3. The Church per the Council of Rome in 745 recognizes only the three archangels mentioned in Scripture. Four other archangels are mentioned in non-canonical sources: Uriel, Raguel, Zerachiel, and Remiel.

  4. We pray each Sunday the Prayer to St. Michael. Our country needs him more than ever.

    Father’s sermon this morning touched on humility.

    Also, let us honor the Archangel Gabriel, who appeared to Mary, our Mother, and saluted her, “Hail, Full Of Grace.” Meditate on our Blessed Mother’s humility.

    One night long ago Azrael visited Egypt. Not all Dems are lying sociopaths, I estimate 90%. I am praying that God sends Azrael to the evil Dems [redundant]. God’s will be done. Not an archangel, “Azrael” translates, “Help from/of God.” Azrael’s screen name is Angel of Death.

  5. I have entrusted my three daughters each to an Archangel- St Michael, St Gabrielle and St Raphael. St Raphael provided my daughter a miracle on his feast day 29th September for extreme eczema which saw her with hospital trips, loose weight, sleepless nights and infections. We used an oil called St Raphael’s oil https://straphaeloil.com (a healing Ministry founded by the late Fr Joseph Whalen). St Raphael led us to a wonderful Dr in South Africa who still treats our daughter over email for her condition- our daughter has been a different child since and has her health back and skin is healed.

    Pray to St Raphael for assistance, with the intercession of our Our Lady, if you or a loved one has a medical condition and needs Gods Divine physical healing.

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