100 years after Leo XIII wrote his famous prayer after a vision, the 20th century saint called on Catholics to re-embrace this prayer
The Prayer to Archangel Michael was composed in 1884 by Pope Leo XIII. Having celebrated Mass, the pope remained after to make his prayer of Thanksgiving, at the altar. As he was ending his prayers, he heard a locution – a conversation between two voices, one gentle and the other harsh. The conversation seemed to consist of a boast by Satan that, although Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against it, he could, in fact, destroy the Church, with just “a little more time and power – 75 to 100 years.”
Similarly to the story in the book of Job, a voice of surpassing gentleness and mercy granted the request.
According to Father Domenico Pechenino, who testified in witness to this event, Pope Leo’s expression “was one of horror and awe…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.
That prayer would become known as the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel, and two years later, the pope decreed that it would be recited at the end of Mass throughout the church.
This practice was continued until the Second Vatican Council, which ended the practice, while recommending that the faithful continue the devotion in private.
Pope John Paul II takes it up
100 years after Pope Leo wrote his famous prayer, another pope — while not ordering a reinstatement of the prayer after Mass –nevertheless asked all Catholics to re-embrace this plea to the Prince of Angels. In 1984, during the International Year of the Family, Pope John Paul II warned that the fate of humanity was in grave danger and called on Catholics to pray the prayer daily, to overcome the forces of darkness and evil in the world. .
The Woman Dressed in the Sun
In his Regina Caeli message of Sunday, April 24, 1994, St. John Paul spoke of “the woman clothed with the sun,” of which mention was made in the apocalyptic vision of St. John, with the dragon about to devour his newborn son (Rev. 12: 1-4)
The Holy Father said at that time that in our time “before the woman accumulate all the threats against life…we must turn to the woman clothed with the sun, so surround yourself with her maternal care…”
This message encouraged the Catholic people to again invoke St. Michael the Archangel through Pope Leo XIII’s prayer:
“May the prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle mentioned in the Letter to the Ephesians: “Grow strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” ( Ephesians 6, 10). And ‘to this same battle which refers the book of Revelation, recalling before our eyes the image of St. Michael the Archangel (cf.. Ap 12, 7). Had in mind for sure this scene Pope Leo XIII, when, at the end of the last century, he introduced throughout the Church a special prayer to St. Michael : “St. Michael the Archangel defend us in battle against the evils and snares of the evil; and be our shelter… “.”
Learn the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel
St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.